Aha! Hack: A Double-Duty Fireplace Mantel

There’s so much to ooh and aah about in Corinne Gilbert’s Fort Greene, Brooklyn, apartment. The French transplant, a Paris-born artist and interior decorator, has fashioned a chic and bohemian home out of a rental, the kind of effortlessly stylish place that makes you curse the French for their storied je ne sais quoi—then obsessively hunt for manuals on how they do it. (Lucky for you, Margot has already supplied one such manual; see Expert Advice: How to Decorate Like a French Woman for tips from Gilbert and more images of her home.)

We particularly love Gilbert’s laissez-faire approach to book storage. Confronted with an empty fireplace mantel, she decided to kill two birds with one stone: Her solution, an artful arrangement of books, addressed a pair of issues—where to put her books and what to display on the mantel.

Gilbert selected mostly books in muted colors with a few bolder tomes sprinkled in. She suggests considering the palette before you start loading up the mantel (imagine a row of monochromatic books and how arresting that would look), as well as the geometry you’re after; she also stresses the importance of employing strong bookends. Other than that, build your display, and le coolness will come.

Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home.

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