Tag Archives: shelf styling

De-Organizing the Bookshelves: The Alphabetizer’s Elegy

Shelf styling is a big topic in the world of blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram.  I’m no stranger to #shelfies, but there are some bookshelf styling trends out there that I just can’t abide.  I can relate to remembering books by the color of the cover, so organizing by hue doesn’t bother me, but I regard other shelf-styling trends as anti-book.   Turning books page-side out or covering all the spines in plain white paper elevates form over substance and makes me cringe.  Bookshelves are for books!

I myself have always been a vehement alphabetizer.  I like my books organized by genre and then by the author’s last name.  That’s how our books have been organized in the living room since I moved in, but the visual effect was, well, just look:

Red House West || Bookshelf Styling

Red House West || Bookshelf Styling

Ooft. It hurts a little to show you this, but if you could zoom in you would see that the organization was exquisite.  After living with the shelves in this condition for years I finally admitted to myself that the well-ordered array was visually barf-rageous.  The problem is this: most of the shelves are too small to allow ordinary sized books to stand upright.  In order to organize by author’s name, I had to lay most of the books on their sides, which looks, ironically, extremely disorganized.

So, I muttered the serenity prayer to myself and decided to organize the books by . . . size.  Which basically means I decided to throw all organization out the window and put the books on the shelves where they fit.  Autobiographies mingle with novels, books of poetry sit cheek to jowl with non-fiction.

Alphabetized organization exhausted all appeals.  This book was my size guide for books that fit on the smaller shelves.

The Executioner’s Song was the biggest book that could fit on the upper shelves.  I used it as a ruler to find other books that would fit up there too.  I’ve been trying to think of something funny to say about this but keep coming up waaaay short.  This is the book against which all others are measured?  Alphabetization went before the firing squad?  You see my dilemma.

Despite having essentially no organizing principle, taking all of the books down, removing ancient boarding passes from their pages, and blowing dust from their covers, helped me to reacquaint myself with what lives on these shelves.  The other upside is that the shelves look a lot better too:

Red House West || Organizing the Book Shelves

Opal’s books occupy the bottom shelf and are definitely the most frequently paged through tomes we have.

Red House West || Organizing the Bookshelves

I prefer a tighter arrangement of books (another pet peeve is shelves that have a high stuff:book ratio). I wanted it to look pleasing but not too perfect; shelves that include well-loved books, a few treasured objects, and invite frequent perusal.

Red House West || Organizing the Bookshelves

Red House West || Organizing the Bookshelves

My husband’s birth announcement. I love that the other notable events of the day include stag mountain oysters at the VFW, and a chili dog special at the A&W “Island of Refreshment.”

Here are the shelves on the other side of the entrance to the living room:

Red House West || Organizing the Bookshelves

I also painted the speaker wire white, and relocated Opal’s little table to the playroom.

And here are a few pulled back shots (with a bonus view of Cora’s Spy vs. Spy pointy face).

Red House West || Organizing the Bookshelves

Red House West || Organizing the Bookshelves

The day after I finished revamping the shelves our carbon monoxide detector malfunctioned, which resulted in the fire department coming out. One of the firefighters commented to Chester that our house is “really clean and organized.”  At least emergency responders battling the silent killer are fooled!

In all seriousness, I’m really pleased with the shelves.  I feel like despite being not organized, they are organized in the sense that I know where everything is again, and they are a lot nicer to look at!

Thanks for reading along everyone, Katie will be back next week with a new post!