I guess it depends on what your space is all about. The above photo is obviously a workspace. You'd want to have everything near you within easy reach, and an inspiration board within sight as well. So even though it may have the appearance of clutter, this is definitely a very well designed workspace.
This seems to be what people are moving a bit more towards lately. Concealed clutter. Or perhaps no clutter at all. Cubbies for distinct display, cupboards to hide everything else. Clean. I like it.
Now, my first reaction to the above photo, is that I love the look. I miss the absence of color of course, but I love the simplicity. Then my second reaction kicks in, which is my more practical side: how could anyone possibly keep old, rough crates clean and dust free???
These shelves are truly lovely. And I enjoy how all the books are color coordinated - that's a really nice effect. I would try something like that.
(*all photo credits Apartment Therapy, except 3rd photo down, credit Serena of the Farm Chicks)
I think I've come to just a few conclusions so far. I'm definitely not a fan of bookshelves because my arch nemesis is dust. I hate it. And shelves love it. Shelves can't get enough of dust. Especially if shelves excel in clutter. The more clutter, the more dust. It's a lose/lose unless you love to dust. And I've heard that some people really do love to dust. Wow. But that doesn't mean I'm ditching my bookshelves, it just means I'm going to keep everything really simple.
Something else I've been thinking about are collections. I have several collections (among them, magazines). Most of my collections bring me great joy - my colorful croquet balls, my cheerful quilts. But I think we have to be careful. If it doesn't bring us joy - if we can't enjoy it by seeing it, using it, sharing it, whatever - then why do we have it? Perhaps we need to reevaluate all our "stuff". When "stuff" becomes a burden rather than a joy, it's time to say goodbye.
Just some random thoughts while I continue to work on my bookshelves... stay tuned.