Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Our Finished Shelves and a few Bookshelf Styling Tips

Big week for the blog... second post this week!  Woot woot :-)

Earlier this week I posted about the rustic shelving DIY project that I worked on, and today I wanted to share some photos of the completed project, now that the shelves have been styled.

I am certainly no expert on styling bookshelves, but I did learn a few things as I went - especially after several failed attempts at styling them.  They were looking messy.  Cluttered.  And I was frustrated because I loved them with nothing on them, and was hating them with all our stuff.

The challenge for me, is that these shelves are not just for display.  They actually needed to be practical (ugh, I hate practical) and store things - mainly books and magazines.  It's not like we have a ton of books since I have done most of my reading on a Kindle for the last several years, but we do have SOME, and I'm not willing to part with most of them.

All my design books, which happen to be big and beautiful and perfect for styling a bookshelf are all in the living room for easy grabbing.  I like to leaf through them on weekends or at night when we're watching TV, so those weren't going on the bookshelf.  

All my cookbooks that are also large and gorgeous are in the kitchen for obvious reasons.  So that left me with only a few hardcovers, and a lot of paperbacks.  Not ideal for "beautiful" styling, but that's what needed a home, and we live in the real world... not the pages of House Beautiful... unfortunately.

Ignore the radiator... looking at these photos makes me realize how badly that needs to be sanded and re-painted...

All the shelves I loved on Pinterest and in design magazines weren't necessarily functional... they housed gigantic seashells, and cool candlesticks... driftwood... cloches with cool weird stuff inside.  Not helpful.

So per usual, I turned to Google. 

"How to Style Shelves".


OODLES of results came up, and I recognized a few of my favorite bloggers among the results. Little Green Notebook. Censational Girl. Emily Henderson.  Queen of bookshelf styling.  Seriously.  She wins.

After reading all the tutorials, there were a few key points that stood out. As I worked at re-styling the shelves, these tips REALLY helped me put together an arrangement that I was satisfied with in the end...

Here are the tips I found most helpful as a guide:

Start out with the largest pieces and then add the smaller.

By arranging the large pieces first, and filling in sparse space after, the end result was more balanced, although even looking at these pictures I see a few things I'd like to change.

Group like with like.

I kept photos together, books together, and small decorative items together.  In my first attempts, everything was too scattered, and there was no place to rest your eyes.  There were books on every shelf, photos on every shelf, and it ended up feeling really busy.

By grouping things together, it instantly "makes more sense" when looking at it - especially keeping the books together... which brings me to my next super helpful tip...

When organizing books, group by color.

Game.  Changer.

I started sorting books by color category and quickly realized that with the exception of maybe 4 or 5 books (that as a result aren't on the bookshelf), everything fell into the following color palates:
   - white / neutrals
   - blue / teal
   - yellow / gold
   - black

Grouping by color is not only pretty, but also cleans up the chaos of the book spines when they're all lined up

While on the topic of arranging books, alternate books by stacking them vertically AND arranging them in rows.

This will also help to make everything more visually appealing.  Apparently (and this was news to me)  there are seven... yes SEVEN... ways to stack books.  If you're curious like me, you can read about them all here.

With the big objects in place, and the books stacked by color, it was time for the decorative items...

I think I may be the only person on the planet that cannot keep succulents alive.  These are fake.  BUT they look real... which is what matters (don't judge me).

I liked the varied heights, and the varied textures of the glass, concrete, and terracotta, and I thought it all looked really pretty against the greyed out wood.

The wire basket on the top shelf just looked cool to me, and I like the rose gold color.

It's actually a fruit basket, but it felt really sculptural, and I like it.  So it's on the bookshelf now instead of in the kitchen.  Just thinking outside the box a little...

Another tip I read was to anchor the shelves with a collection on the top... I don't have any collections of lovely milk glass, ginger jars, antique vases, African masks, or all the classically beautiful and cool things you see on styled shelves, but I felt that a few large frames staggered would do the trick.

They add height, and in a way sort of anchor all the shelves below.

Plus I just like them...

Finally, one of my favorite tips - use baskets as a catch-all.

We have magazines for days, and I like to save a lot of them for inspiration to come back to.  These baskets are perfect for collecting them, without having a million magazines on the coffee table.

This tip is actually a good rule of thumb in general - we have baskets all over the house - in the living room to corral blankets and throws, in the kitchen for spices, and rarely used gadgets.  They hide clutter beautifully, and bring together the best of both worlds - function and aesthetics.

I also think that having fewer visible "things" on the lower shelves serve the same purpose as having a collection (or in my case, picture frames) on the top of the shelf - it anchors everything, while letting the books organized by color, and the pretty decorative items shine.

So that's it!

What do you think?

I do not pretend to be an expert on this topic, so if you're curious about my favorite articles on the topic of bookshelf styling, here they are:
     Emily Henderson: Living Room Styling (there aren't a ton of tips, but good photos)
     Emily Henderson: Tips to Bookshelf styling (this one is gold)
     The Lovely Cupboard: How to Style a Bookshelf (I really liked this one too)

A few of these pictures give you a sneak peek into the progress of our dining room - and I can promise you that while it's still a work in progress, there are more pictures coming your way soon.

Happy Wednesday!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rustic Wood Shelf DIY

Our dining room has new shelves!!  They are a little rustic... a little glam... and totally perfect!  I'm SO THRILLED with how they came out!

Just look at them!!  So pretty right??

I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon, with my drill, level, and measuring tape, hanging these bad boys up.

These shelves are a DIY I'd started a few months back, and then they got totally neglected out of sheer laziness.  They'd been sitting in our garage for about a month after I stained the wood, and then sitting against the wall in our dining room for another few weeks before I finally decided to do something about them.

I don't know what came over me this weekend, but I was on a mission to finish unpacking, and with several boxes of books staring me in the face, I knew it was time to get these shelves installed.

Originally, I'd been envisioning a lovely rustic bookcase like this or this, but in the end I didn't feel like I could commit spending that much on a bookshelf I wasn't 100% sure I wanted, so shelves were the best option for me.  One thing I knew I wanted was for them to be made of wood - we have too much painted furniture in the house right now, and bringing in an organic material like wood or natural fibers (our Jute Rugs... the linen curtains... etc) makes such a difference!

Do you want to know how much I ended up spending on these shelves??

Next to nothing!!

Each bracket was $2 and each shelf was $15.  I bought eight white brackets, and four untreated raw pine shelves from Ikea, for a whopping $76.  Pretty sweet, right??

In all honesty, I can't take credit for coming up with this Ikea hack on my own - I totally copied the shelves that Sarah over at Smitten Studio had DIY'd and installed.  I found her blog through an image of these shelves on Pinterest, and I was smitten.  Pun intended.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... right??

While I loved the reddish color of the wood she used, I wanted something a little more weathered in our dining room - a little "Restoration Hardware" inspired since greyed out weathered wood is their thang, and I think it pairs really well with the grey linen curtains in there.  A little beachy... a little less formal.  It's a match made in heaven.

Anyway, the DIY was super SUPER simple...

Materials you'll need before starting:
  - Unstained wood shelves (mine were pine - same ones listed here)
  - Wood Conditioner (I used Minwax, pre-stain wood conditioner)
  - Stain (I used Minwax Classic Grey)
  - Foam Brush
  - Rag
  - Brackets (I used these)
  - Rusoleum Metallic Gold Spray Paint - it's my favorite gold
  - Brass Screws

I had never stained wood before but it could not be simpler - when you've got all your supplies gathered, coat each board with the pre-stain wood conditioner.  I'd read about using wood conditioner on One House Love, and was sold.  More even application, and more uniform color?  For $7?  What do I have to lose?

I can't speak to how much better it was than untreated wood, but it worked great for me, so I think it's worth the extra 5 minutes it takes.

Anyway, just apply the conditioner with your foam brush, and wait for it to soak in for a minute.  By the time you finish the last board, the first is ready for stain, so there isn't any down time.

On to the stain - feel free to use the same brush that you used to apply the wood conditioner to apply the stain, and brush it on in long, even strokes in the same direction as the wood grain.  Do NOT brush against the grain.  As long as you go with the wood grain, this process is foolproof.

Once you get one coat of stain on the wood, immediately wipe it down.  You can re-stain as many times as you like to build up color over time, but this way you'll have more control over how much of the stain takes to the wood, so each board is uniform.

I found that even with the conditioner, the wood soaked up a lot of the stain quickly, so be ready with the rag to wipe it down.  Fearing that I'd stain them too dark, I did one coat and waited to see if it would need another the next day... thankfully they didn't, so I stopped after one coat.

As I got started applying the stain, I was a little nervous about whether or not it would turn out - when I was first applying it, it was looking awfully purple.  The raw untreated pine has a bit of a "pink" quality to it, and the stain initially looks very purple - parts were blue, and the undertone of the wood was showing through, but fear not - as it dries, the colors meld together, and it will turn out nice and greyed out like below.

You'd never know this wasn't an old reclaimed piece of wood now that's dry and cured.

My father will kill me if I don't add this bit in - once you're finished staining the wood, DO NOT throw your rags and brushes in the trash.  The chemicals generate heat which could catch fire if not allowed to dry out - lay them flat in open air to dry completely before throwing everything away.  No one wants to start an unintentional fire.

Anyway, as the stained wood was dying, I laid out all the brackets and sprayed them gold.


Once everything is fully dry (I'd give it a full 24 hours for the spray paint to cure) everything should be ready to be hung.

Since the wall brackets screw into the wall, I wanted the screws to be as incognito as possible.  You could spray regular screws gold, but I went the easy route and bought brass screws from the hardware store.  They are more expensive than normal screws (about $0.55 per screw) but worth the time I saved and the finished look.

The DIY was the easy part, getting them hung was the most time consuming!

When hanging shelves (or art, or anything really) measure very carefully, and mark out your holes before drilling or hammering anything.  That way you'll end up with fewer holes in the wall.  Also, a straight edge and a level are your best friends.  There is nothing worse than crooked shelving.

Anyway, I'm thrilled with how this all came together.  Even though this project cost me next to nothing, they look really expensive, and even though all the pieces came from Ikea, they feel really unique because I was able to put my own spin on them.

I have another post coming your way later this week with these gorgeous shelves all styled up, but that's a whole separate post.

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be!  It was also a little painful to cover up my beautiful shelves with books and pictures, because I was loving the simplicity of how they looked on their own. After a few failed attempts to style the shelves, I did a little researching around "how to properly style shelves" and while they aren't perfect, I have a few pointers I picked up that really helped me out in the "styling" department.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Linen Curtains

Oye... I'm having flashbacks of my childhood days, trying to write in my diary.  The story would go something like this:

After picking out a new diary from the Disney/Sanrio Store (you know Hello Kitty, right?), I'd get home and write an entry along the lines of "Dear Diary, I am so excited to write in you EVERY day."

The rest of the diary would be completely empty.

I do not want my blog to be my "diary" of my adult years, so I'm checking in with you all!!  Since I last posted about our fabulous new fireplace, I've made so many other updates to our new place - many of which I'll be posting about soon enough, but for today, let's talk about the new curtains have gone up in our dining room.

They are a light grey.

They are linen.

They are perfection.

Here's a close-up of the fabric...

Gorgous right??

You'll never guess where they are from...

I'll just tell you - Ikea.  Yup.  Ikea is amazing.  Two 98" linen curtain panels for $50.  Can you believe it?!

I have my sister to thank for this amazing steal - she found them originally as she's been furnishing their new house.  After doing some Googling, I found that the Aina Curtains (that's the name in case you want to find them online or in-store) have quite the following.  And why wouldn't they?!  They are so cheap for such a luxe looking curtain panel!

My favorite posting about them came from Rosa Beltran Design - she has posted some really amazing photographs of the different rooms she's designed using these curtain panels, but it was this photo that sold me on the grey...

Stunning, right??

I'm still toying with the idea of adding on curtain rings like the above photo, but for now I like them as is.  Plus I'm lazy, so there's that...

It's not that we didn't have curtains in here before - I'd actually hung up the ivory silk panels that had been hanging in our living room at our last place, but with the current paint color, it was looking very yellow.  The rug wasn't helping matters either...

I'm not saying I hated the silk panels that I'd hung initially... I'm just saying that the walls made the curtains seem really yellow, and vice versa.  It sort of cheapened how these curtains felt, and I didn't love them.

Eventually we are going to paint the dining room, but after tackling the massive job of painting the living room (twice), and as I'm gearing up to paint the kitchen and breakfast nook (which will require A LOT of painting), the walls in the dining room are going to stay as is.  We're going to pretend the scuffs I couldn't get off the walls aren't there in the meantime.  And honestly, once we hang up the shelves (you can see them leaning against the wine hutch on the right hand side of the room), artwork, and everything else, the scuffs will sort of fade away. Fingers crossed.

I actually think that with the grey curtains the walls look quite a bit more "tan" than "yellow" - don't you think?

Another close up of the curtains hanging up - they are wrinkled since I photographed this after just taking them out of the package, but I've steamed them since, and they are wrinkly in the way that linen should be... not like they'd been sitting in a hot car for days all crumpled up.

Since taking these pictures, the room has already come a bit further, but we're at a crossroads.

Originally, we'd decided to use this room as an office, and after sitting at the table a few times for "formal" meals, we're kind of liking it as a formal dining room.  

We were at West Elm over the weekend, and Kris was the one who was fawning over one of their dining tables.  It was one of the few times he's rendered me speechless.  I was all, who are you, and what have you done with my fiance?! In his defense, the table was kind of awesome - but it didn't have leaves, so I'm on the fence about it.  It could only ever seat 6... 8 if you squeezed... so it seems sort of limiting.

Anyway, if this does stay as a dining room, it may change my plans for hanging the shelves as an "office" so I've been hesitant to put holes in the walls...

What should we do?

I think the answer is "wait some more" since we just spent a small fortune buying a new sofa.


We BOUGHT A NEW SOFA - after talking about it for 2 years.  I forced Kris into making a decision last weekend.  Hooray!  The sofa is being made right now, so it won't be here for another 2 months.... but it's gorgeous.  Trust me.  You'll obviously hear all about it (and see it) once it's here!

Happy Wednesday!