One of the great joys of home decor is the fact that you can make your home a reflection of your lifestyle, taste, and personality. An empty room provides a canvas to display your unique style. There are so many decorating styles and options available, so deciding which furnishings best suit your space can be overwhelming. Especially if you want both form and function.
There are new and creative ways to furnish and decorate your living space to make it look and feel like your own.
Get creative with how you use furniture
The interior design adage: “form follows function” has stood the test of time. Choosing a beautiful chair for its form — and then realizing that it is much too uncomfortable for anyone to use — is never a good idea, especially if you are working with limitations in space, size, and budget. No one wants to be stuck with a beautiful piece of chair art taking up the space they need for functional seating. It’s a much better idea to choose a chair’s functionality first and then turn your eye to find the style, color, and size that complement your design aesthetic.
There is another dimension to following the functional furniture rulebook, and that is that there is no actual rulebook. Just because a piece of furniture is intended for one purpose does not mean that you can’t use it either in combination with or for another purpose entirely.
Take the office filing cabinet as an example. Its very name suggests the room that it should be in (the office) and the function (a cabinet for files). But if you start to look at a filing cabinet less as a potential piece of home office décor and more as a piece of furniture with endless functional and decorative possibilities, you might find that a particularly fetching version of a filing cabinet could be used as a coffee table or end table.
Two of the most versatile pieces of furniture you can use in almost any room of your home are the uber-functional bookcase and bookshelf.
Bookcases and bookshelves as functional furniture
Bookcases and bookshelves are sometimes referred to as shelving units because of their versatile functionality. Some may be wall-mounted or in ladder form. Others may have cabinets for storing files and paper. Some bookcases — such as ones used in particularly tight spaces such as college dorm rooms — can be set up on rollers so they can slide from one side of the room to another.
When it comes to multi-functional pieces, there’s almost nothing better than a bookcase or bookshelf. Their use extends beyond simply housing books. From additional storage to displaying precious personal items, these pieces can make a great addition to just about any room.
How to decorate your bookshelf
The great thing about the function-meets-form paradigm is that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to decorating your bookshelves bookcases.
Your use of furniture is only limited by your imagination. This is what is so great about empty vessels like bookshelves and bookcases; you can use them to personalize your decor in whatever manner that makes sense for you at the time. Some options to personalize your bookshelf or bookcase include:
Decide on a color palette: Whether you choose a minimalist look or bright pops of color, choose a color scheme and items throughout your home that will fit your theme. One idea to get you started is to simply think about how you want to display any books. Do you want your books to fall within one particular color family or to display your books in a rainbow-colored order? There are multiple options for you to choose from.
Display items with special meaning: A bookshelf is a great opportunity to showcase some of your precious personal items. For example, you can use a shelf to highlight a few souvenirs you collected from a trip.
Create depth: To make your bookcase visually appealing, be sure to incorporate different heights and textures. For instance, you can place some artwork against the back of a shelf while placing a few smaller items in front of it. You can also choose to stack some books vertically while also arranging some horizontally next to each other. The goal is to make sure not everything is placed in the exact same way.
Add storage: Depending on how deep the shelves are, you can also use a bookcase for storage. Adding baskets, for instance, can allow you to place objects you don’t have room for elsewhere--like toys or office supplies.
Consider something green: Another way to enhance your bookshelf is to bring some of the outdoors to its shelves. Whether you choose to add real plants or fake ones, a touch of greenery can add another fun and personal touch to your shelves.
Creative ideas for bookcases, shelving, and other storage units
When considering how to use or repurpose a storage unit, you need to consider the unit and how it fits your personal aesthetic.
Whether you are after a traditional or a contemporary look for your bookcase, wood bookcases can offer many latitudes when it comes to your decorating scheme. For instance, you can take a traditional bookcase with doors and repurpose it as a living room media storage unit. Hide your audio-visual hardware behind the closed doors and keep your monitors and vintage turntable and stereo receiver prominently displayed on the upper shelves.
If you want to lighten things up, you might opt for a stylish pearl oak multi-shelf bookcase with large and small compartments. Suppose you are wondering how to manage that corner space in your living room or den. In that case, you can always add a decorative corner bookcase to display your collectibles and art pieces. You can even take a bookcase/organizer and use it as a room divider, filling the little cubbies with family photos offset by flowing ferns and succulents.
A metal bookcase can offer a contemporary floating feel, a harder, more practical quality for that trendy industrial-chic look, or a range of combinations in between. Whichever you are attracted to, you can balance out the metal with wicker baskets for extra storage. Line them against a kitchen wall to display your cookware or liven up your mudroom while providing an easy-to-access place for shoes, boots, and jackets.
A slender silver and black metal bookcase will function well as a modern baker’s rack. A metal shelf tower bookcase can do double-duty as a hat and scarf display rack. The juxtaposition of metal and flowy fabrics are especially appealing to anyone who leans toward the eclectic.
White may very well be the new black, at least when it comes to home furnishings. You can brighten up any room with any one of a huge selection of white bookcases that add a pop of brightness to your home decor. Look for a bookcase designer’s take on color-blocking for a festive playroom toy storage solution. Another option is to make the white bookcase the focal point for silk flowers, tchotchkes, and other favorite knick-knacks with a retro-inspired etagere.
If you are going for a single color vibe try mixing and matching white bookcases with different shades like cream, eggshell, ivory, and vanilla — such shades will make for an appealing presentation. Especially if you mix and matchbooks and photos among the collection.
A ladder bookshelf gets its name from how it’s designed, particularly because the bottom shelves tend to be larger than the upper shelves and they are connected together to look like ladder rungs. What makes ladder bookshelves a great option is that they offer large openings to display a variety of items — everything from memorabilia to photos and house plants. They also come in a variety of color options and materials to fit your personal style. From a dark cappuccino to a light oak, you will find something to match your design.
Making the most effective use of your space is a popular reason to install a shelving unit. Add in some shelving accessories, and you can create the perfect floating photo display. You could create an organizational space for the family’s winter coats and scarves or finally get your mop, broom, and dustpan hung neatly in the garage.
You can hang open shelves above your washer/dryer to add some decluttering style to your laundry room. The shelves could also be used for baskets to hold your detergent, bleach, and dryer sheets. Think about how you can hide items in plain sight, and you can quickly come up with ways to keep your home organized with the added flair of a strategically placed small bookshelf.
Extra storage is great when you need an additional food pantry, a place to store towels, or added storage for your seasonal clothing or excessive shoe collection. Storage cabinets come in so many styles and sizes, so you will have no trouble finding functional furniture to meet your needs.
For instance, you can create a drop zone at your entryway with a versatile cubby storage cabinet. Add in some wicker baskets, so there is a place for keys, purses, and briefcases. You can secure umbrellas on the bottom shelves. To personalize the storage cabinet, affix some colorful contact paper to the top and inside some interior spaces.
The versatile file cabinet can do so much more than house your Pendaflex folders. Use a rolling file cabinet to store your crafts or sewing notions and let the top double as a craft table or sewing machine stand. Create an extra set of dresser drawers for your expansive wardrobe or try pairing two two-drawer cabinets and set them on either side of the bed as nightstands.
If you want a more fashionable alternative to the typical tool cabinet, try storing your tools in a decorative three-drawer file cabinet. These cabinets come with plenty of room for a drill and bits, spare fuses, and all your screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, pliers, nails, and screws.
Another bonus with filing cabinets is that they now come in a variety of colors and materials. From wood to the more traditional metal, you’ll likely be able to find something that will fit your personal style.
How will you design your living space?
Decorating your interior space can provide great joy. Still, to make the most of your design, you want to make sure you consider both design and function. Once you’ve identified your own personal style, consider ways to find pieces that reflect your unique aesthetic while also serving as multifunctional pieces.
This is where office furniture comes into play. The versatility of functional office furniture is endless. Consider what your style is before planning your make-over. Are you someone who likes traditional, modern, eclectic, contemporary, minimalist, mid-century modern, shabby chic, or coastal? Once you choose an overarching design aesthetic, you can choose the furnishings that fulfill your needs and design purpose. Office furniture is no longer relegated to the home office space There are endless choices of furniture and office décor that can offer a practical sense to every room in your home.
About the author:
Nancy Wollin is a lawyer-turned-freelance writer whose interests include the arts, business, and designing and decorating her tiny house living space.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is,” and neither the author nor Office Depot warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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