Do or Don’t: Hide Book Spines

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via My Paradissi

I will come right out and say, I don’t like the styling trick of books facing backward on the shelf. Prioritizing beige over ease of access to books is squarely in the realm of impractical design. I hope it is a trend that dies soon. Now, I’m going to show you bookshelves that embrace books as they are, and bookshelves that use backward or slip-covered books for textured monochrome variance. I want to be totally clear that I love the work of all of the stylists! I chose really admirable images on both sides of the book spine debate.

But look at the top image. So many books. Thick ones! What are they? If they want a book from the top shelf, do they have to stand on a ladder and pull out each book until they find it? Do they listen to the vinyl, or is it decorative? So many questions.

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Waiting on Martha

These bookshelves are in a gorgeous office. I want so badly to touch those chairs that I could be distracted from the urge to turn those books around.

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Love Grows Wild (Liz Fourez) on Glitter Guide

I obsessively scanned the typing on those covered white books and I believe I see canon hits like War and Peace, The Odyssey and Huckleberry Finn. Since the books are labeled, I can get behind the matching white dust jackets. (Although, if I ever read War and Peace, I will definitely leave it resting on my coffee table for a few weeks as a subtle brag.) The backward books I don’t get, because they look antique and all have pretty blue or brown spines; show them off!

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SS Life + Style (Stephanie Sterjovski)

Again, this looks great. Again, I think there is already enough of white accessories and breathing space that I’m curious to see how those books would look if they were allowed to fully show their hot pink and black covers.

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via Domino

Stephanie Sterjovski’s condo is super cozy, neutral and minimalist, so I get why the books should be quiet. You almost can’t see them, but there’s about 27 on that shelf. The white or black ones are showing spine, and the paperbacks are in a short-ish stack, so their spineless orientation seems more approachable than if there was a big row of backward books.

OK, now in the other direction:

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IG @stephgphotography

I noticed most of the bookshelf inspo I’m drawn to has a lot of books, but they are thoughtfully grouped by color for harmony. This one seems boho and busy with all those amazing plants, but there’s nothing overwhelming about it because of the color palette, non-patterned pots, and the white wall backdrop.

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Tumblr
Katerina Pimenidu

In this proper home library, the books appear to be grouped by genre, definitely not by color. I think it works so well with the modern, sleek design around it because it is floor-to-ceiling and in a defined space. There are so many books that the disbursement of color and bumpy ridge-lines end up feeling balanced and even like artwork.

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Lea Jessen on Bolig

This bookshelf has an approachable vibe, so you believe the people who live there really read their books. It’s not trying too hard, but if you look carefully the books are thoughtfully organized and they do play nicely with the gallery wall color palette. Every little detail is repeated in some way for cohesion.

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DecorFix

DecorFix created this image for their how-to on bookshelf styling. I will end here, saying it is possible to have a pulled together or even pared-back bookshelf with readable, accessible book spines. Don’t make your books face the wall. They don’t like it.

What do you think? Do you (or would you) hide your book spines?

My Kids’ Girl & Boy Shared Bedroom

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When we moved in, their room was painted a sad yellowish cream with beat up white trim (which still looked wildly better than the red from the listing photo), and the owner offered to have it painted any neutral color.

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I chose a bright white because the room gets great light, and I knew there would be plenty of color from the kids’ books and tchotchkes. Their room is used for sleeping, dressing, and quiet time, so I want it to feel airy, personalized and practical.

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A year ago, the kids transitioned from a toddler bed and a mattress on the floor to the Kura bed. It isn’t actually a bunk bed, it’s a bed that can be reversed so that the mattress is high or low. Gabe has a floor bed and Alexandra is on the “top bunk” a couple of feet lower than a traditional bunk bed would be.

The IKEA mattress that goes with the bed is much shallower; our mattress goes as high as the edge of the bed which, obviously, is not safe. She has a bed rail, and by bed rail, I mean I shove a large plastic storage box lid horizontally between the mattress and side of the bed. I took it out for the picture. I am sharing this “hack” for clarification, not for recommendation.

Gabe snapped off several pieces of one of the cheap rental standard blinds, so I replaced it with wood-look 2-inch blinds.

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The kids love the multi-colored Christmas lights so much that I decided they could stay up indefinitely as a night light. I unplug them when I go to bed. My dad made that bookshelf when Alexandra was a baby and it has been in heavy use for more than five years. I used to keep a carefully selected variety of 16 picture books in it, rotated every Friday. Now, the kids cram it full of their current favorites and bring stacks of books into their beds when they’re supposed to be sleeping. I secretly approve.

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This little corner (above) is the self-care area. A shatterproof mirror has storage for hair stuff and lip balm. They stand on the stools to hang up their towels.

I chose this informational view to show that french doors lead to the kids’ room from the living room, while a doorway (the door was removed by previous owner) connects it to the short hallway. The hall is open to the dining room and leads to the cleaning closet, bathroom, and my bedroom. I think that in the original 1939 layout, this was the master bedroom. The weird floor in the self-care corner was probably a closet, and the the opening with french doors were probably added in the 1980s. Over the years, we’ve had a lot of bedrooms with “character”, so I’ll be controversial and say I’d be happy to take on the challenge of a generic rectangle room with a standard closet.

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Their dresser holds all of their clothes as well as their CDs. The fan serves as white noise every night. A fan in the room is connected with a slightly lower SIDS risk, so they’ve always had one and need the white noise to sleep now.

All year, I’ve been thinking about a large area rug and an updated light fixture, but the room probably won’t evolve further, since we’ll move in a few months.

Paint | Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White
Kura Reversible Bed | IKEA
Ljudlig Duvet | IKEA
Marimekko Bo Boo Pillowcase | FinnStyle
White Blanket | Target
Butterfly garlands & party pom garland | Target (old)
Seagrass storage basket | HomeGoods
Rug | HomeGoods
Faux sheepskin | IKEA
Bookcase | made by my dad
Baby chair | vintage
Hemnes Dresser | IKEA
Dresser knobs | Anthropologie
Greetings around the world art | HomeGoods
Portrait of Alexandra’s 2nd birthday | painted by Jenna Wynne
Globe | vintage
Unbreakable mirror | IKEA (old)
Name Stools | painted by Jenna Wynne
Bunny & Triceratops towels | Pottery Barn Kids