Make sure children can reach items they need.

How to Hide Clutter on a Bookcase

by Traci LaRussa

According to “Psychology Today,” there is a mental cost for clutter. By reducing clutter, you may be able to reduce your stress. Bookcases can easily become one of the most disorderly areas of the home, so when it’s time to de-clutter, this is a good place to begin. Removing items that you frequently need is not an option, so look for clever ways to conceal the mess and transform untidy shelves into a visually attractive, yet organized space.

1. Assess the Mess

Evaluate items on each shelf and donate or otherwise get rid of those you don't need. Decide what you would like to display and hide from view and what children may need to reach. Remove everything from the shelves and begin with a clean slate. Remember that it is not important to display every photograph and collectible. Pick your favorite pieces and store the rest in a box. Change out pieces on occasion.

2. Books and Magazines

An overflow of books and magazines can be intimidating. Use framed art, canvas or large books with decorative covers to stand in front of less attractive piles of books and magazines. Books can also be grouped by color or scattered horizontally and vertically on the shelves. Cover less attractive books with paper or simply place the spine to the back of the shelf, showing off the front edge of the book.

3. Inventive Storage Ideas

You don’t need to settle for the ordinary when it comes to hiding clutter. Look for bread boxes, clay and ceramic jars, travel cases, paint tins and metal buckets. Notebooks look great grouped together and can be covered in fabric or wallpaper to match your interior. They make smart organizers for children’s artwork, magazine articles and other loose papers.

4. Putting Clutter Undercover

Closed containers such as decorative boxes and vintage luggage are ideal for hiding movies, office supplies, remotes and miscellany. They come in a variety of sizes, colors and materials such as leather, fabric and wicker to match any interior décor. Use clear DVD cases instead of original packaging to quickly condense movies into a smaller area. Three or four identical square baskets or canvas bins placed on the bottom shelf are ideal to house children’s toys, books and board games. Do not forget to add labels so that you know exactly where to find what you need.

5. The Finishing Touch

Balance is key to a well-ordered bookcase, so distribute books, storage boxes and accessories with contrasting heights and interest. Consider grouping similar pieces of collectibles and photographs together at varying heights. For unruly bottom shelves that need to disappear, add doors flush to the unit. Or for an easier solution simply install fabric shades or a curtain mounted with a simple spring tension curtain rod. To hide items that are not accessed often, hang a large piece of framed art at the center molding of the bookcase.

About the Author

Traci LaRussa is based in Florida and has been writing professionally since 2002. She currently consults with clients in need of expertise in home staging, interior decorating and organization. LaRussa is also an artist who has painted miniature works as well as large scale murals.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot/Polka Dot/Getty Images