Toni Hammersley, author of the Complete Book of Home Organization, shares her best tips.

Chelsea Cavanaugh

Arrange Strategically

Stash books you want to keep but may not reread on high shelves, leaving the space at eye level open for in-use items. Heavy or large volumes should be kept on the bottom shelf to prevent the ledge from sagging under their weight.

Categorize

The easiest way to find exactly what you're looking for is to divide each shelf by category (nonfiction, fiction, biography) and arrange books accordingly. Enforce the "one in, one out" rule: Every time you purchase a new book, donate an old one so you can keep the shelves' airy look.

Create Boundaries

Use magazine file holders to corral kids' keepsakes or crossword puzzle books and prevent the shelves from looking messy.

To buy: Magazine file box, $15; poppin.com.

Add Character

Pile some books horizontally to form a bookend for a row of books placed vertically. Top the stack with a decorative object or a small plant to give the shelf some life.

Keep It Contained

Outfit your shelves with pretty bins for non-decorative items, like remotes or charging cords.

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