Author Topic: clearing bookshelves  (Read 2527 times)


  • Bristles
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clearing bookshelves
« on: November 29, 2016, 03:50:16 PM »
I may be moving/downsizing in the near future, so I've been going through the bookcases in my home. I'm also doing a five-a-day declutter challenge, so I usually bring a bag of books to work. I give my coworkers first dibs on them, then take the leftovers to the local library for their "friends" sales. Also I have taken some to the Salvation Army.

This is probably going to sound neurotic, but I worry about what the bookshelves will look like when I'm done. Currently, we have a wall-length bookshelf (think IKEA "Billy", with three of them put together). It does not have only books on it, but some of my ceramic collection. It's bolted to the wall and unless it won't fit in the theoretical new place, I want to keep it. Another is a glass-fronted old-fashioned unit that belonged to my great-grandparents. Again, I want to keep it. Less important are three three-shelf units, probably made of fiberboard, two of which were bought by my sister when she was in college. I'm not really emotionally attached to them. Most, if not all, of the stuff on one of them could be tossed (think magazines I don't want anymore, outdated catalogs replaced by the Internet).

I guess I'm concerned about the scary emptiness of the large wall-length unit. I still have many books I know I want to keep, so maybe it won't be so bad.

Has anyone else experienced this anxiety when decluttering? Also, any ideas on how to make the shelves look attractive as they are decluttered. Some of the books are falling over and there are gaps here and there. Eventually I'll have to do a big shifting of the books, but I'm working on one shelf at a time to make it less overwhelming. Thank you!!


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: clearing bookshelves
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2016, 06:43:35 PM »

Have fewer books on each shelf, and keep them upright with bookends.  Then use the remaining spaces to show off all your ceramics. Or buy bigger bookends that are decorative in themselves.

Congratulations on your decluttering!


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: clearing bookshelves
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2016, 07:42:04 PM »
The good part is, this is a free endeavour! It is quite Mustachian to have only what you need. And  styling it in a way you enjoy is a free activity that should lead to a nicer looking space and greater sense of calm in it. How exciting!

 There are many articles I've read with variations on a theme, but they all suggest a mix  of vertical and horizontal stacking of books, accessories and negative space.

A Google or Pinterest search on "bookshelf styling" will turn up some ridiculous links but also some useful tips. I've gone through many as I downsize my book collection.

Here is one such article: - the author mentions having your eye "zig-zag" up the shelf, so instead of having everything at the edges have some books  centred, some left, some right, etc.

This article mentions the idea of "triangles" on each shelf, having high and low points visually. M

Some bookshelves even show art displayed or mounted so it hangs over the bookcase. If you have a lot of space maybe that is a way to fill it in?
For example the last image in this post


  • Bristles
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Re: clearing bookshelves
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2016, 07:51:56 PM »
I like the look and interest of a few books stacked as a bookend. Breaks up the lines.

Partially empty shelves can also hold baskets or clean containers of interesting objects.

Congrats on all your progress.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: clearing bookshelves
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2016, 08:51:16 AM »
First, don't do anything drastic (beyond decluttering) until after you move. You may find that you don't have a full wall to devote or the wall isn't long enough and need to get rid of a bookcase anyway, thus problem solved.

I am also a book lover and have the Billy book cases. I use the top shelf for display purposes. I'm not tall enough to get up there anyway, so it works. Also currently use the bottom shelf for non-book storage. This includes puzzles, but also some books that I don't classify as books (yes, it's weird). My sole cooking book, religious books (seriously, please don't put people's names on books, I can't donate the damn things), needlepoint pattern books, photo albums, my stack of cds, etc. The bottom shelf is hidden behind the couch, so not a problem.

Bookends really do help. If you have space, becomes a good place to put pictures and various small items for display. Be as fancy as you desire.


  • Bristles
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Re: clearing bookshelves
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2016, 12:12:03 PM »
Thanks, folks! Those are some great suggestions.

I do have a pair of bookends. You would think, after all this time, I'd have more than one pair, but there it is. I like the idea of incorporating more of my ceramics/pottery into the shelves. Also, family photos might work.