I love organizing and styling open bookshelves - they are the perfect blank canvas for my creativity. I believe every space in your home should be functional and beautiful. No matter your style or taste, you can always rely on organizing by the colors of the rainbow - after all, they work in any space. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and don't forget it! When in doubt, stick to the rainbow; it truly never fails!
In design school, I studied color theory extensively. What colors complement each other, what colors look good next to each other, what colors provoke certain emotions etc. I find the science behind color theory actually pretty fascinating. Without going into the boring science stuff, everyone can at least agree that certain colors evoke a particular emotion. You recognize the colors you are drawn to and the colors you might avoid or stay away from.
I love learning the colors my clients are drawn to when I go from home to home. Each home is uniquely filled with the colors they love, and it stands out in different ways. Shelves are a great way to fill space with the colors you love. I don't take pictures of my clients' houses at the start on purpose. I know they make for great before and after content, but I would never want a messy closet, drawer, or shelf of mine on the internet. So I choose to highlight the "afters" or results once I'm done organizing and implementing my systems.
Before this space pictured above was filled to the brim with books, magazines, and photo albums. It was functional but not beautiful. I rehomed the photo albums to another closet in the house where they fit and looked better. We kept the magazines that were true favorites and stored them in a clear acrylic magazine holder, all lined at the bottom of the shelves. Afterward, we continued narrowing down the books that would stay on the shelf, keeping only my client's favorites so they could be highlighted.
I started by taking everything out and recreating the space by browsing her house for pops of colorful decor items. I then color-coded all of the books and organized them in piles by which color had the most. Starting from the top left of the bookshelf, I moved my way down the shelves, then down the rainbow. I think about reading open shelving like you would a page in a book. You start at the top left corner and read to the right side before moving down to the following line. Each shelf is like a line on a page in a book.
When working with colors sticking to rainbow order is the easiest, most natural, and always works. For example, whenever I come across pink items, I'm always sure to put them before red; it's muscle memory at this point. Naturally, red looks better beside its next-door neighbor on the color wheel: orange. I sift my way through each color and work with the brighter hues fading into the lighter hues of that color. The way I look at it, bright blues gradually flow into lighter blues. If you think about it, it's how colors show up in nature; the deep ocean blues fade from dark to light with waves washing up.
Neutrals like white, black, brown, grey, and tan I will stick on either end of the rainbow...usually as the caboose. Sometimes, you can sneak in tan and gold in the yellow section or grey and silver in the blue section. One fun trick to working with books- is to take off their paper jacket and see what color the actual book is! I love and prefer the original texture of a book without its shiny jacket on.
I also played with the space a bit. I adjusted the shelves that needed more space to accommodate taller books and configured what looked best. One thing I did keep was the original horizontal shelves because their spacing was just right. Of course, I made sure everything would read evenly and balance. Some shelves have more items and colors than others, but each item is placed with intention and with the rainbow order in mind - creating a beautifully organized and functional space. Happy Organizing!