Designer Valerie Darden of Brexton Cole Interiors solved two issues in her Northern Virginia home with one bank of bookshelves. She and her husband loved every feature in their new home, save for a diagonal wall near the entry, just around the corner from the stairs. Not only was it dead space, the wall had an ugly air vent, a thermostat, and outlet, and light switches. (Scroll down for the before photo.) An investment in custom cabinetry and masterful shelf styling hid the jumble and created a functional and beautiful feature wall.
Darden balanced old and new to create an chic mix of art and objects among her collection of design books. “As much as I enjoy new and shiny items, I love to venture to Loudoun County to search for vintage art, books, and decorative objects,” she says. One of her favorite sources is Lucketts Market and Antique Center.
As for new books, Darden tends toward fashion, travel, photography, history, and architecture titles by Assouline. For contrast she adds older books from her thrifting adventures. Here’s a fun pairing: “I’ll place a Chanel book next to a 1950s book about ladies etiquette,” she says.
Here’s a pulled back view for context:
And a before photo from the same perspective:
Careful configuration allowed them to hide the ugly grate behind a cabinet door.
Then the fun part: Styling the bookshelves.
Valerie Darden’s Tips for Perfectly Styled Bookshelves
• For a not-trying-too-hard-to-be-perfect vibe, arrange some books vertically and others horizontally. Also, place larger books with smaller ones.
• Incorporate your favorite candle. Dardens’s favorite candle is Diptyque BAIES. “I love to burn the candle wax to the end, then use the glass as a vase for roses,” she says.
• Pay attention to scale. A small sculpture in front of a large book draws the eye in. And use mostly odd numbers of things.
• Metallics are a must. “When I began decorating my shelves, they looked bland,” Darden says. “Then I placed a decorative brass paper weight on top of three books and it immediately came to life! “
• Plants too. “Small succulents have done wonders by adding color and a peaceful feeling,” Darden says.
Photos by Valerie Darden