Our library is done! Well, it’s as “done” as anything around here ever is (curtains, I’m looking at you)…


I must point out that the whole library idea was Brandon’s.

Brandon and I had both worked for Barbara’s Bookstore in Oak Park (that’s where we met and fell in love!). I was there for six years and he was there for five. Well, as you may imagine, we both have a lot of books.

See, the landing at the top of the stairs is huge (perhaps you remember that we had our bed out there when we were laying floors in the bedroom), so we knew we should take advantage of the space. It was Brandon’s idea to line the walls with bookshelves, and I must say – it was a fantastic idea. We had always talked about having a home library someday, and this way we were able to create one.

library: before, during, after

The rug that was already there was staying since it wasn’t terrible. The paint though? Even I had second thoughts about going that dark. I love it now though, especially with the soft green ceiling color. Plus the white everywhere keeps it from feeling too overwhelmingly dark. And yes, I did paint the wood trim white. It wasn’t nice wood (it was about as cheap and generic as you can get with trim), so I don’t feel bad about painting it at all.

We bought the bookshelves and glass doors from IKEA. I don’t want to fill the home with IKEA everywhere, but we didn’t exactly have scads of money to do built-ins. I think we were able to get all of the bookshelves, doors, and lighting for about $700. Not bad!

more books

We both love our “library”. It feels so luxurious to even be able to say that!

library chair

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

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  • Sarah
    June 22, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Looks great! I envy your ability to have a library. How high brow.

  • Julieta
    June 22, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Fabulous! And I don’t think those curtains are bad at all!!

  • kim.
    June 22, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Looks amazing! Gotta love billy (that’s Ikea’s billy). I too am a bit sick of Ikea in my home and am weeding it out, but with those, you can’t go wrong.

  • katiedid
    June 22, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Great job! What a great way to capture some unused space!

  • Jaime
    June 22, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    congrats – looks fabulous. your vision is amazing. i would never have been able to create that from such a blank slate!

  • Melissa
    June 22, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    What a wonderful area! You’re seriously making me consider brown paint. And doors for the Billy bookcases I already have.

  • Anonymous
    June 22, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Gorgeous! Love the paint color and the c&b chair is perfect for the space.

  • Jennyology
    June 22, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Wow, this is beautiful. I want to be in that room! I’d love to do a library with the Billy bookcases. Right now we’re using IKEA’s Expedit, but it’s so hard to organize books by subject when you’re limited to these little 12″x12″ cubicles.

  • Julie
    June 22, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Hi! I’ve been a “lurker” for a while now, but I had to comment since you’re writing about having a home library. I love the space and am completely jealous! :-) Your design inspires me so much, and it’s wonderful that you’re willing to share the process of making a new house a home.

  • Jenny
    June 23, 2007 at 5:54 am

    It’s lovely! Congratulations on a really cozy space. Love the dark walls as well.

  • Claire
    June 23, 2007 at 7:03 am

    That really looks amazing. I’m suffering from severe library envy at the moment.

  • Boots
    June 23, 2007 at 10:16 am

    This is beautiful. I love it! I’ve been following your blog for some time now and things are looking fabulous. I think I am kind of confused how your house is set up though. Do you think it would be possible to do like a sketch overhead layout so I could better understand how things are set up. THANKS. and keep blogging!

  • Amy Awesome
    June 23, 2007 at 11:48 am

    I am a lurker, sorry! Anyway I am so in love with your library it’s not funny.

  • Nicole
    June 23, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    So great! Love the dark wall color, I just showed this to my husband and I think we finally agree on what to do with our front room. I also second the comment on the curtains, like them alot, so fun and flirty, but modern. I want to lounge like your kitty on that chair, surrounded by books and good light.

  • Peggy
    June 23, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous. What a team.

  • girl meets glamour
    June 23, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    wow…it looks great! I am at the beginning phase of a remodel as well…I’m just so eager to get through demo to completion :)and happy to see pics of completed projects.

  • Alicia
    June 24, 2007 at 11:44 am

    this is gorgeous!

  • tricia
    June 24, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    absolutely beautiful!

  • Jessica
    June 25, 2007 at 6:45 am

    That is absolutely gorgeous!

  • Liz
    June 25, 2007 at 7:32 am

    Ah…. a real library. So they arent just a myth! It looks absolutely wonderful.

  • casapinka
    June 25, 2007 at 10:23 am

    You did a super job. Husbans would be so jealous – he’s wanted a library forever. I like how you showed us how it’s possible on a budget (space willing, of course.)

  • drey
    June 26, 2007 at 4:00 am

    this is fabulous. fabulous. i’m so gonna have a library when i grow up and buy my own house :P

    it’s fascinating how a bright place (before photo) is transformed into a moodier place by dark walls and well chosen lighting!?

    i really like it. *this is going into inspiration files*

  • becoming-home
    June 28, 2007 at 7:00 am

    WOW.. its so perfect. As usual, I’m totally jealous of your furniture (what an amazing chair!!)

    What’s wrong with those curtains? Their just the right combo of fun and appropriately “calm” for a library.

  • beachbungalow8
    June 28, 2007 at 7:44 am

    this is sooo beautiful, warm, rich and just i want to curl up and read in here..or take a nap

  • Jennifer
    June 30, 2007 at 5:11 am

    i love the etc on the bookshelf, too cute! giving my ideas!

  • michelle
    July 6, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Ah, I love it, and I followed your progress through it too! So, is that chair comfortable? I have been eyeing it for a while…it looks fabu.

  • marbargarbo
    July 26, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    I love the shelving, it looks great :) I’d like to do something like that in our office someday. Can you buy the doors separately?

  • Anonymous
    August 20, 2007 at 6:37 am

    Ok. I admit it. I don’t get it. It’s very pretty, but it’s bookshelves with a chair. If that’s a ‘library’ then I know LOTS of people with a library.

    And to the person who commented about the ETC giving them an idea? I’ve seen that at every Barnes and Noble I’ve been to. You should get out more.

  • me
    February 6, 2009 at 7:11 am

    i LOVE it! and i love how you used the space. if u ever want to get rid of those curtains, i’ll take them off your hands! i’m so in love with them!

  • Jen
    April 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Love your library. My husband and I are going to put the Billy bookcases in our new house soon. What color did you use? The foil white? Or did you paint them?

  • Melissa
    September 5, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Love it. I have a spare bedroom that I use as a library, and I’m planning to buy all new black-brown Billys (the walls are knotty pine paneling and that’s the best match).

    By my calculation the 15″ with corner hardware would come out 22″ from the corner to the point where it matches up with the bookcase next to it. Is that where yours ended up? I’m playing around with different layouts for the 15″ and 31″ Billys and can’t decide what to do.

  • Melissa
    November 24, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    This room is so inviting! I am thinking about painting our wood trim white, it’s not the nice wood trim either and the previous owners already did a good job of getting paint on it. One question though, how did you protect your carpet when you painted your trim? That is my only concern.

  • Allison
    May 13, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Interesting. I was perusing your old posts after receiving an email and I thought this library post looked very familiar. I found a September 2008 issue of Home magazine and there on page 48 a story about your library remodel.

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  • Danielle
    August 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    One of the first things I had my husband do after we got married and I moved into our three bedroom house was make me a library! I had wanted one since I was a little girl. 6yrs and two little boys later and it is still there! The only problem is things keep getting stored in there, I am really wanting to work on the space to have it function more as a retreat instead of a closet! I love your! It is inspirational and makes me want to get to it!

  • Jessica
    September 22, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Just lovely and so inspiring! One of my “Life List” items is to have a library in my house.

    Kudos, my friend! Simply wonderful.

  • Mocha
    September 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    WHOA. I’m so glad Karen mentioned this wonderful room!

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  • Margot
    January 9, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Love it!!! So sad that Barbara’s is now a Potbelly’s :(

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  • Mikki
    August 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I’m one of those people who refuse to get into the Kindle and Nook era. I love BOOKS. Really books. Carporial, Smelly, Rustic BOOKS. I say avoid the ” “Nook” and turn a nook into a library corner. Great Idea. And Ikea is amazing… my home is all either reclaimed finds from antique dealers or flea markets, or from ikea.

    How did you do the lighting? Are they eletric or battery? Were they also ikea?

  • Amy
    January 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Hi – I love the library. Can I ask a question? We have Billy bookcases now, and when we installed three next to each other, I found that I had to screw them together in order to get a nice tight and even space between the bookshelves. Did you have to do something similar? If so, how did you do that with the corner shelves? I looked on Ikea’s website, and I saw that it is just three regular, straight shelves, with corner hardware. Did it look good right away, or did you have to do something to get them to line up?


  • Zehra Zaidi Azam
    April 2, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Hi! Great job! I have two questions: which lights have you used above the shelves? and did you add the little silver knobs to the ikea doors? Because I am doing this and all the doors do NOT have hardware- they just click open and shut. Thanks!!

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  • Jennifer
    December 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Found your blog via HomeGoods and gasped when I saw your library. We have a large formal dining room/living room combo that is currently our “room of requirement” with a hodgepodge of toys, furniture, and a piano. After seeing how we truly use the room, I’m going to take my husband’s advice (and inspiration from your room) to turn it into a library. Thank you for sharing your home!

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  • Amy
    January 22, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Absolutely beautiful! May i ask which bookshelves these are from Ikea? Im trying to find them on the website.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 22, 2013 at 11:35 am

      They’re the standard Billy bookshelves in white, with glass doors.

  • Alice
    January 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    This is exactly what I have in mind for my home library, if I ever get lucky enough to buy a house. It looks perfect!!!

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