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Monday, June 15, 2009

Bringing Bookshelves to Life

Actually, this post should probably be called "When Bookshelves Attack!" Sometimes when you stare at the same setup day in and day out, you lose a fresh perspective. Our two bookshelves flank a very wide bay window with a deep windowsill. My husband and I are avid readers and usually hang on to virtually every book we read, but considering we lack a library or a wall full of built in bookshelves, our overflowing collection was giving off a "reclusive librarian" vibe!
The bookshelves started out very organized, but over time new books kept getting piled on without a thought to their organization, and the decorative accents were all over the place.

I knew that I wanted to base my bookshelf re-do upon a pair of Herend Chinese Bouquet cachepots that I received as a wedding gift.

So to better utilize the cachepots, I started off my bookshelf-purging odyssey at Johnson's Floral and Garden Center on Wisconsin Ave. and Van Ness, just a few blocks from my apartment.
Johnson's is THE place for houseplants, fresh flowers, floral-related supplies, etc. Their plants, and the quality of their plants, is light years better than the straggley orphans you'd find at Home Depot or Lowes. But then again, you do pay the price at Johnson's; it's not cheap. Their basic orchids start at $55. But there are plenty of houseplants in the more reasonable $10-20 range.

A few highlights (pardon the low-res camera phone pics):

Their bromiliad selection is second to none. I am partial to bromiliads because they are fairly low maintenance, and one of the only plants that my cats do not feel the need to instantaneously attack and devour. But they were too tall and full for my bookshelves.

Mint julep cups just waiting to be filled with beautiful fresh flowers.
A small snapshot of the indoor plants.

Some of their gorgeous orchids.
I wanted some plants for my cachepots that provided a little bit of height, but they couldn't be too tall because the needed to go in a middle shelf. After browsing for quite a while, I selected some pothos plants.

Next up was the more difficult part- purging the bookshelves. I didn't actually throw any books away, but rather just put them in storage till we have more room. I tried to keep significant books- those that we particularly love, or are signed by the author- out on display. But since we're not whipping out The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression all too often these days, it and its equally weighty brethren went into the storage pile.
I pulled two antique sterling pieces that I love out of storage- a cocktail shaker and a mint julep cup- and incorporated them into the new and improved shelves.
For comparison purposes, here is the BEFORE picture:

And here is AFTER:

I think that the plants provide a great sense of symmetry, and I also firmly believe that a plant is the best (and least expensive) way to freshen up a room. Here are some close-ups of a few of my favorite things:

Both of the M0S girls are rock enthusiasts at heart. We love our geode bookends!

The cover of Mark Hampton on Decorating is a work of art in itself, and I think the red of the book plays off the green of the cachepot and plant really well.
So take a look around your house and pretend like you're seeing it for the first time- is there anything that needs a freshening up? We at MoS believe that before you go the effort and expense of buying new things, sometimes all you need is to do a little rearranging with what you've got! Happy editing!

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