Tricks of the Trade: Collecting v. Cluttered

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Have you ever loved something so much that you start a collection and want as many of that thing as you can get your hands on? I certainly have, and when I come across that thing, it’s always important for me to remind myself about the differences between collecting and cluttered.


In order to keep your collection from overflowing into a cluttered mess, I always recommend that you pay close attention to the amount of negative space available. Take my bookshelves, for instance. They’re filled with lots of books with lots of colors, as well as a few tchotchkes and several pieces of pottery. Without a clear strategy behind item placement on these shelves, they could easily look and feel cluttered, but with a few simple adjustments, they feel collected and clean.

First and foremost, it’s important to keep space between each item. By having distinct piles of books that are separated from the pile next to them, the shelf looks and feels cleaner and more open. Additionally, I try to balance the amount of tchotchkes on each shelf, such that if one shelf has several, the ones sandwiching it do not. That way, your eye is not torn about which shelf to look at, as there is a sense of balance between each of them.IMG_5728 IMG_5730  IMG_5723 IMG_5727

Tricks of the Trade: The Bookshelf


When it comes to organizing books, there are a few different paths you can take. I’ve already shown you all of my tips and tricks for organizing by color, but now I want to show a slightly different method.

For my bookshelf in my apartment, I decided to go with part color, part size, part feng shui. Here’s what I mean:

IMG_3814I placed all of my really large books together as to ground the bookshelf.


I also placed all of my red books together to create a sense of color-coding.


Finally, I went ahead and interspersed books with pottery, tchotchkes, and candles to create a light, airy, and curated feel.

If you’re having a hard time deciding whether you want to color coordinate, stack by size, or just randomly arrange your books, try doing what I did! You get the best of all options but your bookshelf will still feel neat, organized, and of course, will look beautiful.


For more posts on bookshelves, click here.

Grouping Like Items

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When trying to distill my organizing list of commandments into one main principle, the idea of grouping like items rings truer and truer. That is, in addition to discipline, of course.

Here’s an example – a deck of cards should never just be floating freely on a bookcase. Rather, it should be located in a nice basket along with things similar to it, such as a game of Monopoly or other entertaining materials. On its own, the deck of cards makes no sense on my bookshelf. However, once grouped with like items, it not only makes sense from functional and aesthetic standpoints, but it also helps you to gain more clarity since will know exactly where to find these items and never just find yourself with one, unable to identify the other.

In Color


I know, I know, it’s like bookshelves have taken over my blog and demanded I post about them not once, not twice, but three times. But, the third time’s the charm, right? At my home, I have a whole room dedicated to books — some may call it a library. My books spread across two shelves, but because these books don’t just belong to me, but also my siblings, they can often get messy. Imagine family members entering the library, looking for that John Steinbeck book and shuffling through pile upon pile until they find it and then not cleaning up the mess they just made. Got that image? Ok, that’s a lot what my shelves looked like.



I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been on a cleaning kick, or whether it’s because I’m all for blogging about bookshelves these days, but last week I set out to make my two shelves absolutely pristine.

The first step to making this happen was going through the books and donating those ones with excessive scribble and ripped covers. No need to keep those! I also was able to get rid of my old Spanish novels that I unfortunately can’t read anymore as my Spanish fluency has greatly dwindled since high school. With these old and unnecessary books out of the way, it was now time for the fun — the organizing! Now, I don’t know if you follow me on Pinterest (and if you don’t, you really should), but I have a whole board dedicated to bookshelves and I’m currently loving the idea of organizing books by color. So, naturally, I chose to organize my small collection of books by color as well.



Bookshelf Styling


It’s no secret that less is more, and it’s no secret that this mantra should apply to your bookshelves as well. While bookshelves are certainly meant for books —I mean, it’s called book-shelf, right?— they look much better when interspersed with chochkies, pottery, and fun little accessories.





When organizing my bookshelves, I didn’t really see the advantage of organizing by author name in my particular case. Instead, I chose to organize books by type and content. For instance, I placed my larger books flat on the shelf and stacked them on top of one another. I then placed little tchotchkes between that pile of books and the next, so my bookshelves look welcoming and manageable, as opposed to cluttered and overwhelming.

The shelves now serve as art statements in the entry way and their rich colors make my happy when I walk through the door!

Float On


Floating shelves have to be one of my favorite design choices, as they work just as perfectly in a kitchen as they do in a closet. I love how sleek they are and particularly love the muted, minimalistic vibes in these photos.

In a closet, I’m really into the idea of filling floating shelves with boxes, much like is shown in the last picture. The boxes can be filled with sunglasses, watches, mittens, and really any other accessory that looks better tucked away than displayed freely. I also love that if you’re lacking storage space in any room, you can always add a few hanging shelves to lean some art on, or to display your dishes for easy access.image



Photos from: Pinterest.