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Exercise Shelf Control When You Have Too Much Stuff PDF Print E-mail
Written by ROSE BENNETT GILBERT, Creator Syndicate   
Thursday, 28 April 2011 07:37


Time to organize? Tall shelves flanking a super-sized wall clock turn clutter into decorative accessories.

Q: We have a lot of "stuff" — no other way to say it. A recent designer show house tour convinced me that it's time to try to organize some of it, such as my books and my partner's collections (everything from old globes and maps to textiles and baskets).

I bought two tall shelving units, but I don't know whether to put them together or put one in each corner of our living room. Any guidelines here? — Adam

A: The sum is still greater than its parts, even when you're talking about shelving units. Two pushed together obviously make a bigger statement than two standing alone.

Your decision really depends on how you fill those shelves and what you want them to contribute to your room, besides organization. For example, lots of books will make a relatively quiet background. Many curious objects will create a focal point; they will also draw traffic, so your other furniture should be arranged to allow access to the shelves.

Either way, tall shelving units always add a vertical thrust to a room and a good counterpoint to most furniture, which is horizontal by design.

In the pictured eccentric room, the designers have used two tall metal shelving units in either corner and united them into a visual coup by hanging that outrageously big clock in the space between. Their audacity makes the room both edgy and fun.

When you can tear your eyes away from the wall, look around at the other furnishings: a cocktail table made from an old Indian cart and hanging light defined in orbs of wrought iron (all furnishings are from Restoration Hardware,

: What's the scoop on coming color trends? A: The word from the sprawling international furniture market in High Point, N.C., is bright!

Never mind that there's an equal movement to natural and earthy hues, thanks to the burgeoning interest in being "green," or at least giving green lip service. Scratch many manufacturers of furniture and other products, and they'll tell you that they're being PC, but not because you, the consumer, really gives a fig. Not true, you say? Make your concerns heard. A good place to raise your voice is to Susan Inglis, the executive director of the Sustainable Furniture Council, which is headquartered in Chapel Hill, N.C. Reach her at susan@sustainablefurniture. com, and tell her that Rose sent you.

Off my soapbox and back to the bright colors that popped up like exclamation points all over the April furniture market: Newcomer Susan Carson ( dazzled with curvy cocktail tables in brilliant chartreuse and turquoise UltraSuede. The colors were lifted from her signature scarves and illuminated by rows of gleaming nailheads.

American Leather went for the gusto by offering cushy leather seating pieces in spring florals, bolds and brights, such as citrus yellows, aquas and corals ( And domestic maven Sandy Wilson went wild with Ikats in vibrating blues and oranges on comforters and decorative pillows for ACG Green Croup, Inc. (

Still, the biggest color jolt came where it might be least expected — in the cool and beautifully crafted offerings from French Heritage (frenchheritage. com), which is known for exquisite reproductions of French antiques. A smallscaled "opera sofa" radiated heat waves from its iridescent damask covering in pink and green ... just across the showroom from a neon-pink bergere that might have upstaged even Madame du Pompadour!

Such pops of unexpected COLOR were doubly fun to find in a market still given — thanks to the economy — to conservative thinking and traditional styling. It was a happy reminder that everything old can be new again.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design. To find out more about Rose Bennett Gilbert and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Website at