Before & After: Bookshelves

Morning y'all! I have some awesome before and afters to show you tomorrow (in my humble opinion).  My mother-in-law found pictures in her computer of our house when my husband first bought it.  Woof! It was U-G-L-Y.  I was going to post them today, but this post turned out to be a bit longer than I expected.

So first, I want to share my hard work on the bookshelves in our den and family room.  I was literally sore after spending the day arranging books and tchotchkes, which is kind of embarrassing.  I decided to arrange the books by color, mainly so I could control what you see from the kitchen and family room when the door is open.  I didn't want to be sitting on the sofa and look over to see a bunch of red and black and purple.


As you can see, there was a lot going on (like the pumpkin?) - the result of 5 years of just throwing books on the shelves.  Also, this has sort of become Kip's "man room" where he retreats to watch golf when I'm watching Real Housewives marathons.  Kip loves books and audio/visual equipment.  I'm pretty sure his brain automatically dismisses the presence of wires just as mine dismisses shopping bags as a decorative distraction.


Better no? I have to deal with the audio/visual equipment for now, but I tried to do my best to hide it.  As you can see the column of shelves on the right is organized from top to bottom using the colors that match the rest of my house (blues and whites, duh). I wanted the top shelves to be more neutral than bright, since you see those first.  Deciding this beforehand made the entire process easier.

Here's what you see when you walk in the door:

And here's what you see from the sofa in the family room:

It makes such a difference.  It's important to consider decor from all angles.  Here's another closer shot of the bookshelves:

Some close-ups of my favorite little vignettes:

Notice all of the pottery?  Kip made all of those in his high school ceramics class.  I love them because they show off his perfectionist side.  He's one of those people who just does everything really well.  It would be annoying if he wasn't so nice.  The jar of books are flip-books from our wedding. 

Kip's grandfather is a WWII veteran and brought him a bottle of sand from the beach at Normandy.

We have a lot of random books, and grouping them by color makes for some interesting pairings.  We have a lot of religion, literature and history books from college.  The ninja turtle is my only ceramic-ish contribution.  I point it out only to show off my psychic abilities, which I initially discussed here (scroll down to number 7). I made this at my sister's birthday party, 6 months before I met my husband.  For some reason that I didn't know at the time, I obsessively carried it around as a good luck charm.  Funnily enough, my husband dressed as a ninja turtle the night I met him.  Coincidence?  I don't think so! Totally fate.  (P.S. It was Halloween, not just a random dress-up thing - we're WASPs.  I was pregnant Britney Spears).

And I don't have any before pictures of my family room book shelves, but here's what I did there:

And on the other side, I tried to arrange it so it was pleasing to look at while watching TV, but by that point I was running out of steam.  The bottom shelves have all of Edward's books and some toys.

Welp, that's all I have for today! Come back tomorrow for some more before and afters.  I promise I won't be such a chatty cathy doll ;)

P.S. I found this quote about books that sort of sums up my husband's and my attitude toward book hoarding and why we do it:

“I am a product [...of] endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents' interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.” ― C.S. Lewis


  1. YES. This looks AMAZING! Well done, you. I think styling a bookcase is one of the most overwhelming projects. It turned out so beautifully!

  2. The bookshelves look fantastic! Great work! I cannot wait to see the before and after pictures- I'm looking forward to the mauve and silver and crazy outlet covers!

    PS- John uses the word "tchotchkes" in place of the word d-bag or tool. I tried to explain that it meant knick-knack or little pretties, but he wasn't having it.

  3. Your bookshelves look great. I love the matched colors because you did it in a way that is more subtle. Everything looks great on the shelves...that's very cosmic-your story about meeting your husband and the ninja turtle.
    I love books and book cases so this is great.

  4. Jennifer- Those bookshelves look great! You did a good job. I love that last quote. I grew up in a houseful of books, too...and have way too many of my own. xo Diana

  5. I love your bookshelves! I hadn't thought of arranging it for what you'd see from another room, but it makes total sense. Perhaps when I live in a house that has more than 1 room I'll be able to do that ;)

  6. Lovely transformation! Books really look wonderful on display. Enjoy the gorgeous day, Kellie xx

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