Shelf Anxiety

I grew up with two aunts who were interior decorators and as such, they  drilled certain rules into my brain about design. 1. Don’t ever do matching bedroom sets. You may think it’s an easy answer to instant cohesiveness but avoid the temptation. Mixed pieces add much more variety and interest. 2. Don’t be afraid to mix plaids and florals. 3. When arranging items, odd numbers look better than even. 4. When it comes to arranging shelves, group like items together by color, texture or function to add cohesiveness (and to avoid having it look like a hot mess).

So when it came to arranging my own bookshelf, I felt as though their judgy eyes were watching over me like sweet, southern, passive-aggressive fairy godmothers.

The name of the game is editing as I had a LOT of items I wanted to include. But let’s talk about the shelf itself first. I love mixing industrial items (like pipes) with warmer elements, like light wood.


(This shelf was built by my engineering fella. He designed and constructed it better than I ever could.)


I edited down my collection of books and displayed those that I thought had the most charm (aka old). Most of these are finds from Half-Priced Books, one of my favorite Austin bookstores. I found the vase at a Magazine Street art gallery while on a recent venture in New Orleans.


For this corner, I went against the rules of even numbers (gasp!) and used my exception card. In this case, three items would have made the corner look too crowded. Hopefully my aunts forgive me.

(In case you’re curious, the larger vase is from the same Magazine Street shop and the smaller vase is from Heath Ceramics here in the Mission.)

Spending large amounts of time arranging a bookshelf is definitely a first world problem and I fretted, adjusted, added and deleted for way longer than I probably needed to. Still, I love the outcome. Everything displayed is meaningful.

So tell me what was your game plan for tackling your bookshelf? Did you share my ridiculous shelf anxiety?


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