19 September 2013

The Organized Book Shelf

The kinds of things that keep me up at night might surprise you. Like this, for example:

These are the book shelves in our bedroom, and since we've moved in they've been driving me crazy. I set them up as they had been organized in the old house: by colour. It's super-anal, I know. Who does that?! Turns out: me, apparently.

In the old house all that colour-blocking looked great, I guess because the room was white (our books were stored in the office) and because I used a bright colours in other areas that made it look all balanced and intentional and whatnot. If you don't remember what the old office looked like, here's a pic to jog your memory (or you can check out this post).

Anyway, I figured that if it worked at the old house it would work at the new, so I went ahead and organized all the shelves by colour (except the antique books, which get stacked together for protection).

And I hated it.

It kept me up at night, hating it. Because yes, this is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.

So after five months of being upset with it, I decided to change it. But how?

I considered at first just throwing everything in a pile on the bed, then filing them away at random. I tried, but I couldn't do it. I'm no heathen; I need a system. Without a system it's just chaos, and I live in enough chaos that I don't need to create more just for shits-and-giggles. Besides, how would I find anything?

(Sidebar: it took me forever to find anything in the old system, too, since it required me to take a mental snapshot of every book when it came home and recall its colour before I could find it... you can probably guess how that worked out.)

Then I considered filing by size, but it looked ridiculous. Like, seriously ridiculous. It was like a zigzag, or the incredibly shrinking library. Completely unworkable.

Then it struck me: a LIBRARY! I wanted the varying, random look with the rigid organization of a library. So at 11pm one night, while Daryn watched The Daily Show, I started cataloguing our books -- every single one of them. It didn't take as long as I thought it would (maybe two hours?) and when I was done, I reserved an entire morning the following day to reorganize. This is what the shelves look like now:

Nice, right?

Here are some close-ups:

The shelves are now alphabetized by author, then sub-alphabetized by book title (except for the antique books, which are still grouped together for protection.) I like it muuuuuuuch better. I'm sleeping better too.

So now I just need to fill in those two blank shelves -- historically we've filled them with art, and I think I will again. And that blank wall space in the middle needs a little sumpt'n-sumpt'n, too, we just need to decide which pieces will work and where. I'm hoping to get to it this weekend.

How about you? What systems do you use to organize your bookshelves?