Time for a serious question: Am I the only one who makes the mental transition to fall by September 1? While Ms. Google tells me the start of autumn is September 22 this year, my grande pumpkin spice cold brew says otherwise!
There’s something about the fall season that finds me perusing cookbooks for flavorful recipes and frantically pinning cozy dishes like I’ve chanced upon a secret one-day-only sale. Aspirational, yes, but it’s the thought that counts, right?!
Living out 2020 within the boundaries of our homes has brought with it a new realization: Many of the skills we practice in the kitchen can serve double duty in other areas of our dwelling places. For example (*quickly puts on executive chef’s hat*), did you know you could cook up a delightful bookshelf?! Much like our favorite fall recipes, a well-styled bookshelf can infuse warmth, conversation, and nostalgia into any space. While I don’t recommend sampling the ingredients (…or the final product), I’ve been stirring up the perfect recipe to stock your shelves with some added flavor!
Did you know you could cook up a delightful bookshelf?! Much like our favorite fall recipes, a well-styled bookshelf can infuse warmth, conversation, and nostalgia into any space.
Ok sous chef, it’s time to tie that apron and gather your favorite tchotchkes (I mean, “ingredients”)! We’re about to cook up a bookshelf with style. If you follow these tips, by the end of this impromptu cooking class we should have a bookshelf that’s anything but bland!
First things first: let’s start with a clean palate—I mean, palette. Doing so allows for a fresh perspective, providing us the real estate to better visualize what we’re cooking with!
It’s also valuable to consider where the bookshelf is located and what the intended purpose will be. For example, my entryway bookshelf is all about clever storage and a welcoming aesthetic. Whatever your needs are, know that there is no right or wrong answer for how you decide to use the space—it is yours, after all!
Regardless of where our paths diverge on intended purpose, ingredient prep is where we unite as one in this cooking class! Before heading out (or online) to buy anything for our bookshelves, I am an advocate for starting the shopping trip at home. Go ahead and scout your own belongings like you’ve made it to the final round of Supermarket Sweep! For me, this “sweep” included some decorative suitcases that were collecting dust in my office, candles, a variety of books (themed around “home” since I’m styling my entryway), dishes (for the sole purpose of filling with candy), and plants that can tolerate low light (more on why coming soon).
This curated pre-shop experience allowed me to save coins and be more intentional about rounding out my recipe for bookshelf success. And quick cooking tip: Don’t be afraid to vary your spices (shapes, heights, objects, colors) depending on the flavors you want to resonate most in your bookshelf recipe! We’re going for that “yummy in my tummy” feeling.
In contrast to baking, precision is not required for this recipe. Anyone else relieved? That whole concept of “season to taste” applies here, chefs. All I ask is that you don’t hold back on adding the special spices that represent you! Be it books, artwork, souvenirs, trays, or just plain props—come one, come all!
Without further ado, it’s time to awaken the senses using the smorgasbord you accumulated during ingredient prep. Those items are central spices in this recipe! To keep everything tasty, there are a few tricks I like to keep in mind when bookshelf styling:
1. Three is divine company. Whether stacking three books or grouping three sets of items (e.g., your favorite candle atop a stack of books, nestled beside a plant baby), decorating with splashes of three adds visual interest. We like interesting.
2. My second trick? Hide needed items that do not flow with your bookshelf recipe in decorative storage pieces like hat boxes, baskets, or decorative trunks. Think of it like adding kale or cauliflower in a tropical smoothie—these items are needed, but I don’t necessarily want to know they’re there! With this concept in mind, my suitcases became the perfect ingredient to tuck away out-of-season winter-wear—and stay easily accessible when the time comes (…which I pray is in the distant future).
Three is divine company. Whether stacking three books or grouping three sets of items (e.g., your favorite candle atop a stack of books, nestled beside a plant baby), decorating with splashes of three adds visual interest. We like interesting.
Wondering how to blend that array of books you gathered earlier? I’m a fan of grouping similar colors, or organizing with the age-old ROYGBIV rainbow hue progression. Remember red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet? If you want to maintain a more monochromatic look, try removing dust covers or flipping your books around to expose the pages, instead of the spine. Remember, each recipe will not turn out exactly the same. Variety is the spice of life, chefs!
3. Lastly, when it comes to seasoning this recipe, embrace the editing process! Try arranging your books vertically and horizontally, adding more ingredients, cutting down the recipe by removing items to suit your taste, or rearranging how you plated your masterpiece. I’m already seeing something absolutely delectable (*chef’s kiss*).
There’s something about a little added texture and color that elevates a dish from everyday to gourmet. Where does my mind go when thinking of perfectly vibrant garnish? I’m so glad you asked! The answer is (…wait for it): plants!
In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with a trailing plant oh-so-effortlessly draped (and yet, completely staged) over the side(s) of your bookshelf. My shelving is in a low-light area of my home, so I selected a Jade Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and vining Philodendron (Philodendron cordatum).
Because this recipe is intended to flourish under any circumstances, it’s time to get controversial for a second: Fake plants are always an option for areas with low light, or an area that you may forget to water. There, I said it. And on behalf of plant parents everywhere, I advise against placing a living fiddle leaf fig in an area that looks like darkness, our old friend. It will suffer and we (you, me, the fiddle, and your wallet) don’t deserve that!
Where does my mind go when thinking of perfectly vibrant garnish? I’m so glad you asked! The answer is (…wait for it): plants! . . . Whether you choose to place a plant on a set of stacked books, let one shine front and center, or group a few like a trio of besties, the possibilities are endless!
Whether you choose to place a plant on a set of stacked books, let one shine front and center, or group a few like a trio of besties, the possibilities are endless!
Well, I can see you’re ready to make this recipe your own, sous chef. But before I let you go, there is one last piece of business to bite into! With all of this expertise under your hat, I’m honored to appoint you as the newest executive chef (*dabs single tear*). Cheers to that!
Shayla is a Minnesota native who doesn’t ski, loves a good bonfire, and will always say yes to coffee…and plant shopping. She runs a management consulting firm by day and walks an interior plant styling passion project by night(s)/weekends. You can follow Shayla (and her 80-some plant babies) on Instagram.
BY Shayla Owodunni - September 15, 2020
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.