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I never knew how much an Ikea bookshelf could transform a room—and more specifically, my feelings while in a room—until this past January.

It started with a casual conversation with a friend: “My book collection is outgrowing my bookshelf. I really need a new one, but I keep putting it off.”

At that point, books were stacked on top of the bookshelf, in front of each other, and generally crammed in whatever open space I could find. It wasn’t really messy, but it certainly wasn’t organized.

In my mind though, the bookshelf was functional—it was holding my books. A bit imperfectly, yes, but I justified the quiet chaos in a corner of my room because that’s not a space other people see; I host in my living room and dining area.

My friend offered to give me a white Ikea Billy bookshelf she no longer needed for free if I could transport it. Deal accepted!

Once the bookshelf was transferred to my apartment and my books were successfully placed in their new home, I couldn’t believe the senses of calm, relief, and inspiration I felt.

Other small changes started happening, too. I noticed I kept other pieces of furniture in that room cleaner. I started dreaming about little updates I could do—like a corner hutch for an empty space and a few new pieces of art to hang above my reading chair. And I started spending more time in that room, reading and journaling.

It wasn’t until I started actually resting in my bedroom that I realized how much my previous crowded bookshelf had been influencing the entire room. The quiet chaos had been holding that room back, and subsequently my ability to relax in it.


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