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Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Posted by Rebeccamom123 (My Page) on
Thu, Nov 14, 13 at 15:34

When we did our kitchen remodel and while we had the contractor there anyway (wouldn't want him to be bored!) I had him put these new white built ins around my fireplace/TV. I must have fussed for like 6 months to decide what to put in them and I'm still not loving it. IF you have built ins, what do you actually put in them? I love white pitchers and bowls but how many can i have?? And are those too kitcheny for the living room? As an aside, we are contemplating a gas insert as not to damage all the new white trim. Also, random question - but any ideas how to get a pretty screensaver on my TV to look like artwork when we're entertaining?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Looks nice. I would change the line of books. Perhaps spread those around. Your white collection is fine, but the bookcases look unbalanced with too much white on one side.

Good idea about the fireplace and the TV.

Here is my living room bookcase. it has a little of everything, but mostly things that mean something to my husband and me.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

not sure about an actual screensaver, but that flat screen tv most likely has a slot for an SD card from your camera.

i played a steady loop slideshow of pictures of my son from birth through 12 months at his 1st bday party. it was just all the pics played on a loop from the memory card.

if you just put a single pretty picture on the card and insert it that should do the trick.

and i think your arrangements look nice in your built ins! i had so many shelving units in our last house and gave up on them. i never could get them right! i'm leaning towards the "no stuff just for the sake of stuff" in our next house.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

I think your built-ins look nice too, but I'd thin them out a bit. I'd remove the wicker baskets and put them in the cabinets if they fit. I subscribe to the "less is more" philosophy on stuff on shelves:

family room built ins photo Picture32_zps9f567351.png
 photo Picture47_zpsd284a930.png


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

I agree, less is more. I pared down what my built ins have on the shelves and I like it so much better ... plus it is so much easier to dust!


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Re screen saver, if your TV is plasma, you need something that will keep changing the picture...otherwise the image can burn into your screen and never go away. Not sure if there's the same issue or not with LED. That was the purpose of screen savers in the first place.

Re the shelves, arranging the shelves is a work in balance so the best way to do it is to take everything off, make categories (books, baskets, metal items, ceramics....) and then start interspersing the pieces so they are balanced...some books, a tchotchke, a basket, and so on. You don't want to have all books here, all baskets there, all ceramics there. Instead the ceramics should be spread throughout the shelves, the books should be spread, the metal pieces, etc. Give that a try and see if you like it.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

OK, OK laugh out loud. If the comments about "Less is More" is directed at me, I get the hint. hahaha I love the look, also...but....

My house is a home and we have a collection of almost 35 years of things together, plus inherited pieces that are priceless. They need a home, we like them, we want to display them. I don't want a magazine perfect home. I didn't have the shelves built to display only a few items.

pipdog - Your home is beautiful! I love the minimalist look. Reminds me of a beach home. I would be fine with my vacation home looking that way, especially if we rented it out and didn't want personal items to be displayed.

maggiepie11 - I learned something about having an SD slot in a newer TV. We are getting ready to have to purchase a new, larger TV. That's a feature that I will have to look for.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

I would move the books to the lower shelf or spread them around as already suggested. I also would combine the two sides more by putting a flower pot on the right side, moving a bird to the left, and move another dark framed pic to the right.

Newhomebuilder, I also follow the less is more in my living, to the extreme sometimes. But I really love your bookcases and think they look great, wouldn't change a thing.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

I have books in my built ins. :) In the enclosed area below, more books, a long necked BBQ lighter for my vintage gas fireplace. A flashlight for emergencies. On one side of the enclosed behind-door space, some cozy throws and smaller down pillows for serious sofa napping or reading.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Thanks for the thread! I'm trying to (re)populate the built-ins. They are also going on a strict diet -- I am still in the process of editing. Having just one element per shelf seems so bold. I endeavor to spend more on fewer items.

That said, Rebeccamom, I really like your trio of pots on the upper left. I personally like to keep obvious food/dining items in those rooms, but that may just be me. However, low bowls and small vases work just as well.

newhome: you have several groupings of like objects, and things seem well thought out. it's a collection of generations, and you should be proud to display them like that.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

I love the texture and colors of rows of books. We have a lot of bookshelves around the house, but still boxes of books. they get stacked all over. I break them up with special pieces of art and special photos.

I think your shelves are already looking really nice--but you could add a few more half-rows of books. (-:

 photo DSC_0361_zps11f3b6cd.jpg


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

In some of ours, we have stuff collected from travels, estate sales, etc:

And books in others:


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Framed photos, Italian greyhounds, books, cut glass, extremely kitschy 1950's items acquired by my inlaws while living in Europe (and still a little construction debris hiding behind the chair in this one)

 photo IMG_0460_zps621657a6.jpg

FIL's hats, cut glass, books, Italian greyhounds, kangaroos, other small sentimental items.

This post was edited by lucas_tx on Fri, Nov 15, 13 at 0:30


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Thank you for the kind comments. Yes, it is generations of "things" in my built-ins. Two years ago, the shelves were a lot more minimal.

After having two generations (3 persons of MY family and 1 of my husbands) pass away in less than 20 months, we were suddenly the proud owners of many more possessions. While putting up photographs of my family on a shelf, my husband mentioned that there were no photos of HIS family members around the house. Ooops! Out come those photos for display. :)

morz8 - Love your description!

Beautiful homes and built-ins, everyone. :-)


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Thank you for posting this! I have built-ins in the living room and when we moved in I threw everything up there to get it out of the way and haven't touched it since. That was 7 months ago. My plan has been to do as a PP stated- take everything down, assess, purge and categorize. I need to get that on my schedule!

Lovely built-ins everyone! Goes to show that there are so many ways to attack this issue.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Great advice everyone! I think today I will 'shop the house' for other cream/white items to add in - then regroup and repost. I will get rid of the line of books altogether. I like my stacked books on the right - just a few - each on topics of interest like home décor, painting, gardening, etc. but my paperbacks can go in the cabinets. Good feedback! I love all the pictures - I think bookcases can be a very personal reflection of a person and their family - items collected over years - each with a story. A window into your lives/travels.

Homebuilders - yours seem especially full of character and personality - don't declutter!

Beaglesdoitbetter: Wow - just wow.

Shanghaimom: That artwork on your mantel is spectacular - I love how you are not afraid to go bold with statement and color.

I'm new at this whole decorating thing - I have always loved it just never been good at it. But I'm trying room by room to update and refresh my house with finishing touches. So, keep the pictures coming -I love all the ideas and eclectic collections!!


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Great post as I was looking at my collection just recently. It is a gathering of loved items and life history. The arrangement is fine with me. A question that came to mind personally was why no one ever asks about even one of the significant items. Does this mean others see the arrangement differently and nothing stands out? Do these items need to go somewhere else and I go back to my love of books only for the builtins? Or do others not get into decor as we do?

Even my daughter has the same type of arrangement. I am always seeing something to ask about or a memory which hits home.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

I love the "minimalist" look - but, I can't do it....My house feels naked - like when you put all your Christmas stuff away and for weeks the room/shelves etc just feel empty.

One suggestion on your books, (which I did to mine) have a few standing and a few flat to the front. You can even put a nick-nack or greens on the ones that are lying flat.
I do like the look better than them all standing. Since I love syemetry - I have both cases books matching how they are layed out or standing. Then my other treasures/pictures in my cases.

If you are worried about the white - maybe put some fabric or wallpaper on cardboard and stand it up on the back part of your cases - see if you like the added color - If you go dark enough your white pieces would really pop


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Oh I LOVE the idea of wallpaper or a dark gray background in the bookcases - why didn't I think of that before! My DH would kill me if I did that now - after I convinced him we needed beadboard background to tie into the backdrop of the open shelving in my kitchen. But I think you're right about the books. Will try that today.

Unfortunately my nice hardcover coffee table books wont stand up because the height in the bookcases is only 10". I have very low ceilings 7ft. 3 - because I'm in an old New England Cape Cod home. So, I've laid those all down but I can place more interesting items on top.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

My built-ins are full of books.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

If you don't what to paper or paint the back of your bookcases, get some cardboard or poster board, cut it to fit the back of your shelves...then cover it with cloth or wall paper or paint. Put the board in the back of your shelves and it will be removable, or changeable whenever you want.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

jeannie01 - I've done some of that with my books. I really like them lying down flat with knic-knacks on top.

technicolor - I occasionally have friends ask about an item or photo. I do the same at their homes, but we are often too busy talking to notice our surroundings. Sometimes I wonder if I should even bother cleaning when having company. hahaha

The bottom line is that the décor is for us, ourselves, to enjoy. Décor should not be "show" or to impress others. Same goes for everything in our homes. One should live with what THEY love and not what anyone else loves or has. ;)

This past weekend, I had my husband help me do a FREE make-over in our house. I switched furniture all around the house. I moved the LR chairs into the FR, and the FR chairs into the LR. I got rid of a very dated red chair in the FR. I took a chair out of our bedroom and placed it in the LR and then took a chair out of the FR to place back in the bedroom. I loved the new look, and so did my husband, I think.

My two daughters hated the new arrangements. They said the FR was now too formal, and the living room was cold looking and reminded them of an antique store with mixed matched furniture. OK, they were right. The chair and ottoman from the FR did look out of place. The reason I moved the furniture around was because I thought the reversal would look better with the rugs in those rooms. Still think so.

My girls hurt my feelings. My husband offered to help me move the furniture back around, but pointed out that if liked the way it looked, that was all that mattered. I made a couple more changes (took a chair our of the study to place in the LR and replaced it with the chair and ottoman from the LV/FR.) that the girls seemed to like better. The new look is here to stay for awhile. I am exhausted!

Funny that you should mention your daughter. Every time I visit my daughter, I check out her house to see what is new. lol

This post was edited by newhomebuilder on Fri, Nov 15, 13 at 16:04


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Did I do any better? I removed my line of books, spread like items evenly throughout for more symmetry and added a few new things too that I found elsewhere around the house being unused.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

It's looking much better! I like "Home" on the books and the addition of the white pear. One thing I'd advised is to move some of the taller items to the bottom shelves. I like items to have a few inches of head room. For instance, the three pots on the top left and the vase on the right. I think the pear is okay because it's not wide at the top.

I'd try to get the bottom shelves just right. Being the biggest, I think they need a focal point. I'd try the casserole dish there and move the clock up. If you want to keep those baskets on the bottom shelves, I'd move them to the outside of the shelf. I'd probably also move one of the book stacks to another shelf to break up the matchyness.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Much better! With your current placement, the one thing I might change is putting the baskets to the outside of the bookcases since they are similar in texture and color to the brick surround of the fireplace. This would pull the color away from your fireplace and make the space look wider.

Here is another very crowded bookcase in my house that features baskets of books. Now that I look at it, I think I should paint the background of my cabinets like my Living Room shelves. I am just too lazy to take everything down out of the bookshelves. lol

This post was edited by newhomebuilder on Sat, Nov 16, 13 at 12:48


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Thank you for posting this. Mine is an extremely minimalist look right now, because they just got finished last week and I STILL haven't put anything on the shelves. They look just the same as in the picture I took of when they finished. LOL!

 photo 1383946098_zps63ddfe9a.jpg


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Your bookshelves are really looking beautiful! So lovely and warm - I usually don't like any words in design, but that HOME seems perfect there! :)


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Thank you! I'm excited about how they turned out! Now that I learned all these great new tricks about placement, headroom, groupings, etc. I've taken a crack and re-arranging my open shelving. I have many lovely white pitchers, platters and server ware that I thought it would look good to just group it all together. How did I do? Not sure about the candles..that's the only thing that's bothering me a little. I wrapped them in burlap bows to tie them in to the burlap window treatments I made.

I'll post some closer ups in comments (can't use photo bucket)


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Left side


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

And the right side...


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

And the right side...


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

mydogDaisy - LOVE those built ins! They are just beautiful! Yes, I too would be paralyzed with the thought of decorating that whole thing. I assume you are thinking artwork or mirror over mantel. I like that you did the TV to the side. That is ideal - our TV is above and only because we have a low ceiling is it not too high - but many folks with a high ceiling and a tall mantel put the TV up and it's just not comfortable to watch at that angle. What type of fireplace is that? A gas insert? If so, what brand? I have posted many questions on the "fireplace" board but no one has responded. I'm considering it for my own to avoid the soot and smoke damage to my white built ins. Have you used it yet?


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

rebeccamom, your built-ins are looking great! I love all the shelves with the white pitchers. nice work!


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Thanks, pipdog! These are on the back wall of my kitchen. It's been really handy, too , having some of my main serving pieces so accessible.

You all have inspired some great upgrades to my home décor and functionality!


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

bringing this to the top


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Thanks for bumping the thread Marji.

Rebeccamom, You did great job of editing. Your open shelves look great with all the white serving pieces.

Shanghaimom, Really love your style and I love books so I loved seeing all the books in your builtin.

Newhomebuilder, You are right you are the one who lives in the house so you should do what you love.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

Great thread.

pipdog-I like the pics you shared, I like the less is more (especially since I am not a decorator and it makes my head hurt just thinking about it).

rebeccamom-I like it. I think you have a nice mix, it looks soothing and interesting (a nice variety between books, pics, words) enough but not too busy. So you are a mom but no clue how old your kiddos are. I am toying with getting a frame to display and change out my kids (8 & 11) art work from time to time. I figure they are only this age once and they really do some nice drawings. Just an idea I thought I'd share. No pics as we are in the middle of building but that is part of my 'plan' to fill the shelves.


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

beaglesdoitbetter, I like the spot lights in your blue shelves, but I can't figure out where the light is coming from. I can see the bottom of one shelf with no lights in it, and the bottom of another with no lights. Where are they?


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RE: Show me your built-ins! What do you put in them?

marti8a, there is a strip of LED lights running along the sides. The lights run the full length of the cabinet so if it looks like there are areas w/ no lights, that is just an optical illusion. You can kind of see the lights better along the sides in this picture (I'm in FL for the winter now so cannot take more pictures):


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