Sunday, 18 August 2013

quote unquote #2 ~ Alain De Botton

It's been a long week. I started this post last weekend then came down with a bad cold before I had time to finish it. Today I'm feeling much better and it feels great to start to get back to normal, writing and planning projects! Not least because one of the components for my next practical post arrived in the post this week. I've spent a lot of time while confined to my bed or the sofa watching house shows on iPlayer & 4OD and catching up on my favourite blogs on my iPad between sleeping and coughing fits. Ugh.

Anyway, this post is another 'quote unquote' and it's a tweet from Alain De Botton that I instantly identified with. It made me feel better about the sheer number of books I have, especially those that are still in their shrinkwrap, awaiting 'the moment' when I feel like opening it. All those books I just haven't got around to reading yet suddenly justified their shelf space. I've worked in the book industry for many years, as did my boyfriend until a few years ago. When we moved in together the very first thing we bought together was new shelving as the number of books in my flat suddenly tripled overnight. Even with extra shelving and books in every room they are still two deep on our main shelving space. When we briefly flirted with the idea of moving flat two years ago one of the things that put us off was the size and configuration of spaces available, in all but one flat there wasn't enough room for shelving. After one last exasperated cry of 'it's more expensive than where we are and where would we put all our books?' we decided to stay put. If, like us, you have more books than you can read, you have to be very clever with your storage. As a renter, you really can't beat freestanding shelving. I've highlighted a few options in previous posts but I thought it was time for a round up of the best on offer at the moment:

1. Expedit bookcase in white high gloss, £120 Ikea. You can't beat Ikea for size to pounds ratio. If you need a lot of shelf meters but don't have a huge amount to spent, there's no competition. This unit also comes in a slightly larger version. Think you don't have room? How about placing it behind your bed as a book case come headboard and use two of the cubby holes as bedside tables? You'll never be stuck for bed time reading! Replace the shoes with books in this photo and you get the idea.
2. Cleo black narrow bookcase, £140 Habitat. Perfect for mixing up your books with treasured items displayed in the sections with a backboard.
3. Bergman Large Bookshelf in Chalk White, £249 from Made. Great if you like a mid-century aesthetic and could also be used as a room divider in a studio or large living/dining room.
4. Leaning shelves £140 French Connection. Great for bathrooms and small alcoves.
5. Industrial Shelving Unit £295 Rockett St George. One of the pricier options here but this unit is so solid it will survive any number of moves, parties and whatever else you throw at it, a book case that will last a lifetime!
6. Balance Side Table £205 The Coran Shop. Perfect for a bedside table, or beside the sofa as a coffee table.
7. Billy bookcase in back & white, £45 Ikea. I love the pattern at the back of this unit. Great if you want to add some interest to your walls but can't wallpaper!
8. Odyssey bookshelf £351 (reduced from £650) Graham & Green. Again, an expensive option even at the sale price BUT, how beautiful is this? I think it's a future classic and something that will bring joy for years to come. There really is something to be said for investing in pieces like this. How many kids in 50 years time are going to say 'I inherited this great Ikea book case and it's in such great condition'? My guess is, er, none. Don't get me wrong, Ikea has it's place and where would most students or renters be without it, but all I'm saying is, consider buying something with longevity as well if you can.
9. Sapiens Bookcase £175 House by John Lewis. Great if space is really tight or you have an awkward corner, or you just want something more unusual!

To follow, some of my favourite home books to put on those lovely shelves to inspire and delight you.


1. Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonny [Workman Publishing] £12.80 from Amazon. The book from my favourite interiors website full of great ideas and inspiring sneak peeks.
2. If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley [Faber & Faber] £10.99 Faber. Fascinating history of how the home has evolved.
3. 82 Modern Style Ideas [Murdoch Books] £9.09 Amazon. Creative ideas from the team at Inside Out magazine full of things you'll actually want to make.
4. London Style Guide by Saskia Graville [Murdoch books] £11.55 Amazon. Indispensable guide to all the best and most inspiring places to shop eat and sleep in London.
5. The Iconic Interior by Dominic Bradbury & Richard Powers [T&H] £38 Thames & Hudson A beautifully photographed history of 20th Century interiors. I reviewed it here.
6. Northen Delights by Emma Fexus & Sven Ehmann [Gestalten] £35 Gestalten. A new book edited by one of my favourite stylists showcasing impeccable Scandinavian design.
7. At Home by Bill Bryson [Black Swan] £6.47 Amazon. Absolutely gripping history of not just one house, but all the everyday things that make up our homes. Bryson's delightful tangents take you on a journey of discovery into everything from the history of the pantry to the invention of electric lighting to colonial architecture all via one parsons house in the English countryside.
8. The Life of The British Home - An Architectural History by Edward Denison & Guang Yu Ren [John Wiley & Sons] £24.99 Wiley. This is an almost academic history of British architecture from pre-historic round houses to 20th century tower blocks but it's absolutely fascinating.
9. Interiors Now! 2 by Ian Phillips [Taschen] £24.99 Taschen. Totally unobtainable but inspiring interiors to drool over.

Lastly, don't just fill your bookshelves any old how, a bit of attention to styling a bookcase makes all the difference and really make a room look 'finished'. Try this post from Apartment Therapy for some styling tips.

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