Book Clutter

My husband and I have declared war on clutter (trinkets, knick-knacks, things, STUFF!). Well, there is one notable exception to this: book clutter. While it drives him crazy, I love seeing piles of books in heavy use all over the house. It is a sign of a healthy, inspired home. If I had the money and willing partner, I'd probably paper entire hallways in this superb book wallpaper. Still, there must be some sort of order. I've half-seriously considered implementing the Dewey Decimal system in our home. But the books are getting pulled off shelves and put back much too frequently for me to expect order to stick. And shelf space is limited here! When you marry a builder-type no press board, MDF, "beaver puke" bookshelves will do. So you are left with one or two solid wood shelves that are laboring under the weight of being shackled with too many books. Or you find alternatives... here are a couple of my favorite ideas while I'm waiting for my built-ins like those shown above to make it to the top of his 'honey-do' list:

Good old baskets. I love seeing baskets of books in little corners of the house. They are an excellent way to keep library books together or seasonal books fresh by rotating different selections in and out of baskets. Aside from finding great [sturdy] baskets at yard sales and the like, some excellent sources for lovely weaving include The Peterboro Basket Co. whose wares are crafted right here in the U.S.A. But my very favorite baskets are sold through a very favorite organization of mine, one that supports artisans and fair trade all over the world. You can know you are purchasing quality and improving the quality of life for people everywhere when you make a purchase through SERVV. At least get their free catalogue and drool...

Then there is the gutter option. Some people refuse to "trivialize" their homes in this way wanting to keep up a certain vibe of formality or good taste, but I love gutters. In our last home, my husband installed one right underneath the giant bay window in the living room and it was a delight for the kids to see different books being displayed at different times. You can see a photo of what I mean here (pardon the birthday-boy litter strewn about). Tutorials exist all over online on how to do this.

The next items on my sewing to-do list are bed pockets for books. With our boys' excellent triple-bunk, each railing would be dressed up grandly with a personal book pocket for each child. Here is a tutorial for how to make one that slides in between the mattress and box spring.Now we don't have box springs on bunks but I think it would be easy enough to sew on some straps to wrap around the rail and button or velcro it to the pockets. What a great treat this would be for children to have their favorite stories and a small flashlight tucked in next to the bedside. (We allow a "reading" light for the kids to almost any hour. There is a philosophy or two behind this but we'll skip that for now.)

I wish I had an empty staircase with dead-space to use for book storage; it would be such a practical solution. Look at this website for some interesting examples. Then I stumbled on this blog post which had a plethora of ideas for people big on books (and time... and money...). Imagine bathing near your favorite novels! But I loved most of all the imagery in this photo:Isn't it a delight?! If I had my way, books would be decorating our entire home (well, in a careful and DELIBERATE way, not in the way they "decorate" the home now... ha!). Alas, it's not to be... I've stretched my dear husband's tolerance of books probably as far as it will go and I have to be thankful that we do have other great options. Right now, our giant, e-bay found, Mexican crafted bookshelf is mostly filled with children's books. More spill out in a basket or two in the front room, those pertinent to our studies or seasons sit on the piano upright and ajar (library style) inviting little hands to pick them up to peruse (currently the piano is holding books on Native Americans, Pocahontas, St. Isaac Jogues, Holling C. Hollings superb Paddle-to-the-Sea and the like), and books sit at the end of the kids' mattresses, in between car seats and all over my own dresser... not to mention those especially favored friends that get tucked into tote bags and backpacks for our adventures out of the house. If you have a clever way you store books, do share... our collection is only growing!

"Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house." ~Henry Ward Beecher

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