Colour coded book collection

Nederlands

I finally did it! I arranged my books by colour!

P1050754

Daytime reading has even returned thanks to this stylistic change. As former newspaper reporter James Ball testifies: “With the clutter gone, I’ve had a strong urge to read more. I read voraciously, at least two books a week now.” I totally get it!

I had been thinking about it for a long time, and just before we left for our holiday (which was awesome of course) I managed to properly organise my office. At first it looked like this, very dull.

2014-11-08 002

How could I ever study and work in this prisonlike environment?

One year ago we turned that room into our bedroom.

P1030396

The desk itself was moved to different places in the house, until it finally ended up in the living room.

P1040410

Decluttered office, the dog can’t wait to get in and curl up underneath the desk. The book collection is still the chaotic jumble it’s been for years.

I immediately fell in love with the result, and the home magazines I bought in Sweden as well as Pinterest told me I could still improve. But the idea had to grow on me: one does not break up a collection of Stephen King novels just like that. Also, my husband and friends, music and film collectors, can’t get over the fact that I wouldn’t put them in alphabetic order.

1800 km from home, enjoying our Swedish adventures, the dream of the perfect collection made me feel warm inside, even to the point that I was glad to finally be home after weeks of longing: cleaning out my bookshelf, messing things up contentwise but making that colourful room feel more peaceful. A nice haven to read, eat and rest.

First sacrifice: this tight cluster of Kings would have to be sent out to different corners of the shelves where they'd have to learn to get along with papery colleagues such as Fitzgeralds, John Greens and Gerard Reves.

First sacrifice: this tight cluster of Kings would have to be sent out to different corners of the shelves where they’d have to learn to get along with papery colleagues such as Fitzgeralds, John Greens and Gerard Reves.

When I started, I realised I was in the dark about the how-tos of arranging my books by colour. It all seems fairly easy when you look at the pins of perfect bookshelves I saved on my office board. But in order to obtain the result they display, I turned out to have either too many books (for beautiful minimalist design), the wrong kind of shelves (that ugly brown veneer), books that are too old and worn, too little books (for the vertical rainbow), too many multicoloured books or just too many books in general.

Novels and paperback alike were already pouring out of their shelves, having to be put away horizontally or even worse, on top of the bookcases, catching all kinds of colours of dust. Really, things took a turn for the worse when we had our terrace window enlarged: I still keep finding red dust everywhere around the house, even when I descaled our electric kettle last week.

It was difficult to find any information apart from inspiration boards of people with obviously the perfect book collection. Some people even buy books of a certain colour by the foot (green in this case, it does look good). The only manual I found online that could help me was the one that sadly noted you have to get rid of old and worn books. I hadn’t been (consciously) aware of that. Obviously a clear case of denial. I love my books!

It took some courage, but I realised sacrifices would have to be made. So here’s what I did.

1. Declutter!

Every book I took out of its longtime comfortable nook was thoroughly vacuumed and then inspected for wear and tear. I made piles based on colour and condition: the front piles consisted of books that were in great condition and would therefore be considered to earn a place in the peaceful bookcase.

Behind these I put the worn books of the same colour. I’m so glad I always insisted on not breaking the backs of my books, always being careful not to open them more than 80°. People borrowing my books can testify how obsessed I can get.

Stephen Kings both old and new, soft- and hardcovers ended up on different piles, but I promised myself I would give the old ones a ‘nice’ place out of sight. I ended up putting them in banana boxes and driving them over to a friend’s place.

So long ragged backs, welcome passionate reading!

So long ragged backs, welcome passionate reading!

My friend hadn’t been reading lately due to a toddler running around with yards of toilet paper and other things best kept away from such specimens. And lo and behold, the day after, she sent me this lovely picture of a relaxing afternoon with one of the books. I was over the moon! I have to add that my friend finished an original book report on the Roald Dahl she read, which in turn made her very happy! You can read it here if you understand Dutch, or just enjoy her funny pictures.

Getting your friends to pick up reading again is one the perks of decluttering. <3

Getting your friends to pick up reading again is one the perks of decluttering. <3

 

So far for the courageous part.

As for the part that takes patience…

You have to make things flow or you’ll end up with the same chaotic bookshelf the only difference being that your friends picked up reading again. The following aspects should be considered, in this order:

different shades of colour do not necessarily match, au contraire

a black book is not just a black book as print and details do vary in colour

some books are multicoloured

not all books have the same height

So, here we go:

2. Green is not just any green

Different shades of any colour turned out to make war when confronted with one another. So first of all I made transitions from harsh tot pastel colours.

Different shades of the same colour turned out to make war when confronted with one another. So first of all I made transitions from harsh tot pastel colours.

3. Different accents

Then I put the ones with titles or accents of the same colour together, making the transition from for instance yellow print to red print with books that had both colours on a black background.

From yellow to red, Hellboys and Stephen Kings friendlily helped me out!

From yellow to red, Hellboys and Stephen Kings friendlily helped me out!

 

4. Sorry chameleons

Whereas some books or series with multicoloured backs were very helpful to make transitions, others had to be ‘banana boxed’ as they made no contribution other than to mess up the bookcase. As I stated, weeding out these has had a positive influence on my reading appetite.

Stieg Larsson not only provided me with great reading, he also makes a beautiful transition from red to blue.

Stieg Larsson not only provided me with great reading, he also makes a beautiful transition from red to blue.

5. Height

Once you’ve got all these parameters right, it’s time to arrange these little packages by height. The rows will start looking nice and wavy.

6. The finale: putting them on the shelves

This depends on your taste, the height of your piles and the limitations of your sadly not eternal bookcase. You can base your system on the colours of the rainbow, but I went for something different, very much taking into account the length of the shelves.

P1050886

Having noticed the popularity of red books with white print, I made a transition from these to the white novels. Also, together they fill a complete shelf from left to right.

Having noticed the popularity of red books with white print, I made a transition from these to the white novels. Also, together they fill a complete shelf from left to right.

 

I really wanted to combine blue and orange because of the contrast.

I really wanted to combine blue and orange because of the contrast.

 

I just had to add this little detail so the desk lamp would match the bookcase.

I just had to add this little detail so the desk lamp would match the bookcase.

I went for giant plush microbes in IKEA jars as bookends, because first of all, they come in different colours, secondly because they’re cute and lastly because I already had them.

This Rhinovirus makes for a perfect bookend between grey and blue!

This Rhinovirus makes for a perfect bookend between grey and blue!

 

Stephen King and swine flu make a great couple.

Stephen King and swine flu make a great couple.

Are you feeling inspired? Get stuck in and attack that dvd collection of your husband’s that dominates the room, threatening it may otherwise be removed.

P1050884

 

2 comments on “Colour coded book collection”

  1. Goele

    Wat een mooie boekenverzameling, Kathleen ! Dat wil ik nu al zolang in de bib eens proberen, alles op kleur zetten. Zou toch veel mooier zijn he ?! Jammer dat mijn collega’s daar niet voor te vinden zijn.
    Goele

    • Posiblog

      Oh merci, Goele, wat lief! Wat de bib betreft: gewoon doen. De mensen zullen net als ik versteld staan van alle prachtige oranje, blauwe en roze literatuur waar ze anders voorbij waren gewandeld in hun op het alfabet gerichte zoektocht. En ze zouden ook gewoon even langskomen om te genieten van een wandeling door jullie rustgevende boekengolven.

Comments are closed.