The Art of Arranging Built-Ins and Bookcases

Here I am with Photography by Jim Collins – my cousin thrice removed on my mother’s side (that’s a southern thing and who knows what twice and thrice removed means anyway, but is sounds friendly and familial to me ).    When he took this photo I had been posing in front of the fireplace in a typical “here, take my picture” pose.  Then I asked him to take some photos of  my built in bookcases so I could share them with you on my blog.  I noticed some decorative accessories I had hidden behind some books to find a spot for later so I picked the pieces up to get them out of the way for the photos.   Well, Jim caught me in my element  pondering a special place for these unique pieces that I am planning to use for Independence Day – eagles and a patriotic candy dish.

By the way, this is a big deal!  I can’t stand to look at photos of myself let alone pose for photos.  I hear my mother’s story over and over in my head, “You were the ugliest baby.  It took me ten days to name you.”  Please, please never say that to your girl child even in jest.    Anyway, enough about me and my ramblings;  please enjoy Jim’s beautiful photography and the art of arranging followed by some simple design rules to follow so  that you can arrange your own built-ins or bookcases.

 This is in my great room adjacent to the fireplace.

Eight Simple Rules for Arranging

1.  Collect your favorite pieces:  framed family photos, artwork, glassware or pottery, greenery, candles, etc.

2.  Books are anchors for design.   In our case, we read all of our books.  If you are not a reader you can find books that have beautiful spines or colors that compliment your decor and style.

3.  Take some shelves out if possible.  You don’t have to have each side match in measurements.

4.  Hang artwork on the back wall of built-ins or even on the front facing if it doesn’t detract from the main part and works well with your arrangement.  Place something that is three dimensional on the wall such as a planter or sconce that has simple greenery.   Don’t over power with flowers or if using flowers stay with a muted color palette.

5.  When arranging your pieces use a pattern such as:  left , right, center.  You can accomplish different levels with your books by using them upright or by stacking.    A safe way to begin arranging is to start with your books in a pattern and then do the reverse for multiple shelves going down in a  right, left, center pattern  or mix the pattern up.

6.  Use larger pieces to draw your eye to the pattern position, but never repeat on the next shelf so that your focal point does not compete with the next focal point on the the shelf above or below.  In the case above, you will notice this  is accomplished on the right section with artwork center, left, and then right at the base of the shelf.

7.  Use glass to reflect light in any arrangement.  Glass will blend old and new pieces making them come together when they seem they come from different design styles or eras.  I love old and new and this sometimes can be difficult in new construction or the reverse in homes with age and character and trying to blend new styles and trends.  Glass has a way of bringing all elements of design together.  Candy dishes always draw me in because I can place battery operated tea lights, bath salts or colored beads to unite special pieces together.  Rarely do the candy dishes get used for actual candy.  They are my peace broker for all things.

8.  Add little details into the patterns of books or large focal pieces like framed photos on easels or decorative boxes, bottles, candle holders and then use further details such as tassels or embellished candles in or on the candle holders to add further dimension.  As I mentioned above, I am a fan of  electric tea lights for an amber glow in the evenings…just a little somethin’ somethin’ to add interest.

 As always, the art of arranging is to compliment the style and character of the home, but mostly to reflect the taste of those who live there.  When you combine the two successfully the art of arranging has been accomplished for everyone to enjoy.

New – Irish Lady Antiquities and Such at Hermann’s Antique Mall

The Easter Bunny Has Arrived

With Baskets And Goodies For All:



There Is Silver And Blue;


A Kitchen, Too;


And, Don’t Forget The Cowboys Or They’d Be Blue!



All at

Hermann’s Antique Mall

Alamo Street

Downtown Brenham, Texas

Ask for the Irish Lady’s Booth

“What Spurs Me On?”

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”, implored the writer of the book of Hebrews in the tenth chapter twenty-fourth verse.   Thinking of that verse today had me asking, “What spurs me on?”   Quickly, I went through the last few weeks and realized there were others spurring me on and for all of you I am truly grateful:

Thank you to my oldest son for letting me know why you received an “A” in your speech class.  When he was assigned a speech, with himself as the subject, he could have easily spouted off about himself.  Instead, he talked about his parents and family: our trials, life, death, homeschooling and how proud he was that his parents have stayed the course through it all.   I could not have received a better compliment than knowing that you have been watching and we haven’t done too badly.

My stepmother, who sent a small note, letting me know you consider me your own daughter is a tremendous act of love.  The handwritten notes in  cards and letters, from friends and family to let me know that you care,  have meant a great deal and the timing was impeccable.  Phone calls, emails, text messages…these are all acts of love spurring me on.  Thank you so very much for thinking of us.

Then, there is this grinning little girl, a gift from my sister,  who loves me and stays by my side all day long.

Finding inspiration from magazines to remind me that spring is coming and the possibilities on the farm are endless.   Fancy chicken coops and lady bugs have me planning building and gardening projects.  Clothing and jewelry have me motivated to eat right again.  All this is possible because some caring strangers bring their old magazines to the Brenham library and leave them in the vestibule so you can take them home.  What a blessing!  I would not have found spring so easily without old issues of these lovely magazines to remind me that it does exist and is just around the corner.

Lastly, but not least, thank you to my youngest son for reminding me how to resize, upload and get this thing working again.

Come Early, Proverbs 8:17

Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love them that love Me, and those that seek  Me shall find me early.”   This was the message embroidered on canvas and given to me on Christmas Eve by neighbor and Sister In Christ, Mae Starr.    Her given name is something entirely different.  Mae Starr of  Texas  is her inner talent name that she uses for art and especially embroidery.  She drew this and then embroidered it.  These are the kind of gifts that mean so much to me.

Find Mae Starr’s Boutique with embroidery, vintage fabric, patterns and surprises at:

Come Early Canvas

How perfect was the timing because as you know my sister did leave early and she did seek Him and I know that she found Him.  What a comfort to know that!   Thank you, Mae, for reminding me of that and giving such a beautiful and comforting gift.