Bookshelf styling

The mother of all bookcases

When a friend asks you to style the bookcases of her impeccably designed condo you first drool over every detail of the space while your jaw drops at the size of said bookcase project and then you just get to work because you already said yes and here goes nothing. I truly wish I had more advice about bookshelf styling but other than taking everything off the surface and just going for it section by section, I don't really know how it comes together. It just does. Ok – there is some thought in this process which I'll share as you read along. 

Here is the view from this room (sometimes my heart truly aches for city life) and also some really fuzzy before photos to show progress. Nothing beats a project that comes with it's own measurements and really bad before photos to make you look good. 

So this was more than just a bookshelf, it was a library, really – shelves on every. single. wall. They use it as their family/media room.

My main goal was to honor their style by using personal mementos (pictures, books, etc.) and then bring in some cool objects to fill in the rest while trying extra, extra hard to not overwhelm the space with a lot of stuff. Easier said than done in a room full of shelves. You have to fill them but there's definitely a balance to strike. The key is to not go crazy with the amount of things on one shelf. And some shelves just need one thing only. Also, don't go crazy with small things. You really need to balance small objects with large ones or it can look junky fast. If I'm starting from scratch I might try to stick to a color palate but for this room, I prefer the pops of color here and there to liven up the space. And coincidentally, the pieces I chose go really well with the paintings which was kind of dumb luck but I'll take it. 

When I'm shopping around, I'm looking for interesting shapes and sizes of things and also that everything will work well together. I'm loving all of the natural decor out there right now. Lots of wood, stones, hides, metals. I stuck mostly to that theme while I was perusing my typical go-to places (Target, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, CB2 – you can spend a lot of cash on decor objects but I truly don't understand why you would when there's so much good stuff out there for less.) My personal favorites are the burl wood boxes from CB2 and the sort of weird giant wood chain I found at HomeGoods. I need these for myself ;) 

Books were mostly from their personal collection. They have tons of art books which made my job super easy. You can't go wrong with a giant Andy Warhol book now can you? I did use some filler books and I've mentioned this before but my secret is Goodwill. I stockpile pretty books for occasions such as this. Taking into consideration how the book looks but also the title and topic when I can. Another tip – take the dust jackets off. The bindings are always far better looking than the jackets. So yeah, I arrange little piles of books at my local Goodwill to see if they'll look cool stacked up – you have your weird things and I have mine. At least the result is pretty. 

This room is multi-purpose because it's not only the family room but also the play room. To make it feel more cohesive I swapped plastic bins for pretty baskets and used them throughout the rest of the room for additional storage, too. These seagrass lovelies come in a bunch of sizes from Target and half the price of Pottery Barn... seriously guys, shop around (or get a stylist that does ;). As a side note, I did a fool's errand and rearranged these kids books. I do this in Henry's room, too. Why? I cannot help myself.  

So, three hours later there you have it (plus a bonus shot of some really pretty art). I'm super happy with how this space turned out. I bought a lot of stuff for this project and I'm very pleased that it all worked together so nicely in addition to their existing things. I love how the photos honor their family and the room just feels cool and fun... just like them. Don't you just want to get cozy on that sofa with a glass of rose and read about Andy Warhol. I know I do ;)

Do you have a built-in or a bookshelf that you're struggling to style? I can help! 

A bright and serene office update

When you're a city dweller, it's pretty common for your home office to double as a guest room while also accommodating all of the other stuff you're not quite sure what to do with. That was the state of affairs for my writer/photographer/all things creative client, Diana. Not the best 'before' photos but you get the idea. She needed a place to think freely and feel inspired that would also be welcoming to friends and family and a little monkey I happen to know...Diana is my mother-in-law and that monkey is, of course, Henry ;)

One of the most challenging parts of updating a space for a client is to do so while still honoring their personal style. I know Diana fairly well at this point so I know she loves pattern and deep, rich colors. I used a rug of hers as the starting point that also served as sort of check in piece for me. Any ideas that came to mind had to be cohesive with that piece to know that I was still on track with her look and not just my own. Here's the mood board I put together for her that I shared on the blog a while back. To my delight, she was on board with most of my ideas and we moved forward quickly. 

The first order of business was the wall color. To brighten the space, my initial thought was Honeymilk by Valspar but it didn't quite work with the lighting and was too similar to the trim. ALWAYS test your paint, people! We tried out a few and settled on Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore (I love the color so much, I'm using it in our bedroom...eventually). It's a creamy light gray with very subtle brown undertones. Really bright and clean feeling and so, so pretty. 

Diana had expressed feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the pattern in her home so I swapped the futon cover for a solid one and found some new, fun pillows – one print, one striped. She still loves pattern, just doesn't want it everywhere. I can relate. I removed the torchier lamp and updated it with this wood toned geometric guy from Target...I'm really digging that little corner. 

    Floor lamp - Target ;  Bird pillow - Pottery Barn ; Tassel pillow - West Elm (discontinued); Futon cover - Right-On Futon; Frames - Ikea 

 

Floor lamp - Target; Bird pillow - Pottery Barn; Tassel pillow - West Elm (discontinued); Futon cover - Right-On Futon; Frames - Ikea 

The gallery wall was next. Diana had a lot of family photos to display but as it happens over time, frames can begin to look dated and don't always mix well with one another. I purchased varying shapes and sizes of black frames from Ikea for a more cohesive look and got to hanging. (Here's a tip for gallery walls: Arrange your frames on the floor first until you like what you see, snap a photo of the arrangement to reference while you're hanging.)

Diana's desk was a little worse for wear but otherwise a solid piece that was still very workable. I'd been following Megmade, a furniture refinishing shop in Chicago, for some time and was excited to finally get a chance to work with them. Diana and I popped in and chose a nice gray lacquer (Amherst Gray by Benjamin Moore) for the base and she kept with the same dark wood finish for the top. I found new brass hardware from Schoolhouse Electric and voila, a few weeks later, a new desk. That. Is. Gorgeous. 

Although her desk chair is not the most attractive, it's crazy comfortable. Knowing that this is an actual working office, I resisted the urge to trade it out for something pretty (and less cozy) and just threw a sheepskin over it to dress it up. 

The before photo doesn't do justice to the ledge shelves on the wall but they were too big for the space. I removed them and chose a tall bookshelf for stuff that was beginning to accumulate on and around her desk. To help her stay organized, I grabbed some pretty boxes from Ikea for mail and general miscellany and we kept her wicker file box and mail sorter, too. Mike will make fun of me because I'm into wicker lately but I really do love the softness and texture it can bring to a room...when done well. 

In the case of the shelf, I kept with her mismatched frames. If you don't go crazy with too many, I think it can work. And they also helped to keep the space more Diana and less 'decorator'. 

Pulling it all together (as rugs do) was that beautiful kilim. It was passed down from her mother who had impeccable taste in rugs and was just a super fun piece to work with. Using things of meaning for clients is my favorite part. I've mentioned this in every post (because it's true!) that it's sentimental pieces that make a house feel like home. 

So, there you have it. An updated office/guest room that we did for just over a grand. All in all, the space feels much more easy breezy which is exactly what I was going for. It's the perfect place to get creative, meditate on your day or throw down a pack 'n play and take a nice long afternoon nap :)

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