A friend of mine recently decided to take on an early “spring cleaning” project, so she removed everything from her office book shelves that were previously hidden under years of college textbooks, old mail, and dusty nick-knacks. After boxing up and storing everything away in her garage, she then painted all the walls and organized the furniture where she wanted. At this point, she was suddenly faced with the dreaded “empty page” syndrome, stumped with how to tackle and return the stuff she wanted back onto her shelves. “I want it to look nice and pretty, but it also needs to be functional.” No worries, Katy. This blog’s for you!

#1 – Keep things SIMPLE & UNCLUTTERED: just because you have space, doesn’t mean you need to use it. Just organize a few FUNCTIONAL items on each shelf, then add a “pop!” of decor (i.e. plants, framed photos, nick-knacks)…again, keep these items to a minimum!

#2 – GROUP items: organize books by color, size, or topic to add a functional and visually decorative element to your shelves. If you want to display nick-knacks, collectibles or photos, do so in groups of 3-5*. This allows you to display fun items, but in an orderly, artistic way.

Color Coordinated & Collectibles: *using a top shelf is a fantastic place to display large collections. Source:

#3 – CONTAINERS are your friends! Baskets, boxes and bins are great for containing magazines, books, and letters. Wooden or colorful cardboard magazine holders are great for notebooks and photo albums. Find them at Habitat for Humanity ReStores, flea markets, and stores like Target for very little money. Again, these useful containers add neatness, functional organization, and that “POC” (pop of color) in a fun, subtle way.

Boxes, Baskets, and Bins: for more ways to find fun containers, look to family members who have vintage tins or curios that are meaningful and inspiring. Source:

#4 – Add SOMETHING FUN! As in photo #1, a clock or wall art can be a great way to bring in your personality. Or, if you don’t want to hang anything on the walls, and you have lots of books, you can integrate fun vases, letters, boxes, or nick-knacks as interesting bookends.

Nick-Knack Book Ends: colorful family initials, vintage collectibles, and favorite nick-knacks warm and personalize the room, making it more homey. Source:

#5 – Create a KIDS’ LIBRARY: designate a single shelf, or install several display ledges on a wall for your children’s books. This will allow your kids to have their own space to easily find and pick one out to read, (or for you to read to them). Include photos of them and/or their artwork to make this space even more special and create a great way to honor the kids in your home!

Kids’ Library Shelves: children’s book covers have fun, vibrant colors that double as great artwork. Tip: if you don’t have kids or they’ve flown the coop, this idea is still great for grandkids, nieces and nephews, or friends with little ones. Source:

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