Let's Talk About Bookshelves

Have you downloaded my free decorating guide? In that guide, I wrote about how it is OK to break the design rules. Not just for the sake of being a rebel, but because ultimately, you live in your house. Your home has to work for you!

Sometimes those rules are things we read about explicitly (like don't hang your curtains this way or that way, etc.). But sometimes those rules are the trends we see in all the pretty pictures. These trends subconsciously sneak into our brains and whisper to us that we have to decorate a certain way. And sometimes these rules and trends hold us back from doing the thing that just makes the most sense for us.

So with that in mind, let's talk about bookshelves. In the magazines, on the blogs (yes, I realize this is a blog), and in model homes, bookshelves are *often* styled for display. Instead of being filled with just books lined up, they might have a lovely mixture of books, frames, plants, and sculptural items. You guys know what I am talking about, right?

Those methods of styling are gorgeous, artistic, and interesting. Looking at shelves styled this way is like a feast for the eyes! There is a reason they are all over Pinterest—I pinned this one from Emily Henderson because it is so beautiful I can hardly stand it. Arranging things beautifully is an art. It is super fun! And if that's what you would like to do with your bookshelves, go for it!

But can I raise my hand and offer a comment?

If you want to, you can also use your bookshelves for books. Like, all your books. And that is beautiful, too.

Living Room with Bookshelves Full of Books

Because what if not putting all your books on the bookshelves means you have to put your books in boxes in the basement? That was the case in our house. Ben and I have a decent amount of books (I was an English major in college and somewhat of a book hoarder). I want our books to be out and accessible for reading and lending. So our friend Bert helped me build some bookshelves. And I crammed those bookshelves full of books. I don't mind the shelves being full one bit.

Bookshelves Arranged by Color with Storage Baskets

I tried a few things to make the bookshelves look interesting. I painted the back panel turquoise. I grouped the books by color. I also stacked some books vertically and added a vase or two (and some toy figurines, apparently) to fill some spaces. I've adapted a little—just recently we made one whole shelf a spot for children's books so they are easily accessible. These bookshelves are really there to hold books. And they do their job well. (And if you are wondering about safety, they are attached to the wall!)

Living Room Bookshelves Full of Books

I would argue that a bookshelf chock-full of books is a look and a style every bit as much as a bookshelf used for displaying other types of pretty objects. How would you describe a room full of books? Cozy, lived in, warm, inviting? The kind of place you want to sit down in and stay a while, maybe while reading one of those books? Bookshelves bursting with books majorly contribute to the feel of a space, just like bookshelves styled with beautiful objects do. So I am not saying one way is always wrong or right, but just know that there isn't only one way to do it. Do what works for you! And that will make each of our homes uniquely beautiful!

So again, rethink those rules, whether they are actual rules or just trends. Are these rules and trends really helping you, or are they holding you back from making your home the best it can be? Don't forget that when we decorate, we need to consider form AND function. A well-designed space has both!

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