The Five-Hour Makeover

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Declutter and Organise with these simple steps

A new season is always a great opportunity to spruce up your living spaces. With winter in full swing and our bodies in hibernation mode we’re spending most of our time indoors, it’s the perfect time to create an inviting space that allows you really chill out.

My two simple tips to achieving this: 1) Declutter/Organise 2) Style.

Clutter: ‘a large collection of things that are not arranged in a neat or orderly way; a crowded or disordered collection of things”


I recently did a decluttering/organising of a home library belonging to close friends in Brisbane. One of my favourite things to do is shelf organising and styling, so it was great to get my hands on their home library for a touch of both.


Now these are two ardent bookworms whose preferred subject of literature is.…everything!! With genre’s ranging from Fiction/non-fiction novels, Politics to Travel, Medicine to Gardening, Self-help to Coding… these two have books, magazines, journals, paperbacks; (you name it!) found in every corner of their home with the main concentration housed in the family library. These were shelved mostly vertically in no particular order with the bottom shelves used for storage of items in containers and boxes.

My aim: Completely reorganise and style the bookshelf to allow easy location of books and items. Also to add a stylish touch to the rest of the room.

Shelf before decluttering/organising

The Process

Decluttering is the first step to creating an orderly, relaxing, space that breathes.

Research suggests that through decluttering we can reduce stress and anxiety levels, and ultimately be more at peace.

Its follows then that an ideal relaxing space should be organised and clutter-free.

The regular shelf arrangement used majority of shelf space for books, leaving little space for décor and other personal items. This maximised space for book storage, quite alright, but sacrificed the style element that expresses the personality of homeowners.

The whole process was straightforward as all the books were to be retained. Yes! Apart from some stray sheets of paper, broken kids’ items and really old magazines nothing was to be discarded. Books not readily needed were kept in boxes and stored in the under-stair storage.

My three-step strategy was:

  1. To clear each shelf /drawer
  2. To organise according to Genre
  3. To style shelves and the rest of the room


To avoid the process quickly becoming overwhelming my first advice is

Do the clearing off in small chunks; one shelf or drawer at a time. It saves so much time.

I worked top to bottom within each shelf column, clearing out one shelf at a time all the way to the drawers under the shelves in each column.

To organise and section items on shelves I love using baskets and boxes of different colours and sizes. This prevents over- filling of shelves, also the different shapes and textures of the boxes is great for adding style to the shelves.

The baskets are perfect for grouping items like magazines and journals which need a bit of propping to stand. They are also great for storing bits and pieces like headphones, stationery etc.


Sort and organise according to genre or subject.

My friends are both medical professionals who own a lot of medical reading. They also love travel, DIY, gardening, architecture, IT, design, virtual reality…like I said no subject is off limits. Books of these different subjects were mixed up which is something that tends to happen over a period of constant removing and replacing of books on a shelf. I organised these by similar genres to allow easy locating and accessibility. Medicals together, IT/Technology together, Travel and World matters, Art and Design, Fiction and Non-Fiction Novels.

Orient books in suitable layouts that leave enough space for other items as well as bare space for a tidy, orderly look. The recommended ratio is 60% vertical, 30% horizontal and 10% empty space. This arrangement affords more storage space to play with. Also, this way items can be placed on the horizontal books which is visually pleasing. Horizontally placed books can also act as book-ends to prop up some vertical ones.


Style, Style, Style!

Styling transforms a house into a home. Experts in neuro-architecture state that décor and furniture arrangement can greatly affect a person’s disposition. This explains the sudden joy you feel after a simple act like moving a couch around!

Bookshelves should always be organised first and foremost around easy accessibility, rather than prettiness. However, it is possible to have both style and functionality; each factor needs not be sacrificed for the other. Striking a balance between both factors will make your bookshelves a gorgeous feature in your home library, where you’ll always want to spend time.

Add décor items to style and personalise your shelf. Don’t be afraid to mix and match textures, shapes and patterns. This is a great area to display family photos and items like sports medals, kids’ art creations, mementoes from travel, family milestones and celebrations etc. Throw in book ends and green plants. Be creative.

Styling Tips

  1. A mix of textures keeps things interesting. Textures used here are soft felt baskets, cardboard boxes, glass bottles/vases, greenery for earthiness, metallic photo frames for shine and reflectiveness, wooden photo frames or ornaments for a rustic touch, and ceramic figurines.
  2. Think variety with décor shapes. With the sharp corners and edges of the shelves and books, adding objects of different shapes will create a balanced look.

3. Vary height and sizes. Create vignettes using a combination of small and tall décor items arranged in a triangular shape; two items together will work but groups of three is even better!

4.Empty spaces are great! An overly packed shelf tends to look chaotic so create some breathing room by leaving some empty areas. It looks tidier and is easier on the eyes as well.

5. Don’t fret about colour, let the different colours of your books, and décor do the talking for you.

The Rest of the Room

This was a quick makeover which extended beyond the bookshelf. To update the look of your space you don’t need a whole overhaul; a handful of new season-friendly décor pieces can make all the difference. But if you’re not up to purchasing any new items, shop your home! Move throw pillows from the lounge to the library, swap artwork between rooms, move a pot plant from the hallway to the dining; the possibilities are endless. Relocating your current furnishings/decor items is a very quick and inexpensive way to refresh your look.

The Before and Afters.

Home Library Decluttering and Styling


  1. Vera Essien on July 26, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Wow Eky! Good job on it, the difference is amazing! Lovely, thanks for the tips and walking us through the process. Great job!

    • Metamorphosis_admin on July 26, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      Much appreciated Vera!

  2. Inyang River on July 26, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing your work Eky! These are great tips. As someone that can’t get past the
    “I might need that someday” mind frame and constantly procrastinating, this definitely inspires me to declutter and your approach makes it even more manageable and less overwhelming, love your idea of doing one task at a time to beat this.

    • Metamorphosis_admin on July 29, 2019 at 10:01 am

      Yes I’ve found it’s the best way to do it. That way if you don’t have time to finish it all at once then you won’t have a situation where there’s stuff lying all about waiting for you to find time to get to it.
      Thanks Inyang

  3. Gracie on July 31, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Amazing organizing tips Eky, you make it look easy! The before and after photos show such a great difference.
    I must say that after seeing and reading through your very descriptive decluttering process i am ready to give it a shot for my cluttered bedroom. Fingers crossed i get the same results.

    Always a great read on this blog.

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