Putting our stamp on the Reset

Our second move — from rental to new house — has posed some interesting creative opportunities. This house is much more open with more flexible living spaces, making how we want to use them the challenge. We think we’re getting a handle on it, and Steve and I have dived in, unpacking boxes and making the Reset our own. For someone who loves tweaking and arranging as much as I do, this is the perfect project. 

Once we saw the “flex room” under construction, Steve and I knew it would make a great library.

Those of you who visit Ivy & Ironstone regularly know I am a book lover and find it nearly impossible to part with many of my books. Add to that a shelf or two of books that I have kept from my parents, as well as Steve’s library and you can see why we moved 28 boxes of books. (Okay, some were partial boxes, with other items included. But still, 28 boxes!) 

I have been saving images of library walls and bookshelves to a Pinterest page since long before we knew we were moving, so you can imagine I had plenty of ideas on how to stow my library. And this house has a “flex” room off the foyer that Steve and I both thought would be perfect for a wall of book shelves.

Sourcing the shelves

Now that we had the space, we had to find the shelves. Months ago i started looking into buying finished book shelves. That resulted in serious sticker shock. I knew it would be pricey, but yikes! I decided to search out other options just to see. Our realtor suggested her handyman, so after we moved in I asked him to come by and look at what I had in mind. Alas, I had a “furniture look” in mind and that was not at all what he was envisioning. So, I’m saving his talents for other tasks, but I still needed the shelves and a place for all those books. 

Along the way, Steve and I had both been attracted to some Ikea hacks, including more than one involving their various bookshelf components. We made a few trips to Ikea checking out the options in person, coming home to measure again (and again!), and then finally purchasing three Hemnes bookcases in the black-brown finish. They’re made of solid pine with six shelves, five of them adjustable and one fixed for added stability. This was not a huge financial investment, so we thought we’d give it a try. 

Originally, we assumed we’d use four bookshelves because that fit the length of wall perfectly, but the shelves are deeper than the adjacent wall. We didn’t think we’d like the idea of them extending five or six inches into the doorway. We also thought we would choose white, but decided it might be a little “blah” against the pale walls and all the white trim. I knew I was going to use these shelves to show off some of our collectibles, and the dark background is a great foil for the ironstone and transferware I’ve used there.

The shelves went together easily, but assembly definitely took time.
We used additional hardware to anchor the frames together and then to the wall.
Once the shelves were up and anchored, I literally flew into action unpacking books, collectibles and arranging. This was so much fun!

The shelves need some finishing touches: some trim top and bottom and perhaps some lighting. But we had to stop here and move on to other projects just to get the boxes unpacked. Here’s some of the styling I did with pitchers, baskets and candlesticks.


I had not started out thinking I would put my baskets on top of the bookshelves, but I think they really work!
I used to gang all these candlesticks on my dining room table (with candles of course) and I loved that look. So, I tried it here, I just couldn’t fit in the candles!

Lessons from moving a collection

One of the things I’ve learned in the moving process is that I need to let go of some of my ironstone and transferware collections. This is in part a space consideration. I just don’t have the display space I once did. But I’m also opting for a leaner, cleaner look. When the realtors finished staging our former home for sale, I wasn’t at all thrilled about what they kept and what they removed, but I really liked the cleaner look. And to tell you the truth the house was beginning to look a little too granny-ish. So my new mantra is “keep the best, let go of the rest. “ 

I know I said I left five pitchers on top here, but I “borrowed” one for flowers on the kitchen island. And I just noticed the crooked print hanging above. Oops!

When I was styling the bookshelf, I used four of my favorite ironstone pitchers. Then I put another five of the best and biggest ones atop another cabinet. But I still have eight of them on a shelf behind this cabinet door, along with assorted sugar bowls, sauce tureens, etc. I used to think that I could never have enough white ironstone; now I’m not so sure.  

I have always loved collections — the bigger the better — and the character they lend to a space. And frankly I love the look of the blue and white transferware, the ironstone and the shelf of brass candlesticks on the library wall. I could “rotate my stock” from time to time or I could have a sale. What would you do? 

Thank you so much for stopping by. It’s taken me a while to get my head out of the boxes and back into the blog. But there’s so much more to talk about, like what I’ve been reading (did you see my Instagram post of the Book Loft in German Village), what I’ve cooked now that my kitchen is open for business, and have you seen “Downton Abbey: A New Era” ?

See you again soon!

12 thoughts on “Putting our stamp on the Reset

  1. Looks like you are making good progress on settling into your new home. It is looking good. We do not look forward to the time we may need to downsize and make decisions of what to let go of. Enjoyed your comment about the books. I can relate. Glad to hear that the Book Loft in Germantown is still there. We fell in love with that store when we visited Columbus. Have not seen the Downton Abby movie yet, but it is on the calendar for next week.


    1. Happy to hear someone else likes the Book Loft. Did you go to the botanic garden? Doug took me a few years ago snd I’m thinking I need to go back, especially as we think about our little planting space here. You are right; downsizing is all about decision-making. It helps to develop some rules. For what it’s worth, as we unpacked here, we’ve continued to fill boxes for to donate snd to sell. Once we got into the new space, see things just don’t seem right.


  2. Janet, the book shelves look wonderful, stately and handsome. Good work! Good to see you are settling in, I imagine it’s challenging and exciting at the same time. I appreciate your comments on letting go, streamlining and focusing on quality, not quantity. Do you remember George Carlin’s routine about “Stuff”? It did put things in perspective. You do have a knack for staging. We will miss you tomorrow as we choose our books for 22/23.


    1. Thanks, Jean, for a nester like me this has really been fun. I thought about all of you when AM Lit met to choose books. Can’t wait to see what the selections are. Small group here I am anxious to meet, but they postponed the most recent meeting. I think I’ll probably research the options at the library — all the libraries in the area are branches of the Columbus library.


  3. Saw the new movie “Downton Abby, the New Era” last night. Really enjoyed it and recommend it to Downton fans. I have heard that it will be available via streaming starting June 10.


  4. Although we are not quite to the downsizing stage yet, our current home is not that large. We used early Covid shut down time to clear out SO MANY THINGS that we didn’t really like, need, or use.
    BUT… decor items and dishware are my favorites – so many family antiques and things collected over the years. For now, I decided to keep most everything I love – stash many things and rotate in and out. But someday the decisions will come. And I already know the answer to the question, what do the kids want? Very little if anything! It’s bittersweet!


  5. We love the little bookstore in the German Village! Could get lost in that place. We discovered it on a trip to Columbus many years ago.


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