21 Shelves I Want In My Life Right Now

15 August 2012

Dear My Non-Existent Shelves,

Each day I when wake up, dewy-eyed and ready to start the day, the first thing I think to myself is, “Gee, I wish I had some shelves to put all these stacks of books in.” Sure, stacks of books make a home look inviting and lived-in, but shelving is glamour on a whole new level.

These shelves look like something I would make if I had the skills. Rectangular and crazy looking (like my face). AND they double as stairs. (Double win).

These shelves are pretty minimal and would be boring if it weren’t for all the wonderful books crammed into them.

This is what happens in real life when a client wants shelving: They’re all “I want shelving to make my space look more inviting and lived-in, like an old library.” And then I’m all “Well you better have a TON of books and knickknacks, because we’re going to need a lot to fill those shelves.” And then they’re like “Oh I have plenty of books.” Then they hand me six books and cat figurine and tell me to get started on the shelves. Then I’m all “That’s not enough, we need like 30,000 times this much stuff to fill these shelves!” And then they punch me in the face and I leave and tell them to style their own shelves. Usually the shelves end up looking like this because everyone loves coral:

There should always be shelves under the stairs. It should be against the law NOT to have shelving under the stairs. Another thing that should be against the law: those disgusting chairs.

Library + huge windows = dream come true.

Library + no windows = room where insider deals are made and secrets are kept.

This fireplace/shelving combination makes me slightly worried that all those books would go up in flames, but it’s worth it because this looks so beautiful. Also, maybe they’re really bad books and they deserve to burn. Just kidding. Don’t burn books, it’s bad.

Look at this pleasant little sun room. Can’t you just imagine sitting in that chair, staring at all the books you never plan to read?

This shelving provides a clever room divider. You know what else is a room divider? Abortion. Never bring it up at a dinner party.

I love how chic and minimal these are.

How far would you go to have this office? That circular shelf on the ceiling is to die for.

Glamourous and bright with a million books. That’s how I want my whole life to be.

Another example of a stairs/shelves combo. This works every time. I’m going to write my senator about getting that shelves under stairs law passed.

The height of this shelf reminds me of that scene in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ where Beast takes Belle to see the library and it’s totally crazy and enormous and out of control and she gets, like, really excited. Sidenote: one time I took a guy on a date to see ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at a movie theatre. Word from the wise: don’t ever take a man on a date to see ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Instead of making you look attractive and intelligent (which you are) it will reveal to your guy that you are, in fact, a seven-year old girl (which you are).

Whitewashed wood, modular seating, clever sconces. Me-OW.

I love this giant sofa for your one million friends to sit on whilst they read the one million books in the shelving above their heads.

I’m pretty sure this is just stacked Ikea Expedit shelves, but it looks GOOD.

I love diagonal shelves, although I learned the hard way (by making one myself) that they are totally impractical and hard to use (it’s hard to get the books out because of the weight). But hey, most pretty things are impractical so it would be worth it to see all these fun diagonal lines. I think….

This is the shelf I designed. It was impossible to use. But I loved it.

I’ve never met a person who didn’t want a secret room hiding behind a shelf-door. It is the most exciting thing one could have in a home. Think of all the fun you could have in your secret room, playing with your gold pieces and looking through your treasure chest.

Can you imagine if this were your shelf and someone was like “Can I see that book up there at the top?” And then you’d have to go out and buy a huge ladder, drive it home, and lug it up the stairs just to let them see your copy of ‘Reba: My Story’ by Reba McEntire.

I’m going to spend the rest of the day thinking about shelving whilst cursing the piles of books all over my apartment. And so can you!


20 Comment

  1. Dana says:

    Damn you! Now, not only do my shabby shelves seem even more shabby, but I laughed VERY loudly at your abortion comment and now everyone can tell I am not really working! If I lose my job, can I come live in your library?

  2. Laura Mamer says:

    What a fantastic article and pix! So informative…as usual!
    Thanks. You make me smile.

  3. alison says:

    I shared your blog today with two shelf-lovers and both of them thought you were a 7yo girl just from reading it. Win!

  4. Mini Dork says:

    This really makes me want to read a book.

  5. Michael says:

    Please tell me that you own a copy of ‘Reba: My Story’ by Reba McEntire’. Also great post…I was beginning to experience withdrawals haha.

  6. Jeff says:

    Very good post.
    We built Hugh Newell Jackobson egg crate style bookshelves all the way up to the ceiling.
    They look fantastic.

    1. DeanDean says:

      do you have plans to share?

  7. jeni says:

    dear mr. o – i almost choked on the abortion comment only to have you follow it up with the obscure Reba reference – i love love love you! please keep it coming – makes my day.

  8. saintez says:

    My day started out with lots of meetings and life attempting to drag me down. Just before I end my day I click on Hommemaker which is in my little bar up top – and your shelves and copy made me laugh and lust! Thanks!

  9. francine says:

    that “room divider/abortion joke” was hilarious and perfect! also, i love your old shelf!!

  10. Kathy says:

    I almost fell out my chair laughing my arse off when you said, “everyone loves coral”! I am totally guilty and I’m learning to step away from the Pottery Barn coral decor.

    All those shelves are gorgeous, but I feel books should be accessible and used, even if to just skim through and daydream.

  11. Lisa says:

    First column of yours I have read (long time Emily reader), and you had me at abortion. AMAZING.

  12. A.S. says:

    Don’t drink and read this blog. Even if it’s just coconut water. By the time Reba came up I was in a coughing fit.

  13. Wend says:

    Orlando, I think I love you…and not in the crazy stalker way!

  14. Patrick says:


    “Books are awfully decorative don’t you think?”

  15. Trent says:

    Orlando I think I love you. In the creepy stalker way.

  16. Siveheart says:

    Books are awesome and I’m with you on your shelf envy. Most of my books are still packed up from the last couple of times that I’ve moved as I’m limited to one very small book case up in my room, one more small book case in the living room for school books as I’m homeschooling my brother, and one of the two shelves in my closet above my clothing bar, most of which is filled up with binders that have curriculum and school work in them. *Pout* Now I REALLY want to go out and get more shelves for my already packed and tiny bedroom.

  17. Chaya says:

    Hi-larious article, random commentary and a lovely array of books / shelves. Many great things in one, I salute you sir. Looking forward to posts to come, the latest on why gay men think they’re fat and have body dysmorphia went a long way to describing some bff’s paranoid behavior. In truth, this correlates well with straight women too, although replace “bartender” with model etc.

  18. Jen says:

    Orlando, you are my latest and greatest love. I love you as much as I love books, and that’s a lot. 😉 Keep being fabulous.

  19. Amanda says:

    Beautiful beautiful. If i wasn’t traveling so much, I’d love to settle down and create an awesome space for my books. But, I think my little brother is going to babysit them for awhile and they will sit on boring bookshelves until I rescue them in the future…

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