Help! You’ve had the brilliant idea to add built-in shelving to your large empty wall beside your fireplace. Your excitement quickly turns to panic as you glance over to the many boxes you’ve filled with items to place in your new shelves. In addition to books, there are collections, pictures, vases, pottery, baskets, etc. How do you start? Where do you place? What do you NOT do? We’ve turned to Jennifer Gray at JGray Design to help us with this very common problem and to give us her go-to set of rules for styling bookshelves.
BACKGROUND: For the past ten years Jennifer has been helping people decorate their homes. She grew up with a mother who continuously changed the color of paint on the walls, which led her to a passion for painting and color. Her business started by helping friends who referred her to their friends and eventually she had a business that had developed simply by word of mouth. As a decorator, her number one goal is to develop your style and help you avoid a costly design mistake.
Styling your Bookshelves
Where do you start on a bookcase? Scale does matter when placing things on your shelves. If your built-ins make up the entire wall in your room, buy items that are medium to large in scale. Purchase pottery in pairs, group books according to color and size, and always remove the sleeves off of books so they appear older and more cohesive.
Wooden boxes, which can be found at TJMax, Marshalls, or Pier One, are both pleasing to the eye, as well as, a prop to raise an item that may be small. Remember, the more cohesive items are in style, color, and scale, the less likely you will feel the need for continuous change.
When addressing a piece of furniture, try not to use more than three colors. Dark wood furniture looks great with a punch of red, gold and green accessories.
In the below picture, there is a white built-in bookcase which sits at an angle taking up one half of the wall. I used items in the same color tones of red, green, and gold to fill the space. I placed pairs of items on shelves diagonally (gold pottery, picture frames, green candlesticks), which continue the flow and expand the space. The homeowner’s collection of whimsical Limoges animals are scattered along the horizontal books. It’s important to group small items in pairs or more so they don’t fade into the shelf.
Here are some other examples of the same concept:
When working on a set of bookcases flanked between a fireplace, one way to gain visual interest is to wallpaper, glue fabric, add mirrors or paint on the back wall.
In conclusion, do not be afraid to tackle bookcases. Try to buy things in pairs, a variety of sizes and be consistent when adding color. Start with your largest items, work in medium (books, picture frames, boxes), and lastly, add your decorative, fragile ceramics (Limoges animals, antique figures, small glass sculptures).
Personalize your space with the things you love and that make you happy. Your bookshelves should be a representation of things collected through the years and displayed for everyone to enjoy.
Thank you Jennifer! What fantastic expertise on an area we all can relate to! For more information about Jennifer, see below!
(Images 1- ashleymorganarts.wordpress.com; 2- housebeautiful.com; 3- JGray Designs; 4- imperfectlypolishes.com; 5- JGray Designs; 6- myhomeideas.com; 7- bluechickadee.blogspot.com; 8- houserulesblog.wordpress.com; 9- realsimple.com; 10-cococozy.com; 11- centsationalgirl.com; 12- papermojoblog.com; 13- amberinteriordesign.blogspot.com; 14, 15, 16- JGray Designs)
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