Bedroom Bookshelf Makeover

Mar 6, 2013 by

I’ve been working on another furniture makeover to accompany the tables I repainted recently, and it’s taking a long time to finish.

So in the meantime I did the cheap kind of redecoration — reorganizing! — to another part of my home.  The haphazard bedroom bookshelf.

I have spent a lot of time reading about styling bookshelves (shut up, I think it’s a good use of my time), and while the shelving in the living room and den reflect a kind of calm order and an intentional color scheme, the ones in our bedroom have always been more utilitarian, with a bunch of picture frames and candles shoved up there at the top.  I knew I wanted those shelves to look intentional and calm, since they are in my bedroom after all, but how to start the makeover?  Well, for the first time, I decided to start by make a vignette.  Vignettes are used by professional stylists all the time (really, you see them in magazines all the time) to convey the feeling of the color and textures of a room in miniature.  Like a decorator science fair project.  So I gathered some things from around my house that I felt would give me the feeling of my ideal bedroom in miniature, and I put them together.

I’m not saying it’s professional-looking, but it conveys what I want our bedroom to become.  The objects here are beautiful and personal and comforting.  All the ideal and wished-for colors are here — dark green and light green, dark blue and light blue, and gray. There’s some softness in the scarf, but also a glossy modern shine coming from other pieces, like the lamp and perfume bottle.

One decorating tip I have read over and over is to “shop your home,” meaning “look around and make sure you don’t have some stuff in your other rooms you might want to use, before you buy a bunch of new crap.”  I realized in making this vignette that the green milkglass box and cake stand that I love and have been displaying in my living room actually fit much better in my bedroom, so I moved them.  After creating this little display, I felt like I had a better handle on what I needed to make my bookshelf calm and cohesive.  I went out and bought two storage bins with the color and texture I wanted, to replace the green and white plastic one holding shoe polish and lint rollers.  Then I came home and stripped the bookshelf.  And cleaned it.  And started over.

This was the result.


It may not look like much, but it makes me feel so much better!  I moved the utilitarian cleaning supplies into the closet.  I framed a note that Miles once left for me when I’d gone out of town, and put it on the top shelf.  I moved the spare change into a pretty candleholder I didn’t have a candle for.  I limited myself on picture frames.  And I moved the books I’m currently reading from my over-crowded nightstand into a neat little stack, topped off by the gummi bear lamp Miles gave me for our first anniversary.

And yes, this stack of schizophrenia is what I’m currently reading: Oprah’s Guide to Life, a book about fashion, a book about theories of education, some Appalachian folk tales, a wellness read, and Neil Gaiman.  A pretty standard cross-section of current literary interests.  Please note I coordinated the little green sprout bookmarks so they match.

I have lots of little precious objects displayed, from a bird sculpture I got in Asheville to my collection of Holy Water to a bottle of aerogels that a physicist friend gave me, but they don’t feel cluttered because they all have room to breathe.  I once read that when styling a bookshelf, everything should look easy and comfortable, the way a teddy bear sits on a bed.  I tried to keep that in mind for this project.  It also helps that everything is now part of a more cohesive color and texture theme, so it looks less jumbled.

At the end of the day, if the space where I spend my time looks beautiful and meaningful to me, instead of cluttered and unspecial, I believe that kind of energy makeover is worth $15 for some baskets and a couple of hours of my time.

And the next time it starts to look junky again, a new look is only one vignette away.

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