Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Library progress

Moving right along with two post/one day madness! So this room is supposed to be the formal living room, but, like almost everyone else, we don't need one of those. But we do need somewhere for the piano to live, and for all the books to stay, and for Milo and Dave to play guitar, and maybe to play chess? So we're going with library/music room.

One more time, here it is before and empty:

And here it is today:

Here's the run down of what we've done so far. 

Paint. The whole front of the house (dining room, foyer, library) is this color now. It's Benjamin Moore's Nantucket Fog. I spent a long time obsessing over the perfect gray-blue paint. I had actually picked out Nantucket Fog online months ago, but bought samples of four other colors and painted swatches on the wall anyway to make sure. It's a little bluer than I was originally thinking we'd wind up with, but I'm really liking it. And we went to Nantucket for our honeymoon, and we think fog is kind of nice, so it seems meant to be. 

Shelves. They're the ubiquitous Billy shelves from Ikea. At first we planned to frame them all in to make them look like built-ins, as seen in a million and one blogs, such as Centsational Girl. But then, the more we thought about it, the more concerns we had. Such as: we wanted it to go around the corner, and it seemed like accomplishing the whole built-in look was going to get a lot more complicated once we rounded a corner. Well, mostly that. That and just general concerns about our ability to actually make it look as lovely and built-in as we wanted. 

I really liked the look of the library from Making it Lovely, so we finally opted to splurge and go for the glass doors, to make things look finished without making ourselves crazy. 

As you can see, only two of the shelves have the doors so far. We bought doors for all of them, but then we got home and realized that we'd mostly bought the wrong doors! I suppose we have only ourselves to blame for this, but I would like to at least partially blame Ikea, too. Here is what Ikea does with its Billy shelf doors in the self service area: it puts all the doors, the ones with glass all the way down and the ones with half glass and half solid (fake) wood (that's the other kind we came home with) in one big pile, in the same section. Then it labels the all glass shelves thusly:

See those little lines going diagonally across the panels? Those show that there is glass. The picture on the doors we bought by accident looks exactly the same, except that it doesn't have the little diagonal lines on the bottom panel. So, when we were grabbing 11 of these things, we didn't check carefully enough. And THEN, as if that weren't aggravating enough, when Dave went to return the wrong doors the other day, they were all out of the right doors, even though the website told us they had them. Sigh! So another trip to Ikea (preceded by a phone call this time!) will be required to finally finish the shelves.

Perhaps you will also note that there are no doors on the height extender shelves. Initially, the reason for this was that Ikea was out of those, too. But when we got home, we discovered another problem: oversized books. The Billy shelves come in the depth we bought (11 inches I think) and also in a deeper, 15 inch size. But the height extenders come in only 11 inches. Back when we were planning on framing them out, I considered the oversize book issue, but decided not to worry about it because I didn't think the occasional book poking out over the edge was a big deal. Then we got the doors. And completely failed to revisit the oversize book issue until we got home with our mess of shallow shelves. The solution we settled on was not going back for doors for the height extenders and just leaving them open to hold all the big books. 

Billy shelves require so much thought! Yet another dilemma was what to do with the backs. We'd planned to leave them open (i.e. not nail the flimsy cardboard panels to the back) and then paint the wall behind them a different, darker color. But when I got the first one put together, sans back, it was super wobbly. I don't know how it is that the flimsy cardboard makes that big of a difference, and I have seen lots of other bloggers leave the backs off with apparently perfectly good results, but I'm just telling you what happened to me: wobble, wobble. We also figured that, since the shelves were mostly going to be holding lots of actual books instead of decorative stuff, the backs weren't going to show that much. Eventually it's possible that we'll get ambitious and paint the backs or put some cool wallpaper on them or something, but for now they're staying austere and white. 

Chairs: I spent almost as much time thinking about chairs as I did about paint. I knew I wanted two armless chairs to go with a table and to be used for guitar playing (my 9 year old and my husband are learning to play, and no arms works better) and then a comfy arm chair for reading. My plan was to get something in a solid color for one or the other of these chair types and something in a fun print for the other. I went on a shopping expedition with my mom one day and found a few possibilities.

Like these from Homegoods. But I was really envisioning brighter colors in the library, and also Dave didn't care for these.

Or these from Pier 1. I like roosters. But I worried I might tire of the whimsy. Also, mostly white + kids and pets is not the best combination.

And I'm still mourning this one, from Haverty's. Sigh. The Prettiest Chair In the World. LOVE it. But look at that price tag: $649 (and, yes, that's without the ottoman, which would be another $300). And we have cats. Cats with claws. Even so, I came pretty close to going for this one, so very in love with it was I. 

Especially after I found the green armless chairs pictured above. They were on clearance on Target's website for $60 each. The reviews had a lot of negative stuff to say about the color, but on my monitor it looked an awful lot like the green in The Prettiest Chair in the World. And they could be returned to Target if I didn't like them so I ordered them. I like the green. I think it would have gone great with the expensive chair. But the cats also took a pretty big interest in the clearance chairs right away, so finally I decided: we cannot have cats and nice things. Or at least not nice upholstered furniture. At least not nice, expensive upholstered furniture that would cause me to spend most of my time freaking out at the thought of cat claws tearing into those lovely circle-y designs. 

So instead we bought this serviceable, cheap ($40!) chair off of Craigslist. Gus declares that it is very comfy:

Other stuff: in between the clearance green Target chairs is a table we bought at Ikea. It's the Norden, plain old unfinished birch, $79. We're not sure what we're going to do with it yet. We might just paint a chess board on it and buy some oversize chess pieces and....well, play chess. Not me. I don't like chess. But the kids and Dave. Or we might end up just painting it a solid color. Time will tell. That painting (that will eventually be hung on the wall instead of just leaning there) is one my grandmother painted. I had it hanging in the den, but I think the colors in it will look lovely in this room. 

The other corners of the room:

Music! The lamp on the piano is shaped like a horse. I don't know that it has found its permanent home yet, although I'm not sure where else it can go. Right now it's also the only source of light in the room. This must change.

Still to do: 
*more light! we might get more lamps or we might go crazy and call an electrician and get an overhead light. I'm not sure why there's NOT an overhead light. I mean, who doesn't want one? What was the builder thinking?

*more (than none) stuff on walls! 

*get the right doors and finish the shelves

*do something or other for that table

*get ottoman for the armchair

*organize books more and perhaps put more pretty things on shelves in strategic locations

*make nice display on piano, instead of just a couple of random pictures in frames and a horse lamp. Perhaps I could even make something crafty to hold the music books (I am not crafty, as a rule, but that seems like a manageable project, even for me)

*curtains. probably with a fun pattern, since I did not wind up with a fun pattern chair

*rug? not sure. Dave says no rug is better for the acoustics, but without one the armchair keeps sliding back against the shelves (which eventually will have glass in front of them). So maybe a small rug just in that corner. 


  1. I stumbled across your blog yesterday, and am gobbling it up today. we must be related or something! My family is going through the same process as you (but slower) with our new-to-us house that we overbought in-town this past summer after 5 years on a country acreage.

    I'm loving your blog - keep up the posts! Now I need to get something similar going for our new place!

  2. Thank you! And welcome! I peeked at your blog--hope you keep going with it; I'd love to read more about your similar-to-ours move. Do you miss having chickens? We had them at the old place, too...I miss them, but I'm enjoying a break from all the poop and extra creatures to take care of for the time being (might get some again someday; they're legal here, too)


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