A few days ago I Instagrammed the bookshelves in my house and IG (in spite of the algorithm) went wild. And while I love that moment, looking at those shelves got me thinking about the art of the shelfie. We’ve definitely talked about it here ad nauseam. But as I work on my home’s finishing touches, I feel an immense pressure to have everything picture perfect immediately. I suspect I’m not the only one.

slow playing the shelfie on apartment 34

Walls filled with art. Shelves stacked with layer upon layer of treasures (or crap depending on your personal taste), side tables and consoles perfectly accessorized. But what if we stopped chasing “the collection.” What if the goal of decorating your home wasn’t about filling it with objects, but instead filling it with meaning? Even as I push myself to finally “finish” my house, I’ve begun to reconsider my perspective. Rather than look at blank spaces as unfinished, I wonder if I can instead find wholeness in the holes.

slow playing the shelfie on apartment 34 slow playing the shelfie on apartment 34

Sure, things will creep in over time. But that’s the operative phrase – over time. I’ve only lived in my house for just over a year. We only completed some major construction just before this past holiday season. And while I love my blogger and stylist friends who shop and pull until the cows come home, whipping up a “completed” home in time for the afternoon’s photo shoot, I’m wondering if I can just step out of the race entirely.

slow playing the shelfie on apartment 34

Instead, I want to create beauty from the one thing, maybe the two things that truly give me joy. I want to reveal in that negative space. I want to be filled up by the openness because our lives are already crammed full of so much stuff (and in my case legos). I want to have room to breathe. I think each shelfie in this post exemplifies this idea.

slow playing the shelfie on apartment 34

Yet you often hear disparaging terms applied to this idea. Sterile. Impersonal. Cold. But I just call it real life. There’s no need to swing by Target or CB2 every two days for some new thing. Instead, find an art fair. Take time to walk through your local gallery. Hit the flea market when the mood strikes, but take home only the “I can’t live without it” piece.

I’m pleased to report that I can name the source of everything currently on my bookshelf and there’s not a big box store to be found, but I actually want to edit out even more. I want to try to open up as much blank space as possible and  see how the years will fill it. And I want that to feel more than good enough. I want it to feel like home.

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  1. I love this sentiment. Thank you for bringing it into our design dialogue. I struggle with design from a consumerism pov, as trends and “stuff” and consumerism as it stands today do not align with my core values. I, like you, want a beautiful home full of meaning, not stuff. And to be design-inclined provides an amazing opportunity for us to curate original spaces with robust form + function. Cheers to all of the above!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share your perspective Claire.