shelving and the art of display

As per usual, I’m working on about 6 sections of my apartment at one time.  I’m SO close to being done a few of them, but I’m not quite there.  Once such area is my bookshelf.  I wish I had a floor to ceiling built-in with a library ladder(!), but I’m just working with a simple 4×4 Expedit bookcase.

While it’s not grand or fancy, it still gives me 16 sections to fill, plus the top.  So I’ve been studying away to see how others have mastered the art of shelving display.

The most common notion is to fill the shelves to the brim with books.  
(Love how the sofas are positioned in front of these shelves!)

While others choose to forget the books and carefully fill shelves with beautiful objects.

The Brick House‘s now defunct bookshelf
(This soft blue background makes me happy.)
I favor arrangements that include at least 60% books plus art and objects.
 dang it! now I really want a Fornasetti face plate!
what do we think about leaning art?
I like it.  
I do not however like it when it’s hung in front of a shelf.
I know its popular.  Naomi hates it.

 OK, this is working for me.
A little mirrored, paired with itsy bitsy art in front of shelves.
Being able to stagger heights of shelves makes it easier to display art.  Alas, I do not have this luxury.
I also don’t have long width’s to fill spaces as I please.

I Just have 16 even-sized, square cubbies.  Like these fellas.
seems like mostly books, with a few large objects filling a cube.

Now that I’m looking at these I wish I would have sprung for the 5×5 instead of the 4×4.  BOO.  It seems the more sections, the better. 

How do you like to fill your shelving sections? 

And where do you find your objects?  I’m trying to collect from all over.  Mostly vintage.  Certainly not all from Home Goods.  Though it takes time.  I think in the end, though, it results in a bookcase full of depth, curiosity and beauty.  At least that’s what I’m going for….

  1. I like books with a lot of air between then and stacked horizontal and vertical, along with artfully scattered objects.

  2. Great examples…love a mix of books, art, photos in frames, etc. over time is the only way to do it!

  3. I’m forever switching things around on my shelves so it looks different almost every day(!) I like a mix too – but mostly books.

  4. I am loving your post – I got my husband to build me a bespoke bookcase and found that the contents evole with us – now great storage for quick clean up with my toddler – where once lovely antique finds sat 🙂 Actually it will be included in my post on friday.

  5. I’d like to see how you do your expedit. We have the big one in our family room and it’s filled with paper crap inside a canvas box. Not very pretty but functional. Still I want to style it and make it pretty and functional.

  6. Ashley

    I’m going to say this even though it totally conflicts with how I act: Good design takes time. I like the curated look best, so I think when you gather special vintage pieces over time you’ll enjoy remembering the quest so much more than some random trip to HomeGoods.

    P.S. Love the Expedit. Mine demarcates the “foyer” from the “living room”!!

    P.P.S. Come over anytime. Like STAT.

  7. nkp

    I absolutely agree, as frustrating as it may be, take your time. Find objects you love. I think a consult with that fabulous Nana of yours might be in oder. Think outside the box. Snap. That was deep. ;0)

  8. I’m moving next weekend and will be in the same boat reorganizing mine except with a 5×5 TV expedit. I love your 60-40 rule and these images! Good luck organizing!
    ~ Julie

  9. Karena

    Naomi I really like the 4 x 4’s I think they will be perfect!!

    I have a Giveaway from The Zhush I know you will love!

    Art by Karena

  10. I can’t wait to see what you do. I loved all these images. They made me realized that I need to bite the bullet and get some shelving.. how fun would it be to syle them!! Great post.. I’m filing this one away!

  11. Well, since I’ve already seen your shelves, I’m just gonna go ahead and say that you’re got it all figured out. Perfect mix of objects and books — totally layered and sophisticated.

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