Turn your book collection into decorative eye candy while staying organized with these stylish bookcases and shelves.
As hard as we try to keep them organized, books can often get unwieldy. Piles pop up atop coffee tables, stacked haphazardly next to beds and left errantly here and there. Not only that, it can be tough to keep them contained in way that doesn’t detract from a room’s overall look and feel, especially since storage solutions can sometimes err on the side of utilitarian.
The key is to find a way to blend style and function when it comes to keeping things tidy. Breathe new life into your book collection with our picks for 10 bookcases and shelving solutions that flawlessly combine function and style.
Add a rustic element to a home office or family room with a bookcase inspired by a vintage carpenter’s bench. Crafted out of pine with hardware finished in antique bronze, this bookcase is neutral enough to be incorporated into most decor schemes, but still makes a stylish statement. Hendrix Bookcase, Pottery Barn, $899.
Customize your shelving based on space and how much storage you need with a clever stacked shelving system. Clip together units of various sizes in a configuration that works for your space to create a unique look in any room. Choose from white, dark grey, light grey and dark ash. Muuto Stacked Shelf System, The Modern Shop, pieces starting at $179.
The contrasting white frame and walnut shelving make this piece a particularly eye-catching way to display your favourite books. Choose from either white and walnut or black and white. Coppar 71" Bookcase by Hokku Designs, All Modern, $224.99.
Show off books of all shapes and sizes with ease on the open shelves of this ladder bookcase. The vertical dividers provide an opportunity to create a unique display that can easily also incorporate plants, frames and knickknacks. Ladder Bookshelf, West Elm, $399.
If you’re looking for a splurge-worthy bookcase that will make a stylish and elegant statement, look no further than this beautiful Jonathan Adler étagère made of Lucite and polished brass. This bookcase would instantly elevate any entryway or family room, no matter what it displayed! Jacques Lucite & Brass Etagere, Horchow, $2,699.
Brighten up your workspace or den with the help of a lacquered, high-gloss bookcase with open shelving. The modern yet minimalist design can suit nearly any space. Plus, combining more than one can create a stylish and sleek room divider. 3.14 white bookcase, CB2, $594.
Eschew conventional shelves in favour of a quirky zig zag design. We love the idea of using this bookcase to display a combination of paperbacks, hardcovers, photos and other decorative items that will really warm up a room. Donnia Open Zig Zag 70.75" Bookcase, All Modern, $270.
Sometimes the simplest pieces can create the most interesting design elements and this industrial-inspired rolling bookshelf does just that. It can easily be moved should you feel the need to change things up and the combination of steel and oak makes for a versatile piece perfect for displaying tomes of all sizes. Design Workshop Rolling Carts, West Elm, $1,900 - $2,980.
Create a display that suits your space with stylish wall hung shelving inspired by industrial crates. These can be configured in multiple ways making it easy to personalize the way you show off your books. The four-way keyhole hanger enables each shelf to be hung in any orientation you’re partial to. Bias Wall Hung Shelving Set of 4 by Hem, The Modern Shop, $463.
Perfect for a child’s bedroom or anywhere you want to add a playful piece of furniture, this whimsical bookshelf offers a truly unique way to display books. We’re partial to the black and white, but if you want a pop of bold colour choose from lime green, red or orange. Bolla 8 by David Winston, YLiving, $1,814.
Image by: CB2
Hosting a tea party is one of the most elegant entertaining ventures that you can undertake, and one of the simplest. You don’t need to keep entrees hot or even concern yourself too much over the food-and-serving logistics that typically go into a dinner or lunch party. What you do need for a perfect tea party, however, are great friends, a few pretty decorating touches, brewed tea and tasty finger foods. Fancy tablecloths, porcelain teacups and saucers, and even a proper matching tea service are wonderful extras, but strictly speaking, they are not essential (nor are the strict and stiff rules that have governed formal tea parties traditionally). Here are some of the basics to ensure your tea party is fun, easy and gorgeous.
If your tea party is part of a baby shower or bridal shower, then paper invites are still a must. However if your tea party consists of a few close friends, give them a call, an email, even a text will do. Be sure to remind them a few days in advance of the event as well.
A cup of tea, properly made, is not a bag of tea plopped into a cup with boiling water poured over it. You have to brew it. First off, you need a warmed-up teapot. Swish a little just-boiled water around in it, discard. Add loose-leaf tea (or tea bags) according to the directions and proportions listed. Let it steep for a few minutes, then it will be ready to serve. Offer “regular” tea (orange pekoe, breakfast, black tea) but also have an herbal tea option, too. And have milk, honey, lemon slices and sugar at the ready.
The beauty of a tea party is that you don’t need anything fancy, but it is the little details that matter. Keep things easy by setting up food and tea buffet-style. Borrow a teapot if you don’t have one, find a few platters for serving if you don’t have a tiered stand; cups can be charmingly mismatched too and mugs are fine if that’s what you have. Unsightly milk cartons should not be on the table; decant into a milker or even a glass jar with a narrow mouth. You’ll need lots of teaspoons, and a small dish to hold the used ones. Paper napkins are perfectly acceptable, but we recommend you choose the cocktail size.
Tea party decorating can be as bold or demure as you like. Florals and pastels, be it tablecloths or teacups, will strike a traditional note, but there’s nothing to stop you from setting an all-white tabletop and adding in bright turquoise or hot pink accents or going dramatic with dark blues and greys. Flowers are a must, even a small posy in a low vase will make a big impact.
If you’ve ever been for an afternoon tea at a restaurant or hotel, there is almost always crustless tea sandwiches, scones and pastries. The loose idea is that the finger sandwiches take the edge off your hunger, the scones are a sort of middle course and the pastries are dessert. Sticking to this tradition will make choosing food a snap, but anything goes at a less-formal party, as long as you don’t need utensils. If you have a guest who has food restrictions, you don’t have to serve a whole separate menu for her, but it’s the height of graciousness to offer one or two things she can eat.
A guiding principle of a tea party is that the host mingles and enjoys her guests. You should not be endlessly in the kitchen, poking your head out only to bring a tray of food fresh from the oven while everyone enjoys the festivities without you. Cold and room-temperature food is essential. When offering tea sandwiches, keep in mind they dry out very quickly so they need to be covered tightly even while being made, some people drape a slightly damp clean tea towel over them. Of course, a little last-minute serving is necessary, especially for refrigerated items or if a guest asks for a cold drink. A fun and long-established tea party tradition is that you can deputize a friend to serve the tea. He or she asks how guests take their tea, and pours it out to them as requested.
Ready to host your own perfect tea party? Here are 5 pretty items guaranteed to make an impression on your guests.
While you don’t need a formal tea set, a tea party is a great excuse to enjoy some retail therapy. This tea set is a great pick for lovers of informal, quirky dinnerware and its soft white shade ensures it will mix readily with your existing white tableware. The textured surface mixed with the nautical and oceanic motifs will charm your guests. Ocean Explorer tea set, Anthropologie, $58 USD.
Elegant tea parties traditionally offer the trio of tea sandwiches, scones and pastries. That’s why three-tiered stands are indispensable for such get-togethers. A simple one can be used throughout the year for any kind of party, but also at the brunch or dinner table to save space when you’re serving food with lots of DIY garnishes, like waffles or tacos, for example. Great White Tiered stand, Pottery Barn, $68.
No one can argue with the prettiness of vintage floral teacups and saucers, which can be easily sourced everywhere from thrift shops to upscale second-hand stores. Consider however that if you’re not going to use them regularly, they’re better left to someone who will. A modern option is pairing a glass teacup or mug with a white saucer for a practical but strikingly updated (and affordable) look. Mallorca cups, Create and Barrel, from $5, saucer, $5.
Tablecloths can be a take it or leave it proposition. But a tea party almost calls out for the formality of crisp linen. White is of course a standard, but it can be a bit bright and too restaurant-like. Instead, a soft shade can add a subtle, sophisticated and almost French Country mood. Williams-Sonoma’s heirloom quality double hemstitch tablecloths come in a beautiful range of shades, including the sumptuous Mirage Gray and Purple Haze. Linen Double Hemstitch tablecloth, Williams-Sonoma, from $182.
Seeing as you don’t want to be nipping in and out of the kitchen while your tea party is in full effect, you’ll need a tray or two, especially if you’re hosting a crowd. This duo-chromatic pick also makes a perfect platter for cheese and crackers, and it’s chic enough to take pride of place displayed on a coffee table or sideboard. Black dip platter, CB2, $9.
Image by: Williams-Sonoma
Getting a homemade dinner on the table on a busy weeknight is easier said than done—but these seven tools and gadgets will help make prepping, cooking and cleaning up a breeze.
From time-saving electronic tools to simple products that cut down on messes, these must-have kitchen items will ensure your weeknight cooking sessions are as stress-free as possible.
Being organized and prepping your ingredients before you start cooking is half the battle. Start by having a variety of small bowls on-hand so you can easily chop and measure what you need for any recipe. This set of four microwave and dishwasher-safe bowls will help you do just that.
Mini latte bowls, Anthropologie, US$12.
Compact and easy to use, an immersion blender makes a myriad of kitchen tasks speedy. From puréeing soups and sauces to making homemade dressing and smoothies, you’ll use this hand blender on a regular basis.
Kitchen Aid Ice Blue 2-Speed Hand Blender, Crate & Barrel, $83, on sale for $55
Small tools can sometimes have a big impact, and this one sure fits the bill. A spoon rest will allow you to minimize mess while you’re cooking by giving you an easy (and pretty!) spot to place a saucy spoon in between stirs.
Gisela Spoon Rest, Anthropologie, US$12
Place silicone liners on your baking sheet in place of parchment paper. Its non-stick surface gives baked treats the perfect texture, without having to wrestle with cutting parchment paper to size. These made-in-France mats are easy to clean and roll up for fast storage.
Silpat Silicone Cookie Sheet Liners, Williams-Sonoma, $32–39
This pretty print makes a useful addition to any kitchen space. It will give you all the kitchen conversions you need at a glance so you don’t have to find all your answers via Google.
Kitchen Conversion Chart, WeJustLikePrints via Etsy $10
One of the handiest tools in the kitchen, this rasp will allow you to finely grate garlic, spices, chocolate and citrus zest in a matter of seconds.
Microplane Rasp Grater, Williams-Sonoma, $22
A cookie scoop simplifies baking by ensuring that all of your cookies, muffins and cupcakes are evenly portioned out, every time! Available in two different sizes, it helps make homemade treats that much more bakery-worthy.
OXO Cookie Scoops, Williams-Sonoma, $19–20
Getting and staying organized isn't easy. If you're struggling to conquer clutter once and for all, our simple 99 organizing tips should help get you started.
We know, we know: getting organized at home can be easier vowed than done. But even if you’re short on time (and budget), there are dozens of ways you can get your house in order. Here are 99 of our favourite low-cost organizing tips; many of them are environmentally friendly, too!
A stunning kitchen design that proves open display may require more organization, but it's so beautiful it's worth it!
1 Use old baby-food jars to hold spices. Stash them in a drawer upside down so this recycling trick looks sleek, not cheap.
2 Store all your instruction manuals in one binder in the kitchen or pantry.
3 Collect your takeout menus in a binder. Or stuff them into a Ziploc bag and stash 'em – where else? – in the fridge or cupboard.
4 Use a cardboard six-pack container to carry condiments from kitchen to deck in BBQ-casual style.
5 Keep a tray or basket on the kitchen counter where kids can drop off permission slips and adults can put mail requiring immediate action. A second tray can handle lower-priority paperwork.
6 Don’t waste time constantly topping up cereal-sized food storage containers with dog or cat kibble. Use a metal trashcan to store one bag at a time in rodent-proof style.
7 Use a recharging station to keep your cell phone, MP3 player and other portable device cords untangled and your gadgets fully charged.
8 Can’t find fresh garlic or onions? Keep them in clean knee-high nylons. Hang in a cool, dry place.
9 Post a sheet of paper on the fridge and note groceries and supplies needing replenishing. On grocery day, just grab the sheet and go.
10 Reduce spoilage of fruits and veggies by “rotating” your crops. Put new ones underneath ones that were already in your crisper.
11 Use small jam jars to hold cotton swabs, balls and other essentials inside your bathroom vanity drawers.
12 Use an old wooden stepladder to hold bath and hand towels.
13 Cut the amount of time you spend going from linen closet to bathroom by installing extra towel storage via a hotel-style double towel bar.
14 And a stash of bath towels rolled inside a basket helps, too.
15 Store kids’ bath toys in a fine-laundry bag. Hang from the faucet 'til fully drained.
16 Use a shower organizer and just the basics: mild shampoo, conditioner and a body wash.
17 Stash extra shower products in plastic caddies – one per family member.
18 Keep cleaning products in a caddy, too.
19 Post a sheet of paper in the bathroom and note bathroom supplies that need replenishing. On grocery day, just grab the sheet and go.
20 Assign teens and tweens their “own” towel sets by colour. Sorting laundry becomes super-easy and sharing-aversive kids are content.
21 For the living room or family room, get an ottoman or bench with hidden storage under the seat.
22 Large woven or wooden baskets stash clutter effectively, so stock up.
23 Got kids? Get large tubs that can be used to deploy toys – and quickly move them out of living spaces when company’s coming.
24 Don’t hold on to magazines. Just rip out any pages you want to keep for future reference, keep in a file folder, then recycle the rest.
25 Toss dirty socks into mesh fine-laundry bags. Orphaned socks will be a thing of the past.
26 Dollar store plastic caddies are perfect for grouping cleaning products upright in cabinets – no tipping!
27 Recycle old plastic shopping bags. Store them in an empty Kleenex box ‘til you need them.
28 Store batteries in plastic berry baskets until you’re ready to drop them off at the recycling centre.
29 Ditto for compact fluorescent bulbs and orchard fruit baskets.
30 Big, busy family? Paint one entire wall in your mudroom in chalkboard paint so everyone can easily leave messages for one another.
31 Keep one basket per person in your mudroom or front entrance, so everyone knows where to drop off/find their personal on-the-go essentials like keys, bags, homework etc.
32 Designate a back-to-car zone by your entranceway, and put anything there that requires returning to the trunk – i.e. reusable grocery bags, empties – so the next person to use the car will remember to bring them.
33 Remove the front and back from a picture frame and string rows of wire across the centre. Hang it or lean it against the wall and hook earrings onto each wire.
34 For easy jewellery storage, use an old dressmaker’s dolly to hang necklaces and hook earrings into.
35 Shopaholics can put those pretty boutique bags to use by hanging them on the wall or arranging them on a shelf, where they can store scarves and belts.
36 Do a card run – birthdays, holidays, new baby etc. – once a year and store cards in a file tote.
37 Use ice cube trays to hold clips, erasers and other desk-drawer essentials.
38 Use an old wooden stepladder to hold books.
39 Use white address label stickers to label what each cord in a power bar is for.
40 Paint an oversized canvas in one bold colour and hang it from the wall. Pin a rotating collection of your kids’ artwork on it.
41 Post a sheet of paper on your bulletin board and note office supplies that need replenishing.
42 Use a canvas over-the-door shoe organizer to organize small kids toys and art supplies.
43 Those ubiquitous Danish butter cookie tins can be both an art project and art storage unit for kids. First let your child decoupage it. Then use it to hold crayons and pastels.
44 Post those novelty basketball rings above anything you want your kids to slam dunk stuff into rather than the floor: garbage cans, laundry baskets, etc.
45 For preschoolers too young to use hangers with ease, install a low bar in the closet and simply drape dresses and pants across it to keep them wrinkle-free and easily accessible.
46 Have your child plan their wardrobe one school week at a time. Store outfits within five stacking cubbies or on five combination hangers (hangers with a bar and clips to hold pants as well as a top) to streamline their morning routine.
47 Keep sheet sets organized by folding and storing the fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillowcase inside the second pillowcase.
48 If you don’t want to buy stacking shoeboxes, recycle the cardboard boxes your shoes came in by cutting out a panel at one end for visibility and ventilation.
49 Install a closet organization system: it’ll pay itself off with time and aggravation saved!
50 A well-lit wardrobe is easier to keep organized. Install a Solatube, skylight or adequate artificial light for your needs.
51 Don’t limit closet storage to hangers. Hang hooks on the door for frequently used items.
52 Tackle that kitchen junk drawer problem head on. Today. Purge, edit and keep things in place with a drawer organizer.
53 Are you a piler, not filer? That’s fine, just keep piles of paperwork organized by using folders and write-on clips.
54 Recycle leftover gift-wrap ribbons by using them to tie up extra electrical and other cords in your utility closet.
55 Dedicated tie, belt and scarf holders are closet must-haves.
56 Upgrade your address book for a classic Rolodex. They’re retro-chic and easy to keep updated.
57 Buy a framed corkboard, hang it in the kitchen and pin up favourite recipes, clipped from magazines.
58 Make space by putting your CDs in organizers, by genre. Recycle the jewel cases or put them into storage in the attic.
59 Or, purge your CD clutter once and for all by having your CDs converted to digital files at riptopia.com. Sell or donate the used CDs.
60 Buy a hotel-style hairdryer that can be installed on the wall to save space, time and energy in a small bathroom.
61 A pot-lid holder puts the vertical space behind a cabinet door to good use.
62 A wrap-organizer does the same, creating the perfect spot for plastic wrap, aluminum foil and waxed paper.
63 Organize vanity essentials on a vintage tray. Très organized and très chic.
64 Use an extra wine rack to hold rolled-up magazines.
65 Use cutlery trays in your drawers, but to save even more time, stash everyday flatware in a countertop caddy.
66 Shrink-wrap out of season clothes, blankets and duvets to save space while storing.
67 You’ll never fit sheets back into those reusable vinyl zip pouches they were sold in, but you can stash cloth napkins in them. Use one pouch per set and label the quantity with a Sharpie.
68 Buy 10 pairs of the same gym socks, to minimize sorting.
69 Do the same for your hubby.
70 Do the same for his dress socks if he can get away with always wearing the same black ones during fall/winter at least.
71 Stash kids’ art supplies on a lazy Susan so everything is easily accessible.
72 Organize household bills in an accordion file with month-by-month pockets.
73 Hold onto paint chips, fabric swatches and brochures from your last redecorating session. You never know when you’ll need to reference them. Store them in an accordion file.
74 On your mudroom wall, hammer in two nails, then string wire between them. Provide clothes pegs and have your kids hang their wet mittens and gloves to dry overnight.
75 Banish tiny piles of coins and start saving in style. Get a designer piggy bank and keep it by the entranceway, laundry or kitchen—wherever you’d like to dump your change.
76 Tired of that circa-90s cast-iron pot rack? Move it from the kitchen to the garage or potting shed and use it to keep garden tools organized.
77 Get – and use – a garden hose caddy.
78 Edit your hangers. Choose: wire, plastic or wood and unify the hangers in every closet.
79 Use pillboxes to stash your earrings and rings when traveling.
80 Use a soda-can dispenser in the fridge so you can access your pop easily without tipping.
81 Use a wall-mounted broom and mop holder, or tie ribbon loops on the end of poles and hang them from hooks in your closet, garage or utility closet.
82 Make a party kit. Stash napkins, extra glassware and plates, votive candles and holders, extra vases, cocktail picks and other necessities in an old wine crate and pull it out pre-party or pre-holiday entertaining so you don’t waste valuable cupboard space.
83 Use a binder to store all medical records and information for everyone in your family, including each pet. Use dividers for each family member and include plastic pouches or expandable pockets to contain receipts and tiny record cards.
84 Stash awkward, easy-to-misplace necessities (extra hairbrushes, lint roller) in decorative reusable tote bags. Hang them off a doorknob in every room.
85 Burn digital images to CD once a month so you’ll never lose them if your computer (gasp!) crashes. Or print them ASAP!
86 Store photos in archival-quality, acid-free boxes until you have time to organize them in albums.
87 Get a heavy-duty paper shredder for peace of mind – and efficient shredding without risk of overheating.
88 Place your shredder where you intercept daily mail. If that’s the kitchen, so be it.
89 Put a small plastic caddy in your gym bag so you can manage hair care and skincare products without dropping anything. Excess water will just drain out.
90 Stop losing lock combinations and computer passwords once and for all. Jot everyone’s codes and combinations down in a notebook and store it in your family’s fireproof lockbox.
91 Store reusable shopping bags one inside the other.
92 Always keep one cute, foldable shopping tote in each of your heavy-rotation purses so you’re never caught without.
93 Avoid the last-minute drugstore run by always having a kit of your favourite travel-sized toiletries (and common OTC meds like allergy pills) packed and waiting in your suitcase.
94 Get a gift-wrap organizer and stock up on a year’s worth of wrap and ribbons, or ready-to-fill bags and tissue.
95 If perishables regularly go to waste in your fridge, start planning weekly dinner menus. Just buy ingredients for those meals, plus lunch basics. Post the menu on your fridge so you’re on track.
96 Mount a magnetized knife rack to a wall in your utility closet or basement, to keep your most commonly used screwdrivers and wrenches handy, not buried in the toolbox.
97 Donate your battery-powered emergency flashlights and stock up on windup models so you never have to worry about replacing batteries.
98 Stop stressing over the emergency preparedness kit the Canadian government recommends all families have. Just make one and get on with your life. Visit getprepared.ca to learn what to put in it. Stash it in a rolling suitcase so it’s mobile in case you have to be, too.
99 Plan a closet clean-out once per season. Less mess makes staying organized a lot easier.