Beefing up plain bookshelves and bookshelf styling

[pinterest] Cody made these simple bookshelves and entertainment center not long after we moved in 6 years ago. They’re easy peasy to make: just cut pine boards to length and screw them together. Add some stain and you’re done.These were custom made to fit our wall and TV, so I was quite fond of them, but lately I got to thinking they looked a little puny and a little dark.

Before: Cheap, dark, and simple bookshelves
Before: Cheap, dark, and simple bookshelves

We beefed them up by facing all the fronts of the shelves with shelving quality pine boards then added a large baseboard molding to the bottom which also conveniently keeps DVDs from getting pushed under them (see above). If you are painting over a dark stained wood I recommend to give the shelves a light sanding first to remove any finish then prime. Do not skip the priming. We did and it took nearly 8 coats of paint to cover the stain. Apply the paint with a foam roller to get a super smooth finish. We used Olympic Premium Exterior Semi-gloss in Delicate White.

After: Shelves have been beefed up with pine facing and baseboard molding and lightened with white paint.
After: Shelves have been beefed up with pine facing and baseboard molding and lightened with white paint.

I love how much more presence the shelves have in the room. Next up was re-styling the book shelves. I originally had the books arranged by color but I decided to re-order them by theme. I knew I wanted to not only include my book collection but also our knickknacks that we have collected on our travels. I was feeling a little overwhelmed until I found this post from The Art of Doing Stuff on 7 ways to stack books.

Honestly, it did take me most of the day to re-sort the books and then play with the displays. I started by making 10 stacks of books (since I have 10 shelves). I stacked them based on theme. Then depending on how many books were in each stack I arranged them in different ways on each shelf. I did one shelf, stood back, studied it for a while, redid it, then moved on to the next shelf. As you are going you want to make sure each shelf balances the next. You may want to consider which books you want easy access to such as albums, children’s books, and reference books and make sure they are at a level you can reach. Once I had all of the books placed, I began placing the frames and knickknacks. This again required re-shuffling of books, a lot of observation, and trying again. If you have children or pets consider which items can take a beating and be placed low and which ones are priceless and need to be placed high. If a shelf isn’t really working for just leave it for a while. I find the more you live with it you’ll either come to love it or will be struck by inspiration for a better idea. Here is a close-up of each of our shelves.

Different ways to style of bookshelf
Different ways to style of bookshelf
More ways to style a book shelf
More ways to style a book shelf

Keep in mind that this is not a place where perfection is necessary or ever wanted as your book and knickknack collection will mostly likely grow over the years, so the shelves will be a contrast work in progress!

Do you have bookshelves in your house? Do you style them or just try to cram as much stuff on them as possible? If you style them, how often do you find you have to re-work them?

 

 

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