Less is More

I was recently inspired after seeing a friend’s beautifully – and simply – arranged living room built-ins to take a hard look at my own built-ins.  I haven’t rearranged them too much since moving into our house five years ago.  Maybe that should have been a sign in and of itself that they needed a refresh!

Anyway, I’m so in love with how my built-ins look now that I’m a bit embarrassed of my “before” photos.  I’m no decorator, and I’m sure there’s still more improvement that could be made, but here we go…

I have symmetrical built-ins on either side of the fireplace, so there are a lot of shelves to tackle.  Below is the before & after for the ones on the left side of the fireplace.left-built-in-collage

And here’s the before & after for the right side of the fireplace.right-built-in-collage

So much cleaner and less cluttered, right?  I only bought a couple of new things, too, so it was a practically free project.



The first thing I did was grab an empty box so when I pulled things off, I had a place to collect the “extras.”  I restricted each shelf to 2-3 items.

Previously, I had photo books scattered, some standing up, some laying flat.  I took a consistent approach of making a few neat stacks of the photo books to lay flat on various shelves.  I turned them so that the spines are to the left, which makes them look more cohesive with the white page edges showing at the front.  I then placed a smaller item or photo frame on each stack.


My new additions are on the bottom left shelf of the top photo.  I thought a lamp would make it feel more cozy, especially since that corner of the room is a bit dark.  And I bought the cool silver decorative piece (no idea what to call it!) next to it at Home Goods.  I still think that shelf needs a little help – any ideas?  The picture frame hides the electrical outlet, and the Alexa speaker won’t move further because of its cord.  So I got a little stuck there.


I took my box of extra goodies and reorganized the bookshelf in the home office (the “before” photo of which is even more embarrassing!).  And now I’m working on the built-ins in the upstairs game room.  I’ll post more on those soon.

I’d love to see more inspiration from your built-ins and bookshelves!  Please share what works for you.

Decluttering Collage.jpg


2 thoughts on “Less is More

  1. Peta says:

    They look great Meredith! I now notice the wall color behind the built-ins much more . Another thing I noticed in looking through lots of decorating magazines is that they always have their frames / art facing straight and not angled. And switching out pieces can change things up from time to time. Happy decorating 🙂

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