Thursday, May 30, 2013

Decorating the Industrial Bookshelf

Once Reed finished assembling our new bookshelf for the office (read all about how he built it here), it was time for the fun part! And before you ask, no, the bookshelf hasn't been sitting empty for the past 3 months, we are just really slow at writing blog posts. Yes, we know, horrible bloggers.  This would be a good time to promise we will be better. But lets be real...its almost summer.  How about we compromise and tell you, we promise we will try our best?  Sunshine has a tendency to take priority around here (rightfully so, I mean, we've had the LONGEST winter ever, am I right?). 

So, anyway, back to the shelves...I tend to struggle with shelf decorating because I believe there is a fine line between having a visually pleasing display and over cluttered shelves. I've spent plenty of time browsing blogs and searching Pinterest for bookshelf displays that I love and I have a few tips that I try to keep in mind while attempting to decorate: 

  • Each shelf can be arranged differently, but its important to show some consistency throughout.
  • Books can be displayed binding out (to add color), or pages out (to create a more neutral look). Although true story, we initially had all of the books pages out and got quite a lot of slack from both sides of the fam.  This inspired us to just hide most of the books in storage instead of displaying them :)
  • Books can be horizontal or vertical to create visual interest and variety in the displays.
  • Storage should be labeled (if there is even a tiny bit of hope that you I will stay organized), properly fit the shelf size, and coordinate with other storage options.  And yes, I know, I haven't labeled my storage boxes yet. Would you believe me if I said its because I haven't decided what font to use? :) [Our Storage Boxes are from Ikea]
  • If storing books isn't the only purpose of your shelf, add different objects throughout the display (for example: plates, vases, antique items, clocks, fans, candles, etc.)
  • Use items on the top of the bookshelf to add height and fill the wall. Speaking of, anyone have a suggestion for what I should put in the frames on the top of the bookshelf? [Our frames are from Target (Threshold Brand)]
  • Layer decorative objects or frames and place multiple objects at different heights on the same shelf (books are great for creating height differences).
  • Decorate with details and objects that are meaningful to you. Reed attached our old license plates to some pieces of hardwood flooring to add a personal touch to our shelves.

  • Use bookshelves as a way to add accent colors to a room and complete a cohesive color scheme.

  • Remove paper book cover sleeves from hardcover books for a more classic look.  You could also recover the books with scrapbook paper/brown kraft paper/newspaper to add color or pattern to your bookshelves
  • Use frames, mirrors, artwork, or even empty frames on the back of the shelves (or wall in our case). Or, follow the lead of some of our favorite DIY experts and paint the back of your shelves!
  • Search stores like Goodwill, TJMaxx, Ikea, Hobby Lobby, Antique Shops (and garage sales/estate sales) for reasonable decorations.  Don't want to spend any money? Walk around your house and look for objects in other rooms that could be re purposed.  Do you have something that's perfect but the wrong color? Spray paint it! We painted a black elephant orange to match the blue/grey/orange color scheme we have going on in this room.

  • Nothing is permanent. If you are getting frustrated, leave the shelves for a few days and come back to it later.  The beauty of decorating shelving is that it can be changed with the room, seasons, month, or even your mood! 

Hope these tips provide you with some ideas and inspiration!  We have 1 piece of art to frame for above the desk and the office will be DONE. No promises on when that will happen though- the sun is shining and we are ready to move our projects outside for the summer!

[Linked Up with Thrifty Decor Chick]


  1. Wow! I know this is about the shelving but I really like the drapes.

    1. Thanks Mary! My mom made them out of fabric I ordered on!

  2. Love your office! Such an inspiring design. Can you please tell me what wall color you used?

    1. Thanks! The Wall Color is called "Winter Flannel" by Valspar.