One of the hardest things about living in small spaces is to have a well balanced focal point in the room that still serves a practical purpose.  There’s no room for fancy pieces that hold collections of pretty, shiny things that one switches out with every season. Usually, the TV is what is directly in front of the couch. Whatever the piece happens to be for tiny home dwellers, it ideally has some storage.

For us, it happens to be this $10 antique bookcase. . . and it holds. . . our treasured books (We don’t own a TV!) For added interest, however, we have our super old books on the open shelving. I also love the doors on the bottom for hiding other books and DVDs.


Here’s what I started with after Christmas:


The goal was to not have it look knick-knacky. . . I suppose that candle could go, but I purposely wanted the Crucifix and the wedding picture of us in the Church where we married to be at the center, rather than the clock, or else the Crucifix would get lost. Maybe that family wedding picture could go as well to simplify things, but again, I just love glancing at it!

I spent a good 20 minutes the other day thinking all this through. Here’s the breakdown.



Ideally, I’d love to have that fishbone  Don Quijote in the study, but with all those books jam-packed into the bookshelves, it’s not happening.  Besides, it reflects my passion for language and literature.

Isn’t that the point of home decor: to reflect your personality?

[Hmm, he still needs a spear.]



On the right side, more old books with a fun Coliseum bookend I found for $2 at TJ Maxx. We love architectural details.


On to the seconds shelf:


Adding another picture enhanced the look. We wanted architectural shots that complimented each other: a downward perspective of the Vatican Museum Staircase [Rome, ‘06] and an upward perspective of the ceiling of the Pantheon [Rome, ‘06].  I think the black and white on the clock and candle play nicely with the picture frames. The gold leaf and berries on the candle add some color played up by the books below.


On the third shelf I decided to rearrange a few books (I put the religious ones on the left and separated them from the literature ones on the right by stacking a few.


This wooden (and silver) Crucifix is hand carved from Argentina. It was a wedding gift. It is  “El Senor de los Milagros” (The Lord of the Miracles) and also known as the “Black Christ.” There’s a beautiful legend about this image and it’s famous in South America.

The Crucifix was getting lost in the taller shelf because of its size. This picture doesn’t do it justice, since it is near eye level when one sits on the couch directly opposite it.


The bottom shelf is reserved for my husband’s collection 🙂

It may not look much different to you, but honestly to me it’s making the biggest difference in the room! I may continue tweaking and simplifying more, but for now I’m loving it.

I love noticing the personal touches in people’s living rooms that reflect their interests.  Maybe it’s a piano, or perhaps a large painting, or a picture collage of the past and the present, or maybe a beautiful icon. I think there should always be personality in th ehome because homes are the reflection of persons, not things.