Over the past five years, I’ve written about my book storage issue more than a few times. The fact is that design books have overtaken my house, like rats in the attic.
AND, speaking of rats in the attic – remember my story about U-Verse??? We had a problem with our connections that U-Verse couldn’t seem to get fixed. WELL…..
After I wrote about our TV/Internet problems, I got an email from the husband of a reader who was worried my computer issues would affect the blog – thus making his wife unhappy. Said husband is an executive with ATT. Last SUNDAY (yes, Sunday) I get a call from U-Verse, asking to come out and fix my issues. WHOA. Since then, they’ve been here a few more times and things are working amazingly perfect so far. The culprit? Hiding deep in the wall was the main electrical line to the modem – all chewed up by some animal, either a rat, squirrel or raccoon!! Take your pick.
So a huge thank you to ATT, the reader and her husband who really went all out to solve my issues. I still can’t get over the excellent service we got. Thank you!!!!
So, back to my design books which have overtaken my house like rats in the attic. Ever since I started watching Hoarders on TV, I’ve felt like they were going to put me on the show, sitting high on top of a pile of books, sleeping on them with an old pillow and a ratty quilt. I love that show. Nothing makes you want to edit and clean your house more than watching an episode of Hoarders. Here’s the problem:
The main bookshelf in my house is here on the landing. When we first moved in, it was more than adequate. But that was around 18 years ago and we have long since outgrown this. In addition, there’s another small bookshelf in the guest room. As you can see, the books that don’t fit in are now standing in three tall stacks with more books in the basket.
At first I put the stacks of extra books against this wall, but when Halo Styles sent me this cabinet by error, I kept it, and filled it up with excess books. By the way, the 2 shelves inside the cabinet doors are also filled with books. And…the stacks continued to grow.
The books are everywhere. The first you thing you see when you come inside my house is this library table with masses of books underneath.
And more on this side of the table.
And even more. There are also stacks of books in the living room, under the end tables and coffee table.
I bought this set of 3 Kooboo baskets to hide more books. Each one is filled to the top. It weighs a ton to move these.
There are more books under this table, and there are even books on the stair steps.
There are more in the family room. This basket is filled with books. So is another basket under the coffee table. And there are more books on the breakfast table just waiting for a home. I don’t even have the nerve to show you the stacks of beautiful design books that are rotting away in the garage. Sinful!! But I literally have no room for them. I also have a large collection of gorgeous Beta-Plus books that are scattered all over the place, here, there, in the guest bathroom even. I want them all together – like they should be.
I probably could fill up these shelves with books, but I want this to be filled with antique books not design books. I know. It’s stupid.
So, after years of deliberations…here’s the solution.
This is my “office” – a teeny, tiny guest room. I took this picture about five years ago, cleaned it all up for the picture.
Because this is how it really looks. But the thing is, I don’t really use this room much, anymore. Elisabeth and I used to spend hours in here together on our computers. But now, I’m always blogging downstairs, outside most of the time to escape the blaring TV, and I certainly never had a client in “my office” before. Plus, all those catalogues and samples that were once so important to the business – it’s all on the internet now – I can’t remember the last time I opened a 20 pound catalogue from a furniture company. And, then, since the blog keeps me so busy, I don’t take on as many clients these days. And please, that red console is enough to scare away any client that walks here! Red? Seriously, what was I thinking? The desk is an x-frame dining room table from Pier One that I bought over 10 years ago. Those chairs are long gone. Actually there are the kooboo wicker chairs in there now, well they were in there…..because….
The office looks like this today! I spent a day this week cleaning it all out – filing client files in the storage closet, getting rid of old catalogues, lugging that red console downstairs (well helper James really lugged it down the stairs) and he’s also taking that antique map home, though he doesn’t really understand what he has! Next week, there are going to be wall to wall bookshelves installed in this room. The shelves will start on the left side of the room, go around to the back wall, and onto the right wall. The shelves will run above the window and down on the right side of it. Underneath the window will be a built in seat with a lid on it for storage. For when the carpenter is finished, I’ve already hired a high school student to help me gather up all the books from all over the house and garage and she’s going to alphabetize them by author! I’m soooo excited! I’ve been dreaming about a library for years now and this has always been the logical place for it.
This room adjoins Elisabeth’s bedroom through their shared bathroom, so I envision she could also use it as a sort of TV room when she has friends over. Or, if ever any of our parents come and lives with us, they could have both Elisabeth’s bedroom and the library and use it as a private living area. My mother is reading is and saying “No way am I EVER moving in with you!!!!” ok, ok, I hear you.
At one point I thought that maybe I should turn the living room into the library – we could extend the house into the front yard and make that room so much bigger. The shelves could be two stories high. But, Ben was really against that idea – too expensive. So, the office is the perfect place. I can still use it as a office, which I will, but it will be more streamlined – all the customer files will go in the closet which is now a sort of filing room. Fabric samples are stored in bins on a huge metal shelving unit in the garage.
So, now I’m looking for some décor inspiration for a new library.
Try googling libraries on the internet and this is what you get. Historically, libraries have been beautiful spaces – especially state owned ones, like our own Library of Congress. I’ve never been there before and had no idea how gorgeous it is!!! Stunning. Built in 1886 it was based on the Paris Opera House.
Admont Abbey’s library is the largest monastic library in the world. It’s interesting to see how different styles of design determine the décor – this Baroque building has been called the Eight Wonder of the World due to it being the largest example of Late Baroque in Europe. It actually looks like Disneyland to me.
The National Library Of The Girolamini Oratory, Naples, Italy – embroiled in a huge scandal this year when its inexperienced head librarian was charged with stealing over 3000 priceless books and then trying to sell them!!!
The Trinity College Library in Dublin is the largest library in Ireland. Built in 1732 it has seen significant architectural changes – the bottom level was filled in – it was originally an arcade to keep the books dry, and the arched dome was added in the 19th century.
Not all beautiful state libraries are huge. Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar was built in 1562 as Anna’s house and was converted into the library in 1761. The oval Rococo hall is so charming!! This would make a beautiful home library.
The St. Genevieve Library of Paris, built in 1842-50, is the first large building to have used structural iron as an décor element. The ceiling is so gorgeous, it looks like black lace.
Not all fabulous libraries are owned by the state or the monarchy. Large manor houses often had private libraries. Here, at the celebrated estate Chatsworth, is its main library. Sorry to say – I think they need new curtain fabric – this fabric almost blends in with the books! This library is one of six in the house and is the largest library in private hands in England.
I like this library at Belton House in England. The bright walls are so great against the white bookshelves.
Another grand house library, Chateau de Serrant, in France – the desk is incredible, and I love the round portraits.
This library at Chateau de Groussay was the inspiration for the library in My Fair Lady. There are so many grand home libraries in Europe, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But, I love a two story library – with a balcony, just like this. Add a fireplace, and you could live in here!
But, let’s get serious. My tiny library is never going to be grand. Still, I keep looking for inspiration. This library was designed inside a NY loft. The architects closed it off by installing paned glass walls and doors.
A closer view. Isn’t it incredible? The kitchen is located right past this room. I imagine the designers came up with this solution to have a quiet place to read in an open loft. When I see this, I keep thinking maybe I should remove the doors in my library and replace them with glass paned French doors. It would add a little character to the tiny room. Designed by Roman and Williams.
Seen in Elle Décor, this library has to be one of the most incredible ones I’ve seen in years. Of course it was designed by Kelly Wearstler, who else? I have been staring at this for days. Kelly designed that amazing partners desk and the carpet. I love the lights over the shelves – that is something I am considering in my own space.
Look at the wall of marble – only Wearstler would add something like that. I love the color of the painted wood and the carved detailing on it. Look closer – it’s just a triangle, a circle, and an upside down triangle!
Look at the brass deco styled staircase designed by Wearstler. Amazing. The main staircase in the house has the same railing. To die for!!!!!
If you can’t have a dedicated library, I’ve always thought a combination dining room/library is a good use of space.
Another place to find extra space for book shelves – on the landing. These shelves go up with the stairs. Beautiful.
I love this small library – with the loft over the sofa. What a great idea if you are short on space – like me! Too bad my ceilings are just 9 ft in that room – so I can’t build a loft.
More found space – I love how this narrow room has the library against one side. Love that window seat with the beadboard – maybe I should add beadboard at the bottom of mine.
This is a dream – glass doors over the books. Love those lights too. But this wouldn’t work for my shelves over the window – plus the ones at the side of the window are so narrow.
Plus, if you have doors, it keeps the shelves from looking so messy. I am scared mine are going to end up like these!! But, what a great library!!! That chandelier!
I love the black and white marble floors and the glass French doors – I am really thinking I should do a French door instead of the regular one I have. OR, I could find an antique door and replace the closet door with that one.
I love Mark Sikes second floor library. He used that wonderful wallcovering by Peter Dunham. How nice! He has the brass lights, like the Wearstler library which I love. And I love his skirted table with the ikat. Nice French day bed too. Apple matting. Black doors. Textured shades. I wonder if I didn’t do the windowseat – would a daybed fit there? And, if I was going to wallpaper – this room would be an inspiration. I completely love it.
This library got me thinking about curtains – again, if there wasn’t a window seat, could I add beautiful curtains? Maybe I shouldn’t do the window seat, but there are going to be shelves above the window, so curtains are probably out either way.
I’m leaning to a white/gray library, but this one always makes me stop. I love the dark painted wood – it’s so cozy and warm and comfortable looking. Plus, I’m a sucker for all the Bennison fabric. Alessandra Branca.
This has always been a huge inspiration – Carolina Irving’s NYC apartment. I love her books everywhere – especially how she turned the dining room into a library. I do have a blue and white striped rug I could use in there. This apartment is just perfect – so well designed, so classic.
Back to reality, this library really influenced me. This house was shown on the blog a few months ago and it had the most amazing library – filled with only design books and travel books. I loved the pull out shelves and the way it is simply furnished with a table and a few antique chairs and a desk. My shelves are similar in that they go over the window like this and down the sides on the left and right. But, her cabinetry is so gorgeous – totally first class. Mine won’t be so bespoke, I’m afraid.
Here’s a closeup of the lights and the pull out shelves. I won’t be having those shelves though. And my room is much smaller than this. But I do like the lights on the shelves like this.
Another Branca library – here I LOVE the lights. Hard to decide should I do these kinds of lights or the horizontal bar lights? No one does red and black like Branca.
Maybe I’ll move all my globes upstairs to the office.
This study by Ashley Goforth reminded me of what mine will look like – the shelves over the window and down the sides, the seagrass, the white slips. Simple and clean. I like the shutter doors too.
Would a fabric shade be better than a bamboo one? Should I do a love seat instead of two chairs???
Another study by Goforth had me thinking – so I do a white cow rug over the seagrass or a striped rug? And what light fixture? Should I do dark gray on the shelves and a lighter gray on the walls or vice versa? Or just white shelves? Decisions!!
Another inspiration – I still love seagrass and checks. For sure I will use checked fabric on the chairs and maybe the window seat – or just a pillow or two. Another inspiration is the linen fabric that softens the bookcase. Such a great idea!! Wish I could do that too – but I’ll have too many shelves. Notice how Pierce added the row of pictures right where the curtains open.
So, in the end, what décor am I going to go with? I love the cluttered, messy look of libraries, especially the ones found in old grand houses, but mine isn’t like that. There’s nothing architecturally interesting to that room at all. I keep looking at two images that appeal to me:
I love the white and cream and gray in this room. I know everyone is doing their houses in bright colors with patterns everywhere – but I just can’t. It’s just not me. And, I love those old doors – maybe I could find a set like that. Plus - I love the brick floors – but that isn’t going to happen.
I love Brooke of Velvet and Linen’s office too. I love the Swedish chairs and the grays and creams. And I love her little desk. And the brick floors. If I didn’t need more shelves, I would just do a cabinet, but I need more. And Brooke’s books are antiques, so much prettier than the real thing. My shelves will never look this quiet – the book spines are too colorful. AND…..should I do a real desk or a round table?
This study decorated by Tone on Tone – who, by the way, has a great new blog, HERE – makes me wonder should I do two chairs and a Swedish table like this instead of a real desk? Love the lantern.
Questions to figure out:
1. What color should I paint the room?
2. Should the shelves be white?
3. Should I leave the seagrass or get a rug or layer a white cowhide or zebra?
4. Chandelier or ceiling fan? hehe Ceiling fan IS leaving – chandy or lantern?
5. Should there be a desk or round table?
6. Two chairs? Or a chair and a ottoman?
Right now I’m thinking about gray walls and ceiling:
Maybe Farrow and Ball: James White – or Skimming Stones on the walls and ceiling and a pure white on the bookshelves? Or should it all be gray?
Should I do horizontal lights or sconces or not do any lighting at all? Big question to figure out quickly. Is the lighting too contemporary looking?
I’m thinking about a small desk like this from The Lone Ranger. Just need to be sure the back is painted, if not, he’ll do that for sure. I love Elisabeth’s faux French desk, but I can’t do the same desk in both rooms. Maybe I can find another desk source.
Here’s a gorgeous desk from Tone on Tone. Should I do the blue and white check? Or just a gray and white check?
Or should I just do a round table with two chairs?
Of course M. Naeve has THE most gorgeous Swedish table ever. Period 18th century. Just a tad out of my price range, unfortunately. Maybe she’ll let me borrow it???
Or this lantern, for instance, from Pottery Barn?
Or go for the real thing from Chateau Domingue?
I don’t know why I’m making such a big deal out of this tiny room. In the end, it will probably look like Nigella Lawson’s in a few months. Still – I love her library!!
AND, after the carpenter is done upstairs, we might do this:
You see how those shelves are open?
I’m thinking about adding doors like Jill Brinson’s. They won’t be just like hers of course, but I’d be using them as the inspiration. I think it will quiet down the room to have the doors on the shelves, plus, I love the way they look. I could have Leslie with Segreto paint the new doors and the cabinets to look somewhat like Jill’s. Well, it’s still in the talking stage, but the carpenter says he can do it. Ben wants to do this. Huge surprise.
So, what do you think? I’m really anxious to hear your ideas and comments about the library and the maybe new cabinet doors. If you have any suggestions – let me know – I’m all ears. You are the only one I have to bounce this off with. So, give me your thoughts. It’s hard to plan it without any outside advice.
Maybe I should hire a decorator?