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A general misconception is that tidying means tossing items that don’t serve a purpose. Tidying and decluttering is the best way to bring what you actually love and cherish to light. This little built-in rests at the top of our basement stairs. It’s one of my favorite characteristics of the home. I displayed the Hardy Boys books Kyle collected with his dad from garage sales as a kid, my wedding shoes, favorite candles, books I love, and photographs I took when we walked over the Williamsburg bridge, for the first time, almost 10 years ago. Homes should have heart, so let’s make it easier to enjoy.

I’m going to talk about how I decluttered, organized, and then styled this shelf

1. Declutter

Deciding what to get rid of; This is a personal choice, the system that works best for me is physically laying out every single item of a particular category. For books it gives you an idea of the sheer number you have, especially if it takes a long time to take them all out of boxes or off shelves (and not one shelf at a time) I’m saying every single book you own. 

If books are your thing and you love every single one of them, by all means keep them. The majority of people will easily be able to cut down their starting number by a quarter, hopefully half. Maybe you only have 10 books you absolutely love and want to hold onto, great! Maybe the thought of putting them all back on the shelf is something you are dreading…If that’s the case you have too many, if you are excited to find a place for each one where you can easily locate them, that’s a sign you should keep it. 

2. Lend or Donate

A simple way to reduce clutter is downloading books over purchasing them, this is something that I choose not to do, but for many is a good solution. I like the feel of a physical book in my hands and I enjoy underlining, bookmarking and referring back to things I want to reread. I’m aware you can do this on a device, but I don’t enjoy it as much, Because of this I often lend books to friends who I know will enjoy what I’ve read or I’ll give the book away when I know I no longer want it. Having a lending library is a functional way to keep books you may no longer read but you aren’t ready to completely get rid of. 

3. Organize and Style 

When organizing shelves many people follow particular ‘styling’ rules;

1. Color coordinate the shelves

2  Groups items in 3s 

3. Use white space, so items aren’t crowded

These are all starting points that I incorporate when finding a spot for my possessions. I tend to focus mainly on movement by placing items so your eye travels around the shelf, nothing sticks out to the point that it becomes a distraction.

This is a space with multiple shelves, because of that I used the top shelf for static items that are rarely moved, I worked my way down to the shelves of items that I may still be using, or referencing, or borrowing for other rooms; like the candles, or my plants that may need more light.

Organizing comes down to having less to begin with. When items don’t look crowded and you can easily find what you are looking for, organizing becomes an afterthought that doesn’t need to be repeated very often.

SHOP THE EDIT

library-10candle1 library-9 library-8 library-7 library-6candle2 library-5 library-4 library-3 library-2 library-1

Book Organization

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photography by SARAH DOBBS & HEATHER MOORE