At Home with Books

Look in just about any corner of my house and you’ll likely find books, lots of books.  Around my house, everyone feels at home with books.

They’re everywhere.

In my family room…

In the hallway…

Blog at home with books kids2 In my kitchen…

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In Boris’ home office (along with his Hulk and Conan collectibles)…

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In more kitchen area cabinets…

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On a loft wall steps below my attic workspace.

Like I said, I have books just about everywhere.

Yes, we’re definitely at home with books.

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Being a book lover and collector for that matter… runs in my family.   My parents and siblings are the same way, so I certainly got the book bug honestly.

For a long time, far too many of my beloved books were exasperatingly inaccessible because they were in boxes in a basement storage room.

It often seemed the one book I was looking for was always buried deep in a box somewhere.

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Recently, while digging for one book, I found one I wasn’t looking for (but was happy to rediscover).

At Home with Books has beautiful  examples of how book-lovers live with and display their books.

The discovery was not only a reminder that it was time to get all my good books out of boxes and into plain view, but also provided the inspiration behind this blog entry.

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Throughout this post, I’ll show you how the integration of built-in bookcases in one room in particular transformed the space from blah to beautiful.

We use this room in the photo below as a music room and as you can see it’s pretty neglected in terms of decor. 

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I targeted the two walls on either side of the French doors.  The blank area on both sides of the door has always been dead space.

This room badly needed a pick-me-up.

 Carpenters removed part of the existing crown molding and floor board trim to accommodate the shell of two new bookcases from ceiling to floor.

It didn’t take long for the room to begin to take new shape.

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No paint yet, but everything is looking good so far.

The new bookcases immediately bring some character to what was boring and drab wall space.

     Blog at home with books music room

I organized my thoughts surrounding this room by putting together this idea board for color, fabrics and textures I wanted to use.  These idea boards are fun to create.

The background in this photo is just a plain piece of foam core board that I painted using Hancock Grey, by Benjamin Moore.   Hancock Grey is more green than grey and that’s the color I settled on for the walls in this room.

By the way, I used the paisley fabric seen here for new pillowcases for the sofa in the music room and I’ll share that sewing project in an upcoming post.

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Here’s a look at the room after it was painted.

TIP: When planning a room color, pick up a small can of paint (about $6-7 dollars) and paint a piece of foam core for a large, portable color swatch. Foam core is the size of a poster board but it’s heavier and more durable. A painted foam core board is a much better color reference than those tiny color strips you get from the paint store.

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It took months and months to decide what the heck to finally do with this room and once I settled on a look, it really didn’t take long at all to have the bookcases constructed and installed and the room painted.

Before I share the end result, here’s one more quick peek at what the room looked like when I started out.

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A little white paint on the bookcases and some Hancock Grey on the walls certainly do the trick.

An old area rug and oversize painting that were re-located from another room helps to finish off the transformation.  Don’t forget to keep an eye out for my pillowcase makeover coming up soon.

Now this is a dramatic transformation.  Big difference, huh?

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In the meantime, it’s a relief to have more of my books more easily accessible now.

Instead of shoving every book on an available shelf, I like to vary the stacking position of books and incorporate a few other interesting or unusual elements here and there for more visual impact.

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Remember my beaded beverage bucket from an earlier tutorial?

It’s great for cold drinks and it’s just as nice as bookshelf decor.

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Whatever your personal politics (I keep this blog free of that) you have to admit it’s pretty cool to have a picture with the leader of the free world.

The photo with me and President Obama was taken in the NBC makeup room in Chicago when he was still a U.S. Senator and the shot with me and President Clinton was snapped at a White House, holiday press banquet in 1996 (that’s Hillary standing over his left shoulder).

If you have pictures like this, you just have to put them on a shelf.

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I think bookcases in general bring so much depth and character to a room with added dimension, vertical storage and classic, built-in beauty.  A home without books is missing something.

NOTE: Click here to read a great article from Architectural Record magazine on “Libraries in the Digital Age”.  It focuses on the challenges faced by public libraries to remain relevant and viable in our current digital revolution.  Be sure to check out the slideshow which includes some glorious photos of stunning libraries from around the world.

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Meanwhile, the changes in this room have transformed this space into a really peaceful reading area (when the kids aren’t practicing music).


Right now, this is my favorite room in the house… and one more place where I’m totally at home with books. ♥


I considered making my own window treatments but decided against it, opting to add store-bought panels with rod rings instead.


I had trouble finding all the studs during the installation so I ended up using those plastic drywall inserts to secure the hardware. When using those, don’t forget to screw them into the wall, as opposed to banging them into the wall with a hammer.  I figured that out the hard way.

NOTE: Keep drywall spackling, fine sand paper and touch-up paint handy.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at the same space taken from the opposite side of room.  The first set of window treatments had uneven lengths, so I ended up getting these window treatments (called Peyton) from Pottery Barn and they’re perfect.

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Overall, I’m happy with the way everything turned out and it’s still my favorite room in the house.



Hop over to the One Room Three Ways link party  for more great ideas on transforming spaces.






  • Caroline Bernard Moxey

    Gorgeous! We are doing a similar project with what will be a chill out/music/reading room. We are painting the French doors and seeking quotes for bookcases. Our issue is books, but also hundreds of CDs that we cannot bear to part with. Your project has definitely inspired me – thank you!

  • Kristie M.

    We are looking at turning our dining space into a library/music room. We decided to move our dining area to the “good room” (because we entertain a large number of people frequently) and live with just the family room (which is open concept to our kitchen). I love what you have done here!! I was also impressed with your presidential pics, being Canadian, my hubby and I are followers of some US politics. Quite monumental.

  • Julie@chiclittleshop

    Wow. What a great transformation!
    Everything looks perfect.
    I am thinking of similar project at my house.
    Thank you for the inspiration.
    Julie x

  • Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking

    Oh my goodness what an awesome transformation!! You have decorated this room beautifully and I love the colors you picked!

  • Patricia

    WOW lovely transformation. I love your style… definitely an inspiration for how I want to arrange my books when I move later on this summer.

  • replacement windows

    I love your book cabinet “blending’ with the door. Or the other way around, I don’t know. But it looks amazing!

  • Lynda

    Many of my books are still in boxes. In desperation of the clutter, I have given many away. I want/need to do this in my living room. Love the transformation! For my remake I will have to do the carpentry myself I think…
    ~ Lynda

  • Jeanettesquiltin

    You have a gorgeous home! I love it…I love your blog, so many interesting projects.

  • Birgit

    Oh, and when can I come over for a visit to have a closer look at all your fabulous books?! Great atmosphere — and perfectly inviting to sit down and read.
    Greetings from Germany,
    PS: Love those photos of you with the presidents.

  • Julie Size

    ..almost forgot – we will likely build a ‘real’ house next year which will include a library. My whole family collects and reads as well. I want to find an idea of how to incorporate some antique barrister syle bookcases into the built-ins!

  • Julie Size

    WOW WOW WOW Lisa! I just LOVE this room now. Funny thing too – I just finished reading one of my favorite decorating blogs and thought the house she displayed was horrible.. so I just politely did not comment! I wish there was an ‘un-rude’ way to show her yours!

  • April

    What a stunning transformation! I love the bookcases. I am a big fan of builtins. And of books. They make any room just so much more homey. :)

  • Nikki

    Your room transformation is incredible! Thank you for sharing. You never cease to amaze me!

  • Denise

    What a beautiful bookcase addition! I am also a book lover with lots of books. :-)
    I’m new here, so I’m off to check out your blog.
    So happy I found you. :-)

  • My Life. One Story at a Time.

    I’m trying to convince my Hubby to build even more bookshelves in my home. You can never have too many! Loved the pictures. Thanks. Donna

  • Sarah Walton

    BEAUTIFUL work!! I LOVE it!

  • Melissa

    What an faboulous room!
    The bookcases are like the icing on the cake. Your blog is so inspiring!
    I never talk religion or politics, but WOW to have the privilage of your picture taken with two presidents!

  • Heidi Woodruff

    My goodness! Wonderful room make-over! All for the love of books! I love it! I’m still in your previous sage—books all over the house. I was wondering how my husband would feel about dedicating a room as a library…. You nailed it with a libray/music room! Looks great! ~Heidi

  • Nina

    Well done Lisa! Books make homes so much more interesting I agree and they say so much about who lives in the home. I love your room transformation and hope I can one day find a permanent home for all my books that we have in storage while we live in Europe.

  • Diana

    What an amazing difference those bookshelves make! And being able to display your books and those precious photos would have been worth it even if the project didn’t make the room more gorgeous (which, of course, it did!).

  • Monica Lee

    oh it is JUST lovely. Aren’t books just lovely??? They are like old friends. I have wanted to do this in my living room but haven’t had the guts. I am going to bookmark this post as inspiration! PS love the pic of you and the BIG guy!

  • Van_yellowhouse

    Lovely transformation Lisa. Now I want that “at home with books” book too. Great pictures as well. Well done.

  • Krista

    lovely remodel (and yes, those photos NEED to be displayed!)

  • Kisha

    I love your style of decor! And your music room is simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing ways to display books around the home. Maybe now I’ll take more of my books out and display them about my home.

  • Thimbleanna

    Wow — what a transformation Lisa — it’s just beautiful! We have lots of built-in bookcases too and I love them. I often wonder how future generations, in the age of e-books, will get that warm book feeling in their homes!

  • Adrienne

    BEAUTIFUL!!!! I love it!

  • Kelly

    The bookcases look great!

  • Allie

    The room is gorgeous, and very inviting – a home without books is like a home without a soul. I used to have 10,000 books in my living room! But my Sam is allergic to dust, and it was taking all my time keeping them dust-free, no doors on my bookcases. Now we hang onto our very most special books, and let the library take care of the rest. *G* Beautiful home you have, Lisa!

  • Vicki

    Do you rent space? I’m coming so somebody is going to have to move over! Elegantly cozy.

  • Alissa

    Wow, Lisa, this is a gorgeous transformation! I love to see before & after pictures like this. And that really is the perfect space for built-in bookcases!
    Also, very cool photos. So glad you shared those, too!

  • Judith Norman

    I’m the same way with my books and magazines (Victoria, Coastal Living, Black Enterprise, Cooking Light, Romantic Homes, etc.). I hoard them. Love what you did with the music room. Looks very restful.

  • Jennifer Rizzo

    Your space just looks gorgeous Lisa! I just love the pop of white with the muted color!

  • Kim

    Your house is sooooo beautiful. I always love when you show pics of your personal spaces. I could move into any of the spaces I have seen and be a happy lil clam.

  • berta

    Those new shelves look wonderful and really make the room look bigger! Beautiful job!

  • Bethany

    I LOVE bookcases that are part of the wall instead of a separate piece of furniture (is that what they call built-ins?). Great way to make use of the dead space – and it looks so good!!!!!
    Doncha think that books just make some of the prettiest and simplest decor? I’m sure you do, lol.

  • Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita

    What an amazing transformation! I am a book lover too, and there is not one room in our home that doesn’t have books in it. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen our president look happier! Great photos of some incredible memories for you. (Can’t wait until 8/1 to see what you have in store for us!)

  • Carolyn

    Just awesome!!!

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