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Monday, March 12, 2007

Answer Day

As promised, Monday is Answer Day, where I try to offer creative solutions to design dilemmas. If you are facing a design problem, please feel free to post and i will try next Monday to offer you a solution.

Today's query comes from Holly, who has a small landing at the top of her stairway, leading to a second floor, where there is a window seat and a fairly large bookcase. She is looking for ways to keep it tidy and organised and attractive, without going crazy with knick knacks. She has already tried taking off all the dust jackets (btw,,,, great start) but is looking for a way to tame this beast.

Well, Holly, the first thing is get some really cool baskets or boxes to house your magazines, they will never look tidy if left exposed and its also a great way to keep them organised and together. They can be kept perhaps on the bottom two shelves, and their solidity will give some nice balance to the book cases.

The next thing to do is take all the books out of the shelves, and decide which ones you really want to keep, and if there are any you can do without. Once you have your pile of keepers, try to categorise them. As much a fan of the aesthetic as I am, it is crucial that your books are organised in a way that make sense to you, so you can find what you need when you need it. I have almost 1200 books and have so much trouble keeping them in order that I have three copies of John Saladino's book so that I will always be able to find one copy (not a solution I recommend).

Once everything is categorised start putting the books back in the shelves. Start with the category that you use most often and put that at eye height (the most convenient spot) and work to the extreme top and bottom. Always leave lots of space for accessories ans expansion. I like to stack books vertically as well as horizontally to create a nice rhythm.

Now comes time to accessorize! You mention you have some art glass, try creating groupings, instead of one vase here and another over here. Another thing to try is a small lamp in amongst the shelves. I once did a home for a well known film director and she had a great collection of early Californian lamps, we had a huge floor to ceiling bookcase built in her Living Room and scattered the lamps throughout, it takes a bit of work to get the wiring but the effect can be dramatic. Another thing to keep in mind is depth, keep some of the groups of books toward the front of the shelves and others towards the back, its a small thing, but once again creates a pretty visual texture. Lastly think of hanging a painting on the face of the bookcase, it creates a whole new layer that can really bring the look alive.

I am attaching a few images, not all of them are my work, but I hope it gives you some inspiration.


ho11z said...

Hi Mark! Thanks for the direction. I see so many photos of bookcases used more for decoration, and while that is great, I still need it to be practical as well. I'll follow your advise and send you some before and after photos.
Thanks again, Holly

Mark Cutler said...

Great Holly, I look forward to seeing what you come up with

My Marrakech said...

I cut out that same picture you have posted for inspiration. I just love the way the old wood of the objects carries the eye around the shelves. I have a small collection of old wood and bronze hands that I thought I would also feature on my shelves.

Mark Cutler said...

Just remember that they will always look better clustered in groups, not separated. I have found odd numbers of things work better than even, not sure why, but it seems like one of those universal rules..... go figure!