Monday, January 12, 2009

Adventures in Home Improvement: The Library

When DH and I moved into our house we starting making a list of everything we wanted to change about the place. The former home owners had done a good job with a few things (installed hardwood floors on the second floor, removed the wallpaper and popcorn ceilings) but the house was lacking in design aesthetic.

The biggest room in the house is the front room which would usually be designated as the formal living room. The only problem is that we don't exactly entertain frequently so dressing up a room that we would never use wasn't an economical use of our time or money. That's what the dining room was for :-)

As I have mentioned previously, I am a big reader. We knew we needed more storage for the massive amounts of books I currently have and plan to have. What can I say, if you are an avid reader of fantasy books the series can be very numerous. We also knew that eventually we would start a family so additional storage for that would be ideal as well as a room that could be versatile. The result? Our library.

The first step was paint. I picked out two colors: True Blue for the accent wall/built ins and Loft from Ralph Lauren. Here's a tip: name brands really do cost more. But for the darker colors, it is important to have high quality paint. I'm very happy with the colors I chose. DH, of course, did the painting.

We got an excellent recommendation for a contractor who built 17 feet of built ins for us out of red oak. It took him about 2 weeks because he was working on a few other jobs as well. It's the first time I've seen DH with total tool envy. DH also peaked in periodically to shoot the shit with Adam and picked up a few tricks of the trade that helped him immensely when he was rebuilding the nursery closet built ins.

The built ins at 75% complete


The trickiest part of the whole project was staining. DH decided that to save money, he was going to stain the wood and poly it himself. I was skeptical. But we got one quote that was for $2200 just to stain the built ins. That was more than we spent to build them (including materials)! So DH spent several weeks staining the wood. The problem? Apparently the wood filler used to cover the nail holes does not accept stain, regardless of what the directions say. So we had beautiful built ins with lots of light colored spots. It did not look good.

We managed to get another quote that was much more reasonable for someone to come in, sand down all the hard work DH did and re-stain it along with a couple of coats of poly. I think the revised quote was $600. Needless to say, the previous painter was trying to rip us off, no?

Built ins, complete. The left side is a cabinet, the middle a desk and the far right are drawers for additional storage.

Once the built ins were complete, it was time to get decorating. I searched for weeks for the perfect accessories and furniture. In fact, it may have been months! The most important piece of furniture was the chaise I knew needed to be included. I wanted a two armed chaise for reading. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a two armed chaise? And I live in NC, the furniture capital of the country! I finally found a floor model from a furniture outlet. I wasn't thrilled with the pattern (green with light blue dots) but figured I can always get it re-upholstered. Turns out I just integrated it with other things and I think it works. DH was very happy to save that money :-)

The chaise that I now have some issues getting in and out of because of the burgeoning belly.


I always knew I wanted to integrate my college and MBA chairs (thanks for the graduation presents Mom and Dad!) into the room with a "library table". Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a round pedestal table that isn't dining room table size!?! It was a beast, to say the least. DH and I were using up some left over gift cards from Crate and Barrel when we saw the perfect table. It was the final missing piece of furniture. When I work from home I find myself working from this table. It will be great once the baby gets older and wants to color, etc. Now if only the high gloss of the table was forgiving for children's play...

Library table and college chairs. We also put up our diplomas around the room to give it the additional "library" feel. I still have to get my Darden diploma framed but it's gigantic so it can wait.

My mom stopped by during the several months it took to finish up the room and helped me buy knickknacks and style the bookshelves. Thanks, Mom!

Another shot of the library from the doorway. This one of only three rooms in the house with curtains. Sad, but true. Why are curtains always the last to get put up?


I hope you all like the adventures in home improvement. If you do, let me know and I'll post more. DH and I love improving our first home together. Well, I love designing and he is great at doing. Perfect combination!

2 comments:

G. said...

I am such a sucker for home improvement things, so keep the stories coming in my opinion! I love the blue and I think that's a great use of the formal living room space - much more practical.

Anonymous said...

It really looks lovely. . .and so practical for "living". . .so, you see, you really have created a LIVING ROOM! lots of love, Mimi