THINKING ABOUT LOW BOOKSHELVES

As you probably know by now, I'm in the midst of designing a big renovation of my own on a small 1923 Spanish that we're enlarging with a 2nd story master suite and a more spacious, open floor plan living, dining and kitchen area. 

This is the vibe ... the architecture will be very spare and restrained, white walls with black trim, not a lot of ornamentation, letting the beauty and integrity of the Spanish architecture do most of the talking.  The decor will be that blend of traditional and mid-century, rustic and modern that I love so much ...








Lately I've been stumped about how to incorporate enough book storage into the new space.  I grew up a librarian's kid and a big reader, not to mention all the design and photography books that Marc and I tend to amass in our lines of work, and this doesn't even begin to address the kids' books that pile up all over the house ... we need bookshelves!

Since we're working with an open floor plan, there's not a ton of wall space for built-in bookcases.  Pretty much none, actually, because what limited wall space we do have becomes really important for hanging art to set the tone of our home.

I spent all weekend sifting through online images, trying to find a solution.  I toyed around with the idea of recessed shelving on the wall beneath the staircase, but decided that I really don't care for this look. I don't like the way it accentuates the triangular shape of the stair structure.


Storage beneath the stairs can look better when it's enclosed, especially in a home with lots of beautiful paneling and molding millwork ...


But in a Spanish home where the architecture is more restrained, more about expanses of smooth plaster walls and untrimmed arches with very little molding or ornamentation, to me the stairs become an important sculptural element.  See what I mean? ...

(all images via my pinterest board ... I told you I was a pinning madwoman)





I like the top and bottom images best, with no wood trim on the wall beneath the stairs, just white plaster and a beautiful and simple black iron railing.  It seems to me that with this look, to break up the wall below with any sort of storage or shelving would look busy and choppy and just wrong. (In fact, this exercise made me realize that I need to re-locate the laundry closet door from the wall beneath the stairs to another spot instead.)

So in the course of all my image research I think I may have arrived at a solution for getting the necessary book storage into our home.  I'm thinking a long, low shelf that wraps around the perimeter of the living room may be the way to go. 


 
I absolutely love the vibe of a room filled with books, and I also think the low ledge could be a really interesting way to display art. 

To pull this look off you'd have to be really honest with yourself about how your family lives, and whether the top ledge would be a constant catch-all for crap or whether you'd be able to keep an intentional, curated collection of art and objects there.  I think we might be able to swing it ...
































So what do you think?  That's what I'm ruminating on this Monday morning :)  

Hope you're having a good one!



4 comments:

Patricia said...

love the low shelves ... especially when the top is used as casual gallery space for leaning art or three dimensional art or pots.

Emily Palmier said...

I love the look. I think you've found the perfect solution... and YES you have been a pinning madwoman ;-) I'm also guilty most of the time!

theanatomyofdesign.com said...

really love this idea! adds a really casual nature to a room...and, i definitely think you can pull it off!

Anonymous said...

Any idea of where ANY of these bookshelves can be found? I've been searching everywhere for the low bookshelf look myself, and it's very hard to find. If they are low, then they aren't long enough. :/

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