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Reading the Room

Happy Thursday! In the last post we talked about the decor plans for the entry once the renovation is complete. Today we are going to talk about the plans for the library. Growing up we always had bookshelves somewhere in the house. My mom was an avid reader and a New York Times Sunday crossword conquerer. Our shelves were filled with novels, nonfiction, Shakespeare, poetry, you name it. It was a true working library and anytime my mom was stumped on a clue in the puzzle she knew exactly which book to pull out to solve it. I was in awe of her knowledge and developed a love for a library in my home because of her. I wish I had her depth of knowledge, alas if I can make it all the way through the week to finish the Friday puzzle I am very proud of myself!

We had a true library in our Grosse Pointe House and in our Holland house. We had a fairly large selection of books on our own and then after my mom died I inherited her Shakespeare collection and after my dad died I went through all of the books in their shelves and kept the ones that meant the most to my mom (and now to me) and also the Encyclopedia Britannica set from my youth because of my younger daughter's love for those books.

Here is the link to the renovation plans for the library if you want to start there. As we did for the entry, we will take a look at the existing furniture we have to work with, a mood board for the space, look at some inspiration photos, chat a bit about the room and then look at the furniture layout on the floor plan.

Most of this furniture is in the room that will become the library currently. You can see it in the reality tour. I have numbered everything to give a little history on the items:

  1. This is an antique side table we purchased for the sunroom in our Chevy Chase house. After that it was in our den in Baltimore, our library in Grosse Pointe and in the library in Holland.

  2. This is the sofa we purchased for our library when we moved to Grosse Pointe

  3. This is an antique side table that my dad purchased as a gift for me when we were at an antique show together.

  4. This is a similar image to a garden stool that I purchased at Marshall's that we have used as a side table in the library in both Grosse Pointe and Holland. Our actual one is still in a box.

  5. This is a large club chair that we purchased for our Baltimore house.

  6. This is the coffee table that we purchased for our library when we moved to Grosse Pointe.

  7. This is the chest that John and I bought at an antique show for our living room in Grosse Pointe. It was a monumental purchase at the time.

  8. This is the wingback chair and ottoman that we purchased for the sunroom in our Chevy Chase house.

  9. This is a very petite antique side table that was my mom's mother's (Nana's) table that I inherited when Nana passed away.

  10. This is a very old rug that was also Nana's. It was in her bedroom as long as I knew her and well before that. Nana used to lather her feet in Vaseline before bed every night. Even though I had the rug professionally cleaned when I ended up with it, it still bears some scars from her "greasy feet". This rug is currently in storage in our basement. It was in our master bedroom in both Grosse Pointe and Holland.

We have spoken before about my sentimental connection to and my desire to use our existing things as much as possible so I plan to use all of these "memories" in this current house.

Here is the mood board for the space:

We are going to reupholster the sofa and the large club chair. We have already purchased the fabric and committed to the work. The company doing the work has been very gracious and is holding on to the fabric for us and said they would wait until we are ready to start the renovation project to pick up the furniture and then they will store the furniture for us until the renovation is complete.

The sofa will be done in the Ralph Lauren print. I have regretted having that sofa upholstered in white almost since the day we got it. I love, love, love the look of white furniture and plan to have more in my future. I highly advise using white only with washable/bleach-able slip covers though. This is also something I plan to make sure I do in my future. A busy print is far more forgiving. I had a lot of options for the sofa fabric and ultimately went with this one because it is the one John liked the best.

The large club chair will be in the navy linen from Schumacher. The wing back chair and ottoman will stay in the ticking stripe. That fabric has been holding on since 2002 and I'm going to see how much more life we can get out of it.

The large chest is something we considered selling when we moved here. We did not use it in Holland. We wanted it in our library and then realized that the wall we wanted to put it on had the light switches for the room in the middle of it because of the pocket doors. Note to self - remember that in the future! If I had thought about it, we could have had the wiring routed so that the switches were in the bookshelves. The movers also broke a leg on it when they were trying to move it out of the library into the basement. The tip of the iceberg in that moving story. Anyhoo, the chest feels formal for us now. After reading Mark D. Sikes More Beautiful book when we moved here though I talked to John about keeping the chest. In the book, Mark talks about family heirlooms, the importance of antiques, and his love of dark wood furniture and that persuaded me to keep it and find a place for it.

We will need to purchase a jute or sisal rug for this room. I really want to layer my Nana's rug on top of another (neutral) rug, something like this.

I am stuck on the paint color/colors for this room. This makes me realize that I will have to probably come back with either/or final decision posts. I thought going through this process would help me commit by now. I'm still not 100% on every decision though, especially the kitchen. I love the idea of painting the library a dark color. We had a dark wood paneled library in Grosse Pointe which was my favorite room in that house and the library in our Holland House was painted Van Deusen Blue by Benjamin Moore. My problem with a dark color for this room is the dark navy club chair. I am not sure I want the walls to be matching that chair or perhaps fighting with it if the colors are similar but off from each other.

These are the scenarios I am considering:

  1. Painting the entire room (walls and woodwork) a grey blue like Brewster Gray from Benjamin Moore in high gloss

  2. Painting the walls a grey blue and all of the woodwork a high gloss white

  3. Painting the walls the same off white as the entry hall, something like Swiss Coffee from Benjamin Moore and painting all of the woodwork a high gloss dark color, like Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore

  4. Painting the entire room (walls and woodwork) a high gloss creamy color like Matchstick from Farrow & Ball

If anyone has suggestions, please feel free to send them my way!

Here are some inspiration photos for the library:

Color on the walls:

This one makes me think I could live with dark walls and the dark chair quite happily.

The chest:

Lighter walls:

Darker trim:

Here is the layout of the furniture. I have to tell you that I have graph paper cut outs made to scale for my graph paper floor plan designs for every piece of furniture and rug that we own. I'm not sure if that is shocking or not! I have been able to move around the library furniture in my graph paper world and it seems like it will all fit with some of the furniture partially in front of the shelving. We will have to see once it's all in there though if the side tables next to the sofa and wing back chair are too much.

I am looking forward to sitting in here some day (in 2022, 2023 yikes) with a book or to do the crossword puzzle. We will most likely come back to this room after my decor scheme for the entire house is put together to pick the final paint scenario. Next time we meet though we will look at the plan for the sitting room behind the library. I hope to see you there!

Thank you for coming by today,





Hi, I’m Kerry, a true lover of all things home design.  Thank you for stopping by to check in on the journey.  Please feel free to reach out to me, I love to talk design!

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