Monday, February 7, 2011

Designer Idea for Quiet Bookshelves

Lately I have been dealing with my bookcases that flank the fireplace.
Not happy with them I did some editing and incorporated a 
designer touch that I noticed on Genevieve Gorder's HGTV show.
Genevieve did a bookcase wall in a city apartment for a young lady.
She didn't point it out, but I noticed she had loaded the bookshelves with 
all of the books backwards, pages facing out.
Not so practical if you are trying to find a particular book,
but very effective in creating a quiet display.
We don't tend to reach into our bookcase as we have read them all.
So the books tend to become accessories afterwards.
So I turned them all backwards and layed alot of them on their sides.
Genevieve's bookcases were crammed from top to bottom with 
backwards books and some artful objects.
Have you seen some designers recover all the books with white paper?
That is a solution that I find very contrived.
If you have a library, it is understandable to have it look like this.
However I am talking about decorative book shelves 
flanking a focal point of a room, usually a fireplace.
This image from Architectural Digest is what I am talking about.
It is how my living room is set up essentially,
and for me, the bookcases are visually busy and demanding.
I tried to find the nicest looking bookcase scenario, 
and this is about as good as it gets.
 Most bookcases are horrific to look at.
 Messy and visually demanding.
A typical bookcase that overpowers the room.
 Before editing and turning books backwards.
After editing and showing the pages of the books instead of the spines.
I had too many cards on my mantel,
 and I had too many accessories on the shelves.
Be a good editor and you will be pleased with the result.
A little surprise happened to me as I was turning all the books backwards.
A photograph fell out of a book and it is a treasure.
My cute hubby is on the left with his mom and his brother.
He said his brother called him "pot-shot" because he was a little chubby.
Look at how glamorous my MIL looks~
She was a Swedish beauty and still is today!
Here they are in recent years. 
Mr. Maison Decor is on the right.
 Anyway, I love this inside out idea with books.
I think its genius of Genevieve even if she didn't point it out on the show.
 A little editing goes along way into making your spaces feel right.
 Most of the time, less is more!
linking to 


  1. I am shocked at how different the books look!!! Who would have guessed turning them backwards would make such a difference!!! Thanks for watching and sharing!!!!

  2. Hi Amy, I never would have thought of doing this but I love the calming results! Your living room is so beautiful and every time I see the architectural piece on your fireplace I love it even more.

  3. Amy, that looks so good with the books turned that way.

  4. Your bookcases look wonderful. Love the less is more look. I sure need to do that. Hugs, Marty

  5. Amy, it's gorgeous as always! I really do love that pink in there and those sconces are amazing!

  6. Your living room is beautiful. I never thought of turning the books backwards. That's a great idea. Looks so much better. I love the piece above your mantle. Gorgeous!

  7. Hi Amy~ Your living room bookcases look fantastic with the books backwards! What an inspired idea- it really does change the look and is great! I love the whole vignette with your bookcases on the sides of your fireplace too- so pretty! :)

  8. Your living room is very elegant Amy!
    I love the books turned around. I have been doing this for some time to my bookself. The only reason is I don't like the look of my husbands books!!! He has so many and this helped in making the selves look less cluttered.
    Love your window treatments...I see you are a pink girl too!
    Pamela :)

  9. It is genius! I love the way your shelves look now and the edited version of your mantle. Not that I didn't love it before, but it looks even more romantic! I wish I could remember where I either read or heard someone discussing this very topic in the last few days. I filed it in the back of my brain so what does that tell you? Love, love your decor! Magazine worthy.

  10. I saw that show and loved that idea! I noticed it right away! I've seen it before but this time it registered with me. Of course I don't know when I'll get around to doing it but it's on my list! I saved saved the show and showed it to my 22yr old last night. The sytle of that living room is her style. Sort of bohemien chic. She loved it. Great job taking that idea and running with it. Your living room looks amazing!
    Your MIL is beautiful! And her sons quite handsome. What a precious suprise to find that picture.

  11. OMG Amy,

    that is the best idea ever! My guy has a bazillion political books on his bedside dresser, and they all have some combination of AWFUL red white and blue jackets. I CANNOT wait to get home and turn them around...


  12. This looks great, Amy...I think you achieved the look you were going for!


  13. Amy! The bookshelves look fantastic! What a huge impact that made. Are you loving your pink now? I am. I just did the same thing (turning the books backwards) for a client a couple of weeks ago and it makes sense if the books are just there for decor anyway! And I agree with you about the covering the books with paper - love the look (the white and sculptural feel but it does feel contrived.) Check out my client's shelves:

  14. My office/den has floor to ceiling bookshelves which I have not shown because they look a mess. I have lots and lots of books and need my shelves for these books. I like it when they are grouped by color...but have not done that. Mine are grouped by author and or subject matter. Art books in one spot....interior design in another....vampire books in another spot. One of these days...I'm going to tackle this room and try to make it visually appealing. Thanks for the great tips on bookshelves. Your's look great.

  15. Love the look and good for you for taking note!

  16. It is indeed a complete metamorphosis, I will admit! I didn't think it would make that much difference. But when you showed the photos, before and after, it really does!

  17. What a great idea - looks so different. I'm just about to get some new shelves in my family room - think I will try this. Many thanks! Liz

  18. Turning the books backward certainly has a calming, "less cluttered with color" effect and is just perfect with your background paint.
    You MIL is a pretty lady and any man who will help to make a dressing table for his wife is a real keeper!

  19. Forgot to mention, a few years ago a designed on HGTV said that the formula for bookcases was one-third books, one-third accessories and one-third open space. I've tried to follow that and I really like the way it looks. Also, if the room is very large at all, no small accessories. They get lost and come off as clutter.

  20. What a difference just turning the books around made!

    I'm working on some book shelves in my living room, I'll try this when I get ready to decorate them. Thanks. :)

  21. That is really does make the display "quiet"! I'm going to try it!

  22. I agree, Amy! Less is more. Love what you've done.

  23. What a great idea to turn the books.. when you think of it, it's so simple! Love how it looks now.. and hope your lovin' the pink! take care, Maryann

  24. I am totally amazed by this change myself! I agree that in a bookcase you should have 3 items (not including space)...but that goes with the doing things in threes theory. Books, framed photos, and ceramics are my basic three. I tried to follow that myself, but snuck in a few things I couldn't part with.

  25. It looks so calm and more spring like with the lighter colors.

  26. What a lovely idea! It really does make a difference to the entire room. I am a huge book lover, so I understand the trial of making all those books look pleasing to the eye. You asked my thoughts on Barbra Streisand's design book. I think my favorite room may be the screening room - I am surprised by how much I love the color in that room. The outside spaces are fabulous as well. I especially love those little "shops" she put in - that root cellar is in the running for my favorite room, too. I could really go on and on... :)

  27. Darn it Amy! I now have to go into my livingroom and turn all of my books around! LOL!
    You have a very observing eye and it's great that you could see that nice decorating tip.
    I'm not sure I'm ever going to be happy with my built ins, as you know they have been a worrysome spot for me. Lately, I've decided to ignore them and maybe something will come to me.

    In the meantime we will continue our search and keep trying to per fect our built in bookcases!


  28. Amy, I love the book turned backwards so that the pages show like you've done. It really does 'quiet' things down and the softer palette perfectly flows with the rest of the room.
    I love books in any room and sometimes they can bug me. I agree that the white covered books look too contrived.
    I bet that was fun finding the pic of your hubby, his brother and Mom. She was/is pretty!


  29. What a charming room Amy! I like the new look of your bookcases and your books. Seems like a simple change, but makes a big impact.

  30. love the pink roses Amy -- your blog is beautiful as always - stop by Nest sometime to say hello. Hope to see you soon bloggy friend, tamara of Nest by Tamara at

  31. Wow, what a difference! So much calmer. I've also seen where she covers the books in paper that has a pattern, probably scrap booking paper or something like it, which gives it a nice look too. Isn't that nice you found that picture! I remember finding a picture of my grandmother working in my kitchen (her old kitchen)very vintage, I'll have to pull it out and do a post on my kitchen (when it's done!!) Thank you for the birthday wishes, very sweet xoxo!!!!!

  32. I love love books...and book shelves. I love the tall bookshelves that go to the ceiling!

  33. I love how that looks. Both of my parents are from Sweden and now have white hair. Did you know that the Irish got their red hair from the Vikings?

  34. Your living room is so gorgeous.So soft and cozy.Along the lines of simplicity,I'd love for you to offer us designer wanna be's some advice for designing dessert tables that are simple with visual appeal. I'm sure you could offer many rules of thumb with your awesome talent.

  35. I love this idea and will have to incorporate it on some of my shelves. I'll be painting our entry shelf white and backward books should look great.
    You are a very talented seamstress and your drapes are just beautiful.
    What a great photo find; love those two pics together.
    Happy Valentine's Day!
    ~ Julie

  36. Your room is gorgeous!! And what a difference turning the books makes! How fun!!!!!

    m ^..^

  37. Nice blog. I have done that too and have gone as far as to cover the book, with out putting title on


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