Have shelves, must fill.
May 8, 2007 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I just bought a bunch of new furniture, including 4 deep bookshelves from Ikea. I didn't fully consider what would go on them at the time, so now they are mostly empty. What should go on them?

The shelves in question are these:


Two of them I'm using for storage, but the other two are in my living room. At the moment one of them holds my Tivo and my receiver (and my other Tivo), and there's a lot of empty space. You can see what I mean in this crappy picture:


The problem, as I see it, is the depth (15") and the height between each shelf (18"). I could easily fill it books and/or media, but that won't take up very much of the available space. I'd rather have something that looks nice as storage isn't a problem.

Any thoughts? Knick-knacks? Objet d'art? I'm not averse to shopping or dusting, so my options are open.
posted by o2b to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Consider collections. If you're on a budget, go collect natural objects-- a bunch of pinecones in a glass bowl, a bunch of rocks of various sizes, etc. Or head to a flea market and buy up a bunch of whatever you fancy-- old cars, old kitchen items, old books, old bags, etc. Collections look great in a display like that!
posted by orangemiles at 12:15 PM on May 8, 2007

Wait 6 months and watch them fill themselves, or framed pictures.
posted by 517 at 12:21 PM on May 8, 2007

Mixtures of things will help it feel more full. Books on some shelves, maybe baskets or pretty boxes on others to store your less attractive stuff and add some heft to the shelf contents.

What I would put: books, large specimens from my mineral collection, pretty glassware/pottery, miscellaneous smallish antiques. Probably a nice box or two (matched) with photos or DVDs or birthday cards from years past... (you get the idea).
posted by janell at 12:22 PM on May 8, 2007

Old cameras - they're great. You can use them if you want to, people are drawn to them and love to look at them and pick them up, you can get them dirt cheap on ebay, and they're aesthetically pleasing even if you aren't a photographer.
posted by iconomy at 12:25 PM on May 8, 2007

Go back to Ikea and buy several of the full height cube baskets, which match the half-height baskets you already have. They look really sharp in that style shelving and you can use their unified look to group and minimize the cluttery bits of stuff that inevitably accumulate on empty shelves.
posted by jamaro at 12:29 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Do the shelves have back panels? If not, arrange them perpendicular to the wall (your link says "can also be used as a room divider.") so you can access both sides. Maybe two sets of two. Then fill them with books from both sides. Put a standing lamp or flower at the ends away from the wall. Or put them far enough apart to put a reading chair and reading lamp in between them. You might want to attach them to the wall for safety.

If they have back panels, you can still use them to divide a room, but you might want to put some art on the backs or put other furniture (couch? desk?) up against the backs.
posted by pracowity at 12:30 PM on May 8, 2007

Er… just return the shelves you don't need?
posted by designbot at 1:11 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Returning merchandise to Ikea is an even bigger hassle than buying it, in NYC :) (especially since I've already assembled them).
posted by o2b at 1:30 PM on May 8, 2007

Do you save magazine-type publications? A few of these boxes might look nice on the shelves.
posted by lalex at 1:42 PM on May 8, 2007

I cribbed the several books - trinket - several more books - neat bookend - photo in frame - several more books style from my mother, and it looks lovely. It takes up more space and looks a lot nicer than just having a tonne of books stuck on a shelf. (A lot of people probably just put all their books that way to impress guests, anyway.)
posted by loiseau at 2:34 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Someday, I will start a Web site in which remorseful buyers post pictures of what their just-purchased Ikea furniture actually looked like when they got it home.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:53 PM on May 8, 2007

Objet d'art?

How about actual art? It looks like you could get one or two small sculptures to a shelf. Maybe approach an artist you like and ask if they'd be willing to part with models or maquettes for finished larger scale works (some will, some archive them, some destroy them - always worth a try).
posted by jack_mo at 4:32 PM on May 8, 2007

Fill wine bottles with old crossword puzzles and toothpicks, connect them serially with guitar strings. Bada bing bada boom- instant sculpture.
posted by The White Hat at 6:25 PM on May 8, 2007

I also recommend the technique loiseau suggests, it makes shelves look fuller. Of course, my shelves tend to be crammed with books anyway after a while, but at least to start it looks good!

Since you are in NYC, I'd recommend the street vendor who sells cheap plaster bookends of pop culture icons (like the apes from Planet of the Apes and Gizmo from Gremlins) and use those to hold your books in a nice way. They are fun and unusual, and a lot cheaper than some nice bookends from a chain bookstore.

He's usually in the Union Square area, around the Forbidden Planet store on E 13th and Broadway. I try to find him every time I'm in New York, as I love the ones I have.
posted by gemmy at 6:36 PM on May 8, 2007

Searching for "bookshelf" on flickr returns a few fun results.
posted by gummi at 7:33 PM on May 8, 2007

I'd recommend you don't buy anything simply to fill the shelves. Some empty space is fine. As you find things you love, the shelves will get filled.
posted by jeri at 9:01 PM on May 8, 2007

Do you already have a bar? I have a bookshelf that I repurposed - liquor on top shelf, glasses in the middle, and wine racks on the bottom. If you have a bunch of different types of glasses (wine, champagne, martini, etc.) and organize them neatly, it looks attractive.
posted by gatorae at 9:38 PM on May 8, 2007

I'd put my legos up there....reunite them with their ikea countrymen.
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:32 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Start collecting these.
posted by billtron at 11:02 PM on May 8, 2007

I'd put my legos up there....reunite them with their ikea countrymen.

That's "Lego", not "legos". And Lego is Danish, Ikea are Swedish... :-)

nth-ing the "Use them/one of them as a divider and access from both sides" idea.

As for ideas for stuff to display? I've got a collection of 1:18 scale Ferarri models on one of my bookcases... :-)
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 3:01 AM on May 9, 2007

I meant Greater Scandanavia.....yeah....that's the ticket!

Also, they are both fun to assemble.
posted by cowbellemoo at 5:19 PM on May 9, 2007

Books by the Foot, perhaps?
posted by chaosscontrol at 6:40 AM on May 11, 2007

Saw this today and remembered this thread. Make book art!!
posted by iguanapolitico at 11:05 AM on May 22, 2007

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