Apartment Decorating: Dividing the Room with Bookshelves

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Apartment Decorating: Dividing the Room with Bookshelves

Staff Writer · Apr 25, 2010

If you are facing one large, multi-purpose room, apartment decorating can often be a difficult task. A great way to divide up a space, add depth and also create more storage space is to use bookshelves as dividing a large room. Below are the many ways you can use bookshelves to your advantage.

Use the Center of the Room

Despite your hesitation, a bookshelf does not necessarily need to be placed against a wall. While against a wall is the most typical placement for bookshelves, their shape and weight make them ideal to divide a large space into several smaller ones, regardless of the bookshelf’s height. Place the bookshelf in the center of the room or in another location in the open space to create smaller, more usable living spaces. For example, a bookshelf can divide a living room and dining room, an office from a living room, or create privacy for a small sitting area to reduce the amount of noise from the television.

Decorate the Back

The backside of a bookshelf is often thought of as something to hide. When you are using bookshelves to divide up a room, however, it will be impossible to cover the back of the shelf. If you have open bookshelves with no clear back or front this will not be a problem. However for closed-shelved bookshelves with a panel of wood in the back, you will need to address the back of the bookshelf. Fortunately, because it is smooth, there are several things you can do with the surface. Consider using hooks that stick rather than are nailed in to hang small, lightweight paintings or other decorative objects; place multiple bookshelves back to back to create a wider division, provide storage in both areas and eliminate either side from looking at the back of the bookshelf. Also consider treating the back of the bookshelf as a wall and placing furniture against it.

Don’t Avoid the Low Shelves

It isn’t necessary to use tall bookshelves to divide a room. Low bookshelves will still create clear delineations between spaces, but also still leave the room feeling largely open. Consider using a shorter shelving unit, one that has only two or three shelves in it, in lieu of a taller unit. Because they will not consume as much space, shorter bookshelves can often be thicker, more substantial pieces of furniture.

Bookshelves Aren’t Just for Books Anymore

Do not only use your bookshelves to display books. Rather, use the storage to show off vases, photos or other decorative objects. Of course, if you have books you can put those on the shelves, but steer clear of only putting books on the bookshelf, as this will make the furniture appear heavier and, possibly, more awkward if they are located in the middle of the room. At the very least, consider breaking up your books with other items.

Don’t Mix Colors and Textures

Because it will be evident that you are using bookshelves to divide up a room, do not put mismatched units next to each other. Bookshelves that are dissimilar in color will draw more attention to the units and make them seem out of place.  However, the same is not true for differently sized bookshelves. Placing a tall unit next to a shorter one can create an eye catching piece that will still enable room division.

Be creative in your use of bookshelves to divide up a large room. An empty room is similar to a blank canvas, and so almost anything will work well. It’s a good idea to place the bookshelves first in the room and then arrange the other furniture to ensure the room will be divide well.

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