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styling the built-ins


Now that the paint is dry on the upper office built-ins (the lowers haven’t been installed, yet), what’s a girl to do but style them? I mean…really?  So, I started pulling things from all over the house that would fit my vision for a vintagey, officey, not too feminine look.  Here’s what I came up with…




My husband looked at them and laughed.  “Aren’t we going to use the book shelves for books?”  Ha!  Men!  What do they know?  Shelves aren’t for books, they’re for pretty things.  The paperback novels can stay in the guest room closet.

Tomorrow we’re going on a youth trip to the King of Prussia mall, which is huge.  We’ll enjoy a lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and I’m hoping to get some good inspiration for holiday decorating and maybe do some shopping.  Antique malls and flea markets are more my thing, but it’s fun to go into some “real stores” every now and then.

The winner of the Stylish Patina giveaway for a $100 Williams Sonoma gift card and a $50 Stylish Patina credit is…

Lori from


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  1. Love the old books mixed with the tarnished silver. Beautiful!!


  2. Meant to also say….I read that there is a spray paint color called “Looking Glass” that should give the mercury glass look. Might be worth trying out on old glass – and cheaper too than buying all new mercury glass!! I need to give it a try!


  3. It looks great! I agree -men :) have fun tomorrow!

  4. Chrissy says:

    WOW!! Love your style…love the mix of texture too!! Feeling inspired..thanks!!

  5. Lisa Wyckoff says:

    I think it is just beautiful! Love the typewriter and the way you have the books turned out!

  6. maggie says:

    Love all the different items you used in your shelves! That picture of the children is precious!
    Books? Men! Tell your hub we don’t want to look at pictures of books! :)

  7. LOL reminds me of the Trix commercial, silly husband bookshelves aren’t for books!

    KOP a.k.a. The Court and The Plaza is yes a huge mall. You brave, brave lady. I live 45 minutes away and haven’t been there in more than 15 years. You’ll have to let us know how it goes.

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      I only bought a hand’s free ear piece for my phone. Everything else was so expensive!

  8. Oh my gosh lucky I love the Cheesecake Factory! We don’t have one here in Michigan, but I got to go to the one in Chicago a couple of months ago. I love the typewriter on your shelf, and is that one book an old diary? With the little clamp-closure-thingy? So pretty!

  9. I love the tarnished silver and flipping the books backwards. As always…you are giving me fabulous ideas! Thanks!

  10. They look great! I just love your style! I wish I had half of your talent and a third of your collections!! haha

  11. This is absolute perfection! Beautiful!!!

  12. I really love the little Corona typewriter.

  13. It looks like a shelf that would have been found in Katharine Hepburn’s House… Very stylish and Pretty..

  14. Looks great, perfect touches throughout!

  15. Janet Lawson says:

    I love the shelves..Too funny on your husband’s comment..They look beautiful..Have a great time on your Youth trip..

  16. Love the bookshelf decorations and your sense of style. You’ll be in my neck of the woods (i’m in Philly), I wish I could go to the Cheesecake Factory…gotta stick to my diet. I am down 23lbs and counting since Sept 20th until Dec. 20th when my biggest loser challenge ends at my job. Enjoy!

  17. Haha… my second thought was, “I wander where she keeps her ‘for real’ books..hmm…” (my first thought was how beautiful it looks!) I love it!!! Thank you for so much inspiration!

  18. Have fun at the KOP mall. You’ll be in my neck of the woods. That mall is insanely huge!

  19. It is fabulous!

  20. Christine says:

    I love how it looks vintage and a little musculine!

  21. Books on shelves? What is he thinking??!! Ha!! They look great by the way!
    It is always fun to shop in “real” stores and see what the current fashion/style trends are! Sometimes a real eye opener!

  22. Love how you turned the books backwards! Very cool.At least you hubby even noticed….mine wouldn’t have even given it another thought! :) Love the Cheesecake Factory~ enjoy!

  23. Men are so funny! I love the shelves and what you put in them…perfect! Have fun at the mall!

  24. I am so loving that you styled this with an eclectic mix of vintage, farmhouse, and coastal . My bedroom has the same feeling and I was afraid it was going to come off as random and messy. I love yours (along with everyone else!) (link to bedroom=

  25. Marian, those look great! You have such a great eye for design!
    Carol in GA

  26. I like going to real stores mainly at Christmas–but, there is nothing like a good dig at my favorite one-of-a-kind vintage shops…….
    have fun.

  27. I think it looks awesome!

  28. Love the styling of the shelves! You said Cheesecake Factory! My mind immediately went to Banana Cream, White Chocolate Raspberry and Tuxedo and Red Velvet….My favs, in that order!

  29. books…on books shelves….?
    who heard of such a thing! 😉
    sounds like something that has happened over here many a time.
    have an awesome time shopping!
    oh, yes, the shelves look GREAT!

  30. Sue Pagels says:

    I love them! And I just started seeing the books placed backwards which is awesomely cool! Enjoy your day – I, too shop mostly at antique stores/malls and vintage places. Most of the new stuff just doesn’t compare, but it’s fun to look!

  31. Love it! It tells a story, which is a lot more interesting than a bunch of books in a line. Silly husbands.

  32. My interest is that letter that has a postmark of Florence… I live in Oregon – I wonder what state? The books are covering that info – or there wasn’t enough ink to show the state!

    That brush (you showed us how you cleaned it up in a previous post) is really eye candy!

    Striking arrangement for a gorgeous bookcase (really just a place for a vignette! NO real books!!! hehehe)

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      It is from Florence, Alabama. I know, I love that brush! I bought it for $2 at an antique store and I think it has such great texture.

  33. Funny about the books in the wardrobe. I have just styled the shelves in my son’s room with a nautical theme and most of his books are now in the wardrobe as well.

    Loved you husband’s comment….he sounds just like mine….Very practical without a care for what it looks like. It’s obviously universal.

  34. OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!! I was just reading your blog (as usual)…your posts come to my e-mails and I read them word for word, picture by picture each time – as i live vicariously through you. i’m an artist, and my creative spirit (down deep in my soul) is also in decorating and finding things – old things – whatever and wherever i can….and found out I WON!!!!!!!!! i have entered various contests of yours, and just thought you have so many followers that i really wouldn’t ever win…BUT I DID!!!!!!!!! and all i can say is OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!….loved your post and perfectly displayed shelves as well…really different to have the books pages displayed instead of the spines…love it. am so excited about the win! what do i do next?

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      Congratulations! Kelly from Stylish Patina should be getting in tough with you, if she hasn’t already.

  35. The shelves look great, Marion! Books? On books shelves? Seriously? Well, the books you did use look wonderful! I hope you have fun at the King Of Prussia mall. I haven’t been there in MANY years! xo Diana

  36. Dolly says:

    found your site because my sister posted that she won your contest —- so excited to find you! Great ideas!
    we are a family of creative,artistic types, so its nice to be inspired!

  37. Your shelves look great! And what’s the problem- I see books on there! :)

    • Oh, and speaking of that mall- got lost trying to get to it many years ago when I joined hubby on a business trip and he gave me the car to use while he was in his meetings. Was supposed to meet him there, missed my turn, ended up on a pike (whatever that is), no overpasses or exits that I could find to turn around…. It actually became a lesson in trusting God that I’ll never forget! TMI? 😉

  38. Hi Marian, Your book shelves are styled beautifully and I love the vintage typewriter. My husband could not understand why I wanted to remove the book jackets and cover the books with pretty handmade paper! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  39. Diane J. says:

    Men just don’t get it. Books go in boxes; pretties go on shelves! Thanks again for inspiration. Sure gives me lots of ideas! Have fun shopping.

  40. Me encanta como has decorado tú libreria y los libros viendose las páginas usadas un gran acierto. Un saludo.Paloma.

  41. Your styling is perfection. I love that old typewriter especially!

  42. Love the styling! Your hubby also probably wants the books turned around so he can see what they are. I did that exact thing a few years ago — was trying to “change things up!” Darling DannyO came home from work and declared that he needed to “see” what the books were, not that he was going to read them any time soon !! Ha!! Men!!

  43. Simply perfect! Thanks for sharing so we can all be inspired. Hope your Sunday is grand! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  44. MEN! My bf asked what I was going to do with the aqua oops paint from Home Depot today. I asked if he was a little scared, because there were probably 100s of men in this country today wondering the same thing about the paint their wives were purchasing. Some days I think about training him, other days I know it’s just best to smile and let him wonder.

  45. Betty819 says:

    Did I miss reading something in this posting? Did you apply some stain on the book’s edges to make them look old? Love the old camera and manual typewriter. Almost looks like some of the typewriters we had in our typing class!

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      Actually those books are old. Any time I go to yard sales or thrift stores, I keep an eye out for books with aged pages and pretty covers (or ones I can rip off.)

  46. Love the shelves! Hope you had a good time at KOP mall. I need to make a trip out that way soon!

  47. It’s all very beautiful. I was wondering what is laying in front of the books on the middle shelf?

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      Those are antique silver umbrella handles. I found them in my grandfather’s attic.


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