Point/Counterpoint: Color-Coded Bookshelves

Visually stunning decorating idea, or a frivolous design trope? Two Lonny editors face off on Slack.

catdash 3:36 PM 
Bring it!

Irene Edwards 3:37 PM 
Point: Color-coded bookshelves are an insult to real readers.

catdash 3:38 PM 
Wow, harsh words.

Irene Edwards 3:38 PM 
At least that's what I believe. As a lifelong bookworm and a lover of decorating, I have to admit I'm not a fan of this trend.

catdash 3:38 PM
They're harmless and it's such an easy way to add order to a room. Anyone can do it. And, are you trying to tell me this isn't beautiful?

Kevin Sharkey's bookself at the Martha Stewart offices. 
Kevin Sharkey's bookself at the Martha Stewart offices. 

Irene Edwards 3:40 PM
Do you know what that photo reminds me of?

catdash 3:41 PM
A great statement piece in a room?

Irene Edwards 3:41 PM
Er, no. It reminds me of when designer Dan Mazzarini (whom, by the way, we all love) told us that there are places where you can just buy a whole bunch of books by color—like, for decorating purposes only. And while I guess I see a place for that... again, as a reader, I have to think that the most soulful rooms are ones in which the books are actually read.

catdash 3:41 PM
i like the idea of coming up with a color theme—like blue and yellow. You don't have to go full-on with all of your books and on every bookcase. You could pick a few accent colors, like what's going on here:

A coordinated shelf in designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski's L.A. home. 
A coordinated shelf in designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski's L.A. home. 

Irene Edwards 3:43 PM
Very pretty, I agree. More subtle than that full-on example you had previously. What about this one? 

The living room of Jen Albano's townhouse in Brooklyn, New York. 
The living room of Jen Albano's townhouse in Brooklyn, New York. 

Irene Edwards 3:43 PM
That, to me, says authentic design—real layering and a sense of being collected over time. Not an insta-room.

catdash 3:44 PM
Touché—that is beautiful. OK, maybe it’s not right for everyone’s home and every bookshelf, but what about an office? Or organizing other types of items by color—like storage boxes. How do you feel about that?

The workspace of event planner Tara Guérard, in Charleston, South Carolina.
The workspace of event planner Tara Guérard, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Irene Edwards 3:46 PM
Yup! Tara Guérard, right? Love that office—one of my all-time favorites in Lonny. Love Poppin and the Container Store for that purpose. Back to books, this example here also doesn't bug me—it feels like the books are part of a rare editions set.

An image from Novel Interiors (Random House, 2014), by Lisa Borgnes Giramonte. 
An image from Novel Interiors (Random House, 2014), by Lisa Borgnes Giramonte. 

Irene Edwards 3:55 PM
You know which decorator has a really gorgeous bookshelf that I think about often? My girl crush, Tara Bernerd. It's her grandfather's old books, stunningly displayed on custom shelving and styled with various objets.

The living room of London designer Tara Bernerd. 
The living room of London designer Tara Bernerd. 

catdash 3:56 PM
That's gorgeous.

Irene Edwards 3:55 PM
And meaningful. That's what books should be! Not just decorating accessories.

catdash 3:57 PM
It's true. A color-coded shelf doesn't have the sophistication of this one. But for me, the sense of order that color-coding brings is more pleasing on a daily basis. And who am I kidding, I'm not going to organize my books alphabetically or by topic anyway—it's just not realistic for me.

Irene Edwards 4:00 PM
I just organize mine by what makes sense together. Old vintage books on a few shelves... photo books on another. But everyone should just do what makes them happy.

catdash 4:01 PM
I'll agree with that!

Irene Edwards 4:01 PM
Point taken.

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