As I mentioned in the last post, we had three living areas in the mid-century ranch. The smallest of the three we decided to use as a library. Here is a before shot: Not terrible, really. Dated wallpaper not exactly to our taste, dated paneling not exactly to our taste, the ubiquitous late ’70s brass fireplace doors, those vertical blinds that I’ve never really liked and never really work as intended, and ho-hum carpet. But shelves! Lots of shelves for books. We decided that this room would be just for the two of us – a place to read, talk, drink coffee, contemplate the fire in the winter – not a place for entertaining or group conversation. We found a couple of over-sized, comfy leather chairs, added a couple of ottomans, a table, and a lamp, and we were set for furniture.
The library was right next to the kitchen and we wanted to tie the two spaces together, so we used the same paint on the brick of the fireplace as on the kitchen cabinets – Benjamin Moore Berkshire Beige. Since the shelves were to be primarily devoted to books, rather than display, there was no reason to darken the interiors.
The walls were wallpapered and, thus, smooth. There are thousands of fantastic wallpapers out there, so we decided to stay with paper, rather than texture and paint. Whenever that happens, however, we have to be careful. Debra has an innate ability – a true talent, really – to automatically select the most expensive from any array of fabrics or wallpapers. Here’s a shot of a paper in an apartment that we rented while on vacation in Bruges, Belgium that we fell in love with. Turns out that it 1. isn’t available in the states and 2. the price of a roll is roughly equal to a semester’s tuition at a community college. So, we looked elsewhere.
Most of the papers that we found and thought would be perfect for our library weren’t much more affordable. The favorite was one called, appropriately enough, “Library” from Andrew Martin International, a UK company, that looked like wall-to-wall old books in wonderful, sort of muted, old world colors. You could practically smell the leather. Even though there wasn’t a great deal of wall space to cover, using that paper would have cost more than Debra’s first car.
Here is what we decided on, also from Andrew Martin, called “Love Letters”:
Anyone who says that they spent any time in the library and didn’t try to read the handwriting on these old pieces of mail is fibbing.
We had Bob the Builder construct another bookcase, in addition to the shelves surrounding the fireplace, but for some reason, there is no surviving picture of it. It was against the wall just out of sight to the left in the pic below.
At 4′ x 8′, it added lots of book storage space without forcing us to jam-pack the fireplace shelves.
This room became our favorite, particularly when the weather was right for curling up with a good book in front of a fire.
Wallpaper updated, paneling painted, fireplace doors in the dumpster, vertical blinds replaced with a Roman shade, and cork flooring with a well-worn Turkish rug instead of unimaginative carpet. How do you think it turned out?