Good Questions: How To Arrange My Bookshelves?

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Hello AT,

I love book, have a lot of them and will never try to hide them or put them behind doors, but they don't look so great. People even tell me this. I wanted to have a bookish, library feeling, but all I really have is a lot of visual clutter. Can you suggest a good way to arrange books on a shelf so that they look REALLY GOOD?

Thanks, Willy

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Dear Willy,

We have a few rules of thumb that work well:

After sorting by genre or subject, etc....

1. put smaller books up top and bigger books at the bottom and keep relative sized together
2. try to cull all ragged books (esp. paperbacks)
3. leave a little bit of breathing room on each shelf - @10%
4. put your most attractive books at eye level
5. keep your books straight up and down or horizontal
6. never stack anything on top of book rows

We have two friends who sort all their books by color!

We'll finish by quoting ATLA editor Alec from this post:

"we personally hate bookshelves used solely for displaying “things”. That being said, we separate our books by category (plays, literature, how-to and reference, etc.) and then by size. We love the look of books both upright and stacked so we can create a sort of cross-hatching. This allows books to act as bookends for one another and gives a few flat spots for our favorite things."

Anyone else?

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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