what's in a white shelf?

{book case + baby gym}

This is my favorite part of our house. And I love the fact that these bookshelves are white. I grew up around solid oak book cases, and I've always had some faux wood shelves in my own places. But why be tied to wood coloring when it's not even real wood? Sure, IKEA's stuff is wooden, but I wouldn't really call it wood; it's more like molten woodstuffs. 

Maybe I wanted the bookshelves to match the two pieces of furniture I've never gotten rid of. First, my mother's hope chest, which has been moving with me since I was 17. I must have transported that thing at least a full handful of times with what few other belongings in the back seat of my sedan. (You're talkin' to a girl who has moved more than 20 times in as many years and who has lightened her load [read: gifted and goodwilled maniacally] more times than she cares to remember.) Second, my grandpa's solid heavy desk. But you know what? Fake wood will never match real wood, and one wood usually doesn't match another wood either. 

After living through a long Patagonian winter--half of it spent in a low-ceilinged, dark icebox--I dreamed of living in white place with white, clean lines. Everything around me would be some shade of white. However when we arrived to the States and finally moved into our apartment taking stock of the things I did still own, white just didn't seem in my future. So when we went to IKEA, I imagined purchasing something black. Or maybe even red. But white matches everything; or it doesn't beg to match anything. Happily (after hours walking through a weekday IKEA with little R in the carrier) we banked on white.

As I unpacked the boxes of books and haphazardly organized them a la heather, I saw how they tell a loose history of me. Aside from family furniture, books are the one thing I never let go. That is, until I left for South America. I sold about three boxes of me to a used bookshop right before I skedaddled. But the remainder still creates a complete-enough history. Even if I'm the only one who knows the story. The classes I've taken, papers I've written, where certain books were acquired or read, how used Elizabeth Bishop's Letters reeked of stale cigarette smoke when I sliced open the box in my cubicle at work. 

{go toward the white}
What I love most about the whiteness of our shelves is the context they offer. Stuff pops off each shelf in splishes of color. They signal a beginning. Baby books and family magazines. Arrows to our ourness.

13 comments:

OneCraftyFox said...

I completely agree. Most "wood" is really compressed fiberboard made to look like wood. I too grew up in a home with solid wood furniture and welcome the crisp feel of a white painted wood.

And I can never seem to let go of books either. I finally parted with my childhood books and novels - first pick went to my niece, the rest I donated to the local library. But I hold onto all the books I purchased in my adult life.

Hope you are having a great week!

Dawn said...

My most favorite of furniture in our home too:)
I used to have drab wood bookshelves, and then I pulled out my paintbrush. Something about white shelves that hold "us" isn't there?:)

Jenny @ The Jenny Adventure said...

I love the shelves! Clean and bright. Just lovely.
xoxo

this free bird said...

This is wonderful Heather. I have those things I've hung onto as well, but wherever I go it's the bookshelves and things I put on them that make my place home. Loving R in the corner!! How cute is that??

xo,
C

Kerry said...

I think that I will be painting my brown ikea bookshelves sometime very soon. Once I've stopped kicking myself for not buying white in the first place! A house is not a home without loads of books in my opinion:)

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

I love the context of white and new beginnings too. Hope the family is doing well dear!

xoxo,
Chic 'n Cheap Living

Signe said...

Looks very nice! And I am having the same plans as you had, I want a bright space with a lot of white when we are moving up North in 5 weeks :)

Hugs,
Signe

Gracie said...

You're white shelves are looking lovely! I do like seeing your little one with his baby gym.

I have all white Ikea bookshelves in my creative room. And I love it. My furniture all matches too. x

LatteLisa said...

This post makes me miss our gorgeous and huge whitewashed oak cabinet with glass doors for books and all the many boxes of books we gave to the local library before we moved abroad.

I still haven't bought a new cabinet or shelves because none of the items I've seen so far stands a chance to our old one.

But one day I will ;-)

kelli g. { bug miscellany } said...

love. just love love love.

and 1,782% agree.

plus, "molten woodstuffs." perfect descriptor.

seriously blog crushing this post. :)

Poppies and Sunshine said...

I love white furniture! And these bookcases are great! White is the best for a clean slate to put some pops of color on!

aiz kim said...

i totally agree...the aesthetics of white bookshelves is just classic. Those woodlike shelves are just too tacky. Happy Easter to you and your family!

Stacey said...

i love white bookshelves and how the color of the books usually pop against them. yours is beautiful, but really, i just can't stop looking at Baby R enjoying himself:-). I tend to be a hoarder of books because of that same reason-there's a story behind why i bought them etc. XX

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