But even I can recognize the difference between a bookcase that has been artfully arranged as a decorative element in a room and one that is simply a fixture. Let's take a peek at what I found poking around on the Web and through my stash of magazines from various countries:
This large bookcase is great for housing a nice-sized collection of books, while allowing plenty of room for decorative elements like that awesome typewriter on the bottom shelf. This bookshelf is in the Venice, Calif. home of House actress Olivia Wilde, featured in Instyle in June 2009.
Country Living (August 2009)
Writer Paige Smith Orloff personalized her bookcase with Farrow & Ball's Off-Black paint, producing an effect that makes it appear as though the bookcase recedes into the wall and showcases the painting and chair, upholstered with a "tattered" but quirky quilt found on Ebay.
Shelves hung directly on the wall offer a stylish option for those who like the minimalist look.
And now for the inevitable bookcases that take up a whole wall. In general, these remind me of libraries, especially devoid of any accessories to dress it up. The one above, however, makes clever use of a major wall, rather than just taking up a wall.
This wall bookcase here appears to offer ample storage, a perfect choice for a family room.
Check out this bookcase, which was added as part of a renovation. The before shot shows just a blank wall and the owner went all out by installing a bookshelf even over the doorway. Although I think it looks great, it occurs to me now that maybe it's not the best example if, like me, you are trying to cut down on your book collection not find more room for more books.
This bookcase is a great example of how a wall of books, uninterrupted by any decorative elements, tends to reinforce a traditional look.
As a writer, I often find myself reaching for a book I need that is ... in another room. Oh joy, to have to interrupt my thoughts and writing to go searching for that book in another bookcase in another room. I'm not that lazy (really!), but I tend to get distracted easily and forget what I was supposed to be doing if I find something else of interest along the way. It goes without saying that your books should, if possible, be placed where you would read or use them, as in the office bookcase above.
This bookcase caught my eye at one of my local Anthropologie stores because of their creative way of arranging many different travel elements like maps, travel books, notebooks etc. for a compelling vignette. It's a great example of spare items used for greater impact than a bookshelf crammed with books.
Recently, a lot of people have taken to organizing their books by color, then placing them in rainbow fashion on their bookcases. I have to admit it looks pretty, but I have to wonder how practical it would be for a serious book collector.
If you are truly an eclectic DIYer, here's an idea for a simple bookcase. I've seen this done with crates, drawers and other similar boxes. With the right sizes, colors and arrangement, the result could be stunning.
For those of you who just want to chuck all your books out, you can still get the "library" look with wallpaper, like in the image above.
Desire to Inspire
...then it may be time to revisit those shelves with a more judgmental look and weed out some of those tomes. I leave you with a quote from decorator Jeff Woosley, who says, "Books are as important as paintings."
It goes without saying that I agree wholeheartedly.