Beginning the Bookcase Build

Even though we’re calling this The Library, it’s only going to have one corner of bookshelves. I mean, they will be a VERY strong feature in the room, but with a window, a fireplace, and three GIANT sets of pocket doors, wrapping the room in books wasn’t going to happen. I also struggled a bit in the design process with whether I wanted to stain the bookshelves, or paint. Normally, I want all wood to be stained. But like the closets in the front bedroom, I knew that we’d have different types of wood incorporated into the piece, and so painting seemed logical. Plus, the ceiling woodwork will be stained, and the pocket doors are a LOT of wood, so I felt it would be okay. And there’s something delicious about a glossy, rich color.

Can I vent for a second about manners? 

I’m saying all of this, knowing full well that some of you won’t like it. When I posted some updates on Instagram, I had some comments and messages about how terrible my choices are. And I don’t expect everyone to like what I do! Not at all. There are things I don’t like – for example, I don’t like the all-white, shiplap, “modern farmhouse” look at all. But I can totally appreciate it and can refrain from making comments about it to someone who has poured their soul into the look. Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying this so you’ll gush over what I’m doing. You never, EVER have to lie. I just think that the beauty of design is that it’s like a person. Everything is unique, personal, and makes life SO interesting. No one is going to like everything, and that’s a GOOD THING. If we all liked everything, life would be so damn boring. And in fact, I love a good criticism. Just think about what you would say, as if you were in someone’s house on a home tour. 

“This is completely God awful.” This was written on Instagram. I replied really politely, and welcomed the person onto my page like they were a guest in my home, and they deleted it. I am not Emily Post by ANY stretch (sigh, if only), but how about this instead?

“This look is really bold. I can’t imagine having colors and patterns like this in my house, but I applaud how daring you are!” See how easy! You’ve gotten your point across that you don’t like it, that it’s entirely not for you, and that it caused a reaction strong enough that you HAD to comment. But you also wanted to make sure you weren’t being rude, or trying to hurt feelings. It’s a WIN WIN!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I can paint something that people will hate, we need some room. We’ve opted not to move the downstairs back until the Library is done. At least if we’re going to be unable to use the Dining Room, it’s happening when we can’t have people over, anyway. We covered the floor, and raised the chandelier.

And we bought lots of wood! We’re doing a hybrid build on these – we’re modifying kitchen upper cabinets for the base, and then building the bookcases on top from scratch. That seemed like a good balance of what will (hopefully) look great and custom, and and what we can save a little time and headaches on!

We added sawhorses and a giant worktop to the room after this picture was taken.

The cabinets were attached to each other, and then Doug added the metal piece at the bottom, to really secure them to each other, and to help support the eventual weight these will carry. And when the cabinets are on the ground, you don’t see the metal at all – no worries, we haven’t switched to “industrial chic” around here! (But also, I really like that style!)

The cabinets mostly went together well, but you can see in the picture below where two of them didn’t line up. Also, this is where I must apologize, because there are some things I don’t have pictures of – Doug was working on this while I was painting, and so I did miss some things. He took his antique planer, and sharpened it, and smoothed that flaw right out, and now it’s smooth as butter.

I want the bookshelves to look a bit more like furniture, and so we’re setting the cabinets on feet. These are from Van Dykes Restorers, and I liked how chunky they are, and the lines of them.

RED. This is the same color on the wall, in a semi-gloss sheen (the wall is eggshell).

It’s a deep red that often comes out a little brighter in pictures. It’s definitely ruby.

I used gold leaf paint to paint a pinstripe on them.

It just makes them look a little more cared about, I think.

Don’t worry – I painted the whole thing. But here’s a “Before and After” of the gold pinstripe!

All ten, done!!!

Here’s a better shot of the workspaces. You can see into the Dining Room and see the workbench in there, while the painting and some other woodworking is happening in the Library.

I started priming the cabinet doors outside, but it was too hot, so I moved indoors. And no, I didn’t take the hardware off. There are only six doors, and I was painting by hand, and the detail work doesn’t bother me.

This took several days, which is okay. I gave each coat a lot of time to dry before the next one, to keep everything as smooth as possible.

Meanwhile, Doug started cutting the plywood for the bookshelves. The Entrance Hall has not become a workshop! But it’s definitely storage. Doug wheels the table saw onto the porch, and does the work out there.

We attached the feet to the cabinets! EEK!

These are not in place or leveled or anything – just a rough “what will this look like?”

I’m glad I love this color, because I’ve never spent this much time with a color and a paint brush. And there is SO MUCH MORE to go!

I had LOTS of little scraps of wallpaper left over. And the idea of not using them? Completely unacceptable.

I cut them into random rectangles, and put them on the back of the cabinets. Once the doors are closed, and there are things inside, you’ll never see this. But I think it’s a fun little surprise, anyway!

That’s the start! So much more to go – super excited about this room!!!

So now I want to know two things from you : What style is your LEAST favorite, and what style do you LOVE THE MOST, that doesn’t fit into your house?

For me, my least favorite in the all white / gray “Modern Farmhouse” look. The style I love the most that doesn’t work with my house, is Mid-Century Modern. I absolutely adore it. Share yours in the comments!


  1. When I decorated my 1894 parlor, a LOT of people on my blog hated what I did!

    A few people, when touring the house, said: “Wow. I really hated this when I saw the pictures. But, in person? I LOVE IT!”

    So, I always tell people: Do what YOU love. Forget what others think!

    NOTE: It’s not possible to decorate and achieve 100% consensus on what you did. Ain’t never gonna happen!

    1. Love most everything “old fashioned”, love wood the way used in older homes, not a fan of anything termed “modern” or too much one style. Your entrance hall and all your floors had me absolutely swooning.

  2. I absolutely love the creativity in your home! Each time you post, I always think to myself “I would have never thought to do that!” It’s absolutely stunning. I don’t know if it’s considered an actual style or not, but I would love to someday live in a cottage style home!!

  3. I’ll never understand getting mad about other people’s choices with temporary things like paint colors (provided they’re not painting over something good).

    My guest room used to have early American, Victorian, Colonial, mid mod, and dorm leftovers mixed together and I was mostly happy with it, so I wouldn’t say that there’s any style that can’t fit into my home. But I’ve been coveting a sunroom with the walls covered in trellis work lately.

    And my least favorite style? No question, the nouveau riche look where they are trying to be as ornate as Versailles but the ceilings are way too low to pull it off and all the furniture is bulkier. No one I know is moving into anything like Trump Tower though so I only interact with that style when it gets roasted online. The runner up is the transitional style that was popular 20 years or so ago where the light fixtures have lots of curlicues and everything is faux distressed but also gaudy and bulky. Like I saw a wonderful Italianate house that was decorated like an Italian restaurant.

  4. I love watching your progress as you make your home YOURS. There is an old house group on Facebook I follow and I am always surprised and dismayed by the negative comments. Not everyone will love every style, color, design choice, but I don’t think mean/negative comments are necessary.

  5. My least favorite is the monkey/see monkey do gray for everything look. It makes me want to run screaming down the street yanking my hair out by the roots. But, we survived apple green, so there is hope. My favorite style is cozy–whatever it means to you. I like furniture that has been in the family and has a little history. I also love old log cabins and kind of rustic. However, I love seeing what you are doing. You know your house and what makes you feel good.

  6. I visited a house once which had the worst decor, to my eye. It looks like they bought all their furniture from one store. Everything had a slight safari/novelty feel to it. The couches and chairs were oversized, with big scrolling arms and ornately carved wood. The side tables were elephants holding up the table tops with their trunks. The coffee table looked like a large stack of books. And lots of animal prints, zebra and cheetah, for the pillows and rugs. It coordinated, but it looked tacky to me.

    I love the English country house style. Colorful and comfortable, yet traditional too.

    I love your blog. I look forward to a new post like a good cup of tea. Please don’t let a few negative nellies get you down. The internet seems to have stunted some people’s civil discourse abilities. I too was scared when I saw the red paint – it looked like Dexter’s playroom for a few minutes – but I know this is part of the process and that it will all come together in the end. I thought you snapped your twig with the black bedroom, but it turned out stunning.

    And thank you for taking the time to show us your house and share the rehab/restoration process with us. Blogs like yours and Ross’ and Danville are the only times I get to see inside these gorgeous homes, which is a real treat for someone living in beige McMansionville.

  7. My 1931 stone cottage is Craftsman style but I adore colorful Victorian. I covet YOUR house and everything you have done, including the bathroom that has the hidden animal (bunny?) in the wallpaper. <— Going from memory on that so I hope I got enough right that you recognize what I meant!

    That said, my interior home style can best be described as “WTF.” Haha!! It’s funky and obnoxious, playful and Texas Hill Country cowgirl rugged! If it makes me smile, I’ll find a place for it. Birdhouses in the living room? Absolutely. A 6-foot dried Saguaro cactus with a Buddha perched on one of the arms? Why not? A small tiger oak deacon’s church pew? Oh sure! Even a taxidermy bobcat that I got at a yard sale for $ 30 bucks (has various seasonal and holiday hats and accessories throughout the year). If I posted pics of my sanctuary, I would get scathing reviews! Haha! You do you. To hell with the haters.

    My least favorite style is Early American. The simplicity is too staid, and the colors too bland & muted.

  8. I am truly sorry that some yo-yo (my term for those without manners) made you feel bad. Your choices are exactly that, yours. And they should reflect you and your lifestyle. The style I dislike most is the fabulous all white kitchen… those people must not have messy kids… I just think of the fingerprints and cringe. The older I become, I do end mid century modern, but it needs to be in its own house, not my Victorian 🙂 stay true to yourself! Love from the internet! @southllanwellyn1890

  9. I’m with you—my least favorite is the white/grey/black “farmhouse” style. I put farmhouse in quotes because I can’t imagine any real farmhouses looked like that. I love a farmhouse/country style with some elements of Craftsman. I prefer being surrounded by the colors of nature. Sage/olive greens, golds, russet browns with occasional accents of barn red.

    I LOVE your blog and your house, and, like so many others, might not chose it for myself, but admire your creativity—not to mention how hard both of you have worked to restore your beautiful home.

  10. As long as you are happy that is all that counts! For the record I love your sense of style, color and design.
    It amazes me how rude some people are- ignore them-they do not count.
    Peggy R.

  11. First let me say how sorry I am that you had this rude person comment. This seems to be the norm these days. And it seems to be for nothing than to be mean. Why are they looking at your blog if they hate it??
    I personally love everything you have done and adore Victorian. I feel this way because of the craftsmanship that went into everything they did. I love that they traveled the world and brought new ideas of art into their environments too.
    I no longer live in a Victorian. Mine was built in 1933, so old but not as. So we have very large rooms, still no closets and a postage stamp kitchen.

  12. Please ignore the rude & ignorant haters! Never reply, just delete & move on. You’ll never change their minds so please, do the things that give you pleasure, that’s a better use of your time. The only people you have to please are you & your husband/partner. Your home is amazing, your hard work is absolutely worth it! Good luck with the bookcase & all future projects. Annie, 🌸

  13. I can’t imagine saying to anyone (comment or to their face) that something is God-awful. I don’t care for the minimalist Industrial cement and glass look, but i appreciate it/like the people who do like it. A warm wood library with red leather chairs and I’m in heaven. 🙂 The cabinets look wonderful, love the red and the feet, and the surprise of wallpaper. Your posts always make me happy!

  14. I’m not on IG but have been reading your blog for years and never felt compelled to comment before now. I have a 1900 Victorian that’s much less grand than yours and has been modernized (white trim) while maintaining a lot of special touches. Because of all the white trim, I struggle with how to decorate and furnish (at least the first floor—I find bedrooms easier).

    I admire the work you and Doug are doing to restore this beauty—your attention to detail and the joy you bring to your work are inspiring. Your bold choices always leave me wanting to see what you’ll do next. I’ll never embrace bold colors and patterns to the same level as you, but you’ve inspired me to take chances I wouldn’t have taken and for that I am grateful.

    I just wanted to join the chorus of positivity here 🙂 I love mid century modern and dislike any decor that involves a lot of “word signs” (e.g. Gather).

  15. I am no fan of monotone shades of color…fifty shades of gray and white do not make me smile. However, my two shades of green, (in the kitchen), from the olive and celery family make me smile.. Bright and sunny. My dinning room is deep olive, and soon to have lincrusta from the baseboard up to about 1/3rd of the way with a chair rail. My living room is a bright yellow/orange. Now, I did have my parlor wallpapered in period paper (1870). It’s one inch blush red stripes separated by very thin silver stripes. My newly upholstered Victorian furniture is going to look great with the wallpaper. I chose a vibrant paisley pattern fabric for the furniture. Just had the floors in three rooms refinished. It’
    s all going to look fabulous when the rooms are put back together.
    My taste in decorating is not for most, but it suits me. That’s what we all need to remember when decorating our homes. It’s what we like. You shouldn’t decorate to please anyone other than yourself. Amy, I think you’ve done a beautiful job on your fantastic home. I admire it every time I go by it. It is breathtaking !

  16. I love your blog Amy! I’ve been following for years and it always brings me joy 🙂

    My personal style in my home is all antiques, with no furniture newer than about 1920. It’s a mix, so I like to think it’s like a house in the early 30’s with recent pieces and inherited family heirlooms. General style is mostly British and French furniture, all in polished mahogany, which is the wood dreams are made of.

    A style I love but that doesn’t fit is Art Deco. I love the lines, love the marquetry on deco wood furniture, and the glamour of it. Doesn’t fit my house because my style is much older, and the house itself is also much older.

    My least favourite style is rustic. I don’t like unfinished wood, I don’t like distressed wood, I don’t fancy living in a facsimile of a cabin/cottage. Not for me, but it works in certain places and for certain people 🙂

  17. I HATE painting everything shades of grey! They all look the same! I am however starting to lean more towards painting everything white while having lots of texture detail, with a few rooms in jewel tones. Our 1912 house already had all the woodwork painted, so I can’t have the stained trim anyway, and white makes all of my brightly colored art and furniture pop. MCM is a favorite of mine. I just pick what I love and so far I feel like it works, even if the style are very different, lets just say it is eclectic!

  18. I love your blog! I enjoy so much getting to follow your projects in your beautiful home. I am also truly sorry you had those rude comments! Your rooms are always so interesting and thoughtful and you have done fantastic things renovating your home.

    My favorite style is a warm, homey, cozy cottage sort of home with lots of soft chairs, wood, warm fabrics, cozy rugs.

    My least favorite is also the minimalist industrial sort of home as someone mentioned earlier. I don’t understand the appeal of concrete floors at all personally.

    But, it is so interesting to see what others love in their homes and it makes for interesting and fun blog reading looking at such vastly different styles in our homes! Thanks for a great post.

  19. I have been following you for a while now and there was something you said before that has stayed with me. You were talking about painting a medallion and said that when you are in the middle of painting it, you always think it’s a disaster, but when it’s done, you 100% love it. You have to trust in that disaster moment, that you are amazing enough to pull it through to the other side. I have had to do this with all of my long term projects.

    Pity the people who don’t have the vision to see the big picture, and who can only comment on what things are like during the process.

    Head up, shoulders back, chin up. You got this.

  20. I watch your house develop with fascination. It is not my style at all and would not do the same here. However, how I would love to come to dinner and then sit in the library for an after dinner drink ! Variety is the spice of life and I love seeing what you do. My house is modern and the decor is pretty neutral with pops of muted colour. I love the look of English country with the many fabrics but it would not suit my house or the light of Australia. Keep up the good work 😀

  21. Well I meant to make a comment but “replied to Ross. I love finished wood pieces but can’t say I have a style- it’s if I like it fits for me. I do like most anything considered Art Deco. I absolutely swooned over your newly redone floors and your entrance hall. I love your talents and your sharing it with all of us. Thank you

  22. I’d like to start by saying that the fact that you and Ross are blog friends makes everything seem right with the world.

    And although living in your house would make my undiagnosed ADD go straight to 11, I LOVE what you and Doug are doing! Colorful, bright, visually interesting, lovingly considered and implemented.

    My personal favorite is probably cottage minimalist. No idea if that’s a real style or not, but I can truly relax in a small, cozy room furnished with a plump sofa and just a meaningful piece or two of art.

  23. I will never understand how people can be so rude to others on the Internet. Honestly, I reply to everyone as if my mother is watching and will have a word with me if I am unkind. She has been gone two years, but her influence as a role model was powerful and hasn’t diminished even though she’s gone. For example, I’m not a big fan of wallpaper and wouldn’t use it in my house. But I love the wallpapers you’ve chosen for yours, and I thought the wallpaper collage you came up with for your bathroom was absolutely inspired. It actually made me rethink using wallpaper in my home. You do you, and the heck with anyone who disagrees. Your house is FABULOUS, and anyone who says otherwise should have a word with my mother.

  24. I live in new construction (meh) so pretty much anything goes in my house, but I’ve been told it has a French country/farmhouse feel… I love blues, grays, tans and antique wood pieces (pine is my favorite but I have a mix). I’m also drawn to colonial style because my mom and grandma loved it, but I wouldn’t put much of it in my own house. And ugh… why do people have to be so rude? While I love Victorian architecture, I do not love Victorian decor/colors and wouldn’t make the same design choices you’ve made for my own house because I’m drawn to more subdued colors and simpler patterns. But that’s me. No one has to love your house but you and I love seeing what you come up with! Your commitment to staying true to your house is inspiring!

  25. Quarantine accomplishment: I read your entire blog and am finally caught up to current! Least favorite style is…I don’t know what it’s called: Home Depot flip modern? That’s my name for it at least. You know the style. Beautiful bungalow on the outside, grey walls with white painted woodwork. Granite countertops and that skinny glass like plastic backsplash tile.

    Favorite that is not for me/my house is either MCM or Victorian. I feel not fancy enough for one and not cool enough for the other maybe.

  26. The style I dislike the most is when someone utterly ignores the style and location of their home and tries to turn it into something else. Like tearing off all the decorations on a San Francisco Edwardian and covering the front in stucco, or sticking clapboard siding on an Eichler and painting the wood ceiling white. No one would ever buy a 1934 Bugatti and try to “update” it into a 2020 Land Rover, but people do that to houses all the time.

    I could never live in your house, but I would love to visit. Then again I could never live anywhere that gets below freezing on a regular basis, and I think 90 degrees farenheit is great weather. My ideal home is in the desert with a swimming pool and pomegranate and mandarin trees and grape vines. I imagine your house would be great in a cold, dark winter. Since the Earth is not a single biome planet like the ones in the Star Wars franchise there is room for all sorts of different houses. And people. And I think a black and walnut Eames lounger would look *fabulous* in your library.

  27. I am so sorry about the rude comments you received on Instagram. I so wish I lived in a Victorian house. It’s been very inspiring to see what you are doing. I love lots of color! I love the red color of the library bookcases.
    I find white/beige/grey interiors really uninspiring. I am with the person who said they disliked the “Home Depot flip” style. At the moment almost any style goes in my house because nothing is done. We’ve had to work on various repairs so it is not decorated. I have very eclectic decor. African art, art deco and victorian furniture, MCM barware/Pyrex and lots of clocks.I wish I could jettison all tall rolling wire racks at my house, but they are super helpful to load up and move around.

  28. I recently found your blog via a Circa Old Houses you tube video and have been binge reading it since – 7 years in 2 weeks! I love your Victorian Boho style and am inspired for when we start the interior work on the 1902 home we purchased. The roof was our first project. It still had the original roof and a total of 6 layers! It’s a miracle the roof didn’t cave in…oh and there was still water damage-although not to the extent you had to deal with thank goodness.

    I love the all white farmhouse look, but only as eye candy. With 2 dogs and a husband who likes to muck about in the yard and under cars it would never be practical plus it would get boring all too soon. My favorite style is English cottage. I also love color and as a furniture painter always use color even though white pieces sell much faster. This house will have lots of color as did my last one. All you do is truly inspiring-we are going to try and do a lot more of the work ourselves after seeing all that you have done with out an extensive background in home remodeling..

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