When designer Cortney Novogratz is dreaming up a new bookshelf concept, she thinks beyond just another simple, rectangle shelf. "My go-to when designing a space is to sneak in the unexpected. This creates a wow factor—something really worth talking about," she tells HouseBeautiful.com.
"We had a client who owns and operates a bookstore, and it only made sense that we put bookshelves in every room," says Cortney. "However, the spin was that we designed a bookshelf in the shape of the word 'EAT' for the kitchen," she says.
Cortney has also done a similar shelf for a kids playroom, where she made a bookshelf that said "MAKE" for the client. "In our California home, the bookshelves in our library are inspired by the shape of Moroccan tiles. Books displayed in unexpected angles becomes the wow factor," she says. Here, Cortney shares five other tips for upgrading your bookshelf.
Don't just stick to a rectangle or square.
There's no written rule that all bookshelves have to look exactly the same, but, that's what's happening. "Make it a circle. Have a carpenter do something completely different, whether it be a a heart or any other symbol," Cortney suggests. She even knows of someone who turned the inside of a piano into a bookcase. Cortney says that there are dozens of other ways to store your books; you just have to be willing to think outside of the shelf.
Wallpaper the back of a shelf to make it pop.
This will have you running to Bed, Bath & Beyond for peel-and-stick wallpaper. "Wallpaper the back of a shelf, and it will make the books stand out," says Cortney. "Our wallpaper is really a decal, so you can stick it on easily. You don't have to wrap all four walls of the bookshelf, just the back and it really makes a difference," she explains. Genius.
Stop using bookends.
Cortney, who likes to use unconventional items while decorating—she often turns jewelry into art—doesn't think you should limit yourself to a bookend. "Use pottery, helmets—whatever reflects your personality, you should use instead," she says.
Fill up empty, awkward wall space with bookshelves.
"People forget that at the end of hallways, or behind certain doors, that there are certain nooks you can really build out," says Cortney. She's turned door frames into bookshelves before, and thinks that if you take a minute to think of the forgotten spaces, you can create a really unique shelf.
Don't fill your bookshelf for the sake of filling it.
Seeing the back of the bookshelf isn't a bad thing, especially if you did a peel-and-stick wallpaper to make it pop. "I think there's a fine line when too much is on a bookshelf," explains Cortney. "A lot of people think more is more, but I think less is more," she says. Her pro tip for filling a shelf is to, well, not really fill it. She suggests picking out the books that mean the most to you and the rest can go elsewhere, maybe in storage or perhaps on a different shelf that's not on display. Imagine filling it 80 percent of the way, then leaving the rest to serve as a little breathing room, so things don't look too cluttered. Aaah.
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