1. Let's take a look at any shelf in your home. Is it scaling up the wall? If not, you could use some taller shelves or built-in units--they are great to view, spacious and easy to store items. Get those that run up to the ceiling if you can. But once again, if money is an issue, uh? Well, let's start taking items off the pre-existing shelves and rearranging.
2. Bowls, bins, baskets, boxes and more sitting on those shelves should be filled with your treasures. No ifs, ands, or buts. You want to keep your little items--you believe you will one day use them, so let's get creative. Make those useless items already sitting on your shelves, useful. Something should be in each and every one. But be sure that like items are placed with like items. So if I have some cool stuff I rarely use then there is no reason to leave them out on display. I would tuck them away and label the top of the boxes if necessary, rather than the sides so that everyone who walks into the room isn't reading every name on the shelf.
3. Check out your books. Do they have to be arranged like the local library shelves? Let's get creative with those good reads and make them lay flat, to the back, or used as a stackable art piece that we can put something on top of.
4. Now what about those obscure things? Can we hang something on them or in them? Do they need to take up room on a shelf? Is there another home for them, maybe on a small table near the shelves? Maximizing space is getting rid of bulky items in places where you could add 10 little things as opposed to just one.
5. So you are on a roll? What are you going to do with some of those items you use all the time? I say leave them out and make them easy to obtain. If children use some of those things, then they need to be within reach. Items that are forbidden to touch, store them up on higher shelves.
6. Be sure to utilize safety cords that might be strapped to the back of tall book shelf units or you can make your own. You wouldn't want them to tip and drop on your child or pet. (Note: this happened to one of my kids who liked to climb on the shelves. We put a security gate in the front of it to prevent that from happening again. Shelves are suspended to the wall.)
So your bookshelf project should be coming along. Check out this site on organizing any shelves or drawers in your home--enjoy!
Nicholl McGuire also maintains When Mothers Cry and other blogs.