This photo is my sister's family room. I hope by now you can recognize my touch. She and I worked hard to accessorize that large expanse of shelving. Bookcases are difficult to make cohesive. I'll let you in on a couple of tricks.
Styling Tips for Shelves:
- First, look at your room and decide which design attribute is the star. Is it color? Texture? Shine? Pattern? In my sister's room, the star is texture.
- Second, find a collection of elements with that star attribute. Purchase it in a variety of sizes. For my sister, we bought a wonderful collection of African baskets from the coolest woman. Her name was Beverly and she lived in Botswana and Rwanda for thirty years. Recently, I wanted to send this photo to Beverly, only to learn she had passed away. But there she is in spirit, amongst her baskets.
- Third, add books. Lots of books! (Honestly, go to the Goodwill where you'll find anything you want for $1 a title.) For this room, my sister raided her stash for all the black books. This meant taking off the book jackets. I know, sacrilege for many of you, but the original cloth covers are often so much prettier than the jacket. And the fabric is another kind of texture.
- Fourth, add a few knick-knacks and picture frames. This is where people get tripped up by allowing some other element to creep in too strongly. Add your extras judiciously and slowly. My sister avoided color, keeping the palette neutral.
One More Thing
Now that we've covered the shelves, tell me... do you notice something missing?
They need something over the fireplace, n'est çe pas? My brother-in-law designed the surround and it's beautiful. So beautiful that he doesn't want to mar it with artwork.
Maybe he'll get to it eventually. He was born and raised in Iowa and decisions get made slowly: you can't rush the corn crop and you can't rush the artwork. Plus, he can be a minimalist at times.
But I know what's truly stopping him. He cannot bear to put a nail in that wall of stone. Like it's some kind of virginal surface. That once penetrated is ruined forever.
Well I'm here to say that walls deserve to live too. That wall has kept its surface intact for three years now, and it wants to put something sexy on and go to Homecoming. It wants to do what all the other walls are doing, which is hanging around with hot artwork. How else can the wall reach its potential?
So get out your toolkit, find the right screw, and get on with it.
Did that sound sexual? Oops. Don't know how that happened. I am just so gosh darn passionate about art! Here are some abstract pieces I was hoping to introduce to the wall.
Thanks for joining me today. For more opinionated pieces on design and the hunt for art and antiques, subscribe to my newsletter. It comes out every Friday morning and it'll inspire you!