Shelving Thoughts/Thoughts to Shelve?

I know there are people out there who ruthlessly live by the “one in, one out” policy where books and other possessions are concerned. Those people would have little sympathy for whines about how even a moderate (my estimate of denial) collection of books requires so…much…storage space. But it does, and unless you’re willing to have custom shelving built for a rental apartment (behold the lack of flying pigs) you’re more than likely going to end up with the Great Wall of BILLYs…

Unified looking vintage shelving solutions are surprisingly difficult to come by, at least if you desire more than one unit. The most obvious thing for us would be to continue the predominantly Mid-Century Modern feel in the living room and hunt for some Poul Cadovius shelves. The current trend for all things 50s, modernist, and teak has driven prices for these up considerably, but there are sometimes still reasonable deals to be had on ebay, especially when you consider that a shelving system made of beautiful and solid wood that has been functioning perfectly well for 50 odd years is always a better buy than particle board with cardboard backing.

I do have some reservations: the Cadovius units that I have seen all require wall mounting, which in turn requires a festival of drilling, which again means many deep holes to patch up before we move out of here one day. A further consideration is that we would need two (or three?) slimmer units rather than one uninterrupted large shelf-our livingroom opens onto three different rooms and the only long wall without a door in the middle is taken (sofa.)

Other ideas: industrial shelving (a sturdy and cool, but very hard look that I may tire of quickly); or used library shelving like so:

Minus warehouse creepiness, plus hardwood floor/Kilim cushions/Oriental rug/kitties lazing about vibe, obviously. I have gone bonkers/my ideas are awesome? I’d love to hear about how you store your books and house other clutter, especially if you have moved beyond the BILLY.

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2 Responses to Shelving Thoughts/Thoughts to Shelve?

  1. Mdvanii says:


    That has been a problem haunting me my entire, and I do mean since 5 years old, it has been my main struggle in my house which i share with my companion and my son.

    We lived for a long time in a castle built in 1662….whose rooms had not been up-dated since 1880 and when we devoted the library to the modern 1940s/50s look, we found loads of stuff at the antique stores, severe modernistic pieces…all individually fabulous but it was not uniform. As I added books almost on a regular basis, weekly, it spilled over onto chairs, the floor……!…….and any surface. It finally became unmanagable and I had to spend a months sorting it out….

    SO, we struggled and finally …I decided to put them all in our other house, …also old (1682) and not at all adapted to the modern look we love and collect since, also, always.

    For the time being we have many new, modern shelves in black and teak colour….I hate them…the books have gone berserk they fill every corner of the house and I just have to hope that I can find what I want (in terms of a book) when I want it….I do keep themed books together but it’s really an entity of it’s own and does what it wants and I just have to give in to it…..

    As we are planning to buy a yet bigger house….my main, main, main, criteria is the library and the ateliers…..if they are not perfect, I will simply let the jungle of books grow over me and smother me and that, as the saying goes, will be that….

  2. lavalotti says:

    Haha, it is unbelievably tedious, isn’t it? But your houses past and present sound wonderful. There’s a small room in our apartment that we use as an office presently which is filled with yet more ugly BILLY shelves…I really, really dislike having these shelves all over the place but when we first moved in together as graduate students we needed affordable shelving fast. As time went on, we simply added onto the existing shelving system because the books kept multiplying…we need many of them for work too so downsizing won’t help the problem in any significant way. I never really see this problem addressed on any design blogs or in interiors magazines either. Occasionally they showcase stunning homes with elaborate built-in bookcases/proper libraries or they seem to show homes completely devoid of books…sadly neither is an option for us.

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