Valley House Tour: The (Soon To Be) Library

Just to the left of the entry in our new house, through a glorious archway of fanciful gingerbread trim ;) is a (sunken! boo!) formal front room. While the gingerbread is coming down first thing, the step-down is staying. Looking past its quirks, I think the room has so much potential though! The windows! The light! The high, high beamed ceilings! But first, a little back-story:

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I came to Arizona a couple weeks ago with Michael to get some client work done while he was interviewing for this dream job opportunity that had sort of just fallen from the sky and into his lap. His work has been pretty tied to the bigger financial markets, so we never really thought there would be a really great job for him in Arizona, where we both grew up and where almost all our family lives. And, truthfully, we didn't have our hearts set on getting an actual offer - Michael thought it would be a long shot. So I went only half-hearted-house-hunting with my sister, Ali, while Michael was interviewing. It was mostly out of curiosity for what was available in Arizona. I wanted to see if I could find a house that suited my taste a little more than what you usually find here.

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We ended up finding three houses in the area we wanted. Two of them looked great on the outside (much nicer than the Valley house), but they weren't quite right on the inside.

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There was one house that I really liked. Its owner was an interior designer and she had done a lovely job, but she had priced the house high (and rightfully so), and I still would have wanted to change a lot. Still, we might have considered that house more seriously, except for the fact that it was majorly lacking in living space, even though it was the same size as the Valley house. There was just one common hang-out space, that wasn't all that big, and which you basically walked into right when you came in the front door. It was a bit of a head-scratcher. But it made it easier to feel good about pursuing the Valley house whole-heartedly when Michael's job offer did come in.

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The interior designer's house was an interesting foil to the Valley house. Where that house lacked multi-purpose rooms, our house has them in abundance and almost to a fault. With the exception of the master, the bedrooms are pretty modest in size, which I really like. I'd rather the girls have smaller bedrooms and save the square footage for a big play room, where they can spread out with blocks and art projects. It wasn't clear from the get-go what we were going to do with all the big living spaces, though.

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We have three big gathering rooms in the house (front room, family room, game/play room) and it seemed silly just to fill each one with sofas and a tv, right? (not that I would have). It was especially tricky to figure out a purpose for the front room area. Since the family room is just a couple steps away, it seemed like anything we'd put in that room would just be place holders, collecting dust.

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Originally we were planning on building bookshelves for all our books in the office. After putting up the built-ins in the brownstone though, and realizing how much I really love having easy access to all our books, I was a little sad about hiding them away in the office. So, an idea was born. We decided to build a huge, floor to ceiling bookshelf on the back wall of the front room, so that one of the first things we'd see when walking into our house is a giant wall of books. The furniture in the room will be cozy and loungey and not as formal as maybe a "front room" would call for. I'd love a little game table in here as well. All things "library" are welcome. Not welcome? That gingerbread trim.

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I'm working on sourcing a rolling library ladder (while out here in the land of good-and-plenty antiques), which I might regret putting in later. I'm having visions of neighborhood kids climbing... :/ We'll see - it's just that I've wanted one for so long! And the ladder + chevron floor combo would be so, so pretty.

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InStyle

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Sara Gilbrane

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Living Etc.

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Because of the way the side walls are sort of notched out, the shelves are going to be slightly set in, not totally built-in looking. It will look more like a massive piece of furniture I guess - a little like the shelves I installed in our dining room, but on a much larger scale and in a different style. I think we'll be glad to have a large bank of closed storage for board games, magazines and the like.

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Over the weekend in between cleaning and organizing for the move (one week from now! eeps!) I'll be combing 1st Dibs for vintage credenzas to get inspiration on door and footing styles so we can order the bottom cabinet. Have you seen anything special around?

Happy weekend!!

48 comments:

Katrina Amstutz said...

I actually LIKE the gingerbread trim. It makes the house more unique and romantic looking. But that's my style, not yours. I do agree that the walls and ceiling are gorgeous. As well as the windows. I'm sure your house will look fabulous when you're done with it.

Kelli said...

The ceilings are wonderful! Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Becca said...

Yesssss! That wall is perfect! I used to work at the special collections library at Yale and still dream of working in some of the details in our house. It's so pretty, but might seem too Harry Potter in our own home. Can't wait to see your library come to life!

Margaret said...

Woah!! This is a HOUSE...such an exciting adventure!

Michelle Panting said...

I have always wanted the huge bookcase with a rolling ladder. So jealous!!

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Kristi said...

I LOVE your bookcase idea. It will look fantastic. I'm a little jealous over here! I DO agree the gingerbread is begging to go. Are you planning on squaring the support beams in? It seems like they would fit with the gorgeous window lines better if they weren't quite so curvy. I can't wait to see your end results!.

Jenny at LGN said...

Kristi -Thanks! I think the bookshelves will be a really unique first-view, just walking into the house. I'm excited!

We're still debating what to do about that column/notched out situation. If we don't end up filling it in a bit up top (and cutting back some of the bottom) then I will most definitely be squaring up the columns and adding moulding. I think that might help them feel a little more modern. Truly though, won't it be 100% better without the gingerbread? I might be able to last a couple weeks with the curvy moulding as-is once that is all gone! ;)

xo

Liz Voris said...

I actually like the sunken feature but totally understand the gingerbread hate! And I am pro-rolling ladder.

Do you have any worries about the direct light from those gorgeous huge front windows on the books?

Jenny at LGN said...

Liz, there are some pretty intense solar screens on the front of the house (why all the windows look so dark from the front). I think the books will be okay with the screens - but that's a good thought. I'll look into it more!
xo

Thera said...

I actually love the gingerbread.

Jill Hinson said...

All that gingerbread trim has me cracking up....really? Isn't just amazing.....? I know you are going to make this room just awesome!
xo~Jill

PlanB said...

Dying to know what you will decide about the overhang over your beautiful front door. It seems so odd and detracts from the intriguing door. If it's somehow structural, could you leave just an open balcony over the door?

Liz said...

Love the house tour room by room and love the library / bookcase plan - great idea! A home filled with books is a beautiful place!

ajt said...

Ran across this recently: http://phoenix.craigslist.org/nph/mat/3757836403.html

Not an antique, but could be interesting. The French side bar intrigues me too. They've been listed for awhile; you might be able to get a steal.

Good luck with the project!

Shelby said...

I loved your blog before. I'm a long time daily reader. Now I'm so excited to see all the things you will do with this house.

kdpicou said...

I hope you send that gingerbread to a salvage place. It may look silly on the Valley house, but I'm sure someone else would love to have it!

Valerie said...

A rolling library ladder! I could live in a library( sort of am considering the amount f books in our home) and having such a huge wall f books in my home would be a dream come true! I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Lucky Girl said...

I love the plan of a library for a front room - your girls will love growing in that room too I think!

As for the sunken room, if it really is bothersome for you, now is likely the only logical time to build up the floor (with a deck/subfloor hybrid). It would also give you a great base for the chevron wood floor you are planning. It wouldn't be cheap, but it would be a fairly inexpensive option in comparison to changing it in the future.

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

The front room has tremendous potential and I am looking forward to watching as you transform it. I love being surrounded by books, so I'm loving the library idea! I think it's great for kids to be surrounded by real books, in this e-book era!

Peyton Simms said...

LOVE that archway!

xo
: http://alluredevieblog.com/?page_id=57

Louisa said...

Love your ideas Jenny! I've always wanted a library like the one in My Fair Lady.
We have a rolling ladder and it's fantastic. It has a built-in brake where when you step on it, the brake locks the ladder in place. I, too, had visions of kids playing on the ladder and it gave me the shivers just thinking about it.
We have a putnam rolling ladder.
Good luck!

Naz said...

The gingerbread trim is just too sickening sweet for my tastes. That would be the first thing I'd tear down. The house otherwise has mass potential.

Miggy said...

Neighborhood kids be dammed. You MUST have a ladder in that library. I'm practically demanding it. Can't wait to see how this room turns out.

Nancy {at} powellbrower at home said...

OMG Jenny this house exudes potential and great bones. What a wonderful space and such an exciting decorating project! The library room is gorgeous with all that light.
I agree on the gingerbread everywhere...best of luck with the move and your last week in NYC!
xo Nancy

Julia Konya said...

WOW, I love the ceilings and the windows are amazing!

kstyle said...

I'm definitely going to be living vicariously for a few months. Really fantastic home with great bones.

And the gingerbread, well what can I say, its a miracle you haven't sent a family member over there already to yank it out!!! lol k

WeirdRockStar said...

Hello.
I love the thought of a home library but then you could call be biased. As my son´s friends´ father pointed out we "live in a library" and I heart it all so.
Few pointers, sunlight as Liz Voris mentioned. Sunlight destroys glue in books, also fades and decays paper. Our library room gets direct sunlight from afternoon to evening during which time I always close the dark brown full length curtains. A friend with more contemporary and modern taste uses lined panels on her large windows. (one also might say we live at Hogwarts. I still need to find out where that dishy Snape keeps lurking)Before panels, she had blinds to protect her books.
Library ladders. No clue how easy or hard it would be to find a suitable ladder at your corners of the world but it´s really not a biggie to build. There are companies that sell mechanism to rolling ladders and building a ladder is like spreading butter to a bread to begin with. It is important to find a ladder that is just right in length and angle and often times it´s best to build or have one built to suit your library.
Also, the Diana Furstenberg- quote is my favorite one.

Your latest house-project is a delight to watch. My best to your entire family!

Kathleen said...

I used to dream of a rolling library ladder in my office at my old house! I had 20' peaked ceilings and it would have been so cool. I love the idea of a library with a couple great club chairs and a backgammon game set up ready to play! Sounds so cozy.

WeirdRockStar said...

Diane Von Furstenberg! I can´t believe I wrote "Diana" and disregarded Von!

Sesame Jones said...

If you don't like the sunken floor, can you raise it when you will be installing the new floors? The ceiling height will certainly allow...

Jean Coene said...

Great space and light! I love the mouldings and trim (except the gingerbread ones). Will you be building up the half walls? We them in our house and they drive me bananas. I've been wanting to close in our family room.

Jean Coene said...

Great space and light! I love the mouldings and trim (except the gingerbread ones). Will you be building up the half walls? We them in our house and they drive me bananas. I've been wanting to close in our family room.

helen@handmaidtales said...

Didn't Worldmarket have a library shelf/ladder set up? Might be a good option if someone is trying for that look on a budget. http://www.worldmarket.com/product/augustus-bookshelf-ladder.do?&from=Search
I love the idea of a family library. My 13 year old self would have been in absolute heaven.

Juliet said...

What a fantastic idea to showcase your books and encourage all who enter to read,read,read! You've got a big room there and i can't wait to see your transformation!

S@sha said...

I can't wait until you start posting afters on this house. The mish-mash of styles and the house-flipper flooring is still making me cringe every time I see it, but I know you'll fix most of it. Have you considered framing in those half walls and installing double doors at either entrance to the library? Afterall, with lots of kids and family in the house all the time, it could be really nice to be able to close the doors and really settle in with a book now and then. Also, you could probably counteract the sun issue by painting the room a darker color.

Angie said...

I, too, think the gingerbread trim is fantastic - but I think I'd get tired of it quickly and that it takes away from the other great details of the space - almost like the "take on accessory off" rule for dressing! I am especially loving the windows in your library. We purchased windows for our home (10 years ago, now) and they make me sad sad sad with all of the issues they have - Any great window sources?

jessica said...

Can't wait to see what you do with the space!
I have started following your blog since you put on the idea of what could be done with the faux brick board from Home Depot. I keep thinking of the idea of adding some mortar to age the brick look and painting it white. I am hoping you will do that somewhere in your new space so I can see how you do it and how it turns out! ��

jessica said...

Can't wait to see what you do with the space!
I have started following your blog since you put on the idea of what could be done with the faux brick board from Home Depot. I keep thinking of the idea of adding some mortar to age the brick look and painting it white. I am hoping you will do that somewhere in your new space so I can see how you do it and how it turns out! ��

shill said...

There is a clear film you install on your windows to help protect your books. Nothing will completely protect them when they are exposed to that much light, but this should really help with UV and radiant light. We put it on our library windows (we have floor to ceiling bookcases and my husband and I dream of one day having a library with higher ceilings so that we can have a ladder!) Here is a link with a description of the product as well as a place to search for a dealer in your area:
http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Window_Film/Solutions/Markets-Products/Residential/#

FYI-I am not pushing this product for personal gain, we just have been happy with it, and it seems like it might be a good idea for this room...

shill said...

There is a clear film you install on your windows to help protect your books. Nothing will completely protect them when they are exposed to that much light, but this should really help with UV and radiant light. We put it on our library windows (we have floor to ceiling bookcases and my husband and I dream of one day having a library with higher ceilings so that we can have a ladder!) Here is a link with a description of the product as well as a place to search for a dealer in your area:
http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Window_Film/Solutions/Markets-Products/Residential/#

FYI-I am not pushing this product for personal gain, we just have been happy with it, and it seems like it might be a good idea for this room...

Sarah, Steve, and Dalia said...

I thought this was an apart e tco pled when I saw the photos!! It's absolutely massive!!!

I love the library idea--perfection!!

Kathryn W. said...

I definitely love the idea of the bookshelf ladder with those great high ceilings. At first I thought I liked the gingerbread, but I do like that you make me think- you're right, it doesn't quite fit with style of the walls and ceilings. Thanks for letting us help welcome you home!

Crystal @ 29 Rue House said...

Must get rolling library ladder! I hope you find one!

I hope you share more about the building the base process (whether you do or someone else does), we're thinking about adding something into our house but it'd have to be customized.

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Casey said...

What about filling in the whole notch with drywall and removing that column so it's a clean line to the opening? You can remove the notch by the door or leave it for architectural interest. Obviously the same on the opposite side. The benefit would be the shelves can be recessed from the opening a bit which would allow the ladder to not stretch across a notch when it's flush against the wall and the shelves can look more built in.

Casey said...

What about filling in the whole notch with drywall and removing that column so it's a clean line to the opening? You can remove the notch by the door or leave it for architectural interest. Obviously the same on the opposite side. The benefit would be the shelves can be recessed from the opening a bit which would allow the ladder to not stretch across a notch when it's flush against the wall and the shelves can look more built in.

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Jesyka D'Itri Marés said...

RE: Ladder. You absolutely must have one! I think an easy compromise w/ the kids would be to get one that locks, and then (temporarily) put a clear acrylic sheet over the bottom few steps... Probably about the height of an average young child. They would not be able to climb, but an adult could step past the acrylic easily to get onto the ladder! :)

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