Adventures in Bookshelf Styling: My bookshelf needs more than books?!

With added pieces of fun furniture come added challenges.

In all my years of living in dorm rooms, company housing, and tiny apartments I’d never needed to learn the ways of this art that was becoming all the rage in the magical world where people have space on their shelves for more than just books.

For example:


Source: Debbie Doo’s

What a concept.

I don’t have anything against these magical people. I thought many of their creations were stunning, but I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge. I didn’t know where to begin to locate the cute items needed to break up the books, and I didn’t want to just toss random junk up there. I wanted to find pieces that meant something to me. This project was starting to sound like it might take years to complete.

I began my first attempt at styling with things I already had around my apartment. As you can see below, I grabbed every cute vase I could find (which were made of clear glass…so they did nothing for the overall aesthetic) and tried to create bookends and interesting piles with my books.


At first I tried to be highly selective with the titles that would be allowed on display in the newest addition, but eventually I just picked up the books that were overflowing and without homes and plopped them in the mix. It was ok…but it was far from great.

The bar area needed inspiration all its own. I had already been pursuing the bar table “styling” section of Pinterest for a while and I knew I needed a tray to properly pull things together. If it weren’t for my husband I would have gone for something on the sparkly side like one of these:


Source: The Glitter Guide


Source: The Every Girl


Source: The Glitter Guide

But when I found this wooden antique tray at a hole-in-the-wall antique shop in Chelsea I knew he would love it, I loved it, and we HAD to have it!

I heckled over price for a while, left the store because it was more money than I wanted to spend, but couldn’t stop thinking about it over lunch and came back to buy it for $65. I still think I got a bargain.


After finding this beauty I couldn’t believe I was ever drooling over the trays at Target! This is exactly what I meant when I said that I wanted to fill my bookshelf with items to had meaning to me. Of course, I don’t have any history with this item, but it is unique, historic, made of quality materials and it’s gorgeous. It’s a subtle piece that makes me smile every time I catch a glimpse of it.

Check out these details:


That’s a mother of pearl inlay. How cool?!


I love the oval border detail too!


It’s obviously scratched and missing a few pieces of mother of pearl, but I can’t help but to look right past that and into the character that this tray brings into our home. (Clearly it’s a love affair).

This was exactly what I needed to pull together the bar (which I didn’t plan on being part of the bookshelf) but when the shelf broke, and the tray fit so perfectly (well, almost) I knew it was the perfect spot.


The rest of the shelf is still a work in progress. I’m trying to pick up things gradually and allow the bookshelf to develop slowly, but deliberately. My Grandma recently gifted me her set of hardback Harry Potter books, which really helped our book aesthetics! Thanks Grandma :) (She’s one of my readers).

I was really determined to find a book end that meant as much to me as the tray does, but when I came upon this fun swan for only 3 dollars at a Goodwill, I knew it was just the right amount of interesting, colorful, and classic to fit my needs. It’s made of stone which gives it a nice weight..and totally freaks out the TSA security when you pack it in your carry on. It’s hard to tell in the photos, but it almost has the color of aged copper.



Little interesting bits here and there are enough to keep my eyes entertained for now, but I’m sure I’ll keep switching it up as I get bored or freshly inspired.

The last thing I should mention is the artwork that anchors the bar.

As you probably already know, our last name is Pfaff. As beautiful as it is to spell and pronounce (especially over the phone – yikes), I do feel lucky that we share the name with a sewing machine manufacturer, allowing us to add cool artwork to our apartment with our last name on it!

I found this piece on Etsy for less than 15 dollars. It’s actually a 1950’s Greek magazine advertisement. I loved that the graphic art was so large, bold, and interestingly intertwined a P and a sewing machine. It also says our name 3 times…so that helped. The Greek lettering at the bottom is fun for the former sorority girl in me too.


I wanted to put it up right away, so I threw it in a frame with some scrapbook paper behind to create a decent finished look. I need to take it to be professionally framed, but so far it’s doing well behind the bar. I didn’t want to put any nails in the back of my new bookshelf so I used sticky velcro picture hanging strips. I think they are designed to keep your picture frames straight…but since I used one on every corner, it was enough to safely and securely hold up my frame.

This is what my bookshelf looks like today.


I’m sure it will keep changing to suit our tastes and needs, but for now it makes me pretty happy – and that’s enough for me.