The Pursuit Of Pretty

In the deepest, darkest corner of my family room stands a white bookcase.

Round things fascinate me. Can you tell?

It‘s been there for years. Decades even. And the contents of the shelves have evolved over time. 

Crawling babies routinely emptied rows of board books from the lower shelves. 

Girl Scout handbooks, songbooks, and a sizable stash of field guides, camping tips, and craft books lived here for a time. 

Let‘s not forget the astronomy books, dinosaur guides, atlases, maps, medical dictionaries and copies of the United States Constitution. 

And a herd of photo albums documenting the glory days of my daughters‘ childhoods have held a long-standing place of honor.

I made that little yellow dog out of clay in an art class many years ago. While I worked on him, my fourth-born created a tiny black cat which sits on the bookshelf in her dorm room at this very moment.

Of course, like every other nook and cranny of my home, I‘ve organized and tidied and reconfigured this area countless times.
But this hardworking bookcase served a long-standing role as a no-nonsense repository of our family‘s resource and reference materials. 

No frills. 
No fuss. 
And no fooling around.

 A particularly random cross-section of my literary interests.
Until last month. When, out of nowhere, my brain leaped into hyper drive and produced an entirely new and profoundly radical idea. 

What if, I pondered, instead of using this bookcase for practical and efficient storage, I threw practicality to the wind and just made it straight up pretty?

The bookends belonged to my father-in-law, and are made of petrified wood. 

Mhmmm. You can guess what happened next. An irresistible urge to color block swept through my soul and compelled me to immediate action.

Yellow books make me smile. 
I can‘t help it. They are so darn cute. 

Within ten minutes, my family room looked like the aftermath of a tornado. 

Teetering stacks of books covered every available horizontal surface. 

At first, my goal was simply to empty the shelves for a good cleaning. Then, the notion of color blocking became an irresistible ideal. First, I played my own version of literary Jenga by pulling certain colored books out of my wobbling stacks, and then I dashed around the house, raiding other bookshelves for volumes that would match. 

I‘m not going to lie. That was such a fun afternoon.

Gilgamesh is an epic poem considered to be the first great literary work in history. It‘s surprisingly readable, and full of action. I highly recommend it. 

Lest I come across as completely shallow, let me note that to make the cut to my stacks, a book must meet my color criteria, to be sure. 

But it has to be a good read, too. 

I made no rules about content. Fiction and nonfiction, children‘s novels and business handbooks, ancient literature and hiking guides; all comers are welcome on my shelf as long as they suit my fancy. 

When I found the aluminum vase, it was stuffed full of tiny fake evergreen branches. But why??? Thrifting can be so weird. 

And yes, several trips to the thrift store were needed to fill in the gaps. Which led me to start a collection of sassy vases, and a fledgling collection of 20th century works in their original covers. I might be obsessed with that concept now.

When I was in high school, we read The Little Prince in Spanish class. El Principito. I‘m still looking for a copy to keep company with my English edition. 

And then, somehow, our old Game Cube made an appearance, and I was inspired all over again. Pretty sure I‘ve got some components from my college-era sound system lying around somewhere, and they might make a nice addition to the arrangement. A trip to the attic heads up my weekend to-do list.

I took these photos twenty-four hours ago, and they are already obsolete. Sigh. 

As one thing leads to another and another, I get the distinct feeling that my bookcase transformation is far from complete. 
Because seriously. When is a styling project ever done? 

Never. That‘s when. 

I expect that my pursuit of pretty will be raging on for quite some time to come.

 I‘m happy to report that no dogs were crushed by falling towers of books during this project.


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    Yes – great books! And you have a way with words – love the “herd of photo albums” ! I’ve never tried the sort-books-by-color technique – it looks pretty on your shelves – I wonder how long it will last?! And if you can find books, when you want them?!

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      Thank you for your kind words! I have organized books by color in other areas of my house and find it super easy to maintain. My brain finds it easy to recall the color of each book’s spine, and I love the satisfaction of keeping each color stack in apple pie order. Yum!

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    Beautiful lady, I think we may have similar decorating tastes. You style your books very well! I recently moved and rearranged my many books and bookshelves . For me, I care not for meticulous bookcase styling/decor. Bookcases are primarily for books. I have many (academic) books; I can’t just style them; I have to arrange them by subjects. I hang simple white curtains on most of my shelves so I can pull them across either way when the shelves are not styled or neat but rather just piled with books. I like round objects, especially globes, but they are rather expensive. One day….

    • 6

      I’m with you… first and foremost, bookcases are for books! When I can’t sort them by color, I sometimes turn them around so the white pages show, and while it’s a bit inconvenient for finding a particular volume quickly, I keep things organized in blocks and find them fairly efficiently. I also love the messy look of a well used library, so have no shame!

      All of my globes, and most of my round things are from thrift stores. I can’t afford the expensive ones either. 🙂

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      Thank you! I kinda love those globes too and best of all, the entire collection was thrifted for dirt cheap. Ranger cannot resist a good photo shoot, and I can never resist a few shots of his handsome Irish face. You will see more of him!

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    Diane, You are so.funny, such a great writer! Your book case looks great. I have arranged my books by color for a few years, but currently due to switching around bedrooms there are darks in with my whites, yellows with my blues…You inspired me to take all the books off and color block away!

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      Jennise, thank you! One of the many reasons that books are my fav accessory is that they can be arranged, rearranged, and rearranged again for huge impact, no money and the side benefit of an upper body workout. I’m excited if I inspired you to play with your books, and I only hope you will post a photo of your results!

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    First of all I love your writing. It warms my soul. YOU ARE ADORABLE! And, it’s is so encouraging to know there is life and adventure after homeschooling. I have just moved into a fixer upper and it has been quite the challenging balancing decorating and homeschooling. It is so depressing walking around with stuff on the floor, but no time to do anything about it because we are busy homeschooling a 15 and 13 year old. UGH…
    Thanks for your post full of your joyful, inspiring and hopeful words.

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      Annette, first of all, THANK YOU! And secondly, thirdly, fourthly and definitely fifthly, HANG IN THERE! Now that I have stepped beyond the wild blur of daily homeschooling, I can appreciate much more deeply what a monumental undertaking it is. Almost every other facet of us homeschooling mommies’ lives plays second fiddle to the job of educating our kids, and that is a very demanding row to hoe. Please be patient with yourself – especially in the midst of your chaotic fixer-uppering, you brave woman, you – and know that spending these years with your kids is an amazing investment that you will always be glad you made!

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    Precioso, Diane. ¿Encontraste la edición de El Principito en español? De no ser así puedo intentar enviarte uno desde aquí, vivo en España. Mi hija tiene el libro en todos los idiomas de los países que hemos visitado. El año pasado estuvimos en Pensacola (Florida), donde tenemos familia.

    Beautiful, Diane . Did you find the volume of the Little Prince in Spanish? Otherwise , I can try to send one from here (I live in Sapin). My daughter has the book in all languages ​​of the countries we have visited. Last year we where in Pensacola (Florida) where we have family.

    Apologies if my English is not very good, I only know what I learned in my student days . Good thing I have to Google to help! 🙂

    • 16

      Oh my gosh, Monica, this might be my favorite comment ever…you wrote to me in Spanish!! I must admit that I panicked when I saw that past tense ending in “encontraste”, but i calmed down in time to understand “Mi hija tiene el libro en todos los idiomas” I loved the challenge of deciphering your lovely post.

      Your English is delightful, by the way, and yes, Google makes all things possible.

      And about your generous offer…if you would be so kind, I would be honored to have a Spanish-language version of the book that truly came from Spain! If you truly feel moved to do that, then contact me via email and we can make the arrangements:

      Oh, and be sure to start thinking about what I can send you in exchange!

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    Now you have made me want to pile all my books (and there are lots, tons actually) in the middle of the floor and organize my shelves. Mine are currently organized (loosely) by genre and even by owner (mine vs my husband’s). I have a few on my living room built in shelf that are turned backward so they are more uniform. I actually wrote a list (in order) of what they are so I can refer to it if I want one. I love books and rarely ever part with one. When we move we pack them in file storage boxes – I think there were over thirty boxes, maybe even forty, on our last move. I never have enough shelf space, so books are piled other places as well. I also have a lot of magazines. Love that your books are making you so happy.

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    Diane, I love your twinkly lights, your book collections and your globes! I’m planning to purchase another globe to pair with a smaller one I have. Aren’t they great to decorate with? Functional, beautiful, and educational.

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    Diane, I love the color blocking idea! As I noticed the globes, I thought about what a great idea that is, I love them! I have been wanting to go to a thrift store lately and now the desire has been compounded!
    Thank you for sharing your thought process as you went through your reorganization.

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    Well that was a fun post for me as well as you! You have a real way with words and such a positive outlook Diane! I love your choice of books. I see many favorites and many that peaked my interest. Isn’t it surprising and gratifying that the white bookcase which has served so many functions over the years now brings all of us close together? 🙂

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