Until I started this here interior blogging, I never knew a colour-coded bookshelf was a thing. Turns out, not only is it a thing, it's a very popular thing among very stylish (and witty) people who make excellent interviewees - hence this two-part post. First up is colour-code fanatic and silk scarf designer Mimi Hammill (whose scarves are worn by no lesser mortals than Mother Pukka and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon). Read on to find out how she coerced her reading material into an orderly spectrum, despite the kids’ best efforts to cause chaos (warning: lolz ahead)...
EM: Hey Mimi. So what inspired you to colour code your book shelves?
MH: Pinterest. OBVIOUSLY.
EM: How long did it take?
MH: Not very long. Having spent years in a series of inadequately tiny flats and houses, we learned to get ruthless. We only keep books that (a) we're particularly fond of, (b) we have recently been given (and therefore need to display until the gifter has forgotten), or (c) think one of us *might* read again. Mind you, I can see a copy of The Broken in that photo now I come to look at it. Hang on while I go and chuck it straight in the recycling. No secondhand bookshop needs to be saddled with that.
EM: What was the trickiest bit to get right?
MH: How to arrange it so the 35-year-old collection of original Thomas The Tank Engine books (black spines), lovingly archived by my in-laws, is out of reach and sight of ALL children at ALL times and from ALL angles.
EM: Are you a bit OCD?
MH: Though I accept this photo is evidence to the contrary, I'm not especially obsessed with order. The bestselling book of a certain Japanese professional organiser went in the Oxfam box after about 40 pages. That bit where she says all women (specifically women btw) should at all times be elegant, fragrant and beautiful (or something to that effect) even during leisure time? Purleeze. Who knew my 10-year-old maternity pyjamas would suddenly take on the weighty significance of a feminist statement. So, no, I'm not one of those disciples. But when I get a sudden taste for sorting something out, I do go a bit maniacal. I know the plastic box of Duplo contains a few rogue bits of Playmobil, and that there are migrant farm animals in the Brio box. With the bookshelf in order it's only a matter of time before I micro manage the crap out of the toys.
EM: Any colour coding tips?
MH: I solved the Thomas The Tank Engine quandary by putting the black spines on the very highest shelf. On the whole this has been a mistake because the black books look as if they occupy more space, and kind of loom over you menacingly (well, over me anyway; I'm only wee). I'd like to put all the white-spined books up there instead, but I genuinely fear tiny eyes spotting the Thomas books (some of them contain 50 small-type pages of sidings, pistons and buffers - FIFTY PAGES). Sometimes you've got to pick your battles.
EM: So you’d recommend everyone colour code their bookshelves then?
MH: I'd highly advise it. Especially if your bookshelves are in a dark narrow corridor, because it just makes it all look a bit more intentional, right? But never, EVER with children's bookshelves because that way madness lies. I've been there: "Blah Blah Blah. The End. Night night Fennel. Night night Fallujah. Now remember to put the story book back in the red shelf...no I know Rastamouse has a yellow cover but it has a RED SPINE, so it goes on the...no NOT the yellow shelf. AAAAAAgh WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?! Whaddaya mean it doesn't matter!?!?"