Library Dreams Achieved: A How-To Guide in Pictures

I’m turning 30 in a few days, which means clearly it was time to revisit some serious childhood dreams. As you do. Growing up, I still remember ten-year-old me solemnly swearing two things:

  1. I’d never grow up.
  2. I’d never be able to read ALL the books in the world, but I could as well try to make a big dent into the pile that is ALL the books in the world.

Pretty sure I’m holding my own as both of these are concerned. Just look at my collection of action figures and Funko Pops or my current trend to read around 20 or so books a month. And yes, turning 30 is weird–what are you saying I’m not in my 20s anymore? But honestly, I feel like I’ve done pretty well for myself, so fairly little existential angst here. For now.

Anyway, speaking of childhood dreams, mine can be summed up in one picture:

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Okay, two pictures. Anyway. My wife and I bought our condo two years ago and while we successfully turned the horribly-yellow second bedroom into an office with a book nook, we weren’t going to stop there.

Seriously, while I appreciate the thought of gender-neutral colors of what obviously used to be a nursery in its previous life, this room used to be canary yellow. Purple book nook office was a HUGE improvement.

Until my wife started measuring things around me while I was distracted on the phone one day and #ProjectLibrary was born, because, to quote my wife, “There’s no way you’re going to stop buying books anytime soon, so we might as well do this.”

And do this, we did. It took us a good month or so of planning and IKEA-wishlist-making, but ultimately, here is a list of what we used to transform this room into a full-blown library:

Shout-out to our awesome friend Miko who let us borrow her Honda Fit, because no amount of “Let’s see if we can somehow strap a Billy shelf to the roof of our tiny car and hope no one dies” magic would have fit all of this into our tiny Scion IQ.

Fortunately, we are adults and have a garage to store massive piles of flat-packed IKEA furniture, because before we could build all the shelves, I had to clear out my existing shelves. And alphabetize. Because book rainbows are pretty, but the basically destroy any sense of previous order or series cohesion that ever existed in a library. Pretty, yes, but holy disorganization Batman!

Cue: let’s create a book maze in the living room!

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Behold! Living Room Book Maze! The cats were VERY amused.

After some wall-patching and repainting, we started assembling all the things, including an unexpected adventure in electric wiring as we replaced outlets, installed a recessed outlet for shelf lighting, and replaced the light switch. Thanks to our predecessors and their horribly lazy paint job–seriously, who does overpain outlets and light switches in yellow?

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Seriously, people. Painter’s tape is a thing, you know?

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Progress shot: What stayed in the room

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Luna Cat not only is ridiculously chill in the face of power tools and ALL the dust, she also thinks she’s super helpful. (Spoiler: she’s really not.)

Photo Mar 30, 12 11 49 AM

Behold! All the shelves!

Seriously, the lights make the shelves even more awesome. Fortunately I have a wife who used to ride the six-foot unicycle–damn handy given my ridiculous fear of heights. We’ll not talk about the crazy acrobatics it took to install some of these lights and wiring properly. For the record, she only electrocuted herself once and through no fault of her own.

Photo Mar 30, 1 45 18 AM

Tired wifey is tired.

A few things about properly anchoring Billy shelves to make them secure and match them up perfectly: A few wood screws to screw the shelves to each other go a long way. Also, mounting hardware on the very top will securely anchor them to the wall.

Photo Mar 30, 12 11 55 AM

Sore, but worth it!

Photo Mar 29, 11 55 03 PM
The start of what would turn into my new writing nook

What used to be a closet is now my writing nook: complete with TBR and writing reference bookshelves!

Photo Mar 29, 11 54 41 PM

Yes, we added shelf lighting. Because awesomeness

And after another day and a half or sorting, arranging and properly and alphabetically cataloguing ALL the books using Library Thing (which is totally awesome, by the way! I should have started using this years ago)–behold! The final product in all its bibliophile glory:

Photo Mar 31, 6 06 14 PM

View from the door.

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The reading nook and wifey’s desk

Photo Mar 31, 6 06 39 PM

Wifey is in the process of building a new computer and media server, so this is officially the computer bits side of the room.

Photo Mar 31, 6 07 04 PM (1)

That’s as much of the full shelf wall as I could get into one frame. We added two extensions on each of the three Billy shelves in the middle.

Photo Mar 31, 6 07 35 PM

Writing nook with additional storage and Rebel Leia painted by my super talented wife!

Photo Mar 31, 6 07 49 PM

Writing Nook close-up.

Photo Mar 31, 6 07 58 PM

Yes, we do have a whole shelf of nonfiction and comics.

Photo Mar 31, 6 08 22 PM

I made the little section headers out of scrabble tiles and tile holders. Geeky accessories FTW!

Photo Mar 31, 6 08 26 PM

Floating bookends may be my new favorite library accessory.

Photo Mar 31, 6 08 40 PM

Another shot of that end of the book nook, just because.

Photo Mar 31, 6 09 04 PM

Rainbow Unicorn Pusheen is the guardian of all the reading spaces.

Photo Mar 31, 6 09 23 PM

I finally have enough space for my TBR pile (I may have a problem) and writing resources.

Photo Mar 31, 6 10 03 PM

I used wood and metal letters to alphabetize clearly and give it a bit of a mixed media chic.

Photo Mar 31, 6 10 20 PM

No, YOU have too many Funko Pops and action figures. Seriously though, perfect shelf guardians.

Photo Mar 31, 6 10 32 PM

At least I’m not the only one whose desk is surrounded by an eclectic collection of nerdy things. As it should be.

Photo Mar 31, 6 24 21 PM

Writing Resources close-up.

Photo Mar 31, 6 24 45 PM

Did I mention how much I love floating book ends and all kinds of bits and bobs on my shelves?

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And here it’s all lit up. Loki Cat isn’t the only one of the feline overlords who approves.

Anyway, here it is, lovelies. Best 30th birthday present ever. Library dream achieved.

If you have any questions about any of the nitty gritty details that went into the making of this library, drop me a comment. Or show me where you write, because I am now obsessed with writing/reading space photos!

Cheers,

Alex

  1. Nice! How to you reach the books on the top shelf? Do you have a library ladder like Belle does?

    Reply

    1. A library ladder is in the works for the future. For now, I am using a folding wooden step ladder from IKEA. It’s called Bekvam and is actually the perfect height: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/90190411/

      Plus, it neatly folds, so it doesn’t take up much space.

      Thanks for reading, Alex! ❤

      Reply

  2. I knew there was a reason we’re friends!! ;D This is amazing – I stared at all the pictures drooling. You and she did an amazing job! For the record, I thought ALL little girls wanted the library… I’ve always wanted a big library with a door outside to the garden – perfect for outdoor reading 🙂 One day…

    Reply

    1. Honestly, I thought the same thing–my friends corrected me later, but they’re wrong. I love the idea of a library leading to a garden. I’d totally love if it opened to a balcony, but that would just be too perfect.

      BTW I thought you would like Library Thing as well since it lets you organize and tag books and make it all pretty and data-based. I’ll post about it sometime later this month. 🙂

      Reply

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