Last week, during a blizzard, Shauna and I embarked on the ultimate Virgo quest: reorganising (almost) my entire apartment. I mean, what else are you going to do when you’re trapped inside with an overactive mind and a penchant for colour coordination?!
We started with the closet in my bedroom: ruthlessly pulling out every single item, asking whether it should stay or go, and trying on the items I was undecided about (much to the amusement/horror of my boyfriend who was stuck in the apartment with us). Once we’d gone through that closet, we moved into the spare room — which is currently acting as a dressing room — and did the same thing. And then we did that with the closet in the spare room.
By the time we were done, we had three suitcases stuffed to the brim with clothes to sell, and several bags of items to donate. The feeling of lightness was euphoric. I can only describe it as being somewhat akin to a psychic colonic!
Two Virgos on their organisational grind is a dangerous thing. A night later, after returning home from the bar, Shauna looked at me and asked, “Do you want to arrange your bookshelf by colour?” Of course the answer was yes. Again, a few hours passed, and we had a huge stack of books to give away, and a beautiful ombre bookcase. #virgoporn
Our grand finale was to go through the top of my bookshelves, which had been serving as a way of displaying my various objects, and clear it off and re-do it. With only a couple of hours before Shauna’s return flight to Portland, we fired up Periscope and livestreamed the whole thing.
The video is embedded below. If you’re interested in styling your own bookshelves, I think this video will help you. You can see us fiddling with different items and playing with perspective, height and dimension. Often in the online world, we only ever see the finished product, but this is a real, live demonstration of what happens behind the scenes.
Before. As you can see, even though the objects sitting in my bookshelf are cute, this is a pretty random assortment. My bookshelf had become a kind of temporary home for a lot of items, like jewellery, spare Instax photos, and prints that I hadn’t framed up yet.
After. So much better! We used a lot of the same objects, and in fact there is a lot more stuff on my shelves now, but it looks cleaner, more well-balanced and purposeful. Now, instead of the shelves acting like a lost-and-found for weird objects, everything on display is well-loved and meaningful.
These are the major lessons I learned from watching Shauna style my bookcase.
1. HAVE A CLEAR COLOUR PALETTE
Styling my bookcase was pretty easy, because we already had a super-defined colour palette to work with. Pretty much item we chose to feature was pink, white, black, silver or gold. When the colours of all your tschotskes go together, it’s much more appealing to the eye. Otherwise it can just look like a jumble sale! Pick a few colours to work with, and work within those parameters.
2. BOOKS, THEN ART, THEN OBJECTS
We started by using big coffee table books to add height and to ground the shelves. We took off the slipcovers and chose books with colourful spines, gold embossing, and fun details. Once we’d used a few books to create a foundation, we layered in art — a framed crystal grid, prints and framed photographs — to add height and visual interest. The final step was to build it up and out with objects: shoes, skulls, crystals, cacti, cameras, etc.
3. THINK ABOUT TEXTURE
One of the reasons why the final result looks fabulous and interesting is because there are lots of different textures at play and it helps to move your eye along the shelves. There’s plenty of shine with the glitter, matte gold finishes, crystals and foil, all of which grab your attention. These finishes beautifully complement the flat canvas book covers, velvet skulls, and ceramic candle holders. Think about texture like a dance: there has to be a give and take of flat and shiny.
4. LEAVE BREATHING ROOM
You don’t want your shelves to be crammed full of objects so that you can’t focus on any one thing. Allow the items adequate space so that they can stand out on their own. And if in doubt, take a few things away. Remember how Coco Chanel said you should always take one thing off before leaving the house? This applies to styling, too!
5. KEEP PLAYING!
Realistically, a space like a bookshelf will never be finished. Just like your internal world, it should be constantly evolving and changing! Even when our Periscope ended, we weren’t done with our styling mission: we kept playing for another half hour to really refine the shelves and make them as close to perfect as we could manage. This can be a frustrating process, but don’t let it get you down. Approach it with a playful mindset and enjoy the exercise!
I learned so much from watching Shauna arrange and rearrange the items on my bookcase, and I am so happy with how it looks now! I hope this inspires you to beautify your space and fill it only with things you love.
Love and magic,