Thursday, July 20, 2017

Home Tour: Library (Before)

I was going to wait until this room was "finished," or at least fully furnished, before foisting pictures of it on you. But that's going to take too long and I'm too eager to share, so here you go. The "before" tour of our very unfinished library.

For years now, my husband and I have dreamed about having a home library. A room entirely dedicated to books. Something with floor to ceiling shelves, a spiral staircase, and cozy reading nooks.

Now that we have a house, it's time to make that dream a reality!

Okay, not exactly the dream I'd envisioned (no floor to ceiling shelves, no spiral staircase), but here's the thing. Houses in middle America here don't seem to follow the fashion of English manors of yesteryear. Nobody in this modern era wants a room just for their books. So until we get to design and build that dream house of our own (someday), I'm making do with the space we have.

This is obviously our front room. Parlor? Sitting room? Hearth room? I actually don't know what the official name of this room is (there is a living/family room downstairs), so I decided to just start calling it the library, and so far it's stuck. I've got the kids calling it the library, so the library it is.

Priority #1 upon moving into out house was getting some shelves for this room. The first house we bid on had these amazing built-in shelves around their fireplace, and I would've loved to have some nice built-ins put in here, but that would've been a capital-P Project! Plus taken a bunch of time/money etc. So instead I scoured the internet for a matching set of bookshelves to flank our fireplace, and I'd picked out a few options. But then my husband pointed out that there is both an outlet and switch (for the gas fireplace) on the right side wall that he really didn't want blocked by a bookcase, so I was scratching my head about what to do. Only put a shelf on one side? Find backless shelves that I actually liked?

Then, on our first (of many) trips to Ikea, I saw a set of these very respectable Hemnes bookshelves that I liked the look of, and lo and behold! It came in a half-width size too! Which meant the smaller one could fit between the fireplace and the switch without blocking anything!

(See the switch in question back there?) It's still not my ideal, as it feels a little off-balance, but I've decided that's fine for now. It's still a heck of a lot more shelf space than I've ever had before, and I'm having way too much fun figuring out how to arrange my books and decorate these shelves, and obviously making plans for all the books I want to buy to fill them up.

This is by no means my final shelf arrangement, this is just how I threw things together a few hours before we left for our family reunion, so I've still got lots of tinkering and thinking and rearranging to do about it.

There's also a new bookcase down in our office area, so with this move our shelf space has more than doubled, and I'm pretty giddy about that expansion. I always considered it a moral challenge to limit my book collection to the few bookcases we could fit in our little apartment, but now there's actually empty shelf space! For things other than books! And I won't have to fret so much every time I get a new book about where it's going to fit. So luxurious.

As for the rest of the room...

So far we got nothing. (I realized the other day, when we had visitors over, that most people probably think it's weird the bookshelves were my priority, and not a place to sit, but there you go). We've got plans to get a sofa and a comfy reading chair or two in here, and definitely a plant of some kind. And someday, I want to turn this into the library/music room with the addition of a piano (I play a little), but my husband is really hesitant about buying a piano. He plays the violin, and doesn't believe in instruments you can't carry and pack in the car with you (not really, he just doesn't want to move a piano up our front stairs).

Also, we've got to figure out how to decorate the walls and fireplace. I mean, what is that little alcove thing up there? What am I supposed to do with that? We've talked about getting a nice piece of art to put there, but we disagree on what it should be. Also, do you see that black swirly thing on the wall? The previous owners left it for us. I kind of want to throw it out, but my husband is in favor of keeping it (he just doesn't want to have to pull out the ladder and take it down just to put something else up in it's place). And maybe someday we'll repaint too (as much as I love beige... I actually don't).

So anyway, big plans, and this room is far, far from finished. I have no idea how long it will take us to get this room actually together (years?), but I have a feeling it will be my very favorite room in the house when we do. And I'll be sure to post pictures as it evolves, lucky you!


  1. Wow, so much potential! I can't wait to see the evolution of this room! But in the meantime, those shelves! 😍

    1. Thanks, it does have a lot of potential! I can't wait till we get it finished!

  2. Ooo, I just love all that light coming through your window! Such a beautiful room! And of course, I'm all with you on where your priorities should be...books should win over seating every time, really. We also are trying to make a library in our new house (because, unlike you, I apparently lack self-discipline when it comes to number of books we own and we have something like 30(!) boxes of books in our basement that are just books). We are going the built-in, wall-to-wall bookshelf route, but only because my husband's best friend is in construction and offered to help us for free, so...why not, right?! I'm excited, but I know it will probably be months before that Project (with a capital P!) is finished.

  3. So lucky you have a friend in construction! My husband's friends are all lawyers and accountants, which is fine, but practically useless when it comes to home projects (we are not DIYers, unfortunately). I'm so excited to see pictures of your library whenever you get those shelves built, I'm sure it will be awesome!