Wednesday, September 3

Library Remodeling & Life Editing

Very little about this summer went the way I’d anticipated. (As is probably well evident from the  stark lack of posts over the lack couple months. Apologies.) Despite the changes in plan, we actually got quite a bit accomplished.

The Library when we first saw the house (pre-
purchase). Note the hideous carpet and factory primer

In July, as we waited (somewhat less than patiently) for other projects to come together, we decided it was time to finally renovate our library. One of the last remaining hold-outs, it had gotten a beautiful spice colored bamboo floor at the same time we did the one in the guest bedroom, but that was pretty much it. Still dingy factory primer on the walls and doors (the way every room was when we moved in), it had a history of finding its way to the bottom of the to-do list for a variety of practical reasons: the window had to go, the bookshelves would have to be emptied and come down, the closet would have to get emptied, etc. Although seemingly minor, they added up to a rather large project that would need some serious time, elbow grease, and overflow space.

In progress: cream and purple paint, shiny new window,
treadmill in a good corner, and one set of shelves on the left wall. 
We’d agreed that we wanted to split the walls with a chair rail, putting a lighter color on the bottom to help reflect sunlight and brighten the space and a darker, bolder color on top. We went with a rich, marshmallow crème and a beautiful, grape-y shade of purple… each of which took multiple coats, naturally. For the chair rail, doors, and trim we went with a clean, bright white.The old window was a mess - leaking air and dry rotting at the edges, so we bought and installed a new one. (That was a bit of an adventure unto itself!)

The paint alone made a huge difference, of course, but I think I was most surprised by the massive improvement made by seemingly minor reallocations of space when we moved everything back into the room. Moving the treadmill from an interior corner to the far one made the entire room feel remarkably brighter and less cramped. Relocating the bookshelves gave the room a proper library feel, and created a more airy ambiance. My talented husband tucked a light under the bottom shelving unit for me, so that my ironing board (primarily for quilting fabric) is now well lit, making it much easier to see what I’m doing!

The room remodel also resolved our standing photo problem. Picture frames all over the house give me a cluttered, claustrophobic feel, so I have a tendency to just not hang up photos, even when I enjoy them or think they’re worthy of display. After moving shelves around, we had an entire free wall on which to gather all of our neglected photos and framed mementos in a way that felt intentional and artistic rather than cluttered. Whoo hoo!

As an added bonus, the process of emptying the room, its shelves, and its closet and then putting everything back gave us a strategic opportunity to do a little “life editing” – sorting through all of our stuff and letting go of the things that are no longer a good fit for our needs and this seasons of life.  No matter how hard we try to be aware and discriminating about what we let into the house, things just seem to mysteriously pile up. A thorough cleaning out felt good, leaving us with more breathing room and efficiency, both physically and mentally.

Although we hadn’t planned it that way, doing a little life editing in August set us up to enter the Fall with a refreshed perspective that I’m very pleased with. It is also a wonderful feeling to have this long-postponed project completed. More on our other summer projects soon!

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