Now that we’ve shared how we built the pipe bookshelves, I’m going to show you how we filled ‘em up!
These bookshelves really are the focal point of our whole house, so we were very intentional about how they look. We’ve long organized at least some of our books by color (you can see our pre-pipe bookshelf organization here), but this is the first time we’ve been able to collect most of them, even our textbooks, in the same place. You’d think by the amount that this would be all of our books, but we’ve still got a whole bookshelf of kids books + stacks of craft books + books on reading and writing upstairs. If I have to be addicted to something, at least it’s books, right?
To organize the books in rainbow order (ROYGBIV!), I decided to dedicate one shelf to the warm colors and one to the cool colors. We put neutral colors on the top and bottom to sort of frame the colors, and swapped the position of dark and light books on our neutral shelves to create balance.
Why organize by color? Because it looks good and it’s fast. As you may have already guessed, I have an unhealthy attachment to books and can remember their covers like the faces of people. Ask me the color of any book spine in our library, and I’ll tell you the correct answer with a very small margin of error. In fact, this is a game we play with our friends sometimes.
Color organization makes it very easy to find a book: I only have to look through one shelf section instead of my entire collection.
Not to worry; there’s organization within the color sections as well. Each book is organized in alphabetical order within each section by author’s last name. If I have multiple works from one author within one color group, those books are organized chronologically. Textbooks or works without an author are stacked horizontally, which makes them easier to find as we’re not likely to remember a textbook editor’s name. Bonus: these horizontally stacked books also function as bookends to prevent a dominio-like tumble.
We’ve also added in fun things among the books, because it makes the shelf more interesting and gives us wiggle room when we add more books to the shelf as our library grows. Here’s a little bit about the stuff among the books:
This little picture in a black frame was Jake’s late grandmother’s, so it’s special. It’s one of the things Eliza chose to remember her by.
We have a little collection of stuff in the space transitioning between the black and white books. There’s a LEGO Darth Vader Flashlight (his feet light up, and so does his lightsaber, which Jonas has in his room right now). Toys are a big theme with this bookshelf, as are Legos, general nerdyness. Also up there: my first big camera, a Canon Rebel Film SLR which I bought my senior year of high school, and milkglass vases from my great-grandparents’ house with pipe cleaner flowers made by Eliza.
Our Polaroid OneStep SX-70 Rainbow Camera hangs out in the white section.
Over in the red corner, we have a Pocket Etch A Sketch, a vintage starburst pitcher from my great-grandparents’ house, a View Master, and a tiny record player pencil drawing by our friend Amy Bug. Then an old robot and art by Eliza at various ages. Then a One Step at a Time print from our friend Kim on a vintage clipboard we found. We love the visual reminder of last year’s mantra. There’s also tiny art by our friend Jack and a vintage Pyrex bowl up there.
The yellow section has a camera toy from Jake’s childhood, a vintage enamelware coffeepot, and an old school pencil sharpener.
The middle shelf is totally dedicated to Harry Potter and Legos. Well, actually, mostly Harry Potter Legos. Jake and Eliza’s finished masterpieces are up there, and we also have works in progress on treys and a bucket for loose pieces. I love that it’s the perfect hight to keep the Legos away from Jonas, but Eliza can easily play with them. I love that trays make moving works in progress to a table easily, and that stuff is less likely to get lost.
To keep things visually interesting on the HP shelf, I varied the height of some of the buildings using book stacks, often matching the building to the color of book spines. That was fun to do. I also have framed postcards from our friend Laura, who is so amazing to have sent us stuff from the Harry Potter Studio Tour she went on. (Thanks again, Laura!)
The 9 3/4 art is one of the things we made for Eliza’s Harry Potter birthday party. I’m planning on hanging it on the wall eventually, but it’s fine propped up for now.
I also left space here for us to sit down the cameras when we need them away from Jonas, but don’t want to pack them all of the way up.
An awesome photo of Grammy, my late grandmother. We really need more family photos in on our walls and in frames instead of just in albums.
There is a little nesting doll and a yoga block on the blue side and tiny art from my friend Nikole and Eliza in the purple section.
My favorite thing is the first English edition of The Little Prince, a gift from Jake while we were dating.
A photo of Jake and I on a date in high school is propped up on top of books in the silver / grey section.
My grandpa’s girlfriend brought us the cool slide projector, and we found the little plane made of coins and spark plugs at a thrift store.
Last but not least, in the brown corner, a wood bowl, vintage spool, and Polaroid woodburned art by Jake.
Decorating the bottom shelf was trickiest, because it was hard to find color appropriate things that Jonas couldn’t mess up. At first we had a typewriter down there. That was not the best decision.
We love the bookshelf so much, and it’s going to impact all of our decorating decisions here on out. Our next step is to hang a bit of art in our dining room to pull the color from the shelves. My dad sent me home with paintings his mother did for an art class, and the painting of the woman just happens to be the perfect thing for that spot. After I realized this, I began to think of what I could put on the other side of the room to pull out the colors from the other side of the shelf.
Literally 10 minutes after I had that thought, one of our friends showed up with art he found that he thought we’d like. It just happened to be perfect for the space. I can’t wait to hang these up, they’re going to look awesome.
I hope you liked seeing how we decorated our bookshelf. And by bookshelf, I mean library. Do you keep a lot of books in the house, or are you more into public libraries or e-readers? How do you organize your books if you have them?
Update: Shelves February 2015