A Holiday Make-Over for the Library

December 21st, 2011

We hosted Thanksgiving this year.  Twenty-seven of my husband’s closest relatives stayed at our house for four days.

We went hiking and played board games and watched ballgames and went to the movies and The Oracle Known as Steve staged a coup and tried to take over my kitchen, but I bravely fended him off with a carving knife, a rusty old egg beater and a very pokey meat thermometer. And yet, even as he bled out from oozing puncture wounds all over his entire body, he fought on and I still continued to find him at my stove doing things to my sauces and my stuffing and my sweet potatoes that he had NO RIGHT to do! The man truly is other worldly in his determination to control the destiny of my dinner.


In the end…

And in spite of the bloody kitchen coup,

we had a fine time.

I finally got to put to use all the fancy stemware and gold plated silverware that I inherited from my Uncle Chuck.

The table looked so pretty!

I wish I had gotten better photos, but the bloody battle with the Oracle for turkey control was taking all my attention and energy.

At some point in the day, some of us girls sat down and made some very pretty napkin rings using fresh evergreens, bittersweet and twine for the Thanksgiving table.

And then we moved all of the furniture out of the living room and set up a long table down the middle of the room.

In preparation for this gathering, I wanted to spruce up the house a bit particularly the study, a room that has never been sufficiently used due to a lack of furnishings and an over all atmosphere of chill malaise.

Here’s what I did to make it more welcoming…

1.  I painted the walls a nice dark, deep brown. They were a slate blue before. I think the brown is so much nicer and really cozies the room up.

2. I drove to Kansas City and purchased six second hand mission style oak quarter sawn oak chairs…

and a navy wing back chair with matching foot stool at a used furniture store called the Paris Flee. The chairs matched our existing table perfectly and gave us an additional dining space for our guests as well as a new place for the boys to spread out their homework. I am currently typing this post from the new (old) leather wing back. It’s very comfy and the navy blue leather matches the red/blue/green/tan plaid wool cushion on the chairs.

3. Next, I had a few of my favorite photos enlarged and I framed them in some store bought frames and hung them on the walls. You can see the bus photos in some of the above pics.

4. Finally, I tackled the shelves. I wish I had a before and an after of them. The shelves had never really been artfully arranged and they were not organized in any particular manner. I took everything off the shelves, cleaned them off, filled up two boxes with books to take to the used book store and then set about trying to make the shelves look more organized, interesting and fun.

5. I am not much of a decorator, but I think the shelves turned out nicely, I used little knick knacks I already had on hand to break up the stacks of books  and I organized the books loosely based on topics like…

The David and Amy Sedaris Section

The gardening with special attention to my hero, Beverly Nichols section

The Nancy Drew – my other hero section

My Heartwarming Atheist Collection located right below two shelves of classics.

The Agatha The Great and a few other mystery writers section.

The books I love a whole lot, lot, lot, lot, LOT section.

The CD’s book shelves..

I am so glad I tackled this project. The entire room is so much more welcoming now.

I would still like to find a rug, maybe some cushions for the window seat and possibly some wooden blinds as well as some more fun and funky items on the walls, the shelves and of course more books!  But I am pleased with the results at this point.


  • What a great looking room! I love that wing-back chair.

    If you’re looking for a good mystery book (or several), have you read the Kurt Wallender books by Henning Mankell? They’re all set in a small town in Sweden, and they’re great! Some of the books were made in to a TV series for the BBC starring Kenneth Bragh as Det. Wallender.

    Glad to see you writing again!

    • *Branagh, Kenneth Branagh…

    • Kait:

      I have seen the series of TV shows. They were great! I love that guy. :)

  • Priss:

    The library looks fabulous. I love seeing what books people have. If I didn’t already think you were awesome, I’d know it from those pictures, since I have many of the same titles you do, ha.

  • Kait:

    Oh how lovely. Can I come stay in your library for a while?

  • Jessie S.:

    So jealous of your bookshelves!

    The room looks great.

  • AmeliaJake:

    I have a shelf of Nancy Drew books, too – some which were my mother’s. They are the reason I have always wanted a roadsters. I also have a few Bobbsey Twins books.

    • Miss Lucy:

      LOVED the Bobbsey Twins when I was a kid!

  • AngAK:

    yes to the nancy drew shelf—-my favorite childhood read, and I confess to picking up the books while I’m down at my cabin for a quick and comfy read. You have 3 of my bookclub picks on your favorite shelf–My Life in France, The Help, and Zippy. another fave of mine is Angela’s Ashes. Love Frank’s writing.

  • Jaime:

    Love the library redo!

  • Nancy P.:

    What a perfect place. Warm and booky.

  • theresa basso:

    Very nice. I like the book shelf arrangements. We have a lovely family room with built ins, and I am not a very good decorator. We have lived here for 3 years and the shelves are still kind of mish moshed/unpacked some boxes and stuck on a shelf-ish looking. Now I am inspired. I also have a David Sedaris section, and guess what? ONE OF THEM IS SIGNED!!! Yep. David Sedaris came to Tulsa and did a FREE reading/discussion/book signing at Barnes and Noble. Only about 100 people showed up. (WHAT?) He signed books for 2 hours and drew pictures in our books and talked and listened to each person. It was incredible. PW comes to town and signs books, draws crowds of hundreds and shoos the people on as if they are beneath her. (or so I hear…I wouldn’t go to her signings for love nor money. Well, maybe money,)

  • Miss Lucy:

    Very nice!

    I love the white reindeer with the wreath around its neck. Again, I didn’t get the real thing for the holidays. Rats.