Hello Everyone! I’m so excited to see you all back and to continue the complete overhaul of our homes/apartments. Today we are tackling Step 3: Decluttering Books. In this step I will show you how to declutter books as well as how to style your bookshelf and media (books, magazines, CD’s & DVD’s).
I’m so happy to announce that this is my first Video Blog too! Check it out below and let me know what you like about it in the comments. If you like the video, don’t forget to subscribe so you will never miss another vlog.
This step is part of a larger series to organize your entire home and if you’d like to see some clothing and clutter fixes check out this post.
Decluttering Books: Before We Begin….
Decluttering & organizing books (and other media) is all about creating space in your home to facilitate your dream life. So before beginning this process it’s important to take a moment, go back to Step 1 and begin to dream up what your ideal life would look like. Get as clear as you can on this so that as you declutter books you’ll be able to picture your dream life as you go. If what your sorting through belongs in or moves you towards that dream life, then keep it. If it doesn’t, give it away/throw it out.
For example: if my dream life includes a peaceful and cozy atmosphere with regular time to read my most-beloved books, then I’m going to want to keep that in mind while I’m decluttering books I own. I’ll want to make sure that everything I own in my living room has a “home” that it always goes back to after being used. This practice keeps my living room tidy as I go and facilitates that serene atmosphere. I’ll want to ensure that the books that I keep are my “most-loved” books so that when I look at my bookshelf, I’m more likely to pick up a book to read. I may even want to invest in a cozy reading chair, foot stool, lamp and blanket to create a comfy little corner of goodness. Much like my reading corner pictured below. 🙂
Do you picture a home that is calm and serene or busy and stimulating? Do you prefer minimalism or displaying your many treasures on a well-used book case? Once you know what you want your house to look like you can begin taking steps towards it. Remember: the goal of this process is to only keep the items that you love, that will bring you joy, and will help to facilitate your dream life.
Decluttering Books: A Step-By-Step Guide
To put this week’s practical step-by-step plan into practice for decluttering books, I got help from my sister, Robyn. I worked with her to sort through her media, decluttering, organizing and eventually styling her bookshelf. Click on the video (My 1st Video!) to follow along with us and find the step-by-step plan listed below so you can declutter your media too. 🙂
Step 1: Pull absolutely everything off of your book shelves
Yep! Everything! Just put it all on the floor or on your couch. This is a great opportunity to clean off the years of collected dust on those bookshelves too!
I personally had two bookshelves that I had been given (pictured below). They weren’t the prettiest but they were solid. After sorting through my books/cd’s/dvd/s I only kept the items that gave me joy. Which meant I only had enough books to fill up one bookshelf. I took the opportunity to give away one of my bookshelves, creating a more open feel to my living room, and then I painted the other one white. The face lift was amazing and it only cost me 20$ to get the paint, and I had enough to also paint the side tables in my bedroom. #worthit!
Step 2: Go around the house and find the rest of your books
This is a super important key for decluttering books. I found that I had a large stash of books in my room. Interestingly these were the ones that I loved the most and I kept nearly every book that had been in my room and not many from the living room/office. The ones in my room had been piled high under my side table and I would constantly knock them over. haha So yes they were super practical. Just Kidding. It was such a relief after completing this process for each of them to fit on the shelf so I could find them all in one spot.
Step 3: Set up “Return”, “Throw Away”, “Donate”, & “Love/Need” Stations
When decluttering books you’ll need to create “stations” so that as you complete Step 4 you’ll have a ready-made spot to put each book depending on what you’ve decided to do with them. We went to a grocery store and asked for all their old banana boxes. This allowed me to set up sturdy boxes with handles for each “station”.
- The “Return Station”: this is for borrowed books that you would like to give back
- The “Throw Away” Station: I just used a garbage bag for this and only put in items that were too tattered to be given away
- The “Donate” Station: I used several banana boxes for this and as we sorted through the books/media, if I didn’t want to keep the items for myself, I would immediately put it in the donation box. These can be dropped off at a Value Village/Second Hand Store, or have the Boys and Girls club come and pick them up for you.
- The “Love/Need” Station: I just used a designated space on the floor for this and put all items that I loved or needed in this area.
Step 4: Handle each one of your books/DVD’s/CD’s/Video Games/Magazines etc… one at a time, and ask yourself the following questions in this order:
- Does this item spark joy? Or, do I love this book and does it make me happy? If Yes, put this item in the “love it” pile. If no, go to the next question.
- Do I need this item right now or within a month? If yes, put this item in the “need it” pile. If no, ask yourself the next question.
- Is this item something I could give away? If yes, then put it in the donation bin. If no, then put it in the garbage bin.
How to deal with “Someday” items:
I highly recommend not keeping items that you will need “someday”. These items usually get forgotten and are rarely used. Try to only keep items if you know when you will need it. For example, I will need this book next month when Christmas season begins…etc… If there isn’t a specific “I will need this when…” then I recommend giving it away. If you do find that you need it in the future, chances are good you will be able to find the information online, or have it delivered to you within 24 hours through Amazon Prime etc…
How to deal with “Gifts”:
You may have had several books gifted to you with the best of intentions. If the book inspires joy (maybe it makes you think of the one who gave it, or maybe you’re excited to read it) then keep it. However, if the book inspires guilt because it isn’t being used, then it’s ok to let it go to someone who will enjoy it more. Maybe it isn’t your style or something you’re interested in. Letting it go doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate the thought that went into the gift. The book has already served it’s purpose of having brought you joy in the moment you received the gift.
Step 5: After Decluttering Books: Organize the books/media that you are keeping
Ideally by the end of this process, all of your books/media would fit in one spot. If your bedroom is your favourite place to read, I recommend having a spot in your room for the current book your reading. When you’re finished reading that book it can go back to it’s “home” on the bookshelf. You’ll notice that even your room will stay tidier this way.
There are many ways that you could organize your books/media:
- By Colour
- By Author
- Alphabetically by Title
- By Category
- By Height
You need to decide what will be the most convenient way for you to find the item you are looking for. For me, I only chose to keep 50 books. This made it easier for me to organize my books by colour then by height (tall side against the wall). I then used artistic pieces/vases/candles etc.. to style the bookshelf and make it look interesting.
My sister, however, has many books (over 200) and a beautiful floor to ceiling bookcase. She has chosen to organize hers by category, then height and then author so that it’s a bit easier to find the book she needs when she wants it.
Bonus Step 6: Styling Your Bookshelf
There’s no right or wrong way to style a bookshelf. However, there are a few general rules of thumb that if followed will help your bookshelf to look beautiful. I’ve included an image here from jessicadevlindesign.com that outlines the rules of thumb very well.
- Utilize the triangle method: Separate like items into a triangle pattern on the bookshelf. If you have two bookshelves or a very large bookshelf, than try to utilize this idea across each bookshelf or across the large one so that when standing back, the items compliment each other. This will help to achieve an overall cohesive feel.
- Utilize Varying Heights: Put items next to each other that have differing heights. If you have a group of books that are all the same height, group them together and consider them “one object”. Next to them, add an artistic piece or a stack of books that is either taller or shorter to create interest.
- Group objects in odd numbers: So either centre one larger item in the middle of a shelf, or put three items together. You can use a group of books again as “one item” if they are all the same size and use up less than half of the shelf space. Then place them next to two other objects of varying sizes.
- Mix Vertical and Horizontal Items: You can put vertical items next to horizontal items and then use smaller objects to kind of “bridge the gap” between the two so there isn’t a huge space between them.
Give yourself permission to play:
After you’ve finished decluttering books you’ve reached the fun part: styling your bookshelf. make sure to give yourself permission to play around with the look of your bookshelf. I often will start by putting the “pretty” things (like candles/vases etc..) on the bookshelf first; dispersing them evenly or creating the “triangle” effect off the bat. Then I’ll fill in the gaps with the books. Although that sounds easy, it doesn’t usually look perfect with the first effort. I’ve found that after grouping a section of items together I will then take a step back and look at the big picture. I may realize that two dark items next to each other looks too heavy or that the books may look better if I stagger them shortest to tallest on one shelf then tallest to shortest on the next. Give yourself permission to not get it right the first time. Rather than believing that you can’t do it, keep moving things around until you like how they look.
Remember: there’s no right or wrong way to style your bookshelf. It’s about what looks good to you and what makes sense to you. Follow your instincts and play around with it until you find it just “clicks” and you think “dang, I did good!” I promise if you keep playing, you’ll get there!
Please let me know if you have any questions by posting them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you and whether or not this method, loosely based on the Kon Mari method is working for you. If you want more details, as always, I highly recommend listening to or reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Mari Kondo.
I hope you enjoyed decluttering books and organizing and styling your bookshelf!
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