I’m lucky to live in a way cool 122-year-old Victorian home that’s quirky as hell. But one of the things I appreciate the most about my house are the floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases — I love books and have always had trouble having enough storage for my book collection. We’ve lived in this house for seven years and the built-in shelves had become a kind of jumbled conglomeration of books, photo albums, aromatherapy items, baskets of unorganized junk, and pictures of my lovely friends in very ugly frames. I decided to Unfuck my shelves. As I started, this is what my shelves looked like:
I pulled every single item off the shelves, dusted, washed, and cleaned them as necessary. I sorted the books into piles according to — yes — COLOR! This approach isn’t for everyone, but if you’re particularly good at remembering where things are and what they look like, it’s a valid option. I went through all the baskets (not pictured), albums, baby books, notebooks, folders, clipboards, and my “I could do something with this!” pile. Three-quarters of those items went to the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC) which schedules a monthly pick-up with me. If you can find a local charity organization who will do a home pick-up it helps infinitely when decluttering, because a huge problem in decluttering is lacking the motivation to take the stuff you want to give away to a charitable organization. Anyhow, here are my shelves after the cleanup, books organized by color, except for series. The shelves are clean and smooth and the books are dust free. I added an orchid to mitigate the austere appearance of so many books.
Orange, red, yellow, and white books, with a small collection of clear glass items to offset so many books. Please excuse the cleaning supplies, which are still in front of the white books.
Black, grey, brown, beige, blue, green, and purple books went on this side of the wall. All the series books — Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, etc. — are down below the bottom of this picture.
Here’s my pretty orchids to soften the effect of so many books — I didn’t want it to look like a library, as this is our front room and the first room guests see when they come into the house. I ended up getting four small orchids and arranging them along the shelves. At least the disorganization and dust didn’t reach the point where I needed a Magic Eraser (OMG, love them, yes). When I decluttered these shelves, I gave away a huge amount of knick knacks and sentimental figurines — they had mostly been given to me as gifts and I felt obligated to keep them … FOREVER. But I finally gathered the inner resolve to be brutal and pare down these kinds of items. Oh my God, I’m so glad I did. I don’t miss a single item. I can’t even remember what all I gave away. Those items had little meaning after all. It’s the people behind those gifts that were always what mattered.
I know what you’re thinking. The shelves weren’t that bad to begin with. Two things: One, yes they were and, two, wait until you see my kitchen B/A pics. Seriously.