Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Bookshelf Styling


As promised, I'm excited to share today some of my styling tips from the bookshelves I recently finished in our house!

I have a somewhat odd relationship with books.  When I was younger, I was super into all of the summer reading programs at our library and I would read any book I could get my hands on — I was such a curious child.  I remember repeatedly visiting the library to check out all sorts of books on outer space, stars, black holes... it all really intrigued me.  In high school I read a lot for classes, and then going on into college I didn't really pick up many books.  

Instead, I started collecting and consuming a lot of imagery.  I just saved and saved and saved, anything that spoke to me aesthetically or for one reason or another.  It was a very different language to be thinking and dealing in.  I drink in rich imagery like my morning coffee.  I also think it's the way I am able to communicate and learn the strongest.

So a large assortment of the books that I own are a combination of interesting content and vibrant imagery — and most are non-fiction.  We do have an auxiliary bookcase where we keep any books that don't really 'go' with our main bookshelves, as well. So if not all your books work together, don't worry, just put them on a non-focal bookshelf.  Without further ado, here's how I styled our 'cases!

This little bookshelf is in a pretty focal area in our home.  It's part of a big focal wall in our living room and it's one of the first things you'd see coming in.  So I took this fact into consideration when styling this bookcase.

Recently, I set out to style both this bookcase and the next one featured in this blog.  I started my project with this one in part because of its focal location, and also in part because this case was a part of a larger 'moment', being a facet of a focal gallery wall.  As I began styling, I wanted to be sure to have the contents of this case reflect and play off of the rest of the wall.  To do this, I thought about theme, colors, and shapes that would work well with the rest of the wall, and I kept coming back and cross checking these elements as I worked. 

For the most part, I wanted this case to feel moody and mysterious with some elements of the sea and of nature, in blues, greens, whites, and browns.   There also snuck in a few little glimmers of a red tone throughout.  

Other than keeping in mind color and theme, there are some more elements to note.  You want to achieve a mix of:
+ books of varying sizes
+ a couple photographs or framed prints
+ some sculptural pieces

I've found the art of styling a bookshelf is a blend of those three elements coming together and creating a rhythm that starts to tell a story.

I typically will just sit in front of the bookshelf with all of my items gathered around it and me, and start putting things together and see where it goes.

I think with this one I started with the framed b+w photograph that I printed in darkroom in college.  You usually want your strongest feeling shelves in the middle, as the eye is drawn there first.  In this case, I needed to put the photograph on that shelf because the shelves were different sizes, and that was the one where it fit!  Once that was positioned, it made sense to add a heavy horizontal book moment next to it in some key colors, and top it off with a sculptural element.

As I style a bookshelf, I'll think of each shelf as a shadowbox of sorts — I like to create little scenes sometimes like in the next shelf.

Here, I started with some vertical standing books in cohesive colors because the ones below it were also on the left side, but horizontal.  So I didn't want too much of the same visual lines going up.  I wanted your eye to bounce around and explore the whole set of shelves.

Next, to keep the books from sliding, I added a heavy glass candle.  I love this candle; Drew got it for me for my birthday a few years back at a street fair in our town.  It is a clear gel candle and it has all sorts of green plant-y things in it, that give it a great striking green color.  It makes it feel like a plant, and like there's some life happening, and the best part is, it's not a plant I can kill!  I digress. So this candle is a great transition to what I see as the 'shadowbox/ diorama" portion of this shelf.

This area is a bunch of different sculptural objects that I think come together to tell a little bit of a story.  With the candle and the magazine clipping in the back,  it starts to imply a forest setting, reinforced by the rock, driftwood, and leaves.  These were all collected on various trips Drew and I have taken.  Finally, you have the wood carving of a couple that Drew's grandparents got for us when we got engaged.  Now it tells the story of us adventuring in the wilderness.  *insert excited cat emoji here*

Then, as you build out the rest of the bookshelf, you just want to keep aware of balancing the colors and directions / side of bookshelf for your books, and incorporate some of the more decorative elements as you go. 


Finally, for the top of this bookshelf, I wanted to incorporate all decorative elements.  Keeping in mind the other elements on the wall surrounding, I continued the forest theme with this fun mushroom art piece passed down to me by family, and rounded it out with a cute little bunny figurine for the spring season, and a small floral arrangement for some life!


For our second bookshelf, there was a lot more going on, and some extra hurdles as far as storage needs and sheer number of books, so for this one I feel that the top 4 shelves really do the styling/ telling a story thing, while the bottom two are more utilitarian and storage influenced.  I'm still not 100% in love with all aspects of this one, but I wanted to share anyways!

So starting at the bottom, we have my whole set of Bon Appetit from like 4 years, our other cookbooks that didn't find their way into any of the 'story' bookshelves, and some of Drew's comic collection. 

Above that you have some extra decorative elements that I like that didn't end up anywhere more focal, and a white crate housing a lot of tech things like cords and batteries and hard drives that we had nowhere else sensible to store.  I mention this because a nice little crate like this (I might have gotten this one at Michael's craft store?) can make all that messy stuff look a lot better if you don't have drawer space on hand. 

On to the exciting stuff.

To start off this bookshelf I wanted a stand alone moment that would set the tone.  With this being such a tall feature in our house, it's not practical to have books up that high, because I would not be able to access them without a ladder.  That would be a practical reason for this move, but also it helps visually to break up the flow, and kind of start with this one note, capping off the whole sentence. 

Then as you go down, just keep in mind again to balance colors and directions of books, and even out with some art and 3d elements. 

My favorite moments in this bookcase are the rabbit shelf and the woodsy shelf.  The rabbit shelf tells the story of a bit of an Alice in Wonderland tale for me, because of the rabbit elements, and the teacup, and the image in the background of the shelf.  This was taken by me in college as a sort of 'discovery' themed shoot.  I also love this shelf because of the strong horizontal book stack topped by the gold-rimmed terrarium.

Above that shelf is the tree themed shelf.  That one I love because of a few key elements:
+ the color play between the bowl of moss, tree field guide book underneath the bowl, & the framed magazine clipping of a mossy treehouse
+ the line map in the background that is from a trail we hiked in Olympic National Park
+ the family tree that Drew's mom gave us, which really adds a fun sculptural element to this shelf!

That's all I've got for now on styling shelves, but let me know if it was informative or if you have any questions, and I'd love to hear about others styling their shelves as well!  I love styling little areas like this in a home — it's really an opportunity to get to be really creative!

Until Next Time, 

- The Lovely Red Fox

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