Help with bookshelves

sunny43February 18, 2006

All of my bookshelves are filled to the hilt and I don't have any floor room left for more bookshelves. Any creative ideas how to display the rest of my books?

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I am a huge lover of books, but I do not have many books at home (we use the library every week, and I pass on the books I have read to others so they may enjoy them). Do you really need to keep all of the books you have, or could you pass some on and decide you will only keep x number of shelves full, and if you excede that then you must pass some on? I am sure that this is not the advice you were looking for.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 10:26PM
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I'm with Kelly. After accumulating too many books, (or having too few shelves) I began double rows, "artful stacking", etc. Boxes in the basement too.

Then decided it was just too much. Gave some away and took about 25 grocery bags full to a resale place, netted 180 bucks. Got rid of maybe a third to half. Feels really good to have breathing room on the selves. I don't miss them at all.

We're also now using the library more regularly.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 11:01PM
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I read an average of 3 books a week. I donate most of my books, I've decided not to keep, to our small library. The others I do keep so I may enjoy them once again. You can say it's like movies are to some people, they don't watch a movie once and then throw it away. Not all of my books are fiction as I do have a nice collection of gardening, antique, and computer, books to name a few. I love photography and studying different religions. Classic novels are always a keeper. The love of nature and the identification of birds are more books I find I use all the time. So far I have room for only about 200 books and really need more room. As you can see I have donated thousands of books over the collective years I've been reading. I was really hoping for a creative way to display my keepers for future use. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 11:12PM
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Since you gave us more information, maybe we can come up with some ideas.

I too get rid of the fiction, but have quite a collection on antique quilts, garden design, and I collect old fiction with quilting themes.

Look up. Do you have a shelf running around the rooms at door jam/window top height? I have put these up in other houses and even though it was for practical reasons, it was very attractive.

You could even keep some items up there which aren't books and free up space (like glassware or something)and use the free space for the books. Books that aren't frequently referenced, like the classics could live a bit high.

Look at the type of furniture you have and see if it is doing double duty. A small bookcase instead of a nightstand might be a good alternative. Same for end tables or coffee tables. Do you have some traditional furniture you no longer really want (like a dining room hutch) which could be removed and replaced with some nice bookshelves?

Do you really feel like you need to display all of the books?

One of the few things I have under my bed is containers with books. I keep my stash of extra fiction to be read under there, since it's not like I need to look at it. I just need to be able to pull it out and choose a book. I go through 2-4 books a week also, so I'm always picking them up at thrift stores, etc. This might work for you for books for certain things like the computers, while allowing you to keep out the bird identification type books or ones you use more frequently.

Do you have all of your bookcases in one spot or are they spread around the house? In our last house, I had a very tall bookcase in our bedroom because that's where I had room for it on a short wall which didn't work for anything else because it was in a traffic pattern. Are you overlooking some places you could put another case?

Just thinking.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 1:41AM
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May be some ideas here!

LOve the idea of shelves that surround a window or go "over" and around doors too. My DH built a shelf that goes across the tops of our back door and laundry closet doors ------- very useful for my extra kitchen "stuff"

So maybe if you consider shelving that "fills" an entire wall -- and goes around windows and over doors??

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 12:29PM
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We bring bags of books to a local library. They have a shelf of "buy used books". (hardcover as well as paperbacks) My book shelves certainly look neater now and I don't let them build up any longer.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 2:12PM
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I have a build in bookcases in the living room , a free standing one in the office, and one in the garage. I also have a small one in the bedroom. I want to keep the books out because I find it so much easier to find that article I was looking for. I know what book it is in but finding the book is my problem. I do love some of the suggestion y'all have made. I like the idea of providing shelving, just below the ceiling, and have it wrap around a room. The only problem is cleaning it. I like to clean the books and shelves every couple of weeks. Oh what I would give for a full wall, from ceiling to floor bookshelf. I'm going to have to think about that one more closely. I had thought about converting a large closet in the guest room into one large bookshelf. I could close the door to help keep dust out.
I'm also a collector of books and some of them are over 300 years old. I'm interested in a wide assortment of subjects and use these books on almost a daily bases. I also have a space where I keep books for all my grandchildren when they come over. Of course I have my very favorite fiction books that I love reading again. All other books are donated to the library. Thank you for any and all of your suggestion.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 4:06PM
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replace small ones with huge ones--floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Bookshelves are among the cheapest versions of custom furniture; you can get them made to the size you want at most unfinished-furniture places. (if you paint them yourself, give them PLENTY of time for the paint to "cure.")

Avoid the ones w/ brackets, bcs the brackets themselves take up too much space and force you to space the shelves too far apart (ask me how I know).

Get a series of bookcases w/ pegs in the side walls. That'll also keep the shelves from sagging bcs they won't be too long.

With proper bookcases, it's easy as pie to put a door on the front--either solid, or with glass, whichever strikes your fancy. (you can sometimes hang artwork on solid doors, if you size them right)

The really old books should probably lie on their sides--I think. So as not to stress the bindings.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 10:13PM
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I do things very much like you do in your way of dealing with books, Sunny43. I, too, love books, and have many "types" like you do, plus I re-read the favorites, and refer to books all the time as well. I also have a bookcase in my bedroom, plus a large one that I bought from a bookstore in the garage, and three 84" high bookcases I refinished in the livingroom. I, too, would love to have floor to ceiling bookshelves! I would love to have a whole library room just like that.
I am thinking of revamping the one in my room, as I don't regularly read those, instead maybe I can put the current reading material on there, that is usually in a pile by my bed, do you think that would work for clearing away the pile by the bed? Then put the books that are now there on the other bookshelves, or in the garage.
Speaking of the garage books, do yours get to smelling mildewy or moldy, or musty? Or does it depend on what kind of year round weather you have?
When you say you have a built in bookcase in your livingroom, is it built into, attached to, the walls?
The reason I ask is because I don't understand something--when I called around for a craftsman to "build in" a bookcase in my house, they all said they would make them on site (at their workshop) and then bring them in. To set in. To me, that's "free standing," as I thought "built-in" meant attached to the wall, thus when you move, you don't take it with you, as it's "built in?" Don't people do that anymore? Oh and I had asked for three, with top shelves and a little area that juts out a bit from the width of the shelves, so you could rest a book or a plant there, then underneath that, two doors with a shelf behind the doors. That was probably 3, 4 years ago and the one man said that would be $6,000 dollars, so I ordered three unfinished ones from the internet and re-finished them myself. Now I am going to order from the same people what they call a "cubby," to put boxes of video tapes and DVD's on. This way, I can set it in a 14" inch area next to the bookcases, and paint it to match! I am happy about that, as it will blend in well.
I have a question for you all about that: It is a tall tower with I think six shelves, room enough to put two photo boxes on top of each other per shelf, (you can put 10 VHS tapes in those). You can get understated nice looking ones, (I have some in catalogs) but will that look too much like an office? This furniture website also offers baskets with liners, which probably would look nicer in the livingroom, but they are dust catchers and I would like to have lids, tops, on the containers as well. Also no see-through.
Any suggestions? Thank you!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 10:55AM
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softfeather, about built-ins:

To retrofit built-ins to an existing place can be more work and more expensive, than true built-ins, bcs the plaster is in the way, etc. So essentially, most add-on built-ins are simply custom size, and set in place.

But, the carpenter *should* fasten the bookcases to the walls sot hat they won't shirt, and *should* add trim to the sides and top to make them look as though they are part of the room.

And you're right, sometimes you can just get bookshelves somewhere else and set them in place. If you're handy, and you can get the size of the bookcase just right, you can add the moldings yourself.

And then, you would probably leave them when you move (if I were buying your home, and they had moldings to cover the gap between shelf and wall, etc., I'd insist on it), If you don't have the molding, I think most people would assume you're taking them.

I don't think the photo boxes will look like an office at all.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 11:29AM
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We had true built-in cases done in one of the DH's offices. Cost a fortune.

For the house we had freestanding cases custom built to fit the space and it worked out really well. Even though they do look free standing, it was a big help just to take them with us when we moved. They weren't cheap either.

I'm going to build some myself some day for each side of a fireplace in our bedroom. I'm so tired of having workers in the house than I am just going to figure it out. I don't figure I have much to lose besides time and money!


    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 2:13AM
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I'm usually a lurker here but being such a book lover -- maybe I have a few ideas that may help you.

I have small occasional chairs (little dining chairs) that I tucked into a corner-- or next to a dresser -- or in a hallway -- and then stack neatly books on the same subject. One stack is "folk art" -- another "country decorating".

I have small wooden "tool" boxes under window sills that hold knitting supplies -- books on antique sewing items or antique knitting books are stacked there.

On my coffee tables -- I set large decorative trays -- they often have a candle, maybe a small flower arrangement -- and then I have a stack of small books. Right now -- it's "cat" books --poetry books pertaining to cats and an old child's book called "Pussy Meow".

You have to do it "artfully" -- and never let the stacks get too big. People always talk about how "cozy" our home is and I think the books make it that way.

Does this give you a few ideas?


    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 4:52PM
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We had a wide upstairs hallway where the bedroom doors opened from. I had the wall opposite the staircase completely covered with a bookcase, going over one doorway, and along the wall all the way to the end of the hall by the bathroom. I also have shelves on both sides of the LR fireplace, shelves in the TV room, shelves in the kitchen.

But when they are overflowing, it's time to give away; I have purged three times in the almost 30 years in this house, gleaning maybe 20+ bags each time. Many go to school libraries here.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 8:19PM
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Lots of great ideas and I didn't even think of stacking them on coffee end tables, dressers, and etc. Love that idea and can even put one of my collectibles on top of the stack to save more room. My bookcases were made to fit into a space on each side of the fireplace.They have the permanent look and if we sold the house they would have to stay behind. I would still love to have one extra room to convert into a library. Thank you one and all for such creative ideas. I'm also very pleased that reading a good book hasn't faded into the past. I can see from all of the responses there are still some great people who know what a good book is all about.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 9:39PM
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Speaking of having a room for books: a former neighbor had an upstairs bedroom made into a library. Her uncle had been an avid collector of antique and first edition books, and when he died, she inherited all of them. Can you imagine getting someone else's collection added to what you collect? Anyway, the bedroom had bookcases on every wall, floor to ceiling. A library type table was in the middle of the room, with chairs around it. And into the center of the room, there were other bookcases, just like in a library, placed neatly around the table. When she died, the whole collection, except what my Mom was told to keep, got shipped off to Africa by the man who inherited them. Weird.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 11:07PM
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I am a 'keeper' of books, as well. Unfortunately, there just isn't room for everything I want to keep. So, I've started donating the books I've read to our local library. That way, if I ever want to reread a book, I can just go check it out!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 5:00PM
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I caught a glimpse of bookcases on an HGTV show the other day that were made to fit inside hinged doors along a wall, like built in book cases. With the doors closed, the room had a very clean look (no bookshelf clutter).

I love books but hate dusting them, so I thought this was a cool idea!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 5:52AM
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The Jan.'06 issue of Better Homes & Gardens had some neat pictures on pg.99 etc. of storage solutions (even though it's dishes instead of books). I love the shelves built all around the window, especially because they're short in width. Then you don't get those sway-back shelves like I have!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 12:21PM
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