Episode 358: Styling Your Bookcase & Embracing Mid-Century Modern

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I am excited to share with you that my home is actually coming along. I was so in the zone for the first month that we lived here and then things got real as I was choosing over 200 items from my new house and getting stuck and stumped and trying to figure out how much I really want to invest. And do I splurge on this and save on this? All the while prices have seriously gone up this year. 


What is worth the splurge? Do I really splurge a lot on the formal dining table and chairs. And we’re not even going to eat there all that often. Do I turn the formal dining room into like a game room that would get used a lot more often with a pool table and arcade games? 


When we moved in, I made sure that my kids’ bedrooms were set up so they would feel excited and happy and like they had a special place to go. I made sure that my husband’s TV room was set up so he feel excited and happy and like you had a place to go. And then I made sure that my office was set up because I wanted a place where I could really escape, get a ton of work done, and be productive. Then life took over and my momentum stopped on the house and the only thing that could motivate me again was having people over so that’s what I did. 


Without further ado, let me get to the questions that are already in my mailbag. 

This episode, we discuss…

[6:49] Tips for styling your bookcase

First things first in the family room, you can put the games horizontally on the bookshelf, just make sure that they don’t overhang the front of the bookcase. 

 Over the weekend, I styled some of our bookcases and for one, on the bottom I did these pyramid stacks of our bulkier games, think Apples to Apples Pictionary. Then on the shelf above it, I actually turned the games vertically. Now this again only works with the chunky games, it’s not going to work with like a skinny clue or Connect Four and you’re going to turn them on their side and I did them in diminishing order. So again, it created that kind of pyramid or triangle effect. But instead of being horizontal, they were vertical and then I bookend them on each side so that they stay nice and together.

With these games, we always have lost pieces. Here’s two dominoes, here’s a die. Here’s some pawns. You know, what are we going to do with these things? Where do they belong? Nobody wants to put it back properly. So I got a stylish little box. And in the box we have all those loose pieces from games. 

I just wanted to make sure that even though I don’t have the need for a ton of books, I am getting a lot of bang for my buck storage wise. By utilizing that bookcase for something other than books, I’ve saved myself in terms that I don’t need to buy a cabinet for these games.

Another thing that I did in my bedroom again, did not have enough books and there are built-ins everywhere. I want to be very mindful that I only put books in there that would be fun to read at night that are light or inspiring, none that are work related. I don’t want any pictures of my children or anybody that I don’t want to make out with. This needs to be a very special place for just me and my partner. 

What I decided to do is remove a couple of the shelves, and instead hang a big picture in the middle of the bookcase on the back wall. I got this amazing picture of Paris, which is the most special place for my husband and myself. And I have a shelf above. I removed all the shelves in the middle and I have shelves below. And I’m going to hang this picture and then style the sides with small objects. 


[13:02]  Styling a mid-century modern bedroom (Carol)



I’m hoping you can help me with my bedroom. I love the mid century modern look. Simple lines, lots of wood, etc. I’m searching for a bed that not only has that look, but is also functional, with storage ideally. I worry that a lot of the king beds are very traditional, and/or boring and boxy. I’ve attached the other furniture I am considering buying for the room so you can see what I like. Pictures I’ve sent include: 1. Nightstand from Article, 2. Lamps from Houzz, 3. Dresser from All Modern, and 4. Rug from Overstock. Thanks for all your help!


When you’re doing the mid century modern style, I think it’s a real trap to get caught in anything too literal. You don’t want this necessarily to look like something from the past. You don’t want this to look like an image from a Frank Lloyd Wright poem right? You want this to look like an updated version of mid century modern and you are in luck because this style is so popular right now that you will be able to shop lots of different stores including all the stores that you mentioned in order to find pieces that fit the bill.

Let’s look at your inspo. You have got this beautiful walnut nightstand from Article with two drawers and tapered legs. Keep in mind that the Article nightstands and mid century modern in general is a little bit lower so you would be looking for a bed that doesn’t take a boxspring. You might even in the case of this nightstand I’m not familiar with its exact height but if it’s between 18 and 22 inches you’re going to want a platform bed and you’re going to type in platform bed  so the top of the nightstand is within two inches of the height of the mattress. 

Hopefully this is between 24 and 26 inches in which case you would just use a standard bed had but again not use a box spring. And then you’ve got this very cute lamp on top that’s got this round, either acrylic or glass base and got a round finial and it’s just very simple and small and design. Again, we’re going for smaller dainty or less chunky, clunky less traditional type furniture. Then your black dresser has brass handles which is concerning me because the nightstand lamp looked to be silver. It has a black finish and it has tapered legs. It has seven drawers, I’m totally getting the midcentury vibe from each object you’ve shown me.

Then, the rug is very basic and I would say it’s truly contemporary. It does seem to have some organic forms. It’s overall cream with sort of a gray base and it’s got this textural patterning. It’s not actually a colorful pattern per se, but it almost looks like lines of intestines or brains. I think it would look very nice in a bedroom, but the pattern is a new one for me.

When you’re looking for a bed, no matter your style I like to do an upholstered bed because a bedroom has so much wood. Typically you’re gonna have wooden nightstands because most people want some kind of storage or drawer and it’s very rare to find a metal nightstand or glass nightstand that has a drawer.

Then you’re gonna have a dresser and dressers again have the drawer. Most dressers are going to be made of wood and in many bedrooms you might even have two dressers. So I’ve got two dressers, two nightstands, all wood and the nightstands would be flanking a wooden bed. I don’t think so. 

The other option for a bed would be metal, but metal can be quite uncomfortable to lean on. I love an upholstered bed where you can lean back and watch TV. I really love something that’s super comfortable that you’re not going to hit your head on that you could lean back on and they’re so affordable. And then you can just go with something sleek and simple.

yTu could go with some minor tufting. I would avoid any nailheads that’s a little bit too decorative and not simple enough for the mid century modern vibe. Anything with tapered legs is going to be a win. Just get an upholstered bed and frame and everything will be amazing. Just be mindful of the box spring versus no box spring conundrum with that low Article nightstand.

[19:07] Using plants in your interior (Gretchen) 


Winter is coming here in the Northeast; and lately, I have been wondering about my house plants. Thoughts like: what plant is good for my in-home environment, how should I be potting the plants to help them grow and be happy, and where should my plants be placed within rooms in my house to benefit the design of a room and the health of the plant. Is there a design lesson I should or can follow to make sure I have my house plants in the most “happy” place for both the plant and my room. Thank you so much for your continued lessons!


Although I am certainly no expert in house plants, I encourage you to check out my friend Maria of Bloom and Grow Radio. She did an episode on this show all about house plants and I did an episode on her show on styling the plants. When I had Maria on the show, the number one thing that I walked away from the podcast thinking about was that if your plant does not have at least some direct sunlight, it is slowly dying. That was a game changer for me. 

In the past, I would always get these very hardy plants that you could not kill plants like a money tree, bamboo plants, succulents, and I would just assume that they would be fine. They would slowly die over the course of six months to a year depending on which plant but I always thought I was really getting a lot of longevity out of that even then, especially because I’m somewhat negligent with my houseplants. 

You should also be following the directions for that specific plant to increase its lifespan. My other piece of advice for you is to buy cheap plants so you’re not spending a fortune on something that doesn’t last forever. 






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