my living room built-ins

Shelves and bookcases, we all have them and most of us struggle with how to display our stuff on them, me included!  In fact I’m never quite happy -always tweaking, removing or adding especially when the holidays or seasons change.

living room built-ins

One thing that I’ve come to understand over the years is, layering.  Where the practical (need to store books) and the attractive (want to display mementos) can meet to reflect your personality.  I’ve also learned that there is a fine line between layering and chaos!  It can be tricky to arrange shelves so that your eye always has something interesting to linger on (that’s where proportion and color come in to play too).

I’ll usually start by placing things that I know for certain I want in that room then I’ll take a few steps back to size it all up to make sure it flows, often adding or removing items.  Sometimes if I’m unhappy I’ll walk around my house stealing ideas or things from other rooms.  Eventually I’ll leave it and live with it for a few hours or days.  If I like it I’ll tweak it by shuffling things around, but most of the time I end up starting over at least a couple of times before I feel I have it going in the right direction.


In my living room I started out with books, I needed a place to put them and decided they would be less busy if I grouped them into colors.  I also knew I needed some height for that first shelf so I dug around for artwork, vases and anything I already had that was tall or big.


art hides the satellite/pvr box

Because the shelves are also deep it was a perfect opportunity to do some layering; plants, art, ceramics, photos and candles but being careful to stick with either the same color pop (here I chose green) or something that would blend in easily (like glass or metal) with the other colors but still give interest.

I’m happy with how it looks (for now), and I’m on a mission to tackle the rest of room! (No, I am not in love with those couches and yes, a plush colorful area rug would be great in there  -sorry but I’m keeping the lamp!).


The 101:  When decorating shelves: Create different heights.  Stick to one or two main color pops.   Add sparkle with reflective item or metal.  When in doubt, less is more.


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