We've been invited around to Rebecca's new house for afternoon tea, and we can't wait to have the grand tour. Rebecca has redecorated her entire house and we are expecting to see something spectacular: she's a very talented interior designer.

We walk through the door, across the polished concrete floor, and the first thing we notice is everything is grey, black, white or red. Everything coordinates. The girls gaze with wonder at the huge crystal chandeliers. There is even one over the table, outside on the decking. We tour the spacious entertainment areas, Rebecca's workshop/office, the state-of-the-art kitchen, the walk-in-robe that is a room all of its own. But then I catch sight of something even more stunning, something that isn't only grey, black, white or red: the bookshelves.

I stand before the rows of books, captivated. The shelves are a rainbow of colour: red books sit next to orange books which gradually turn into yellow ones. I decide at once, I must start searching for books with colourful covers. I must have a bookshelf just like Rebecca's. And then I realise something: Rebecca didn't go out and buy special books. All she has done is arrange her existing books very carefully, according to the colours of their covers.

I can't have a polished concrete floor, or a huge chandelier. I can't afford to throw out everything that doesn't fit into a four colour decorating scheme. I will never have a cavernous walk-in-robe (or enough clothes to fill one.) But I can have a rainbow bookshelf. And it won't cost me a cent. I go home and I start rearranging my books.

My photos aren't very good (as usual) but even so, I know my bookshelf doesn't look half as good as Rebecca's. (If only I had some pictures of her shelves to show you!) I became impatient and didn't sort all our books properly, and I only organised one bookshelf. And I think I have arranged the colours in the wrong order. Maybe I should have obeyed the ROYGBIV rule of the rainbow. But where do the white and black books fit in?

If you follow this link you will see a much better example of a colour coded bookshelf than mine.

I have just had another idea. Maybe I should use one bookshelf for each colour instead of having all colours on one shelf. I think I might try that out. What do you think? Would you colour coordinate your books? 

Now... where is that book? If I could only remember what colour its cover is...

Beate... I did some research... How about making some bookshelves out of pallets? They're cheap (maybe even free) and very effective. Here's some links:
Rustic, modern reclaimed and free
How to make a pallet bookshelf
21 way of turning pallets into unique pieces of furniture

I've just read all those pallet posts and my mind is busy thinking of pallet bookshelves, coffee tables, shoe racks, vertical gardens, work tables, storage shelves... What a lot of things you can make out of pallets. Several years ago, Andy made a huge compost bin from pallets. It's the best composter we've ever had.

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  1. No fair - I thought you were going to post some fantastic idea of how to build shelves ;-) I recently re-arranged the books in the little girls room so they are in some sort of order based on topic - it has been a bit easier to find just the one we're looking for ;-)

    1. Beate,

      I'm sorry! I didn't think of the possibility of misleadng everyone. Unintentional!

      We once organised the children's books by topic. I put a coloured sticker dot on the spine of each book: a different colour for each topic. Then everyone knew where to find books and what section of the shelf to return them. It worked!

      It's always good to have an ordered system. Enjoy your books!

      Now I shall have to go looking for a cheap way to build bookcases...

    2. Thanks Sue :-) I think my handy 13 yo will enjoy checking out those possiblities. The stickers are a great idea as well. In our former learning house we had different sections arranged by subject, which worked well - now that this space has been taken over by our newly minted 18 yo, I've stacks of books looking for proper homes!

      Btw, you do know I was teasing, right?

    3. P.S. - we have many of the same books =)

    4. Beate,

      After seeing the photos of pallet furniture I really would like to try and make some shelves, a table, a photo holder... Such a simple and cheap idea but so effective.

      Yes, I thought you were teasing but some other reader might have felt misled so it was worth doing a little extra research.

      I have collected some great books. I just need to find time to read them! It's always good to have a Catholic library though to dip into regularly and share with the family. I'm sure you value your books too.

  2. You're so funny! It looks great but it would drive me crazy!!! I can just imagine looking for the right recipe in a cookbook and having to walk all through the house to browse through my different coloured books! Now, if you were prepared to make colour-coordinated dust jackets for each sub-category or author, that might work...

    Love the photos! :-)

    1. Vicky,

      If you look carefully at the photos you will see that all the books are religious books. I didn't quite have the courage to mix up all my books. If I'd selected colours from the whole pool of books we own, I would probably have ended up with a better effect. The cookbooks are staying on their own shelf! Colour coordinated dust covers? I don't think I am that desperate to have designer bookshelves!

  3. I once saw an interior designer's shelves of books depicted in a magazine, and they were all facing backwards, to give a uniform look. Boring, but that's what he liked, right?

    Because I am very visually oriented, I do remember books by their covers, so it's tempting to rearrange, but only barely. I also like the alphabet, so will continue to keep my books mostly in alphabetical order by author.

    I must say, you have very colorful religious books! So many yellows & greens. I don't think I have many books with covers those colors.

    1. Amy,

      I wonder how anyone would ever find a particular title if the books were all facing the wrong way! Do you think that interior designer turned his books around again after a while, out of frustration? Interesting but I don't think I could live with that idea.

      Alphabetically arranged? Amy, you are so organised! Can you remember the author of each title? Maybe a catalogue like the one used by public libraries would help keep track of everything.

      I didn't realise my books were so colourful until I started arranging them. Initially I thought I'd have to go out and buy colourful secondhand books to try out this idea. I bet if you looked closely at your own books, you will discover more colours than you think.

  4. This is almost enough - ALMOST! - to move me out of my OCD must-be-alphabetized-and-categorized system :D

    1. Angela,

      I could just imagine designer colour arranged bookshelves in your beautiful new home. Or perhaps a shelf containing just white books or just blue books - a feature bookshelf. Yes, you'd lose your very ordered categorized system but some things are almost worth it!

      Thank you for your comment.

  5. I can remember a lot of authors...especially children's, and especially vintage children's authors & illustrators.

    I have vintage books about children's authors & illustrators, because I love those authors & illustrators so much!

    I'm in a book club and I do have two shelves just for the books we've read, if I happen to have a copy. But to tell the truth, I'm not really happy with it, as I don't like all those books away from their mates in the rest of the alphabetized shelves.

    1. Amy,

      I bet your vintage books are a special feature of your home all on their own. Old books have such beautiful covers.

      We have a basket where we keep our current reading but I return these books to their proper places when we have finished using them.

      The hardest part of arranging my books by colour was breaking up sets of books. Some sets have a different colour for each volume. It didn't seem right for the books to be separated.

      While we are talking book arranging, I think we are all revealing a lot about the type of people we are! You sound very organised and have a place for everything. I like the idea of creating visually pleasing arrangements but I am impatient and don't want to work too hard!


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