How to create rainbow bookshelves

May 3, 2021

There are plenty of ways you can arrange the books on your bookshelves. The traditional alphabetical by author, the aesthetically pleasing arrangement by height, alphabetically by title, stacks by genre, or maybe just the order you shoved them in. Maybe it’s time for you to think a little differently and highlight the colour in your life by arranging the spines of your book as a rainbow.

I’ve posted quite a few posts on decluttering and really can’t stress enough how impacting a clean-out is for your mental health, as well as your productivity. This is so important for every room in your house, but especially for books, the place we go for knowledge, entertainment and chicken soup for the soul.

Finding ways to create order and simplicity around your office and your home is the perfect way to feel great and perform at your best.

Books are talking points, education essentials, skill builders, leisure activities, and exciting adventures to destinations beyond imagination. They can also be sentimental, passed down through generations, valuable assets or treasured childhood stories. This is a big reason why we hold onto our books so dearly, they come to us and are important on so many different levels, but it’s also why they get so overlooked and neglected, we simply haven't got time to tend to them as often as we like, so the shelf is where they wait.

To give them the attention they deserve and allow you to fall in love with books all over again here’s a nifty idea: Arrange your books by colour.

Colour arranged book spines take the look of your bookshelf to a new level. They create warmth, playful colour, and fun in a room and will get people talking. They are also very Instagrammable, so a few hours of sorting and arranging will be well worth the high quality snap at the end.

If bookshelves are a really important part of your home, then you must find a way to organise them and present them in ways that are clean, enjoyable and inspiring.

This rainbow technique will work in any sized bookshelf, be it a single shelf, a small case for the floor to ceiling library. It’s also great for small arrangements on cube shelves as well. The only limitation is the range of colour in your book collection. To help with that, and to explain how to go about achieving a striking look, here are some steps to follow.

Reasons to arrange your books by colour

- easy to return books without disturbing the effect

- looks great on camera if you hold zoom sessions

- brightens your bookshelf and draws positive attention

- gives your space instant personality and appeal

- an activity in mindfulness

- a chance to look over your collection and de-clutter

- gives you a new appreciation for your collection

- puts them back in your mind

- so easy the kids can do it

- creates a sense of calm serenity to look at

- great way for renters to decorate

The downside

As there is no logic to it, it might take some time to locate a particular book you want, especially if you are certain it’s green, when it’s red!

If this is something you want to avoid, try grouping your rainbows by genre. For the biggest visual effect, you’ll need to throw any sense of control out the window and focus on colour. Just don’t invite any librarians home for dinner.

Breathe new life into your old bookshelf.

Here are the steps to follow to find your unique rainbow.

Clean up

Wipe over your books with a slightly damp cloth and make sure they have time to dry before you stack them close together. Give your shelves a good clean and remove any dirt, dust and spiderwebs.

Separate by colour

Stack your books by colour. It’s up to you if you break it down by shade as well, i.e. into heavy and pale colours, it will depend on the volume of your collection and the frequency of colours you have as to how detailed your separation goes.

Find your power colour

Take a look at your books and find which colour you have the most. This will typically depend on the type of books you collect most of. So non-fiction books will be mostly white, old-style classics will be red, penguin classics orange, teen books will be a big boost of colours as will most adult fiction, although mystery novels tend to be black.  Whatever your power colour is, you can make it work to your advantage.

Every book collection is different, which means your rainbow shelf will be unique.

If the majority of your books are white, use bundles of one colour as bookends or row ends. So you might have a line of 20 white spines with a bundle of yellows at the end. Then, on another shelf, a line of 20 white spines with a bundle of blues at the end. You can even group your white spines by genre, subject or author and use colour blocks to separate them.

The great thing is there is no right or wrong way to go about it. There is only the way you love.

Whatever your main colour is, use it first and leave the remaining ones to be your highlights.

If you have a lot of varied colours you can give each one a designated shelf. A row just of green. A row just of red. A row just of black.

Another way to make a colour work, either your power colour or a theme colour of your home, is to bring in extra items like ornaments or candles to place as part of your rainbow to even out colour or to reinforce your power colour right through. Say for example you had a lot of blue books. You might choose to make all the outer shelves filled with blue spines and place a rainbow of colour in the middle.

You can bring in ornaments, candles or coloured homewares to accentuate your shelf through contrast or by matching colours.

How to craft a rainbow

A rainbow is made of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Violet.

This pattern arrangement is the most aesthetic for building a rainbow, however, for a shelf to stand out it’s best to start with dark shades on the left and work to pale shades on the right. It may take some play to find a colour arrangement you like. Part of finding the right balance will depend on the shades and tones of colour you have and how well they blend.

Your power colour will lead the way, but if you are feeling lost, start with your darkest colours first and work your way down to pale.

This is such a fantastic practice in mindfulness and patience. Move your books around in your hands and find what feels great and put it on the shelf.

If you like, this can be a work in progress, where every time you find yourself gazing at your collection, you move a colour or try a slightly different arrangement. Your books will love the attention and you might be inspired to get reading.

Examples or colour patterns that work might be:

- Black, purple, blue, green, yellow, pink, orange, red

- Dark blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, green, grey, white

- Pale blue, dark blue, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, brown, black

Look for places you can find inspiration, a sunset, a pencil case, or a traditional rainbow.

Want to get the effect but don’t have the time? Ask your kids to do it for you. Because there is no logic to it, this is a great project to pass off to your kids, or work as a family and get them to do the arrangement while you put them up on the shelves. And yes, you might even get the full cooperation on teens on this project!

Order by colour is so easy, your kids can do it.

Organising and re-energising your home can be fun and creative, even a joyful experience. Take the reins on your mess and be inspired to transform it into something amazing. There are no rules, just move what you have until you love what you see. The tip to knowing it’s right is the pride and success you’ll feel from head to toe.

Who is Peta Stewart?

Award-winning conveyancer. Entrepreneur. Business mentor. Women’s cycling advocate. These are just some of the ways Peta Stewart is introduced. What ties them together is a steely determination to help people achieve their life goals and have fun in the process.

In 2004, Peta became the first licensed conveyancer in the Albury Wodonga greater region. Five years later, she launched her own business and started shaking up the industry with a good dose of personality, integrity and humanity.

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