I totally get it! You’re probably tired of seeing the inside of your house right now #thequarantinelife But what if you could love your space a little more during this time?! And what if it was super easy to do?! A few weeks ago, that was exactly what we did for one of my friends! We put together a fun and easy refresh for her living room because she self-admittedly didn’t love it. She didn’t even want to spend any time in there because she didn’t like looking at it. Sound familiar at all?! Read on for what we did, all my tips on how to do it, and the outcome that made her so much happier! We’re splitting her living room into parts because we got quarantined in the middle, but Part 1 is better than no part at all! Hopefully this will kick some of your cabin-fever to the curb and give you some good ideas if you get the itch!
In Part 1, we’re going to stick with the bookshelves! If you’re up for something more than a shelfie, be sure to check out some other fun ideas here too that include paint, wallpaper, pillows, plants and more!
Step 1. Assess the Situation
This was her existing bookshelf and mantel that she wasn’t in love with. Although she’s a fan of neutrals and textures, it didn’t have her favorite color anywhere and just felt blah! The items on the shelves spanned all design styles without a cohesive direction– it felt disjointed and unfinished and ultimately kept her out of the space. That definitely needed to change!
Be sure to check for any potential challenges too– in this case, the shelves are fixed, so we had to be mindful of what we could put on each one since we couldn’t adjust them. Measure the height and depth of your shelves! Most of these are only 11″ apart vertically! The mantel was also relatively shallow at 7″deep, so we knew at the beginning that extra large vases wouldn’t work.
Questions to ask yourself about your own space:
Why don’t you like it? Does it have your favorite color or favorite things? Are there old items that you don’t need displayed anymore? Are there sentimental pieces you want to keep? Can it be edited down (less cluttered)? Is it tired feeling? Are there too many styles getting mixed?
Step 2: Find Your Inspiration
What do you want this to look and feel like? Is it filled with books and travel momentos, artwork or sculptures? Is it colorful and vibrant or dark and moody? Is it light and airy? Is there a piece of artwork or photo that you’ve always loved and makes you smile every time you see it? What’s inspiring to you?! Use that as the foundation for the upcoming steps!
There was a piece of artwork on the other side of the room that she loved with aquas, golds, silvers, and whites that we used as inspiration in addition to a family photo on the beach. The two pieces felt natural and vibrant with a hint of glam. My goal was to edit, simplify, and bring in the aquas that she loves while keeping it the clean and classic with a light, airy feel.
(I know it’s not the bookshelf, but we updated this corner with a colorful pillow, floor lamp and refreshed the side table, but I wanted you to see the aquas and golds she loves!)
Step 3: Blank Slate!
Clear it out! Yes, ALL OF IT! Give yourself a blank slate to start with so you’re not distracted or confused by what’s still on the shelf. As you’re clearing it though, make 3 piles for yourself:  what you want to keep out and put back on the shelves,  what you can relocate to another part of the house or donate, and  what can be tossed.
Step 4: Set The Backdrop
Since you probably haven’t seen it empty since you moved in or brought them in your house, take a look at the back of the shelves. Do you want to see something besides the current background? If so, it’s time to change it up! Grab a small can of paint and add a splash of color– it can be vibrant and happy or contrasty (is that a word?!) and moody. Take your pick! Another fun option is to wallpaper it! There’s a lot of peel and stick options, so just pick a pattern you love and go for it. On these shelves, there was a bead board backing and we loved the subtle character it added!
Step 5: Shop Your Home
Now that you know how many pieces you’ll be keeping from your decluttering phase above, and what your background will look like, you can add on! Spread the keeper items out on a coffee table or table so you can see everything. Then spend a little bit of time and go through your home to see if there are other items you can use that are in line with the colors and style you want. This could be photos, trays, candlesticks, artwork, candles, jars, vases, succulents, bookends, sculptures, boxes, baskets, globes, trophies, small greenery and color-coordinated books. I love to mix textures, colors, organic items and sentimental pieces the most and make sure I have a similar number of each category. Normally you’d be able to go out and buy some new items too, but it’s a little different these days. However, there are a few home stores that are open– like Home Depot. Check your local store to see if they’re open and swing by on your way home from the grocery store. You can even place an order online at Michael’s and they’ll run it out to the curb for delivery (or just deliver it to your home if you’d rather!) Either way, grab all the supplies you need and get going on your project!
Step 6: Mix It Up!
When everything’s laid out in front of you, it’s easy to start filling in the shelves! Start with the larger items in the same color or texture and put them on opposite sides and at different height shelves. The first thing I put up was the aqua faceted vase on the left side. So to balance it on the other side, I added the light aqua boxes stacked on each other and the small artwork of the ocean. Keep doing this for the rest of your pieces, largest to smallest! It’s important to give everything some space visually too– spread them out and put one or two groupings on a shelf and alternate as you go. Add in family photos and balance the golds, textures and greenery on each side. I love how we have such special family moments on display here– and that was one of her biggest things too! We kept wedding photos, baby photos and vintage family photos that all tell an incredible story!
Step 7: Finish Off the Mantel
I knew we’d be simplifying the mantel with a round brushed brass mirror to soften the space. We added textured vases and gold candlesticks along with a small succulent to keep it clean and coordinated. It was the perfect finishing touch and she absolutely loved it!
Just like that, you’ve given your space and instant update! Ta-da! Super easy and quick! I hope this gives you some ideas for an easy update in your own home! In the meantime, stay safe and have fun with it!