After yesterday’s lighting post, I looked at the sad, nearly empty nook shelf.  See it in the background?  Just a few lonely items stashed there.

Family Room Sconces Profile

I pulled some of my favorite items, jars filled with vacation artifacts, off the guest room bookshelf and set ’em up.


A step back and all I saw was clutter.  Clutter on the shelf competing with the frames on the mantel.  Sure the patched walls and unpainted walls don’t help.  Oh, now that I’ve painted the two smaller frames, I’m loving the mixture of frames.


Perhaps pairing down the jars would help?


Yep, that helped, but I still wasn’t smitten with the lack of books on a book shelf.


Knowing I didn’t want to detract from the mantel art, I pulled out white books, my new horse head bookends, and a wood sculpture.


Now we’re cookin’.  But the dark frame and sculpture attracted too much attention.  For a little color and height, I added a tall apothecary jar of shells (picked up on beach vacations).


Spray paint can cure any ugly/bad/wrong color.  Crisp flat white on the frame, (which makes the cream mat look dingy) blends in with the rest of the arrangement.


So far, this is the least cluttered looking group I’ve come up with.  Not completely sure I love it.


What do you think?  Any suggestions for the shelf?  Do you prefer it with the jars or books?

23 thoughts on “Jarring

  1. How ’bout if you pared down some of the books, turn them on their sides, and put the horse bookends ON the books? It would give you some additional height, but would not add clutter.

  2. What about a plant/potted arrangement with the books? I agree the jars look too cluttered and I’m not sure changing the color of the frame did anything for the art.

  3. Hmm. You’ve got an extra high shelf on your hands, don’t you? Since the shelf below it is so tall, and this guy is so short (yet placed very high- even above the mantel) I don’t think you really *want* your eye to go there. I’d try a full row of books from one side of the nook to the other, spines turned to the back (pages facing out). You *might* need something else in front of the row of books, or that might do it. Definitely something you’ll have to play with. And, speaking of that lower shelf, the upper one might not look right until something’s done with both of them. It’s hard to decorate in a vacuum. Either way, it’s fun to stage and shop the house, isn’t it?

    1. Hey Emily!

      Yes we do! At some point, we’ll add a tv in the tall space (where the large frame is right now) so that will look full. We originally planned to have two shelves, so one would tuck closer to the ceiling for more of a built in look, but worried it would look scrunched at the ceiling. Now I’m thinking it might look better to add a second shelf to fill out the space more… Hmm. I like the idea of flipping other books for a plain, but more full look. Off to fiddle around. 🙂


  4. I’m wondering if you need more shelves and really fill them out with books. I wonder if it will give it a more solid, textured look instead of the cluttery look. You’ve got a high shelf that competes with the mantel with a wide shelf underneath. If adding another shelf or two filled with books and then putting some simple greenery on top? I’m sure it’s hard to decorate now because it’s all in transition. (You do an amazing job with that remodeling biz btw.) I’d say, clean up the shelf and paint the wall. You’ll feel better with a blank palette rather then a cluttered shelf.

    1. Hi Megan!

      Our original plan included two shelves at the top, but we thought the top one might look too close to the ceiling… Eventually we’ll put a tv in the space where the large frame is, so that’s why it’s a big open space. You’re right, it’s kind of tough to make decorating decisions when the rest of the room is unfinished. We’ll have to see what happens when we paint. Who knows, maybe we’ll decide to add a second shelf?!? 😀


  5. Hi Amanda! Things are looking good. I hope this doesn’t sound too negative but I actually agree that the white isnt doing much to add to the space. I actually think it may be detracting from it a bit. How about if you bring in some color somehow? I think right now they feel a little washed out with all the white. Maybe you could find some books with colored spines or some prints with more color in them. Perhaps throw in some decorative vases. I don’t have a green thumb either, but a succulent is a good hearty plant that thrives on neglect and could add some life and greenery to the shelves. Another option could be to add some washi tape to the corners of the frames to being in some subtle color if you don’t want to go too color crazy.

    1. Hey Shavonda!

      I usually don’t go for a mostly neutral arrangement, but I tried colored books and it just seemed crazy. A (fake) succulent is on my list next time I’m at Hobby Lobby. Gotta add a little life and color, even if it is fake. 😉 I’m sure I’ll change things out, maybe even after we paint.


  6. I feel like the mantel and the shelves from a distance look cluttered together. Maybe a mirror or something over the mantel and then books and your decor on the shelves…just a thought!


    1. Hi Adelovespaint!

      Maybe down the road we’ll switch the mantel art out for one larger item. I’m not in any rush because I haven’t found something I love and like the current arrangement. So if I’m changing anything right now, it’ll be the shelves. 🙂 But I agree, there’s a lot going on.


  7. For some reason I think the books just work better. I also love that everything is white on the shelf so even though it’s ‘cluttered’ it doesn’t visually look like it is. The white vs. black mantel is a great contrast.

  8. I say load the shelves with books! I think that would really warm up the space. Or if you are going to really style the shelves with frames, jars, plants, etc, I would simplify the art above the mantel…one big mirror or one big painting. Just my humble opinion. I enjoy seeing the progress you’re making in your house! It’s a lot to tackle!

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