Revitalizing Old Faithful

In my parent’s living room, there stands an old bookcase that even in its prime was never impressive or special, but it has faithfully housed numerous volumes of books from a time when bangles and jellies were the norm. Now its contents are sun-bleached and forgotten, and its shelves are overcrowded with various objects that have no other place. (And yes, that is a ping pong table that you see in the picture. My parents have always valued family fun over designer appeal. You should have seen the swing that used to hang from the ceiling in the dining room.)My mission today is to invigorate this bookcase with visual interest without spending a cent. My tactics will be to remove, reduce and reuse. I begin by removing everything from the shelves and thoroughly cleaning them. I believe cleaning is the best way to start any decorating project. You might arrange something beautifully, but if it’s covered in dust it’s going to lack a certain luster


Next, I sort the books by color, which will be much more pleasing to the eye. Then, I significantly reduce the number of books that will be returned to the shelves. As you can see in the “before” picture, the books were bursting from the shelves, which can be overwhelming to look at.

Finally, I build little window-boxes with books and objects creating unique displays on each shelf. I vary the positions of the books, some vertical, some horizontal, and even create a sculptural element with a set of children’s encyclopedias. The books are balanced by items such as pictures, candles, a clock, and a trunk, to tell more of a story and personalize the bookcase.  So for those of us who can’t afford a brand new bookcase from Restoration Hardware, antique first edition books, and Jonathon Adler objects, sometimes all that is needed is to work with what you have and rearrange it in a fun and thoughtful way.