You just hauled home a couple of the Billy shelves from Ikea and spent a challenging afternoon putting them together. Now what? Load it up with those cartons of books that have been stacked around your apartment for who knows how long, crack open a Stella and call it a day? Maybe. But if you want your bookshelves to be for display and not just for storage (and yes, they can be both), something that forms a pleasing backdrop to your mid-century sofa and glass and chrome coffee table, read on...
- Stop! Before you do anything else, perk up the back of the shelves: Wallpaper, a pop of colour (if you're really bold, you could paint a different colour in each section), fabric, whatever you choose, adding colour here adds depth and visual interest and makes the shelving more than just a holding place.
- Shine a light on it: If your bookshelves will be filled with more than just books, consider adding lights to the tops of some of the shelves. Or you might want to clamp on a lamp; the spot will add a bit of drama.
- Putting the books on the shelves: Duh, just start at the top and work your way across and then down, right? Nope. Try a more seemingly haphazard method that works much better. We like to divide up our books into types (try fiction, non-fiction, reference, biographies, coffee table books, cookbooks for starters) and then give them shelf space according to their use; reference books, often unattractive but useful, find a spot lower down, coffee table books near the center, cookbooks at eye level on the side nearest the kitchen, fiction, usually stuff that's already been read but you can't bear to part with, near the top. Place some books upright, some on their sides and don't stack them so tightly you can't pull them out with one finger and vary the height of your books.
- Now, fill in the blanks: A small painting to fill in a blank spot, your collection of Pez dispensers on another shelf, the lumpy clay bowl your niece made for you on top of a stack of books.