Formal Living Room to Office/Library

When we moved into our home ten years ago, the 12′ x 12′ “formal” living room was awkardly located immediately to the right of the front entry and looked like this when we first visited (and subsequently purchased) the house:


It was a silly little room and I had no idea what to do with it or how we would use it.  It was going to create a first impression, right?  It was one of the first rooms one would see upon entering.

The first thing I wanted to do was add some color because it was 2005!  Back then I was in love with red, the color of passion, and I used it all over the house, mixed with golds and greens.  Come on now, you remember the look; don’t even pretend you didn’t partake! Dark buttery walls, rich colors and, well, just too much color and way too much stuff.  Although it was an improvement over what we started with, it was a room we never used except at Christmas time when I put the Grandkids’ Christmas tree in there.  I paid through the nose for those silk drapes, since there are four windows in the room…probably close to $1000.  So silly.  I also bought a new sofa and chair, a rug, some paintings, etc. and, in general, spent way too much money and, for a time, this was how it looked.100_1065


A never used wasteland of color.  Almost embarrassing to post!  Still better than before though.

Flashforward to 2014 and I had discovered Pinterest.  I LOVE Pinterest.  I learned so many things about what looks I truly loved, and about lightening up and making good use of all your space.  Since I wanted a bright office I would enjoy working in and because I love to read and we have so many books, I decided to put this room to use by creating my Office/Library, with storage for my books, videos and other things, lots of light,  and a quiet, comfortable corner to curl up on cold winter nights to read.  I wanted to create a built-in bookcase on the cheap…using Ikea Billy Bookcases!  I’ll be posting about that process, so stay tuned.  It’s a pretty easy with some basic carpentry skills and the result is just spectacular.  All in all, we spent just less than $500 on that lovely bookcase.

Library 3-1Now, for the details…First, we painted the walls a soft gray, Dolphin Fin, mixed in Behr Premium paint at Home Depot.  We then removed the bottom moldings from the wall in which we were building the bookcases, and proceeded to put them together.  I painted the backing board a darker gray, Squirrel, and I have much remorse now that I didn’t just use beadboard!  I promise to get a post up soon about the process of creating the built in look from the Billy Bookcases.  We purchased the deeper sets (3 total) for about $89 each.  We then purchased thick moldings, crown molding, 1/2 inch plywood to support the sides and top, and more bottom molding.  The total came to less than $500.  We painted them Dove White.

The draperies also were also purchased at Ikea and you will not believe the price…$20 per window!  For a mere $80 we were able to add the softness I needed, and these draperies were perfect for my 9′ ceiling height!  Here’s a confession:  I never hemmed them.  I always meant to, but you know how life gets in the way.  We hung them on the same drapery rods I had previously used, and I also purchased drapery hangers because I didn’t want to use the tabs that are sewn into the top of the draperies.  I also purchased all the storage boxes and magazine holders at Ikea, along with the wicker baskets in the bookcase, the framed Picasso print above the bookcase, and the very cool chrome reading light (which works wonderfully).  All these items were so incredibly reasonably priced!Library Credenza

The credenza was purchased long ago at Target and used as one of our kid’s desk.  I also bought the wreath at Target.  The antique ironstone pitcher was a gift from a dear friend.  The mirror was purchased at Costco years ago.  I didn’t hang it, but leaned it against the wall (it’s very heavy).  Mercury glass lamp was purchased at TJ Maxx, along with my little birds and the white dish they sit on.  Aren’t they darling?  The nest was found in my yard, and the fern was purchased at Bluebells Florist, my favorite local shop.Library 1-1

Library 4-1I purchased this Alphabet rug from another favorite store in Warrenton, Virginia, The Empty Nest.  Lovely place!
Library 5 to compare to old photo-1Library 6-1

I purchased the black table (which is actually an old sewing machine) and painted it black.  I love it!  The chair in the corner is actually red (who’d have thought?) velvet, which I purchased at Target during my red phase.  I wanted to use the chair, so I sewed a very primitive slipcover for it.  It’s not perfect, but it certainly fit this space so much better!  I used a white cotton duck, which was relatively inexpensive.  The white throw and blue pillow were also purchases from Ikea.  The plant container was purchased at TJ Maxx on clearance for about $7.  I bought the lamp and shade from Home Goods, and can’t remember where I got the beautiful nest picture.  I love it though.
Library 7-1

The desk was a recent purchase from Costco.  I love it.  It’s cord friendly, well made, and I love the crosses on the sides.  I also purchased the black leather desk chair from Costco.Library with Billy Bookcases to Built-ins

Library 9-1Library 11-1Library 12-1Library 13-1My perfect reading corner.  My husband often sits here reading while I’m blogging away.  The ottoman went with the red velvet chair (from Target) in the opposing corner, which I slipcovered and for this I simply reupholstered it with inexpensive drop cloth fabric.  Easy peasy.  The chair came from Grand home Furnishings 10 years ago, and it’s very comfortable.  The white throw is from Ikea and the pillow is from TJ Maxx.  The paintings were purchased at Home Goods.Library 14-1Library 16-1Library 15-1I use the baskets under the credenza for storage.  I purchased the two wicker baskets from TJ Maxx and the old wooden crate from an antique store.  I generally like my storage baskets covered to keep dust out.Library 17-1Library 18-1I love this little vignette!  Lovely zinnias from our gardens under glass (purchased at TJ Maxx).  The plate was purchased at Pier I Imports.
Library 19-1Library 20-1Library 21 a-1Library 22-1





PicMonkey Collage library bestI probably spent about $1200, including the furnishings I had to buy (the desk, desk chair, everything for the bookcases, paint, throws, pillows, etc.), and now this is, by far, my favorite room in the house!

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