Freshome’s Bookcase Buying Guide

Bookcases are among the most useful pieces of furniture you’ll ever own. They not only organize your collection of novels, but also serve as a place to display art and accent pieces.

By adding a few bins or baskets, they also make the perfect spot to neatly stash odds and ends. Choose correctly, and you’ll own your bookcase for years (or even decades) to come. Here are some tips for finding the best bookcase for your home.

Bookcase Buying Guide

Style

Whether you’d like just a few shelves to showcase decor or you’re looking to house a small library, when it comes to choosing the style of your bookcase, you’ll find yourself faced with dozens of options. Some of the most common styles include:

  • Standard. Standard bookcases are the workhorses of shelving units. They’re typically made of wood or MDF, and designed with evenly spaced or adjustable shelves and a closed-back frame.
  • Étagère. An étagère is more delicate than a standard bookcase, featuring an open back and shelves that are often made from glass. If a standard bookcase is designed for function, an étagère is all about form.
  • Ladder or leaning. Ladder-style bookcases are designed to lean against the wall, often with “stepped” shelves that gradually decrease in size from the ground up.  
  • Corner. Corner bookcases are built at a right angle, making them the ideal shape for wedging into tight nooks.
  • Scaffold. These bookcases get their name from their look: They’re fashioned from shelving suspended between two ladder-like supports.
  • Cube. Cube bookcases are divided both horizontally and vertically to create cubby-like sections that are perfect for housing both books and storage baskets.
  • Built-in. If you want to create a wall (or room) of floor-to-ceiling shelves, built-in bookcases are the way to go. This style will require more than just a trip to your favorite furniture store, however; you’ll need to work with a contractor to create a custom plan for your space.

Size

Size is perhaps the most important factor to consider when shopping for a bookcase, since it will determine how the shelves both look and function within your space. Here’s what to consider:

  • Height. Most bookcases range from three to eight feet tall. Consider both aesthetic and practical concerns when choosing height. Tall bookcases that fill up most of a wall typically look more expensive and formal; however, shorter ones offer the added functionality of a usable surface area on the top. This allows it to double as a media cabinet, buffet or workspace, for example.
  • Width. The width of your bookcase should be considered relative to the height. If you choose a tall bookcase, purchasing multiple narrow units instead of a single large one will offer more flexibility to add or subtract storage space as needed. If you opt for a shorter unit, choosing something wide will make the piece feel more substantial.
  • Depth. Most shelves are at least 12 inches deep to allow ample room for storage, but some bookcases, especially ladder or leaning styles, have narrower shelving. Consider what you’ll be storing on your bookcase before making a purchase.
  • The space between shelves. If the shelves on your bookcase are fixed, make sure to measure the space between them to ensure that your books and accent pieces will fit. Adjustable-height shelves offer more flexibility.  

Home in Canada Offers Both Social Spaces and Room to Retreat

Recently updated for a multi-generational family, this contemporary two-story home is in Calgary, Alberta. DOODL (Design Office of Deana Lewis) combines modern and traditional materials for a welcoming look and feel.

“This residence was designed for a dynamic family that includes five people over three generations,” the architects said. “The primary design objective was to create a functional, open family home while still offering each person their own retreat.”

The exterior features white stucco walls and asphalt shingles on the roof. A bright orange front door and chairs accent the welcoming front porch; the color is carried throughout the home and out to the back door.

As you step inside, you’re greeted by a double-height living space that extends outdoors. “On the main floor, the in-law suite is separated from the central living space by a double-sided brick feature that houses the family’s hearth, TV, storage and display shelving,” the architects said.

“The second story is accessed via an open sculptural staircase and is divided into two distinct areas,” they said. “The master suite includes a large bedroom, covered deck, walk-through closet and large en suite; the kids’ wing has bedrooms, bathing and laundry facilities.​”

Colorful mid-century furniture and decor enhance the overall interior design of the home, complementing the neutral tones of the floors and cabinetry. [Information provided by DOODL; photography by Rob Moroto, Calgary Photos]

Calming Apartment Is One Family’s Oasis in a Busy City

Yevhen Zahorodnii completed the design of a contemporary apartment in Minsk, Belarus. Designed for a young couple and their small daughter, the project is the family’s oasis of relaxation in the middle of the bustling city.

“Each interior reflects the idea of harmony, the most important aspect of family life,” the architect said. Both bright and sober, the neutral tones and array of textures make for a calm and cozy home. The elaborate lighting system allows the owners to create different moods throughout the day.

“Wooden flooring and neutral wall colors create a good atmosphere for meditation; the design scheme helps the parents get away from the noise and problems of the big city,” he added. A mirrored coffee table reflects the living room, which features soothing tones of gray.

The child’s area is divided into three parts — a bedroom, playroom and studying area. A small tipi tent is the decorative highlight of this interior. [Photography courtesy of Yevhen Zahorodnii]

Bright, White and Modern Home on the Mediterranean

08023 Architects completed the design and development of Casa Herrero in Barcelona, Spain. The three-story, 5,300-square-foot modern home has a home-automation system that can be controlled by smartphone.

A straightforward geometry defines the exterior of the residence, a series of white rectangular volumes. The swimming pool extends the theme of the covered veranda; both spaces, also surrounded in white, feature LED lighting that can be changed according to the owners’ preferences.

The bottom floor accommodates two parking spots, a fitness center and a spa area. The social areas on the main level include the kitchen, which is equipped with the latest technology and appliances. The bedrooms on the third floor open to an outdoor terrace.

The master suite includes an elegant spa bath with a terrace that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. A Mediterranean garden with a Japanese Zen ambiance adds to the modern landscaping. [Information provided by 08023 Architects; photography by Simón García Asensio]

Oddly Shaped Brick Could Revolutionize Sustainable Building

A design studio in Colombia is tackling one of architecture’s growing energy challenges by using an unexpected traditional building material: brick.

Specializing in sustainable building, Sumart Design and Architecture created the Bloque Termodisipador, a ceramic building material, as a more energy-friendly alternative to traditional clay bricks.

The Bloque is shaped like a rectangle with an irregular scalene triangle stuck to its face. The angle has several advantages: the shape allows ventilation across the surface of the building, reducing the heat that is absorbed into the building’s interior. It also helps to shield the surface from direct sunlight, further reducing heat transfer.

Additionally, the Bloques can be combined in a variety of ways, and their hollow channels add soundproofing to their list of benefits. Their novel shape calls to mind the decorative cinderblock of West Coast mid-century façades. But unlike that distinctive feature, these bricks are more than decorative.

Modern Addition Breathes New Life Into Terrace House in Australia

The creative team at Carr Design Group gave this Edwardian terrace house in Melbourne, Australia, a modern two-story extension. The Cube House project was designed for a young couple and their two children.

“The couple purchased the site with the intention of creating something extraordinary,” the architects said. “Living in the house for two years gave them a better understanding of the type of spaces they wanted to inhabit — spaces with an emphasis on raw materials, natural light and a sense of openness.”

The modern addition consists of two rectangular concrete volumes stacked behind the original home. The upper level cantilevers over the bottom floor, creating a partially covered outdoor area. The main floor features open-plan living areas.

“Referencing the external facade, the kitchen is monolithic in form with plenty of storage,” the architects said. “Floor-to-ceiling glass doors frame the back garden, blurring the threshold between inside and out.”

The simple color palette in gray, white and black is in tune with the minimalist furniture and decor. This approach sets the tone for a bright and spacious home.

“In contrast to the open spaces downstairs, the new master bedroom wing is a play of contrasts; it is big yet intimate, enclosed but open, luxurious and minimal,” the architects said. [Photos and information provided by Carr Design Group]

Traditional Meets Contemporary in Sophisticated Michigan Home

Merging traditional and contemporary design, Visbeen Architects completed Cicero, an eye-catching transitional-style home in Grand Rapids, Mich. The project was built in collaboration with Falcon Custom Homes and Gallery Interiors.

As you step inside, you’re greeted by a continuous flow of social areas. “The kitchen features a symmetrical plan with a large kitchen island and is connected to the dining room through a wide opening flanked by custom cabinetry,” the architects said. A double-sided fireplace divides the living and sitting rooms.

“The communal nature of this plan is reinforced downstairs, with a lavish wet bar and roomy living space perfect for entertaining guests,” they added. “With its vaulted ceilings and grand vistas, the master suite serves as a cozy retreat from today’s busy lifestyle.”

A neutral palette of muted gray and beige tones is accented by sophisticated furnishings. Warm wood, contemporary decor and a variety of modern chandeliers can be found throughout the interiors.

The home has an imposing front facade defined by deep overhangs. Stone, wood siding and large steel-frame windows combine for an appealing exterior. A large back patio with a fire pit offers opportunities for spending time outdoors. [Photography by Brad Gillette]

DIY Home-Staging Tips Every Seller Can Use

Thinking about selling your home? You’ve probably heard of the standard home-staging “must-dos”: give your walls a fresh coat of paint, remove family photographs, fix obvious flaws, declutter. But beyond that, what makes a home look and feel fantastic, and — even more important — sell quickly?

Whether your home is decorated to perfection or you need some quick updates, combining common-sense staging strategies with a Zen-like approach could make a world of difference in how quickly (and for how much) your home sells.

Are you ready to infuse a little positive energy into your home-staging efforts? Here are some thoughts and tips to help you not only tackle the obvious, but also make some subtle yet important adjustments to your home-staging game plan.

1. Keep It Fresh

This sounds obvious, but it’s an important factor in home staging. Take a light and bright approach in every room. Bottom line: If it looks old or feels dirty, clean or replace it. You want anyone who walks into every room to not be turned off or have to use his or her imagination too much.

Tips:

  • If you have an older bathroom, regrout and try reglazing the tub or surrounding tiles, and replace the hardware.
  • If you have an older kitchen, replace your cabinet fronts or have them painted. It’s a fraction of the cost of buying new ones.
  • If you have a dirty rug, replace it with a new, inexpensive rug, such as one made of sisal; it’s worth the small investment. Don’t think that no one will notice, or that a potential buyer will give you a hall pass because it’s not part of the sale.

2. Honor the Value of the Home

This is the time when that temporary dividing wall or oversized furniture needs to be reconsidered. You want to show the best your home has to offer. Walk into each room and ask yourself: “What’s great about this room?” Is it the closet? Windows? Beamed ceilings? Your staging efforts should capitalize on those features.

Tips:

  • Edit your furnishings to visually expand the space and showcase (or, at the very least, don’t hide) architectural features.
  • If your pantry or other storage areas are exceptionally spacious, remove bulky items to show off the generous size.
  • If your home has large windows, don’t hide them with heavy drapes.

3. Show the Possibilities

Show buyers the potential within each space. They like to know that they have options. Your home will stand out from the competition if you creatively utilize spaces and elements within your home that add more functions, such as storage, work and play areas; these are must-haves for many homebuyers.

Tips:

  • If you have a small space or nook, place a desk there for a home office, or create a play space for kids.
  • If you have a challenging space with no room for storage furniture such as a bookcase, artfully hang floating shelves with a few curated books and framed art.

4. Add Some Personality

The standard staging advice is to stick to neutrals for paint color and décor. While this is true for most of the home, a punch of tasteful color or unique piece of furniture can add much-needed personality and interest to a plain space. The key is to be selective and minimal with your colorful, distinctive additions.

Make sure they also complement the rest of the space and don’t detract from the positive attributes in the room. Potential buyers will remember the home with the kelly-green armchair or classic navy powder room, but not the one(s) with the ivory walls and beige couch.

Tips:

  • Add a pop of color to a room by incorporating one or two colorful accessories or small pieces of furniture.
  • Mix and match modern and vintage furnishings to balance the look of a room.
  • Add a dramatic light fixture to a plain space.
  • Paint a powder room a dark or dramatic color and update the fixtures.

5. Remember: Happy Sells

When you think of a “happy home,” the terms bright, sunny, neat and uncluttered might come to mind. But what you really remember is a generally positive feeling about that home: cheerful, inviting, warm and peaceful. A home’s energy is felt by anyone who walks through the door.

By the time you’re ready to sell your home, you’ll probably identify some spaces that have been neglected for a while. Throughout your staging process, ask yourself: “Am I giving renewed life to the space? Does this room feel happy?”

This is the mantra in home staging: happy sells. Your positive attitude — keeping it fresh, honoring its value, showing the possibilities and adding some personality — will create positive energy. And that’s what will attract buyers to fall in love with your home. Check out our photo gallery above, and send us your tips!

Colorful Accents Elevate Chic Paris Apartment

French designer Sarah Lavoine likes to introduce colorful accents in the interiors she creates, often against a black-and-white background. The chic Paris apartment she recently designed bursts with personality.

As you enter the home, a hallway leads toward the social areas and bedroom on the first level. The second floor is accessed via an original metal staircase. “The stairway makes you think of a ship’s deck,” the designer said. “It draws the gaze to its dizzying volumes against a blue horizon.”

An open invitation to socializing, this chic Paris apartment features several seating areas. An eclectic array of chairs and sofas add personality to the mix. “In the dining room, the black table legs work well with the white mirror and black background,” the designer said.

Throughout the interiors, the feeling of space is accentuated by white plaster walls and natural lighting flowing through several windows. Enjoy the virtual tour of this unconventional apartment and let us know what elements catch your eye! [Photography by Sarah Lavoine Studio]

Superdad Transforms Daughter’s Bedroom Into a Fairytale Land

Reddit user Radamshome, a father of two, took on the massive task of transforming his daughter’s ordinary bedroom into a fairytale land, complete with a life-sized treehouse she could sit inside to read her books.

He spent more than 18 months and $4,250 to complete the project, which includes features such as moss-like carpet, detailed fairy windows affixed to the tree, multiple birds’ nests and dimming Christmas lights in the foliage of the branches to simulate stars.

The fairytale land was carefully constructed of welded wire, papier mache and concrete, and intricately shaded using multiple coats of paint, dye and colored ink. The tree is so strong that it can hold three adults.

Before this project, Radamshome had never worked with welding or concrete, but enjoyed painting toy models as a hobby when he was a teenager. This helped with the artistic attention to detail.

Though the tree was the biggest and most time-consuming part of the project, he also installed hardwood floors, painted the walls and picked out customized decorations with little help.

This magical DIY project is inspiration for any parent to learn new skills and collect major brownie points from their kids. [Photography by Radamshome]