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I started collecting decorating and design books many years ago when I discovered I could buy books online for around the same price (sometimes less) than a magazine. I still love decorating magazines, but who can resist a great design book for just pennies on Amazon and half.ebay.com.
Recently I added a mini-library along one wall of the office.
I gathered books together from all around the house, including the family room.
And the upstairs Family Room …
As Max and I sat looking at all the stacks,
I found this process exciting and frustrating at the same time. It was great finally having a place for all my decorating/crafting/sewing/birding/gardening books, but it wasn’t easy deciding just how to organize them. Do you have a favorite system for organizing your books on your bookshelves? If you do, I’d love to hear it!
Apparently, there are lots of ways to store and organize books.
1. They can simply be filed onto bookshelves by the authors last name.
2. They can be grouped according to subject matter, and then filed by the author’s last name. That’s more or less the way the books were organized in the elementary school library where I worked as a Media Parapro for 5 years when my son was in grade school.
3. Some folks group their books according to color: (photo from Pinterest). I guess if you’re right brained and tend to be very visual, this system just might be the answer.
4. If you aren’t thrilled with all that color, I’ve seen quite a few books throughout Blogland covered with white paper, creating a monotone or tone-on-tone look for the shelves.
This example (from Apartment Therapy) shows books covered in brown craft paper.
5. You can file or stack your books hither and yon on your shelves, in no particular order at all.
6. Or, hang them from the walls. Is this not the strangest thing ever? Umm, I got nothing. Speechless. (Photo from Pinterest)
7. I read some folks even organize their books according to the order they read them during their lifetime, creating a sort of “life diary” on their shelves. When they glance over their bookshelves, they can remember where they were and what was going on in their life when they were reading a particular book. I can barely remember what I was doing yesterday…don’t think that system would work too well for me.
I wonder if this bookshelf was made by the same folks who made the fairytale furniture. (Photo from Pinterest) Isn’t it a hoot?!
So, how did I end up organizing/shelving my books? I dedicated one whole Billy bookcase to holding my Birding, Gardening, Crafting, Reference and Art books, grouping them by subject. The other two Billy bookcases are filled with all my Decorating/Design books, shelved in alphabetical order by the author.
There are a few exceptions. I’ve grouped all the books about Blue and White Decor together on one shelf. I’ve grouped all the Christmas Decor books together on another shelf. Same for all my “porch” books, although I may eventually blend those in with all the regular decor books. I have a feeling this system will change as I purchase additional books in the coming years.
What’s the correct way to organize your books?
Answer: The system that works best for Y.O.U. If you can place your hand on the book you need, when you need it, then you’ve got a great system. That’s all that matters.
On My Book Shelf:
I’ve received several comments (and e-mails) requesting I share some of my favorite design/decorating books. So, I spent the better part of today pulling books off the shelves, grouping them and taking pics. I love you guys; you ask and I deliver!
My office looks like a book bomb exploded in here. I’m not kidding. I’ll be reshelving books for days. lol I could have just taken pics of the spines, but that really doesn’t show much about the book, and frankly, I think it’s kind of boring.
So, in no particular order, here are a few of my fave design/decorating books. Most are available inexpensively on Amazon or eBay if you see one that grabs your interest. (Click on any photo to enlarge it for a better view.)
I pretty much love anything Charles Faudree puts his name on. He has a new book out called Charles Faudree Details. I haven’t ordered it yet, but I’ve hear from a reliable source that’s it’s good. (Update…ordered it and it is good.) I usually don’t buy books until they have been out a little while and have a few reviews posted on Amazon. I find the reviews are a tremendous help, not so much for the scoring, but for what is actually written in the review.
If you’re looking for inspiration for a craft/sewing room, these books are a lot of fun.
I don’t have all of Charlotte Moss’ books, so I can’t speak for all of them, but these three are really good. The middle one is small, but has some wonderful images….wish it were larger. You may remember seeing Winter House in THIS previous post about celebrating the winter blues.
I like pretty much everything by Barbara Milo Ohrbach. Carolyn Westbrook shares her own personal home in Carolyn Westbrook, Home…and it’s wonderful. I have found, you can never go wrong with books where the author is sharing their own home. Those are usually the best books!
I have quite a few books by Mary Carol Garrity. Her books always have great decorating ideas that are simple and can be easily copied. Her books are reasonably priced, too.
Nell Hill’s, O Christmas Tree is also excellent. I have given this book as a gift several times.
A better view of the titles…
I love English Country style, so those type books are a big part of my collection. I just received the one in the center, The English Country House, and it’s huge…484 pages. It looks great…can’t wait to dig in. The other two books pictured below are wonderful and can usually be found for a reasonable price on Amazon.
Remember the photo of the bottle tree I shared in THIS post. It came from the center book, Southern Style. It was this book that got me dreaming of bottle trees.
I know I keep saying it, but these three are among my very favorite books. Can’t go wrong with any of them.
I loved this book, An Affair with a House, so much, I’ve never ordered any of the other books Bunny Williams has written. This is going to sound crazy, but this book was so wonderful, I just didn’t see how she could top or equal it. So, I just didn’t want to take the risk I’d be disappointed by ordering her more recent books. Crazy, I know.
Do you have any of Bunny’s other books? Again, I have found the books where decorators share their OWN homes, like An Affair with a House, are always special…always the best.
Mario Buatta was inspired by Colefax and Fowler when he was just starting out. Since I’m a huge Mario Buatta fan, that was all I needed to know to order these books. If you like English design, you’ll enjoy both.
I rarely read a “decorating” book cover to cover. I did with, Adventures with Old Houses. If you love old houses, you’ll enjoy these three books.
I’ve been re-reading At Home with Books since I added my mini library to the office. I’ve had this book for a long time, but I’m on a book high right now with all this newly acquired book storage. At Home with Books shows some of the most amazing and interesting “home” libraries from all over the world. And let me tell ya, there are some book-obsessed folks in this world. I felt almost normal after reading this book. lol If you love books and seeing how others care for their books, you’ll enjoy, At Home with Books.
The other two books, American Writers at Home and Writers’ Houses, take us into the homes of famous authors so we can see where and how they lived while they were writing their most important work. I get chills whenever I open these books. Chills.
Even though most of the rooms in my home are decorated in shades of red and green, I broke the design rules and decorated two rooms (Guest room and Upstairs Family Room) in blue and white, with touches of yellow. If you love Blue and White as much as I do, you’ll love any of these books.
I almost never find Carolyn Roehm books discounted as much as I’d like. About once a year I cave and order one, anyway. They never disappoint. Her books are filled with gorgeous, breathtaking pictures. You’ll definitely want to display these on your coffee table…that is if you can put them down long enough.
Signature Style and Great Traditional Style are super inexpensive on Amazon and they are filled with beautiful images. Paula Deen’s Savannah Style is wonderful! Lots of beautiful traditional decor and lots of darling beach cottages…it has it all.
Love both these! Choosing China & Glass has some really stunning images.
Three more of my absolutely favorite books: Antiques for the Table, Modern Antiques for the Table and The Epicurean Collector.
I’ve never once been the slightest disappointed with a book written by Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill. Not once. They are consistently beautiful and filled with stunning rooms. The two books in the center are my most favorite of these four…but all four are wonderful.
I knew I’d love the book, Patina Style, before I even ordered it. Brook’s blog, Velvet and Linen, is always a great read and filled with wonderful inspiration. Patina Style is just as inspiring. Amazon said they were sold out when I bought my copy, so I had to purchase a used copy. It came in great condition…looked brand new. Not sure if it’s still sold out or not. I guess it’s done very well since it’s sold out…says a lot for the book!
Anyone who loves French Country decor has heard of Betty Lou Phillips and most likely owns a few of her books. Again, she is one of those authors who consistently releases great books that never disappoint.
Two more of my fave French Decor books…
Entertaining from an Ethnic Indian Kitchen is written by Komali Nunna. You may recognize the name because Komali participates in Tablescape Thursday from time to time. Her book is filled with wonderful recipes, ideas for entertaining and gorgeous photos.
If you love Mottahedeh china and you’ve always wondered about it’s history, this book will take you through the history/creation of this beautiful china. I received both of these books below as gifts and have really enjoyed them.
I’ve always been a Mary Engelbreit fan, but I had no idea I would love touring her home so much. Home Sweet Home shows you just how Mary lives and it’s as warm, cozy and charming as you would expect. Leading the Artful Life has (to me) kind of dull looking cover, but the book is nothing like that on the inside. It’s filled with beautiful interiors decorated in a casual, comfortable style…and there’s lots of wonderful color, so don’t let that cover fool ya. These books just make you smile when you open them…happy interiors, beautiful interiors. Mary has a blog, appropriately called, Mary Engelbreit.
I had been creating tablescapes for about two years here at BNOTP before I ever bought any books on the subject. Over the past year I’ve ordered several, but to be honest, most have been kind of disappointing. So many of them have been filled with very formal, really grand table settings for huge galas or events. Southern Lady: Gracious Tables by Phyllis Hoffman is filled with lots of inspiration for everyday dining or for special occasions, formal and informal.
The Art of the Table answers a lot of questions about dining etiquette. It’s not a “picture” book like so many of the others in this post.
This post doesn’t include all of my faves…never got to the gardening books, cottage books, Christmas books or my beloved porch books. So many books, so little time.
YOUR Favorite Books:
Okay, you can’t leave this post without telling me at least one of your favorite decorating/design books. I’d love to hear what books you love. My shelves are yearning for more…please share your faves!
I have to end with this photo I found at Pinterest. Book lovers are the best. YaknowwhatImean?