decorating bookcases

Dressing Your Room In Layers

I met with a new client last week and the words she used to describe what she wanted for her home was "casual elegance". This got me thinking about what those words actually meant. To me, it's a beautiful room that is well designed, but you aren't afraid to curl up on the sofa and watch a good movie. It has layers and character, and tells a story about the people who live there. Giving a room a story isn't as hard as it sounds. It requires some thought, but here are some easy steps to get you there. Accessories are the best way to add character to your room. Start with what you have. Family photos, souvenirs you picked up on vacation, books you love or even that bowl you inherited from you great aunt. Look around your house and gather things that mean something to you. I always ask clients to bring out what they already have when I'm accessorizing a room.  Below is a shelf detail from a study I recently did.  Everything belonged to the client.

Study Shelf Detail

Textiles give a room a welcome feeling and those could be pillows, throw blankets, rugs or window treatments. Most sofas come with matching pillows. Ditch those and get new ones that are in contrasting colors and textures. Pillows are easy to find and can be budget friendly, so don't be afraid to buy something that is bold.  The designer, Sarah Richardson, is a master at mixing fabrics for pillows.

Sarah Richardson


Art is also a great way to add a layer in your room. Think out of the box when hanging items on your wall. Plate hangers can turn your collection of antique platters into a unique piece of art. Ledge shelves, with art leaning on them, is another simple way to fill a wall with character. I have a shelf hanging above my desk and right now it's filled with things that mean so much to me - family photos, a print I picked up at the beach, a fun mug my son made at art camp and a pair of ceramic figurines that belonged to my mom.  Here's an idea I found on Pinterest and recreated it for my client's bedroom.  These are framed photos of their mountain cabin and bring back great memories each time they seem them.

Jennifer Taylor Design

If this sounds overwhelming, then think of your room like a beautiful outfit. Start with really good basics, then add a colorful scarf, sparkly earrings and the perfect shoes!

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Jennifer Taylor Design: Tallahassee, Florida Most of us have them. Those bookcases filled with rows and rows of empty space. What can we display in them that won't make them feel cluttered? My answer is simple...less is more!

Jennifer Taylor Design: Tallahassee, Florida
The key to styling a bookcase is balance and free space around the items. When I rearrange a bookcase for a client, the first thing I do is take everything down. I then categorize the items into like piles (picture frames, books, accessories, etc) and begin by putting in the books first. Larger, heavier books look best along the bottom. Turning them sideways, especially if they are tall, is a good way to break it up.

The next step is taking your larger items and placing those around to create a visual balance in each space. If the item is large enough to stand on its own, centered in the space, then let it. Then, begin to fill in with the smaller items. The bookcase pictured above is a great guide for how to arrange your books. Vertical, horizontal and even having some angled makes the bookcase not look so formal. I love stacking books to create a "riser" for smaller accessories.You can never have too many picture frames. FALSE! I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a house and the bookcase is filled with hundreds of picture frames. The reason this is a big don't is that you have so many photos, you can't appreciate even one. My advice is to have a wide variety of sizes and designs, but change out your photos as your children grow. We don't have to see every school picture, of every child over the last 12 years. It's too much. OK, enough preaching about picture frames.

Another great piece of advice is to adjust your shelves. They don't all have to be at the same height. This creates interest and lets you use different size items. I love to see framed prints leaning in the back of a space, as pictured below.

My last piece of advice is to fill your bookcases with things you love. Let your bookcase tell your story. Pick up items when you travel so that when you see it, you remember those fun times. Don't be scared of your bookcase!Link