Color Coded Library

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In my last apartment I had my bookshelves arranged by color. I’d been inspired by this shot that ran in Living Etc. magazine in April 2005 (above). It seemed like a clever decorating twist, and my bookshelves had started to look really messy after two years in my apartment. So, I took everything down, made piles of each color and rearranged everything by the hue of the spine. It looked great, and for the most part I could remember if a book had a blue spine or a pink one. Some people would notice my color coordinated shelves the minute they entered the apartment. Others would come for a dinner party and never notice at all. It was a subtle touch.

Recently I feel like every interior I see has the books arranged by color — really, what magazine hasn’t recommended this at this point? What once seemed a novel idea (an idea that many people chided me for, by the way) is now the decorating touch du jour. If everyone is going to have their novels arranged red to orange to yellow, then I think I’ll go back to the old-fashioned method and let Ethan Frome sit next to The House of Mirth, and Henry James can sit close by. I can also reclaim my favorite piece of bookshelf wit from my pre-rainbow ordered days: I used to have Bill Clinton’s memoirs sandwiched by Monica Lewinsky’s and Hillary’s, a little bit dorky- mischievous, but it gave me a laugh.

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