A Mess Free Life may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
Organizing bookshelves is one of those projects that you don’t really think about until you suddenly have no room for more books. Over time, you add a book here and there, maybe a vase or some other item for décor, and before you know it, your shelves are packed. Now you can’t find the book you want and don’t have room to add the new book you just bought.
On top of that problem, there’s also the problem of a cluttered bookshelf. If your bookshelf is a focal point of the room, a stuffed, disorganized unit can make the entire room look cluttered and small.
Taking the time to clean and organize bookshelves in your home will brighten any room up and make it look and feel bigger.
HOW TO CLEAN AND ORGANIZE BOOKSHELVES
It’s time to get serious about tackling this project and organize your bookshelves. Before you get started, you may want to recruit some help from your spouse or kids, you’ll need it.
First things first, if you haven’t organized in a while, chances are you’re not only out of space, but your shelves might need a good cleaning. Start by removing everything on the shelves. But do this with a purpose to make your job easier later.
Set aside any décor items and give them a good cleaning and dusting to remove any built-up dust and grime. If you have flower vases, run them through the dishwasher.
As you remove books, start to organize them into piles based on how you want to place them back on the shelves (more on that later). Give each book a wipe down with a damp cloth or dust rag. Be sure to get the edges of the pages as well, dust tends to settle on top where the pages are exposed.
As you’re removing books, make a separate pile for any that you no longer want or need. You can later donate these or sell them to a used bookstore.
Now that everything is out of the shelves, give them a good dusting with a dust rag or furniture polish. It’s much easier to get into all the nooks and crannies now that the shelves are empty.
Before putting your books back, measure your shelves and your largest books. See if you need to adjust any shelves so that your larger books can stand up. You may also want to organize your books by size so it’s important to know what will fit on which shelves. You should plan to replace any large, heavy books onto the lowest shelves as they are sturdier. You don’t want them to be above your head.
Now it’s time to start replacing your books and decide how to organize them. Here are a few options you might like:
ARRANGE BY SIZE
Place smaller books toward the top and work your way down to placing the largest books on the bottom. This creates a nice, symmetrical pattern.
ARRANGE BY COLOR
Arrange books that are similar in color together on one shelf then arrange a different color on the next shelf. Or arrange them in a pattern of color, creating an image as you go. This method of arranging can be very time consuming, but stunning when you’re done.
ARRANGE BY FREQUENCY
Books that you refer to often should be within easy reach with others that are barely used placed toward the top or bottom of the shelf. If you have a “to be read” pile, use a separate shelf for those books and place them in order of how you’d like to read them.
Again, very time consuming, but it will make it easy to find a specific book you’re looking for. Alphabetize your books according to the author’s last name. If you have several books by the same author, further alphabetize by title or chronologically if it’s a series.
ARRANGE BY GENRE
Organize all your non-fiction books in one area and your fiction books in another. Sort non-fiction books by topic and fiction books by genre or author. Keep all your cookbooks together by subject and another area for photography books.
Other organizing articles you may enjoy!
USE THE COMBO METHOD
Lastly, you can organize using a combination of these methods. For instance, you can create a space for books you use frequently and your “to be read” pile then arrange everything else by genre and alphabetize within genres. And as you place all of your books back in order, you can arrange them largest to smallest, left to right on each shelf.
If you’re using your bookshelf as a focal display area in the room as well, make sure you leave space to replace your décor items.
In other words, don’t fill every shelf. Fill them 1/3 to 1/2 full left to right and/or right to left, mixing it up as you go. Stand some books up and lay other, larger books down, creating a stack of books.
Now you can go back and fill in the empty spaces with photos, vases, and other décor items. Use items that complement the color and size of the books as well as the bookshelf. Be sure to leave some empty space around the books and your décor items so the bookshelf doesn’t look cluttered.
If your room is painted, you can bring more depth to the bookcase by painting the interior one shade darker than the room itself.
Then paint the shelves a lighter, brighter color to complement. Even though it will increase the amount of time it takes to complete this project, it will be well worth it; especially if the bookcase is part of a larger room.
As you can see, this isn’t a project you can probably manage within an hour. It will probably take a few hours and you may want some help. But once it’s done, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for quickly and easily and the bookshelf area will be clean. A bookshelf, nicely arranged, can make a beautiful focal point for any room. It’s well worth the time to clean and organize bookshelves; it will brighten the entire area.