Organization Project: Bookshelves

Bookshelves are one of those things where it should seemingly be easy, but next thing you's gotten out of hand. I'll admit, I once got rid of an entire bookshelf because I just didn't like how my things looked arranged on it and I could never make it work. (A-frame shelving - looks cool in theory but not so much in execution.)

This client had a great built-in bookshelf. (I love built-ins.) However, she could never really get her configuration of books, mementos and functional items to arrange in such a way that made her happy. Since the built-in was in her living room, it constantly nagged at her.

No need for a nagging home I say!


We started by removing everything and sorting it all like with like. As we went through, my client purged the items she no longer needed. There were also some items that lived in other rooms that somehow found their way to this shelving. We sent it back where it belonged.

From there, I created groupings according to what she had and then created vignettes on the shelves.


As you can see, not too many things went away. Instead, we spread different categories across the different shelves and created better balance and visual interest. Margarita fixings and glasses at the top, along with her pint glasses and other liqueurs. The brown liquors and shot glasses. One of the segments of books. Pictures are sprinkled throughout. So on and so forth. At the bottom are her functional items that aren't very pretty. Since my client is crafty, she is going to fashion a fabric panel that blends in with her decor to cover that section up.

Total time: 1 hour.

Bookshelf tips:

  • Don't do solid rows of items. Break it up - especially with books.
  • Books can be sorted by size, color or type. They can also lay on their side or upright. Mix it up by using areas of both. Go with what is best for access and looks.
  • If your shelf doubles as bar, have a section for wine bottles and glasses, margaritas, etc.
  • You can always cover over shelves that hold items that aren't that great to look at.
  • Sprinkle photos and other decorative items throughout to spice it up and make it more personal.


Are your bookshelves less than splendid to look at? We can help.