The library reveal

Let’s start 2015 with a reveal of our library! Yes, that’s right, our once-scruffy “spare room” has acquired a new name and identity. Remember where we started?

door to bathroom and windows

What began with flowered wallpaper and grungy carpet was stripped back to acanthus-patterned flooring and green walls …

green and gray linoleum rug

wallpaper and paste removed from green walls

… and ultimately reborn as this:


We’re so pleased with how it all turned out. This room really feels good, and even though we’ve been pretty much done for months, sometimes I still walk in just to admire it. I have many “favorite” things in this room, but my favorite-favorite element is the bronze ginkgo leaf stencil. Sometimes things turn out exactly as I visualized, and this is one of them. It makes the room.

C’mon, I’ll show you around. Next to the door from the dining room is my old secretary, an heirloom from my dad’s family, which he refinished as a gift for my twelfth birthday. One of these days I’ll reorganize the interior’s cubbies.

north wall with secretary and sewing machine

interior cubbies in secretary

Atop the secretary is a 1961 National Geographic globe.

1961 globe

When I designed this room in my mind, I forgot to account for my sewing machine. I seldom sew anymore (when I was younger I made almost all my clothes), but when you need a sewing machine, you don’t want to hassle with getting it out of storage and setting it up. Besides, the antique Singer cabinet (not rare) is too nice to stash away. The addition of the sewing machine and the sewing cabinet wedged next to it makes the room more crowded than I’d like. I wanted to buy one of those sproingy leather Poang chairs from IKEA (sooo comfortable) and make a reading corner here … but oh, well.

antique SInger sewing machine cabinet

You’ve already seen the bookcases and Mom’s 1935 typewriter, but I’ve added some details. The green acanthus felt-base flooring  makes better art than floor covering at this point. Had to save a scrap for posterity! The green and yellow slag glass lamp is one of my earliest memories from my great-grandmother’s lake house in Delafield, Wisconsin (she sold the place when I was three). I used it as a lamp on my desk as a little kid (can you believe my folks trusted me with it?), and it survived unscathed until two years ago. When Eric and I were on vacation, we got a call from our housesitter that the cats had caused an accident and smashed not one, but two antique lamps. (Our cats tend to have Risky Business-type parties when we go away.) Eric had the glass replaced for my birthday, and now I can’t tell what’s new and what’s original. The lamp is just posing for this photo. We will clip it to the bookcase to prevent another disaster, because neither it nor the cats will survive another fall—physically or financially.

glass lamp, art and old typewriter

Battery-operated LED lights under the original glass bedroom ceiling fixtures create a nice glow on top the tall bookcase. Same with the glass electric insulators on the next shelf. This library has ambiance!

LED lights under ceiling fixtures shades

The window wall is also crowded with furniture. We simply have too much for this little house, I admit. I would rather have another bookcase here, but this room is where Eric stores his clothes because I have hogged all our bedroom space.

The weaving is Zapotec.

chest of drawers

What’s that, you ask? It’s an antique wooden executive desk telephone. Why yes, it’s been made into a lamp—isn’t that normal? Apparently there was a time in my family when if something stood still long enough, it got made into a lamp. I intend to take the lamp works out of it. Once I get inside, I hope to learn more about the telephone. I have not found anything like it online. It’s sitting on a Corticelli Silk thread retail display box, which was a gift from a friend long before I became a crazy cat lady. Eric and I both have collections of old wooden boxes, some stacked at left (including—what else?—a library card catalog). My parents brought the soapstone carving of a walrus hunter back from Alaska. Not my favorite scene, but interesting nonetheless.

wooden phone and thread display box

The rest of the window wall is devoted to Eric’s desk and computer equipment.

window wall with desk

One day when Eric and I were rummaging around in one of his storage units, I spied this awesome Moderne desk. WHAT was it doing languishing in storage instead of in our house?? So it came home with us to live in the library. It’s a Leopold from about 1935 (same year as my typewriter!) and it belonged to his grandfather. I’m so happy we rescued it.

1935 Leopold desk

Leopold desk label

On the wall above the printer is our 2014 art splurge: a linoleum block print, Colvos Passage—Late Summer, by renown Northwest artist Yoshiko Yamamoto. We fell in love with this triptych years ago, but it was out of print for some time. When we saw it again at the Bellevue Arts Festival last summer, we pounced on it. No regrets.

yamamoto block print

Other improvements include Levelor cellular shades that operate from the top or bottom. They’re a close match to the wall color and really help with temperature regulation, not to mention blocking the view of the neighbor’s back door. And we changed out the woefully inadequate single-bulb ceiling fixture (its green shade is on the bookcase). Now we have plenty of light. I wanted something with a vintage vibe but a modern edge.

ceiling fixture

And of course, there’s that fabulous rug that pulls it all together with just the right colors …

boxer sleeping on patterned rug

Are we really done? Oh heck, of course not! We still need our electrician to rewire the room (we are still running on an extension cord from the single outlet). Because of that, we haven’t tackled the closet, which is unfortunate for Eric. But the room itself is DONE.

So, what do you think of our bungalow library? Want to ask Marian the librarian for a library card and come hang out?


13 thoughts on “The library reveal

  1. Karen B.

    Wow, that really is fabulous. I love the carpet framed. Did you stencil the ginko leaf pattern yourself? I’m never tackled a stencil job of that size due to my fear that the pattern will bleed and it will be a mess. The room is so inviting and cozy. I love all components. I’m especially fond of the secretary and the wooden box collection. Great job.

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Yep, I did the stencil myself (I bought it at Taliesin in Wisconsin). You must have missed that post! 🙂 It wasn’t hard … just repetitive. That first one was scary, though!

  2. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    Sign me up for a library card! This room is amazing, and I do not say that lightly. The secretary is gorgeous, and saving the piece of fabric was the perfect touch. All of your heirlooms are enviable. I would take any of them! I cannot even mention all of the things that I love about this room… the stencil!

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      So glad you like it! It’s my favorite room in the house now. Eric’s the one who uses it the most … he holes up for hours at his desk. Don’t blame him!

  3. Jo

    Such a sweet room — all the vintage and personal touches. Love the acanthus on the wall but my favorite item is the thread display. It’s great to Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  4. Judy Huppert

    The library is beautiful. You all have done an excellent job of decorating it to fit the same or earlier era of the house. I have a desk very similar to the one Eric has. I think mine might be a hair older considering its history, but Eric’s is better looking. Thanks for keeping us posted on how the renovations are going. Tom & Judy


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