We’re moving forward with the library plans! We’ve put a deposit down, materials are being ordered, and hopefully the installation will begin in a few weeks. There will be cabinets with doors flanking either side of the window, and a window seat between with a piano hinge and dummy doors to match the others. Above each cabinet will be shelves to the ceiling, and everything will be stained to match the home’s existing oak trim. Here is our contractor’s drawing.
This will be an investment in the house. Oak is not cheap, and skilled labor, even less so, and the project will come in at over $7000. (I’m including the cost here because it may be helpful information for those interested in doing something similar.) Rather than attempt to DIY this very big job in this very old house, we are having the shelves custom made by a carpenter who is familiar with the old houses of Oak Park. More importantly, he is familiar with our particular home! He is the person whom the previous owners worked with to replace the clapboard on the exterior, restore the front entryway, shore up and rebuild the front porch, and more. (This house has been lovingly taken care of!)
We could have purchased two matching bookshelves for either side of the window and called it a day. The options I liked though, with a style and quality that would fit the house, would have still been expensive, and wouldn’t actually add to the value of the home.
The Atkins double bookshelf from Restoration Hardware would fit well, size-wise and stylistically, but two of them would have come in at over $5000 with tax and delivery. Going in a different direction, I really like the Copenhagen bookcase from West Elm. With its wide proportions and clean lines, a pair would look fantastic, but they would have cost almost as much as the RH bookshelves, and they’re about five inches too wide for our space anyway. The Hemnes series from IKEA was the only inexpensive option I liked, and in fact I did buy a couple of the bookshelves for use elsewhere in the house, but the scale and style would have been off in the front parlor. The room has ten foot high ceilings, original quarter-sawn oak trim, and is the first space you see after entering. Custom built-ins are going to do the house justice.
I want to be mindful of not letting the house get too stuffy though! We’re in our thirties, with little kids. I like pink, and my husband is a big Star Wars nerd. The house should not (and will not!) be too formal.
But I should probably add a rolling library ladder, yes? (YES.)