Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Library

Because time is short and I have wonderful intentions, but often don't follow through, I thought I'd begin the "before and afters" with our library. Here she is in all her glory - brand new to us! I was so proud of this room. Sister had just arrived and we'd spent the few dollars we had having this room's floors refinished. I proudly displayed the oriental runner The Engineer's family had so sweetly passed on to us. I loved this room. Looking back, in every "phase" our home has gone through I've been so proud, so excited, so happy and thrilled to see her taking shape. Changing. Developing. 

I think I "staged" this table fifty-three million times - I made the burlap topper and thrifted the white fabric beneath. When I was in junior high or high school - my grandmother hired me to organize her basement closets - she pulled out the urns (on the hearth) to chunk - I swiped them. They're bedside table lamps in our bedroom now. I sculpted the busts in a college sculpture class...the lamp was a gift to The Engineer by his grands (I think). 

Here's one more picture from several years later, you can see I had rearranged and we'd acquired a few more pieces. This is how it looked right before we ripped into it...I LOVED this stage, too!

And the after! And we are absolutely smitten! Smitten with every last detail. This room is a long time dream come true and represents a LOT of creativity and energy. A lot of planning and dreaming and sketching on napkins and "ah-hah" moments during the oddest times and in the strangest places.

I want to soak up our last few weeks here...because I do love this room. I love it. The Engineer did a phenomenal job. I'm so impressed and so proud and so just - wowed! All our books fit...I've gone through and organized them...I know where everything is...

I'm so going to miss this beautiful room! We haven't gone to look for a new home quite yet, but from all the photos we've been emailed, we have yet to spot anything even close to what we've built here. And that makes me sad. And right now, today, I can't fathom taking on a project like this again. The Engineer says I need to wait until we get there...the energy will come. I think he's right. I hope he's right.

Just look at the detail. I remember so many nights spent cutting the zig zag adjustable notch shelf standards. There are 32 of them. Look at the molding. He studied and picked a specific router bit for all the trim. Per my request, he added picture molding - it's the bottom piece of trim on the horizontal panel on the right side of this photo. I had grand visions of hanging beautiful paintings and switching them out and about often! 

I love the reading lamps. We spent a loooong time studying and comparing and saving. LOVE these. They were designed to plug in - The Engineer cut the plugs and wired them through the shleves...and they're on a dimmer - which makes for wonderful lighting on movie nights!

This project had been a dream - like a "that's day" kind of dream - for many years...and it finally began when we addressed the sagging floor upstairs. Both the guest and bathroom floors (both above the library) sagged. We tore into the bathroom first only to discover the wall separating it from the guest room had been installed after all the subfloor was we emptied the guest room and tore into it, taking out that wall and digging into the floor. 

All that digging revealed two structural beams that had been cut through and never re-supported when the stairs were added (back in the 80s). So we went downstairs and emptied the room that we now call our library. And we began ripping down the ceiling. And I thought I was going to lose my mind. And Warrior was six months and Little Bit still nursing and it was insane. And then we realized that to meet code, the two new beams we'd be installing must be 8" in thickness...which left 2" to figure out...raise the floor above? Lower the ceiling in the room below? No, no, no. We came up with a coffered ceiling and oh, how I love this ceiling!!! 

We masked the beams and added columns (they run all the way to the ground beneath the house and are tied into the structural support beams above). Needless to say, this room isn't going anywhere. It's solid.

The stairs were carpeted in purple. They were um, lovely. And the carpet was coming unstapled, so you could easily slide right down to the bottom. That was one of the first things to go. Since learning The Engineer would be transferring, we've basically rebuilt them - including the addition of a skirt board! These steps never had balusters, nor a sturdy rail. I painted the treads (all new-the old ones were too thin and cracking) and risers. I can't tell you how much nicer they are - how beautiful and practical. It's wonderful!

Dear Library, you are beautiful! I love reading within your walls! The children love being read to, within your walls! And we love playing play-doh and games at the little round table, by your lamplight. We are thankful for you and we will miss you so, so much!

Dear Engineer, you did an AMAZING job! I look at this room and I am speechless. You took all our dreams and ideas and scribbles and you made them a reality. You are talented beyond measure and I am so very proud of you. You're a renaissance man. You capture my heart and I am so happy to be yours!

PS There might be at least one hidden compartment built into this room. That's all I have to say about that. 


  1. Oh Jen it's beautiful! Breathtaking! I can't believe y'all did something like that yourselves! Amazing!

  2. Ahhhhhh.... you should be so proud of this room!!! Amazing! Love every little detail!!!

  3. I was already in love and then you just killed me with the last line. You all did a fabulous job! Can't wait to see what your library is like in your next house.


  4. My heart breaks a little for you having to leave this. Absolutely perfect and beautiful in every way!

  5. Oh, I'm so, SO very sad that you have to leave this. But let's trust that God has someone special in mind for it and that as you were working so hard, that other person was being prepared to move into te most perfect home library ever created. I know I would LOVE to have this room in my house.

  6. Oh my goodness!!! This room is fabulous BEYOND words, so I just won't even try. I want a library too! :) Hoping along with you that God has a very special home for you where you are headed.

  7. I smiled when I saw all of your Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. I loved reading those as a child, and have a collection of Nancy now. Did you ever try Trixie Belden? She was my other favorite!

  8. It's a beautifully wonderful room, Jennifer. I love every last detail. Knowing the story of how the room grew (a room like this does grow... it isn't built!) and how much of a fulfilled dream it is, well, that just makes it all the more beautiful. Enjoy.

  9. SUCH a wonderful job! I'm sorry that you are leaving it behind, but I am sure you will create something just as fabulous in your new home. And...just think how pleased the new owners will be with this room...I'm sure they will THANK you in their hearts for years to come! :)

    I had to chuckle at the yellow and blue collections of books gracing the top center spot of this bookshelf...mine look very similar ~ except that our Blue collection are mostly the reprints and yours appear to be of the older and more well-loved variety...the Engineer's? Oh...the hours of joy they will bring in years to come.

    Love to you!

  10. Jen, that room is AMAZING! What a huge blessing to have such a handy hubs!

  11. Oh wow, oh wow!!! I LOVE this room and I LOVE the ceilings!!! I am so very impressed and a little jealous: )

  12. Wow. Just wow. Y'all have done an AMAZING job!

  13. It is truly an amazing room. I know you will miss it.

  14. There's a picture in the April Southern Living (pg 73) that reminds me so much of your library. Magazine worthy indeed!!

  15. That bookcase truly was a beauty to behold!!

  16. I came to your site because someone had pinned a picture of your library on Pinterest. I am a lover of books, former librarian who would love to curl up in that room with a book. My sister has a hidden section in her house also. What fun!
    I then went and read more of your story and have added you to my feed. I too am a Christian and blog. I hope you find a great church and friends in your new home.

  17. The most difficult part for most is the setting of the fence posts. Although it may seem daunting, all you need is a little information and a lot of hard work.