Growing up I was obsessed with home decorating shows, like the original Trading Spaces. I loved a good before and after and seeing it all happen in 30 minutes through the magic of TV. I dreamed of owning a home and doing similar dramatic makeovers all the time. I didn’t realize how sensationalized decorating before and afters were – the room transformed in two days on TV, the blogger’s big room reveal, and the you’ll never believe what this room looked like before type of makeovers.
Do you ever feel like you need the big, dramatic decorating makeover? A complete redo? A fresh start?
I think as humans we are always drawn to the idea of starting with a clean slate. Sometimes it feels like things are so far gone that is the only way.
But what do you really want for your home? If you could have a TV crew come in and overhaul an entire room at no cost to you, what would your really want for that room?
Beyond colors, fabrics, and furniture, I am going to guess what you really want is it to feel more like home, to feel put together, and to feel like you.
When I started blogging, I was still disillusioned and had grand plans to share a room reveal every month. I thought that is what I could do. Then reality struck. It turns out, in the three years I’ve been blogging, I’ve only shared one room reveal. One. I shared other rooms at various stages with small project reveals, but no big room reveals. Because incremental changes are where the real decorating happens. Everyday decorating doesn’t happen in a flash.
Guess what? You don’t need a big, dramatic TV-land makeover to make a space feel like home, feel put together, and to feel like you. You don’t need new stuff, you need a new approach. What little incremental makeovers lack in drama, they make up for with meaning and do-ability.
I want you to have the little makeovers – the it-finally-feels-finished makeover, the at-last-it-all-makes-sense-together makeover, the now-it-feels-like-home makeover.
Because you don’t have to start all over. You don’t have to re-do everything in two days. You don’t have to spend a bunch of money, or any at all, to make it feel more like home.
You already like what you have. You just want it to be better.
It’s so close. You just want it to feel finished.
For you, the makeover won’t be dramatic and flashy. It will be simple and profound.
Three Before and Afters That Cost Nothing
In this post, I want to share three makeovers of the simple and profound kind. These three examples show the power of using what you already have, but arranging it differently. And the best part is how these homeowners feel about their bookshelves now.
When I asked my audience over the summer what their biggest decorating challenge was, 9 out of 10 emailed me back with bookshelf woes. I wasn’t surprised.
Bookshelves are one of the most intimidating styling projects, even for a professional decorator. They feel like they demand a complete re-do. What most of us see on our shelves looks so far removed from the beautifully styled examples we see in magazines. So naturally, starting over seems like the only option.
I have another way. Instead of starting over, I say start fresh – with a fresh perspective on how to arrange the things your already have. Make your things look good. Keep all the meaningful tchotchkes and books, but arrange them stylishly.
Over the summer I let 10 lovely women preview a new Décorography class called Shelve It: How to Style Bookshelves With and Without Books. Since, bookshelves are one of the most expensive areas to decorate, whether you fill them with books or decor, it was my mission to share free ways to get well-styled shelves either way. I promised them we could turn their bookshelves around by simply rearranging what they already had.
Today, I want to share with you the results of three of my students. The same class led to the overhaul of wall to wall built-in shelves, a colorful makeover for two free-standing bookcases, and the re-telling of a love story in an antique secretary.
Un-cluttered Wall to Wall Books
Fiona has amazing built-in shelves in her office nook, but like so many shelves, they became the landing spot and catch all for everything. Fiona described them as disheartening. She said, “We love our books and created built in bookcases which we were very happy with. But then crammed all our books onto them. I knew there had to be a compromise between pretty, styled shelves that seemed to be for looks only and our crammed full of nothing but books look.”
Fiona said Shelve It “is easy to understand, approachable and achievable for anyone. I loved that you started with the information about organising by functionality or aesthetically and showed that there were many ways to achieve a great outcome. All the examples of different ways to stack and display books and decorative items were easy to understand, relate to and replicate.” Now, Fiona’s books are orderly and leave spots for to show off her decor.
“I love them. We still have all of our books, but they are now styled and pretty and show off not only our books but other personal items that we’ve collected over time.” – Fiona
Looks Like Half As Many Books
Sharon had two free-standing 5-shelf bookcases loaded top to bottom with books. She needed the book storage, but wanted them to look better.
When you look at the after picture, you’ll be convinced that she got rid of half of her books. It looks so different. But Sharon says, “I only got rid of about 6 books and moved about 10 magazines to a rack and a stack of Christmas books to the storage area.” She put the paper backs in the bin on the bottom shelf.
Rearranging her books into neat and interesting color-coded stacks, made a lot of breathing room on her shelves and space for decorative objects. Sharon says now she is “SO much happier with them! My husband makes the arrows so he actually commented on liking that I displayed some!”
Telling a Love Story With Decor
One of the most powerful things your shelves can do is tell a story. And what better than a love story? Danielle wanted to freshen up her antique secretary, which has a narrow strip of shelves on one side. Danielle had already added the zebra paper to the back of the cabinet – a great way to update an old piece without losing it’s character.
With the styling know-how she picked up from Shelve It, Danielle decluttered her shelves and re-worked them to tell the love story of how she met her husband. As Danielle tells it, “Everything behind the glass is to remind us of that picture of my husband and I during college. He was a photographer and I was in theater, the picture is when we were flirting in play practice. The books used are my collection of scripts. They kind of break the textbook rule, but they are super meaningful, especially the blue ones as its the play I directed, and the reason I added blue accents. The cameras are my Husbands from college. The paper clip is my love of school supplies, and the espresso cup is because my husband loves espresso! It’s all behind the glass as a tribute to who we were when we were dating.”
Shelve It helped Danielle bring the important pieces of her story into focus through styling.
“Before your bookshelf styling class, everything felt cluttered and off balance. But now, my shelves feel like everything is displayed on purpose instead of a giant catch all! It was most helpful to me to realize there are lots of options for placing things. I feel full of new ideas! Now I feel like I have more confidence to tackle not only shelves but table tops!!!” – Danielle
See what you can do without anything new? In all three before and afters, there is a complete transformation, but they didn’t scrap everything and start over and they didn’t buy anything new either. They worked with the things they already had and loved, arranging them in new, beautiful ways.
For more real life before and after examples and the complete bookshelf styling class, join us inside Décorography. Shelve It: How to Style Bookshelves includes three video lessons on how to style shelves with decor, how to style shelves with books and decor, and how to choose the right bookshelf accessories. Plus, you’ll get instant access to six more decorating classes.
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