The Case of the Humble Bookcase
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Earlier this year, Jay Harris from Home Depot shared some tips for developing strategic and environmentally friendly garage organizing systems for your clients. Today he takes us inside the house, with a few creative ways that simple bookcases can be used as open storage systems in any room.
The humble bookcase has long been a household staple as a place for keeping our tomes and trinkets. It’s simple enough to settle a bookcase against the den wall when extra storage is needed. And any parent can install a bookshelf in the corner of a playroom for corralling the kids’ toys.
But when homeowners reach out to a professional organizer, they are seeking more than just the basics; they want solutions beyond what they themselves can dream up.
That doesn’t mean that the bookshelf can’t be a useful tool, however. In fact, it’s one of the most important devices in an organizer’s arsenal, especially if it boasts adjustable shelves that can accommodate canvas or wire bins, magazine file holders, baskets, small stacking drawers and binders. And by utilizing this simple open storage system in unexpected places and unexpected ways, you can impress clients with your creative planning and clever arrangements.
Let’s take a look at some of the innovative places and ways in which you can employ even the most common off-the-shelf bookcase:
Rather than using flimsy hanging organizers, which tend to bend under too much weight and don’t look particularly attractive, tuck a bookshelf into the rear of a closet for tidying non-hanging items such as sweaters, T-shirts, purses, hats and shoes. (When placing shoes upon the shelves, arrange every other one facing outward to maximize space.) With the addition of a hanging bar and hooks, a bland bookshelf can also be converted into garment storage in a child’s room; ideal if the closet is small or filled with toys. Taller shelf spaces perfectly accommodate little ones’ hanging duds. Dress up the wardrobe with a gathered curtain slung from a top tension rod and pulled in front to close up the clothes.
Situate a counter-height shelf at the end of a galley or along a blank wall in the kitchen for added storage of pots, pans, dishtowels, cookbooks and dry foods. For a clean and functional finish, store foods in clear glass jars — the look is lovely and supply levels can be quickly assessed. Further outfit the shelf with shutter doors if the homeowner prefers to hide their goods, and consider topping it with a stone slab or butcher block to extend the workspace.
No linen closet in the home? A tall, slender bookshelf in the bathroom makes an ideal spot for stowing clean towels, spare toiletries and bins of cleaning supplies. If multiple users have privy privileges, provide a basket for each person to contain their individual toiletries and include a place beside the sink or behind the toilet to perch the basket when in use. This will help to keep various bottles of cleansers and creams from cluttering up the shared space.
A bookshelf along a living room wall isn’t so unusual, but when a collection of shelves is arranged to create wrap-around storage surrounding a sofa, the effect is pleasantly surprising. Select bookcases that are even with the height of the couch’s arms, and then situate one on either end, as well as along the back length of the sofa. This method works wonders for gaining storage in a small area for anything from books, magazines and movies to stationery, photographs and important files. Still need to rely on wall shelving? Try faking built-ins by adding trim and crown molding to pre-fab bookcases and then giving everything a uniform coat of paint.
For a hard-working, easy-to-fashion desk, transform two matching bookcases into supports for a tabletop. The shelves can hold manuals, a printer, office supplies and the like. If the room serves double-duty, as in a playroom/office combo, a bookshelf functions nicely as a divider. Place it on casters if the users might need to roll the bookshelf out of the way at times for full use of the space.
In a large dining room, a centered table can sometimes appear to be floating out in space. Create a more intimate environment by installing half-height bookshelves along the entire perimeter of the room. (Use the faux built-in approach mentioned above for a more polished look.) Whether you leave them open or add cabinet doors, the shelves make excellent storage for china, stemware, serving pieces, table linens and crystal. Insert X-shaped shelf dividers or smaller cubbies for convenient wine storage. The final product makes smart use of formerly unused space and places the homeowner’s special occasion tableware on celebratory display rather than hiding it out of sight until the next dinner party. Plus, the height of the shelf allows it to be utilized as a buffet for entertaining.
What are some of the creative ways you’ve installed bookshelves in a client’s home?
- Courtesy of iriskh, used under a Creative Commons license
- Courtesy of Wicker Paradise, used under a Creative Commons license
A Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs, Jay Harris offers home improvement advice to homeowners, ranging from room arrangement tips to the latest news on riding and zero turn mowers.