Styling the Studio Bookcase

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Decorating, Home Studio, My House, Organizing19 Comments

Some of you might remember when I purchased this pretty oak hutch to act as storage in my studio…

I filled it with my decorating and design books with just a small handful of art books mixed in and I remember sharing that I was hoping to build my art resource book library about the time this photo was taken.

Well, I made short work of that goal!  I’ve collected dozens of books on the masters, oil painting, impressionism, watercolors, sketching, portraits, figurative work, landscapes, clouds, plein air, still lifes, and books filled with reference images.  The collection has grown to fill most of the first two shelves of the large bookcase in my studio.

I pick them up here and there.  Some are new from bookstores (even a few from Shakespeare & Co and the Musee D’Orsay in Paris), many are bought used off of Amazon, and a few were picked up at antique stores.  Anytime I feel stuck or I have hit a plateau in a specific skill, I turn to these books for inspiration, instruction, and even just for enjoyment.  These books, along with some video courses, are my collective art education.  I am an apprentice of Monet, Seago, Morisot, Pissaro, Manet, Sargent, and generous present-day instructors like Carol Marine and Juliette Aristides.

All of this “education” was getting to be a bit untidy, though.  Every new acquisition needed a new home and some of the “color sections” were getting cramped.  I know it drives some people crazy, but I like to arrange my books by size and color. This isn’t what I would suggest for a public library, but for my personal collection, it works.  It especially works for me because I’m a visual person.  When I want to find a book, I often remember how it looks before I remember the title.  And, I only have art books here.  My decorating & design books, creative business books, literature and poetry, are housed in my office or elsewhere in the house.

I still want to play with the top shelf on the left side of the cabinet, but it’s fine for now.

Stacking these two pieces, bought a couple of years and over 1,000 miles apart, felt a little risky, but I’m glad I did it.  It’s been such an incredible storage unit and it makes me smile every time I see it.  Furniture pieces should do that.  They should work for us, they should be practical, but they should almost make us smile.  It’s not the variety of joy or depth of happiness that comes from loving others.  It’s just a thing, but it should at least evoke a positive emotion.  And this piece, in its patina and imperfection, filled with art supplies and resource books, definitely does for me.

Something like rearranging the books, taking care of what you have and potentially making room for more, can create momentum.  This sorting is what got me excited about tackling the closet and then the bookshelf in my office and that snowballed into a list of ideas and potential to-dos.

It also got me excited to paint more!

If you are interested in building your own art resource library, you can find some of my favorite books HERE.

Styling the Studio Bookcase

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19 Comments on “Styling the Studio Bookcase”

  1. Marian,
    Amazing how your collection has grown!
    I love the blue box with stacked items on top in your cabinet!
    The two pieces purchased miles apart are absolutely lovely in your Studio!
    Gotta’ say. . .l o v e your “tabby” photo bomber!

  2. It’s lovely. I was curious as to what is in the jar, left side, middle shelf by your ironstone vase. Is it sand? Love!

      1. I had forgotten that you sell (sold?) German glass glitter!! It was on my wish list for a long time. I love books, too, and would love to arrange my collection of decorating books, like yours, by color!

  3. I do love this. I love the order and the way you have it arranged. I am smack in the middles of this, but on a larger scale.

  4. Your entire house is so peaceful to me and when I get the latest email, I pretend I’m right there in the room. Is your studio an addition or an enclosed porch? And if so, how do you heat and cool it sufficiently. Asking because I’m considering doing that on my back porch (slab foundation & would-be windows on three sides. Thanks!

  5. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me who’s books with Monet and Van Gogh are stacked sideways under the ironstone cachepot in pic #4. They have similar covers and maybe in a slip case? LOVE art books. I just got one used about Frederick Carl Frieseke, an American impressionist. His paintings portray days gone by in such a beautiful manner. Have you seen the movie ‘Loving Vincent’ about Van Gogh? VERY well done. Love your Tabby girl.

  6. I also love arranging (and rearranging) my books by color, subject or size! I also house my books in different areas/rooms based on use/subject! ❤️

  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your studio. It is pure perfection!!!…..but of course I love your whole house!!! Keep going!!!

  8. So my teenage daughter once said “I’m a visual person”, and my husband laughed and said, “Olivia, pretty much everyone is a visual person. You meant to say that you are a visual learner.”
    She, a little embarrassed, said that visual learner wasn’t really what she meant…she couldn’t really explain herself though. My husband still chuckles at her “mistake”.
    So when I saw you say that you are a visual person it made me smile and I told Olivia she’s in very good company, and can hold her head up and claim to be a visual person all day long!! 🙂

  9. My home library is organised by topic but I sometimes stop by my community book fridge and arrange it by colour when I tidy it. It is an old refrigerator where people drop off books they don’t want and take something they do – no money exchanged and no record kept of anything. It is a jumble of all types of books and colour arrangement is the only way it looks pleasing.

  10. Marian, I love everything about your studio! It’s very inspiring. I love your little cat… she looks just like mine, when she was a kitten.
    It looks like she has a little heart on the back of her right front paw!
    Yup, I’m a visual person too! ❤️

    New Hampshire

  11. Love this so much, Marian! I have shelved my books (mostly novels) by color for about thirty years, and friends have teased, but this week I noticed Penguin UK had a quiz about how people arrange bookshelves, and it acknowledged “color coded” as a legit option. 🙂 I feel vindicated.

  12. I die a little bit everytime I see pictures of your studio!! Love, love, love it. Something to aspire to I suppose. I became a retailer because my family couldn’t even give me a brightly lit room that used to be our babies nursery about 25 years ago. Now I have my shop so I have all kinds of space but lots of interruptions lol. Guess it is a trade off of sorts and the product sales pay the bill’s for the space so can’t really complain. But I will keep.hoping for a beautiful space like yours!

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