I finally did it! I arranged my books by colour!
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.
One year ago we turned that room into our bedroom.
The desk itself was moved to different places in the house, until it finally ended up in the living room.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.