There’s never a shortage of home projects to tackle, but there always seems to be limited time in which to complete them. With shelter-in-place in effect, many people now have the time to get turn the items on their to-do lists, to done. We have a couple of simple projects – one indoors and one outdoors – anyone can undertake.

Carson Nalley, a junior designer with Pierce & Parker Interiors, on St. Simons Island, has a ton of helpful hints for styling your bookshelves to make them attractive, orderly and visually interesting. We then move outdoors, and Dawn Hart, of ACE Garden Center, also on St. Simons Island, takes us through the steps for making our outside spaces more productive and beautiful.

Styling a bookcase can be tricky if you don’t have enough books to fill the space on your shelves. They can easily become very busy and cluttered if they’re not well thought out. Over the years, I have collected a variety of books, keepsakes from travels, and photographs that have a lot of personal meaning. My favorite thing to do in my home is to showcase my treasures and keep my space from looking bare and boring. My advice in styling your shelves is to pick out your favorite objects around your home, identify what they have in common and stick with some sort of palette that is pleasing to the eye. I love when different lines, shapes and patterns all work together!

Personally, I like to start from the top and work my way down to the bottom. This is essential because I like to create different pattern based on weight, balance and symmetry. In this article, I will share in more detail a few of my favorite tips and tricks to help you successfully style your bookshelves.

Books + Bookends –

On my bookshelf, I have a collection of books that I’ve read in my book clubs as well as coffee table books I enjoy. I like to place them on different shelves based on color and size. Don’t feel that you must place all the books vertically – I like to mix up the books both vertically and horizontally. Some are arranged between decorative bookends, and some have smaller objects atop of horizontal stacks. This can be anything from a paperweight or framed photo to a bowl or string of beads. This will keep things visually interesting.

Art + Photographs —

Artwork is typically an overlooked accessory that works wonders on a shelf. Layering in artwork and/or framed photos is a great way to be reminded of your favorite memories with family or friends. Small paintings placed toward the back of shelves add depth and pattern. It’s all about crafting an eye-catching display that can also serve a dual purpose, by acting as a conversation starter when entertaining. Art gives your shelving a custom look that is specific to only you. It will make the space feel more collected and cover up some areas that you may have trouble filling otherwise. That way if a friend has the same bookcase, layering in your own art can make it look like a completely different piece.

Decorative objects —

When styling shelves, large sculpture pieces can stand alone, while smaller sculptural items should be grouped together to serve as an accent piece. A decorative box or tray, or even a potted plant, are great accessories to fill your shelves. If it fits with your theme, nothing is off limits when using decorative objects. If it visually holds weight, it will serve as a focal point. Another way to make a statement on your shelves is mixing textures and adding metallic elements. By incorporating those objects, you will add contrast and draw attention to your bookshelves.

Greenery —

Plants have a way of transforming every space. From succulents to the large fiddle leaf ferns, a touch of green can make any interior beautiful. Make any bookshelf come to life by incorporating a plant or two wherever there’s a bit of extra room. Whether faux or real, greenery looks natural on a bookshelf. It softens all the hard edges and adds texture and life to your shelves.

Light —

The last step to blend all elements is incorporating a variety of lighting to your bookshelves. Nothing adds to the ambience of a room like the perfect, glowing outline of a bookcase filled with some of your keepsakes. If you are unable to have built-in lighting, I would suggest adding a small lamp or a lantern with candles for a more decorative look. This is great option that can really add warmth to a space!

Ultimately, your bookcase should reflect who you are and your personal style. As you can see there are so many ways to do so. Use these tips to give your shelves a simple facelift that can instantly change the mood of your home in no time!

With kids out now for the rest of the school year, there should be plenty of time for some family gardening.

Plant a vegetable garden –

Kids especially enjoy helping to plant vegetables, which can be done in a sunny plot in the garden or in raised beds or tubs. Seeds can be bought and started in peat pots, which can be transferred to the bed when the transplants are a few inches tall. Many vegetables are also available in bedding plants, including tomatoes, peppers, onion sets, okra, squash, zucchini, cucumber and eggplant. And for a little color — flowering marigolds will help keep out the bugs. Also cantaloupe, watermelon and strawberry plants can be added to the garden.

Decorate terra cotta pots + plant flowers—

Another family project could include decorating terra cotta flower pots — 6” or 8” size pots are the most manageable sizes to plant and hold enough moisture for most flowering plants. The pots should first be washed to remove the terra cotta residue. After they are completely dry, spray primer paint in a light sweeping motion all over the pot and then the pot is ready to be painted with enamel paints and/or paint pens. Let your child pick out their own plant which could be anything from a houseplant or succulent for their room, to herbs or flowers to put outside. Be sure to use a good quality potting soil that includes fertilizer.

Design a mini-garden —

As enchanting to a child as a model Christmas village, mini-gardening is a year-round activity and is more than just “fairy gardening.” Mini-gardening encompasses resin accessories for a mini-landscape, including cottages, paths, swings, bridges, figurines such as fairies, gnomes and animals, fences, bridges, arbors and more. With a few rocks and colored sand, many scenes can be imagined out of a little landscaping in a child’s own secret garden spot in your garden. Freda and Erika, on our team at ACE Garden Center, have helped many customers (big and small) select their mini-gardening features and supplies.

Start an herb garden –

Mom and Dad might enjoy growing fresh herbs to season their own cuisine. By far the most popular is sweet basil, which added to your homegrown tomatoes, is a great start to a Caprese salad! Rosemary is a great landscape plant along with providing great seasoning for chicken and potatoes. Bay leaves come from the bay laurel bush, lavender can be used for potpourri and also in a perennial flower bed. Thyme, oregano, many types of mints, chives, fennel, marjoram, sage, parsley, stevia and tarragon are just a few more herbs to spice up your garden. While herbs can be grown in the ground or in pots with a well-drained potting soil – mint should be grown in pots due to its invasive growth habit. Remember, all herbs need a good dose of sun to prosper.

Undertake container gardening –

Another project that rewards instant gratification is container gardening. An underplanted topiary or cluster of pots to accent an entryway, path, driveway or pool patio is easy to accomplish once you settle on the right pot or pots. A cluster of pots could include pots in varying shapes and sizes, but should be in complementary hues and should be used in odd numbers like three or five. Plants could include a mixture of tropical and flowering plants suitable for your exposure of sun or shade and should be planted in a good quality potting soil.