yada yada

taking criticism with lots of grains of salt


you might remember we built these shelves for our apartment. we lack storage and have a thousand books, so we thought it was a good idea for us. well last week apartment therapy posted the shelves! oh yay!

NOT SO FAST. i noticed they’d posted and was excited for about 10 seconds until i scrolled down and read the comments. the nasty un-constructive comments saying how they’re ugly and cluttered and styled oh so badly. and then i got super upset…

left shelf

here’s my personal favorite:

tishinottawa wrote :

“Personal opinion, you ruined a beautiful clean look. Some gorgeous black and white photography on the wall would have framed that fireplace, and then perhaps some wicker baskets and interesting old boxes and trunks along the floor for odds and ends. And find somewhere else for the books.

But since you’ve gone to the effort, at least style the bookcases better. The books should be grouped by size, colour.”

… barf. i think these haters are the people who do this :

colored coded books

shudder. oh and how about this…

kraft paper books

oh hell no.

now why was i so upset? i never said i was a decorator or a stylist. i certainly don’t want to style the shelves like i’m living in country home but i also didn’t know they were styled hideously. they hold all the books in our apartment. you know, like the definition of a bookshelf : a shelf on which books can be stored. my biggest challenge with decorating is always worrying that things look decorated. maybe not apartment therapy commenters. so anyway i read these comments and was like “wtf fuck those fucks” and then i did this. OOPS.


shit. i made our apartment a disaster for the next three days because of some stupid comments. i even considered moving the shelves into the office and getting some simple white cabinets for the living room instead. but i didn’t – thank god. i reorganized the shelves a little and took the next few days to try to not give a shit about what people think. even though that’s basically impossible, i obviously need to get more used to criticism because people on the internet say mean things all the time and i need to thicken my skin.

Rebecca Black

if rebecca black can handle it i can handle it.

left shelf after copy

ignore all those cords. we setup the wii. i’m really not sure if the shelves look any better or any different, but it was actually kind of rewarding taking everything down and having it be cleaner once i finished.

right shelf after

the moral of the story is that people are as mean on the internet because they can be. and from now on – i’ll try not to read comments.

+ how do you deal with criticism?

images : colored coded books / kraft paper books

*** this has been reposted due to technical difficulties. the original comments are MIA. but thanks for them and i wish i could see them again so i could write you big thank yous.

60 comments on “taking criticism with lots of grains of salt”

  1. Well, as it happens, I came across your blog because of that AT post about your shelves. I spent a good hour reading through it thinking, “wow, this girl has great style!” Then I added you to my feedly so I could keep reading!

    I’ve never understood that organizing books by color thing. It can look cool, but how do you ever find a book to actually, oh I don’t know, READ (instead of just looking pretty on a shelf).

    1. + thanks christine!

      plus i don’t want to live in a rainbow so much. makes me happy you’re reading – please keep it up! :)

  2. I also found you through that post. Either that or someone had pinned the post and I found you through Pinterest. Either way, I found you because someone else liked what your did and/or your style. I added you to my feed because I liked your style and what you had to say. So, keep on with what you’re doing… haters gotta hate!

    P.S. I DO have my books organized by color, but I’m down to JUST my most loved books (about 200) and I know them enough to know where to find them. I don’t think I could do it that way if I had more than what I have.

    1. + ashley – thanks for your comment! how’d you get rid of your unwanted books!? the only ones i can part with are 10 year old textbooks.

  3. What jerks! Your bookshelves are the perfect balance of form and function. I’m really sorry to hear this, and I’m especially dismayed because my apartment will be featured in an upcoming House Tour – this vitriol makes me regret opening up our home for AT readers.

    1. + aw thanks marti! actually i find that house tours are the one place they hold off hating. i think you’ll be fine – congrats on your house tour!!!

  4. Oh people like that make me so so soooo angry. I came across your blog on Pinterest, immediately pinned your shelves and have been pestering my boyfriend to make me a set for our studio. You are amazing and I always look forward to your new posts on bloglovin’. xx

    1. + thank you toni! tell him they’re not THAT HARD… OK THEY’RE KINDA HARD. but if you convince him, send me photos, i’d love to see!

  5. I think your bookshelves looked (and look) AWESOME! In fact, I was totally jealous of them and wanted to have them for myself! People can be so mean and thoughtless and EVERYONE has a different sense of style! I had something very similar happen to me last year when a picture of my living room got posted online. People said some very hurtful things about it, which really got to me until I realized how unhappy and insecure these people must be with their lives to feel the need to be so critical and negative. Plus, most of them probably have ugly homes anyway ;-) Don’t let them get to you!

    1. haha my thoughts exactly! i can’t imagine being one of those people that would write a mean comment – even if i think it i wouldnt write it!!!

  6. I also found your blog and started following it because of that post :) I really like your shelves and everything on them, especially the boats. I guess people feel entitled to give their opinions if something is on the internet, but they seem to forget that these are real people’s homes and to be polite about it. Anyway, I love them.

    1. + thank you so much natasha. i didn’t realize i had so many boats until they were on the shelves… and i restrained myself. i guess i’m a sailor at heart?

  7. I love the shelving you made. I found it through Creature Comforts and have emailed the link to several people. It’s been my experience that people who sit back and watch instead of doing things, tend to criticize those who actually ‘do’. Ignore the jerks. I for one am ready to scream every time I see another color coded bookshelf; it’s been done to death.

  8. Nearly this EXACT same thing happened to me a couple of years ago. I put up this small little set of open shelves in my kitchen. Somehow, Apartment Therapy picked it up, and their commenters ripped it to shreds. Not only did they say they were badly styled, but they also argued I couldn’t open my fridge (they were on the wall beside my fridge) even after I commented that I could, in fact, open my fridge. I mean, seriously?! And I similarly thought…fuck those fucking fuckers. So, um, yeah. I don’t deal with criticism well and certainly not with grace. In fact, I even took a picture with a ruler showing how far the shelves were from the fridge. Not my finest moment.

    Anyway, AT commenters are the worst. I think your shelves look great (both before and after), and I often wonder what the point of even having shelves is if you’re just going to fill them with useless coffee table books and tchotchkes.

    1. + hahaha. so sorry for the same thing happening to you! i think your blog and your crafts are awesome. and we need to rise above those losers. again – fuck them. ooo that feels good!

  9. What! I can understand expressing your differing opinion on styling, but telling you to style something “better” is crazy. I personally sort my books alphabetically by author and I don’t care if it doesn’t looked “styled” because I can always find what I’m looking for.

    Also, I just started reading your blog a few days ago after seeing those shelves on Apartment Therapy! :)

    1. + thanks for reading lynn! author is the way to go. that’s what i would do if i actually touched any books a second time!

  10. I LOVE these shelves! They look wonderful and they are something that I could actually imagine in my own home, unlike other things you see on the web. Don’t worry about the haters!

  11. Seriously those comments were fracking ridiculous. I don’t understand how they can post comments like that. I absolutely loved what you did that I showed it to everybody that I knew. I know that everyone can’t be pleased but the people who commented those nasty things probably don’t have a home as cool as yours.

    also, wtf. Who organizes their books like that? No one. Unless you have an OCD problem. They’re the weird ones.

  12. My husband came across your shelves on pinterest and started working on building them in our house soon after. We love them! So thank you for sharing :)

  13. Apartment Therapy commenters are notorious for their negativity and ass-holey ness.

    Your shelves were dope then and they’re dope now.

  14. I saw those hateful comments and threw up all over. I found your shelving post even before the apartment therapy blog feature and think you have amazing style that WORKS with a real person’s lifestyle, not for an ikea magazine set up prop. The ideas that people had were daft at best and I think your shelving installation is practical as well as pretty. Keep up the great inspiration and don’t let those yupster hipster types get to ya!

  15. I too found your shelves (and blog) through the AT site. I liked them & bookmarked them AND I am a stylist/decorator. I have similar shelves in part of my apartment and am considering doing more. They are really standout due to your stained wood and the black standards. I like them in many instances over the pipe and flanges shelves Because they can be Adjustable! They are Practical! I thought they were ‘styled’ just fine. Bookshelves Are for book and other storage. They didn’t look cluttered. Sometimes I get so ‘sick’ of everyone and their brother being a ‘stylist’ and really am getting turned off from so many design sites. Houses shouldn’t be dust collectors, but they are places where lives are lived, people love, happiness blossoms. Do our environments affect us on multiple levels – yes they do. Can they make our lives better, easier – yes they can. Yours is just fine. Can things be styled and arranged differently? Can things be improved? Can things be PRACTICAL?!!!! Can practical and logical, functional be beautiful? Yes, they/it can. That is why I am me and you are you! (<- that refers to the differences between people and the practicality/functional issues – why shouldn't you have all your books together?! Makes perfect sense! Logical! Functional! Practical!)… Good design Enhances your life. Beauty without practicality is just sort of there, meh. I'm the kind of person who doesn't have much 'respect' for empty beauty. inspirational? maybe. useful? no…. practical. logical, functional Is (can be) beautiful – that's the beauty of it!

    1. + thank you!! love hearing that from a stylist. you’ve got a good attitude on it, so many houses i seen done by decorators look SO damn… decorated. and it bugs me a lot.

  16. Oh honey. I am so sorry. AT comments are known to be the worst commenters in the world. Vitriol for the sake of vitriol. If your shelves had been perfect people would have made comments on “it’s too styled! does anyone actually live there? does she even actually read?” so (mentally) tell them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine and move on. Stay strong! :)

    MY caps have just stopped working on my keyboard & I THINK i MIGHT LOSE MY COOL.


  19. lol apartment therapy commenters are the fucking worst sometimes. your shelves looked beautiful, and obviously apartment therapy thought so enough to post them!! they can just get so nasty sometimes, i much prefer the design sponge commenters just because they are civil and constructive.

    my favorite is how mad apartment therapy people get at painting wood. i painted over a shitty table, for a client who requested the entire thing be painted, and they were like “YOU SHOULD HAVE FIRST SCOURED THE WORLD TO SEE IF YOU COULD FIND A PERSON WHO WOULD HAVE BOUGHT THE ORIGINAL TABLE FROM YOU BEFORE YOU CONSIDERED THE UNSPEAKABLE SIN OF PAINTING A PIECE OF OLD FURNITURE!”


  20. I think your shelves look perfect just the way they are. Like you, I’m not for the completely modern, barely-anything-there look either. I say be as mis-matchy as you please. It’s unique and beautiful!

  21. Hi – I am so irritated with the world being so disrespectful and so rude, on any one of a number of on-line avenues (i.e. commenting on blog posts, ranting on facebook). I was finally pushed beyond my tolerance, and had to say something, even if it is to a complete stranger. People are entitled to their opinions but they should at least be constructive and not hurtful. Some people are just mean and will always be. Now, on to those shelves. I prefer your original image. It looks real, it looks functional, it looks good. I like your DIY better than my first saved image that showed the stained wood shelves with silver tone hardware. Nice work, I will be doing something similar in my home.

  22. It’s so lame that people leave such mean comments! For what it’s worth, I LOVED your shelves the second I saw them and have pinned them to several of my boards. You’ve got fab style, and who cares what any of us say! They’re your shelves in your house. Homes should be functional first and stylish second. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  23. Oh my your shelves are fab. I’m planning on copying your idea. Don’t listen to the haters, they’re not worth jack! You’re doing a grant job, keep you the good work. I’m loving your blog xxx

  24. I loved your shelves so much that I am seriously considering making a mortal enemy out of my landlord by installing copycats on my rented plaster walls. I too was scandalized by the comments when I caught it on AT — I felt a bit indignant after obsessing over these babies for weeks now, trying to find any viable not-screwed-into-the-wall alternative.

    So, in the interest of mitigating my landlord’s hatred for me (did I mention that I’ve already painted the bedroom that I use as a studio stark white with BLACK trim?), any tips on making sure that these don’t fall out of my wall? Are all your uprights secured into studs? Did you use any sort of anchors?

  25. Like the old proverb I think it goes something like… “Haters gonna hate” amiright?
    I might be a little late to the party but I found your blog because I was following a picture of those shelves and I literally just finished copying your drawing exactly and now I’m heading to home depot… my shelves will also have an abundance of books and records because… well other than the fact I like music and reading, records and books are fucking cool. And for the women who suggested color coding your books maybe she should get out of the house more because that is no way to live!

    1. no sarah — they can’t leave the house, they’re busy sitting on apartment therapy all day commenting! i think records and books are the only cool things to clutter shelves with. besides rocks and minerals. i’d love to fill my shelves with rocks and minerals. good luck on your shelves!!

  26. AT was great circa 2007ish,but the readers are pretentious bastards these days. I take things way too personally, so I guarantee you I’ll never have anything EVER featured over there.

    Your shelves are amazing and my source of inspiration for a media/blu-ray/book storage unit in our bedroom. Yep, BLU-RAYS all over my shelves, next to books, right in front of our bed : )

    1. i love it! when we move i’m thinking about putting the shelves in our bedroom too — i got really OCD a year ago and threw out all my dvd cases and put them in a big cd book which my cats now like to chew. i’m not sure which is better!

  27. People can be so ridiculous. I had a similar experience on Design Sponge…it ruined me for a few hours and then I just realized that I can ignore the faceless people tearing me to shreds.
    It can be something to learn from, but always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. People on the internet are brutal.
    Also, I love your blog. It is the perfect amount of style, DIY and humor I need in my life.


    1. aww thank you courtney that’s really too sweet.
      since that happened, i decided someone who writes mean comments on the internet is someone i wouldn’t want to be friends with, right. and sometimes i see ugly things on the internet and think totally bitchy things, but i keep those bitchy things all to myself! isn’t it easier that way?

  28. When I read blogs – and most bloggers are younger than me (I could be their mother in other words), I think back to when I was that age, when the nesting instinct was at its strongest and I enjoyed making my house “lovely” – painting and repainting, spending untold hours selecting tile, appliances, fixtures, bedding, wall art, etc. It was fun. Fast forward to my middle aged self, kids grown, no longer working . . . fussy design has no place in my life anymore. My home has to be simply decorated and most important, easy to take care of. When I purchase something like bedding I want it to last a very long time and I don’t want to constantly think about changes because I have too many other things I want to do with my time. I want a home that truly fits my lifestyle and my design aesthetic and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about my space or does in their own space. It’s also important that my choices leave the least footprint on our beautiful planet. So, after all that, I think your bookshelves are perfect. It’s what you like, period. No explanations necessary. Enjoy!

  29. Oh dear, I really love these shelves, I pinned them and wanted to read more about them…and then I find this post about the comments on a whatever site…however important, read, what does it matter what they write? better let go, and don’t even mention it. people who like to read mean stuff will open it, the people who don’t enjoy will not, and eventually will build its own disgrace :). don’t be so dependent on people’s opinions in any case, mine or whoever’s. enjoy what you are doing and you will be happy! here a ted’s talk slightly related that can inspire you, hopefully. take care! http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/I-Choose-To-Be-Happy-Lizzie-Val;search%3Atag%3A%22tedxyouth-austin%22

  30. Oh! I am surprised, I pinterested the shelving as I’ve been looking for how to gather all our books – I just looked at the post again as I’m showing it to my partner tonight! I’m studying interior design & you’ve made a piece that fits in well with modernist ideals (like Egle Amaldi’s Cado bookshelves). The eclectic look is so on trend for next year too – it stops it looking too stark, I think. We’re going to see if it works in our living room – the stripped down style is really rough luxe & given the dimensions & light in our room, any full fitted shelving would be too dark, heavy & domineering. I have been looking & looking for shelving styles! We’re going to do a small trial piece that we can take down if we don’t think it works – so different strokes for different folks – but I very much appreciated your post & step by step details.

  31. “Interior designers” and “decorators” who yell about having too many books out in the open especially on a BOOKSHELF are ridiculous. They try to have book lovers hide their books or discard/sell their books; it is completely ridiculous. Do they even read books? Or do they only keep them around because they add a little character as if in their mind they are no more significant than a tchotchke? They certainly don’t care about books if they are organizing their books by color (how can you ever find the book you need) or stacking them on their sides (this is the WORST think you can do with books because it ruins the spine; similar to stacking vinyl–the pressure destroys these precious objects). Furthermore, books and records are great to decorate your space; especially, if you have beautiful editions; they never go out of style unlike certain boneheads use as “décor” which will create a dated looking apartment in six months because he or she purchased trendy items like “wicker baskets and interesting old boxes and trunks along the floor for odds and ends”. I guess, for people who don’t like to read hide their two or three books in the hope you will forget to notice they don’t have any books. Books and vinyl aggressively reveal good or bad taste; people can feel threated if you have better taste especially if you have more of it than they do. Remember what John Waters says, “We need to make books cool again.”

  32. I’m late to this discussion and a new reader of AT, though I haven’t bothered to look at the AT comments. I love what you did with your shelves; it’s a realistic solution for people who own books. I’m convinced that people who organize bookshelves by colour, don’t actually read the books. God forbid books be organized by their content. By similar (il)logic, I presume they organize their closets alphabetically.

  33. Coming in on this late, but oh my goodness! WTF is right! I LOVE your bookshelves SO MUCH! They are exactly what I needed to see to get inspired for our “media wall” in our living room. I was so ready to spend a ton of money I didn’t have on something, but this will totally save us a lot of time and money. I think it’s wonderful! Haters gonna hate! Internet haters are the worst!

  34. Well here I am several years after the fact. I found this article by searching google images and was so impressed that I continued to your blog. I just found it last night. I’m looking forward to unearthing a treasure trove of cool design–I just like everything you’ve done!
    I am def in your camp re books and bookshelves. You should see mine–they’re stuffed to the gills with books and a few decorative items. I place the big books horizontally and have them crammed on the shelves all the way to the bottom surface of the next shelf. My reason: it’s a cheap bookshelf and I don’t want the shelves sagging!
    When I was a kid, my grandparents had a whole wall of shelves and books ala yours. For me, it’s a sentimental thing. My grandparents had a sort of midcentury-slash-early seventies aesthetic that I now aspire to. The idea that you wouldn’t use a bookshelf for books (or that you’d only use 50% of the space ala home stagers) is just ludicrous and pretentious.
    I love what you’ve done and continue to do.

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