How To: Style a Bookshelf


Styling your bookshelf via The Lovely Cupboard
One thing that seems to cause many of my clients and friends a lot of decorating stress is arranging their bookshelves. Some people feel like there is a perfect equation they have to solve to get a bookshelf to look just right. Not so, my friends.
We recently went from two book shelves down to one larger shelf in our living room. After purging a bunch of books, I had a shiny new book shelf and a lot of "stuff" to put on it. If anyone with a gorgeously styled bookshelf ever tells you that they just throw things on the shelves without really thinking about it, they're lying. (Or a magician.) 
Styling a bookshelf is a little bit science and a little bit art. It's a lot like creating a new recipe.  Sometimes you still have to play with the "ingredients" to get it right. Rarely does a bookshelf come together on the first attempt. However, knowing some basic principles definitely helps. Since I have bookshelf styling on the brain this week, I thought it would be a good time to share some of the tips I use when working in my own home and with design clients. How to style a bookshelf via The Lovely Cupboard

7 Tips for Styling Your Bookshelves

It seems obvious, right? Where else would you display a collection? How you display it is the key. Think about items that have some physical characteristics in common. Weed out the ones that seem to stand out from the pack. I chose to display a collection of white ceramic urns and vases. Using a monochromatic collection automatically brings a cohesive sense to a space. Instead of spreading out a collection-which can actually make things looked cluttered-group like items close together.  To see great ideas for collections, check out this post by Kris.

Ok, this may not be everyone's jam. You think it looks too much like a box of Crayola's? I get that. (I just happen to love me some crayons.) It took a little while for me to get on board with this idea. But after seeing spaces like these, I decided to try it. This time I had a green themed shelf. You'll notice several hues from citrine all the way to emerald. This variation in hue is what gives color grouping some dimension. Trying to match hues exactly will drive you bonkers. Plus if all the books are too matchy-matchy, the grouping ends up looking a little flat.

This is one of the top styling principles for any space. Layering elements on bookshelves gives depth and a "collected" look. Try using art work as back drops for nic-nacs. Use small accent pieces in front of or on top of books. Emily Henderson is the QUEEN of styling bookshelves. One of the reasons is that she can school most designers on layering. Check out some gorgeously layered shelving in her living room tour. (One of my all-time favorite rooms.)

Artwork doesn't always need to hang on a wall. Prop art up on your shelves and showcase it. Stacking a smaller piece of art atop books can give it needed height. You can use paintings, prints, or even framed pieces of fabric. I used some of my favorite grey and gold Japanese wave fabric to add pattern and serve as a background for layered items. Also, you have more freedom to place artwork lower when using on a shelf rather than a wall.

Actually, there are seven different ways you can stack books, but choose at least these two. (Seven?? Yes, you read correctly. Check them out here.) Make sure to balance the books among the shelves. If you use one shelf for all the books, it will automatically have a "heavy" look. Try instead to spread out mini-stacks among the shelves.

It took me three different arrangements and dozens of combinations within each arrangement to finally settle on one. I played around with all the "puzzle pieces" and even slept on it. I came back the next day and tweaked it some more. It's ok if you need time to feel it out. Give yourself the freedom to do this.
When cooking, sometimes the "secret ingredient" is the odd ball you never would have suspected would work in the context of the recipe. This is the same with styling. My odd ball is the neon green "busty lady". Everything else on the shelf has a pretty formal vibe. She shakes things up a bit and keeps it from looking too stuffy.
(Oh, do you see my new "child"? Yes, that leafy thing on the left. Well his name is Newton, and if he lives to see his first birthday there will be a party with cake and ice cream and singing. No lie.)

DIY Challenge

What if you gave your bookshelf a new look without spending a dime? Try some of my tips to see if you can refresh your bookshelf and take it up a notch. Dear friends, remember it's an art and a science. Experiment and play with color. Try the tips, but remember they are not rules. Don't be afraid to break them. If you try even one and it helps, I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment and let me know.

Still thinking, "OK, lady. That's great and all, but you don't know my house/stuff/shelf. It's a big hot mess." Want some help? I can do that. Hit me up for some virtual design services

Open Pantry Organization


pantry organizationHello, friends! It's Anna here, and I have one of my latest organization projects to share with you today.  Don't you love it when a plan comes together? This pantry project highlights the magic that can happen when form and function not only meet, but become besties.

This pantry lives in a home with a very busy kitchen. Space is an issue, and easy access to items is a must. Before I designed this open pantry system, a bulky free-standing cabinet sat in its place. Not only was this previous pantry unattractive and cumbersome, it is what I like to call a ‘one trick pony’. This type of pantry that only allows for the storage of items that can be stacked on shelves.

We all know what happens when we start stacking things on shelves behind closed doors, don’t we? We forget what we have, and the clutter piles up. Whenever possible, I begin ‘upward thinking’ for projects. Start at the floor and utilize as much space as possible. The pegboard system I created in this project works like a charm for this method.
open pantry organizationpantry organizationHere are the tools I used...

Marbled Paper Art and Mantel Indecision


marbled paperCan paper have a gender? I'm pretty sure if any paper could, this hand-marbled paper does. She's the new hot girl of my mantel. Forgive me, I am slightly obsessed with her. Like any attractive female, she lights up the room with her presence and demands your attention immediately. Oh, and she only wears gold. As if there was any other option.

I first saw the idea to frame marbled paper via The Little Green Notebook that was originally posted here. This specialty paper is perfect to serve as framed art. I purchased mine from Paper Mojo. When I visited their site for the first time, it was definitely an "Ohmigaaaaah" moment. They have dozens of equally gorgeous options in several colors; it was hard to choose. The paper only cost $6, but shipping bumped my total to $20. Still, this is an amazing price for a piece of artwork this size.marbled paper art

Help Me: Mantel Indecision

My mantel was in for a major overhaul. I knew that the marbled paper would serve as the large center piece, and I wanted to layer a couple framed prints on either side. The good folks at Minted helped me out with print options. I perused all their fine art prints and photographs and came up with four pieces that I think would work well on my mantel.

I'm trying to pick between two looks that I love equally for different reasons. I'm hoping some of you would help me decide the final art work...

I decided to go with white frames, but were several framing options to choose from at Minted. They come with a wire attached and ready to hang
(Staredown & Flight of the Ocean)
These black and white photographs represent some sentimental things from my upbringing. Born and raised in Texas, the longhorn will always be a sacred animal. We lived less than an hour from the beach growing up (so what if was the muddy Gulf?). We spent countless Saturdays at the beach, and some of my best memories involved sand in my feet and seagulls overhead. They both have personal significance and in a tiny way help to "tell my story".

(California Dreams & Organic Pebbles)
These pieces are fun and add a lot more color to the mantel. I also like that this combo mixes one photograph and a simple geometric print. Each of the three pieces brings something unique to the mantel, but all seem to subtly imply movement. I feel like these pieces bring in a little playfulness to our formal living room.

I love BOTH looks. Truly. I've switched it up so many times and can't decide. Should I go with the first choice of black and white nostalgic photographs or the second set up with pops of color with a modern vibe? So many suitors for the "hot girl" paper, but only two can stay. She deserves the best...

What's your pick? Option 1 or Option 2? 

Arugula and Roasted Beet Salad


roasted beets
I've never been a huge fan of beets. As far as my memory served, they were mushy red globs that came from a can and were only to be eaten if there was nothing else in the pantry. A few months ago I had a roasted beets for the first time, and it was a like I discovered an entirely new vegetable.

Me: "I can't believe I'm saying this. These beets are amazing! Really, try one. Here!" (Stabs a beet and points the fork his way.)
Stu:  "Wow, umm...thanks but I would never come between you and a food you love. I'll pass." (Backs away slowly as I retract my fork and attack the rest in the bowl.)

Sadly our meals as of late have been a little too "would you like fries with that?" and not enough "wash, chop, and eat". I felt like an exciting salad would help detox some of the fast food and freezer meals of the last couple weeks. (I know...I'll need to eat nothing but salad until Easter to do that.)

I love roasting vegetables like cauliflower and artichokes. Now beets are the latest the join the club. I can't believe I've been in the dark about them. Out of the oven, they are sweet and tender but not mushy, perfect for a salad. Arugula's spicy kick pairs nicely with these sweet red gems. And goat cheese...well, what can you say about goat cheese? Those who love it know how it almost steals the show in any salad. Forget the feta or gorgonzola. Goat cheese is the creme de la creme of cheese for salads in my dairy lovin' opinion.

-fresh arugula
-2 large beets
-3 carrots
-red onion
-1/2 cup chopped pecans
-1/3 cup golden raisins
-herbed goat cheese
-1/3 cup balsamic,
-2/3 cup olive oil
-1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400. Wash beets and wrap in foil. Roast in oven 40 minutes and then turn over.
2. Wrap carrots in foil and add to the oven with beets. Continue to roast for 20 minutes.
3. Remove vegetables from the oven and allow to cool slightly before peeling skin. Thinly slice the beets and carrots.
4. Slice red onion and lay over bed of arugula. Sprinkle pecans and golden raisins. (Soak raisins in hot water for 15 minutes beforehand to plump them.)
5. Add beets and carrots to the salad. Lastly, crumble goat cheese on top.
6. Add balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper to a jar with lid. Shake until emulsified and pour over salad.

Aren't they just pretty? I gave some left overs to Gemma...big mistake. My poor child looked like she ate lipstick for lunch.

© The Lovely Cupboard
Web Development by Ana Degenaar - Graphic Design by Molly Jacques