The Renovated Living Room!

longviewfromkitchen

Before we bought the house, I used to have this recurring dream all the time. I’d walk in the front door of my apartment, start walking down the hallway, and before I made it into the main living space, I’d see a door I never noticed before. Sometimes I’d discover the door while I was moving around furniture or art or fixing something up, but inevitably I’d find a way to open it and behind it I’d find a whole new room. Apparently this dream is not all that uncommon, particularly among small-space dwellers.

The thing about the newfound room was that its potential purpose was never immediately clear. There was always something kind of off about it…like it would be really long but not very wide, or wouldn’t have any windows, or there would be a two foot high step in the middle of the floor. After the excitement faded of just knowing the room existed, figuring out what to actually do with it became a significant source of stress, one that usually kept me pretty occupied until I woke up. With the basic setup of kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom already covered by the rest of the apartment, where did that leave this newfound bonus space? You can see the predicament.

The room in the front of our house has always felt a little like that dream. The main floor of our house is very simple: you walk in to a nice entryway/hallway, where the stairs are located. On the left is a large living room (currently bisected into two rooms and in need of a ton of work), and on the right there’s a kitchen (and laundry) in the back, the dining room in the middle, and then this room in the front. The size of the room is generous, the ceilings are high, and the three large windows let in tons of nice light. With the “big living room” just across the hall, I was initially really resistant to making this room a more formal living space (like a parlor) or a less formal one (like a TV room/den), because I don’t really like the idea of spaces that feel too formal to get used on an everyday basis. We really don’t need a bedroom on the first floor, and while I sort of liked the idea of a nice library/study kind of set-up, using this room as another office space felt potentially sort of awkward and maybe not like the best use of space.

I know. Cry me a river. What an obscenely ridiculous issue to have.

ANYWAY. The real revelation came when I stopped for a second to think about our renovation. I’ve been at this for a year and a half now, and the house still needs crazy amounts of work. With the big living room low (maybe last…) on the priority list, it’s going to be a few years before we even get to that, and I don’t want to wait that long to start living (rather than glamping) in the house! So…living room it is. Sometimes I forget how easy it is to switch things around after the real work of the renovation is done…nothing has to be set in stone decor-wise. So I may not know exactly what this room will be in the long run, but right now I’m just celebrating that we finally have a place to hang out and kick back that isn’t our bedroom. It feels so…house-like.

chimneywallbefore

Let’s recall how this room looked two years ago, the first time we saw the house! The patterned walls were so insane. EVERYTHING (walls, ceiling, doors, trim, windows, floors) was in need of attention, some of which have since been addressed and some haven’t. You can see here where part of the baseboard was missing and the floor had been patched in, presumably after the removal of an original mantel/wood stove/stone hearth that would have sat on this wall.

chimneywallafter

And here we are today! Everything is still a huge work in progress—we already owned everything in here so it was just a matter of setting it up enough to be presentable and comfy ASAP. Decor-wise it’s falling way short but that isn’t the point of this post!

plasterceilingdemo

cornerduringdemo

skimcoatingprocess

ANYWAY. There’s a deceptive amount of work contained in these before-and-after photos. I had to completely demo and replace the wall that the “fireplace” is on, the ceiling got completely replaced, and I spent hours and hours repairing and skim-coating the remaining original plaster walls. New electrical got run, old exposed pipes were re-routed to be inside walls and ceilings, and every surface had to be pretty meticulously prepped before getting painted. Oh, and the fireplace! You can read all about the process of creating that over here.

cornerbefore

In this before picture you can see the acoustic tile ceiling (which got demo’d, along with the remains of the plaster ceiling above it, to make room for new drywall) and the exposed radiator pipes overlapping the window molding. I was originally inclined to keep the radiator pipes as-is, but it seemed worth it to throw the money at burying this plumbing while the ceilings were open, and I’m really glad we did! Oh, and you can see the homemade radiator cover that I removed…I can’t imagine wanting to cover up that corner radiator. It’s so cool!

after

Annnnddd, it’s a room! Let’s see…the sofa originally belonged to my grandparents, then my parents, and now I’ve inherited it in my parents’ recent downsize. Black leather and chrome is really not at all what I pictured for this room, but the size is great (space is tight for a real full-size sofa) and I love it on its own, so I want to make it work. I think it’s from the early 70s and both sides can fold up or down, but I kind of dig it in this chaise formation. The lamp next to it is vintage from a junk shop in Brooklyn a long time ago, the coffee table came from the trash (I think it was made by Urban Outfitters several years ago and is clearly “inspired” by the George Nelson bench…), the vintage rug was a hand-me-down from my uncle years ago, and the wire chair was thrifted. I made the dog bed.

The window shades are temporary, by the way. They’re basically just $8 sheets of white vinyl wrapped around a cardboard tube from Home Depot that I bought just to give us some privacy until I figure out what I really want. What I really want is a decent quality solar shade that will provide some privacy but still let lots of light in, but it can’t cost a million dollars. Thus far, finding such a thing has been a total fool’s errand, but I hold out hope.

hallwaydoorbefore

This is the door from the hallway, which was boarded up on the other side when we moved in! We had to have a key made for the old lock, and after the door was open, we just had to tear down the plywood to restore the original layout.

hallwaydoorafter

And after! The piano came with the house. The brief history is that the house was built about 1865, and the son of the original owner lived here until his death in 1962. He played organ at one of the local churches and was also a music teacher (he taught out of the house starting in the 1920s), so I’m guessing that’s why we have it now! It’s EXTREMELY heavy—I can’t imagine trying to get it out, so I’m glad I like it! Neither of us play piano and it’s very out of tune and in need of some repair, but it’s a nice piece of house history to hold onto. The mirror on top was a recent thrift find (I think it was $8 at AmVets), the crocks and oversized jacks are vintage. The bench is Scandinavian from Craigslist—at some point it might be fun to find an old piano bench that matches the piano a bit better, but this is fine for now. The Hudson Bay blanket is by Pendleton.

door

After a lot of excruciating debate, I decided to continue with the black doors! I grew to really like them in the dining room, so I think I’ll carry it through the rest of the house. I think it adds some really nice richness and depth, which can sometimes sort of fade with white-on-white rooms. The original hardware was stripped (I like to spray paint the hinges black to prevent rusting) and put back, with the exception of the keyhole cover, which was missing on this door. I found a few antique ones at a local salvage place (to the tune of 5 or 10 bucks each) that are almost exact matches to the original—I’m keeping my eye out for more since we’re missing quite a few.

fireplaceandshelves

Clearly I need to find something bigger to put over the fireplace, but that can come with time! The piece that’s there now is by our friend Matt Robinson, which I love but it’s just too small for here.

Also, SHELVES! I really love the way these turned out. The hardware is just cheap track shelving from Lowe’s (it’s almost exactly the same as Elfa but cheaper). The vertical tracks are screwed into wall studs (I had to do some test-drilling to find them, but it wasn’t anything a little spackle and touch-up paint couldn’t fix), and the brackets just snap into place. I think the trick to making this kind of shelving look good is using solid lengths of wood—these are just regular 1×12’s cut to size and painted white—I used the same paint that I used on the trim. I even reused the wood from our now-defunct apartment shelving, which saved about $50. Told you I never threw lumber away. I think all-in, the shelving cost about $150 but I wasn’t keeping super careful track.

fromhallway1

They look totally decent, right? I left about a foot on either side to give them some breathing room, and I love that they float above the baseboard. Keeps things feeling light, even though they’re clearly holding a lot of books. Approximately 1,200 pounds, actually! I know it is decidedly Not Blogger to use bookshelves just for books and not a bunch of nicely styled accessories, but we need the space. They’re also organized by category instead of height or color and the spines face out so I’m pretty much losing all around on this one.

Whatever. We got books. Deal.

chairandshelves

I love you, Norell chair. I found that sucker on my birthday for $250, which was kind a splurge for me but I couldn’t help myself!

I feel like it looks like the shelves are sagging in this picture, but I don’t see it in real life. Weird.

light

I bought the light fixture a few years ago on sale at West Elm, which is a bummer because they don’t make it anymore! I came really close to getting rid of it a while ago, but I’m glad I kept it around because I really like it in here. I have plans for the crystal chandelier from the before pictures, but I felt like it was sort of small for this space.

I used the same ceiling medallion in here that I used in the dining room. As in the dining room, I mixed together watery primer and plaster of paris into a paste-y consistency and slathered it on before hanging the medallion to fill in a lot of the crevices and soften the details—I think it goes a long way toward making it look old and authentic. Once they’re up, caulked, and painted, I think they’re very convincing!

radiatorafter

Since apparently I can’t stop painting things black, I also painted the corner radiator! I initially planned to have this radiator sandblasted and powder coated since it’s covered in quite a few layers of paint, but I figured it couldn’t make things drastically worse to just paint it out in the meantime. Now I really like it! It really brought out the details of the pattern and I really don’t mind that it’s not pristine. Just ignore the floors…this is after a lot of scrubbing but they just really need to be refinished. Hopefully a spring/summer project.

Typically I’d use an oil-based enamel for radiators because of the heat, but this one was already covered in a lot of latex paint so I didn’t want gamble with adhesion and peeling/cracking over time and all that. I found a pre-mixed can of high gloss black latex enamel by Valspar at Lowe’s, which was amazing to work with. This is just one coat! It covered great, dried fast, and so far hasn’t bubbled or anything like that, even with the heat turned up. Hot water radiators really don’t get hot enough to require high-heat paints, but the fact that this paint is for interior and exterior use makes me optimistic about it holding up for the long haul.

chimneycupboard

One of my favorite details in the room (the whole house, really) is the itty-bitty chimney cupboard! I guess this would have originally been used to store firewood and stuff, but I’m so glad it’s remained intact even if its purpose has been obsolete for many decades. The little brass/porcelain latch came out so cute after stripping the paint off. I love it.

fromdiningroombefore

windowshotafter

This is the view from the dining room door. It’s so nice to be able to have the door open now! If you ignore the craziness and chaos everywhere else, it sort of feels like the house is…not a construction zone. I like that.


246 Comments

  1. Everything about this room is so gd perfect. You are perfect. And UH-may-zing. Keep going out in the world to do beautiful things because you excel at it!

  2. What a lovely room. Taking the time to finish the room and create a refuge from all the renovation sounds like an excellent decision.

  3. You’ve done a beautiful job. It feels really honest, this room, in a lovely way. I approve of using bookshelves for books; I don’t care that it’s blogger chic to style the hell out of them or to group books by spine color (ugh), books are fine on their own, and beautiful/functional objects (/editorial).

    That COUCH. It’s wonderful. What a nice thing to inherit.

    The chandelier you removed would look great in a high-ceilinged bathroom with dark walls.

    • Thank you, Anne! I love the idea of using it in a smaller space…I was also thinking about the upstairs hallway or Mekko’s bedroom (the original nursery). It’s so fit for a princess!

  4. as someone who also owns tons of books, I adore your bookshelves! Never understood the point of only using shelves for decor & not books.

    The room looks great!

    • I agree! I never understand where the actual books go in those magazine-perfect shots of three books per shelf plus art! My own bookshelves do have some decor, but mostly they are for books. I also appreciate that your books are organized by category, since this is something those of us who actually read would do. How can you quickly find a reference book if they’re organized by height or color? Nope, categories and sub-categories for me, thank you!

      I also have really enjoyed following the whole process of this room. I only recently discovered your blog, but I have been crawling through the archives looking at everything.

  5. Try the chandelier in the pantry — glamour!

  6. Freaking out! This is such an inspiration. Bravo! (Hand clapping emoticon)

  7. I also have that reoccurring dream! And my room is tiny.
    http://www.jenchudesign.com/blog/2013/01/the-making-of-my-bedroom/
    In my dream, I discover that my building has secret doors that lead to several more rooms down winding corridors where people enter and exit through a portal that is located in an ambiguous downtown area that looks kind of like Shanghai.

  8. Dan,
    I, too have had dreams like the one you describe, though not with a spare room as much as about architecture itself, a home I found, or checking out old apartments, some bedraggled and decrepit, or my high school reborn into something truly fun (it is a modernish campus style school as it was built, mostly in between 1969-1971, with additions over time to expand, with the gym and sports complex having been redone just a few years ago.

    Anyway, love this room and what you’ve done to it. I love the juxtaposition of of the period Italianate style of your home with the MCM elements within it. Even if you don’t do much else but improve on the comfort aspect, I’d be more than fine with it.

    I’m so glad you didn’t fall into the blogger trap of styling your shelves with color coordinated books or some crazy thing. Keeping it honest is the best way to go IMO. As a fellow book lover, I will be doing largely the same as you, stuffing my shelves/bookcases with books.

    Anyway, enjoy your new living room and agree, having a few places to hang out without resorting to your bedroom helps you feel like you are actually living in your home even though you are still working on it and I think that can make all the difference in your lives.

  9. Really, really amazing Daniel. It came together nicely. If you ever solve your longstanding window shade problem, let us know!

  10. This room is wonderful. May I ask a slightly strange question? What are you using for bookends and where did you get them?

  11. Holy WOW!

    I love that you have BOOKS on your bookshelves, and that they’re spine-out. That’s REAL LIFE right there, and I appreciate me some real life.

    Have you and Max set a date for the wedding?!

  12. Chandelier in the laundry room…give yourself a little glamour while folding your whites.

  13. Love, love, love it!!! I freakin’ LOVE the black doors. I love the chimney cupboard and your bookshelves (I was worried they were bowing too, LOL… maybe just a weird perspective thing?). I love that modern light fixture with the “old” ceiling medallion. So excited for you!!

    • Thanks, Rachel!

    • So I have a theory about the bookshelf looking slightly bowed. I wonder if it’s because in the pictures you can just see a hint of the white middle bracket, this brings the line of the shelves down just slightly in the center which may be making them look ever so slightly bowed in the pictures?

      Great job on the room Daniel. The books and your birthday chair are my favorite parts. And please please please continue to buck the blogger trend of over styling spaces that are supposed to be functional. Books are beautiful and colorful, there’s no need to act like they don’t exist!

  14. Amazing. Truly.
    If you ever want to come spend a week in a Cambridge loft with garage parking, for free, I’d be up for exchanging cool design stuffz (furniture? art? other v cool stuffz) for consultation/help with the tiny kitchen belonging to my artist boyfriend (think original beadboards, transom windows, only 11 feet of lower cabinets/nasty ass countertops to be replaced, and a small amount of tiling), you’d all be welcome.
    By the way, I kind of love you. In a totally non-stalkery way (I promise).

  15. That is an awesome hand me down sofa. Your grandparents must have been very stylish folks.

    It looks great and I’m glad to see somebody else using books and having them organized in a way that makes sense for actually using the books. I think it looks good.

    Your room is looking very Scandinavian – sans the black doors, but they look great and it still has the Scandinavian vibe.

    • They were very stylish folks! Their house was like a flamboyant 70s-mod time capsule, which was pretty amazing to get to spend so much time in as a kid. I really cherish the pieces I’ve inherited from their home…I know it’s just stuff, but their style was so distinct that it’s hard not to have really strong associations. Thank you for saying so! :)

  16. The room looks really great. I had forgotten that it’s not wallpaper, but paint, on the walls, until I saw your wall patching photographs. It looks so sweet with the white walls now. I love the shelves too. It’s got to feel so good to just come in this room and sit and stare for awhile. I do that a lot in my own house, marveling in how far we’ve come – even when there’s sawdust all around us still.

  17. 1) Hudson Bay point blanket = Win!
    2) I have that dream over and over. But it’s never a new room, just a room or I completely forgot I had. Usually it’s a passageway back to a room in my childhood home.
    3) Amazing, amazing, amazing.

    xx

    A

  18. what’s in the closet??? are there shelves in there? sorry, nosy…

    • Ha, not nosy at all! There are 5 deep shelves…I have no idea what to put on them! Maybe magazines? More books? Right now they’re still holding all the paint cans and a few various tools that I was using while renovating the room. I need to get it cleaned out!

      • Maybe first floor cleaning supplies (broom, dustpan, cleaning products that you craft by hand and make little labels for?)

        OR

        Secret drinks pantry!

        and I’ll nth the other comments about having, and actually READING (gasp), books! Hurrah!

  19. My favorite thing about this whole room is the shelves, and I love love love that you used them for books grouped by categories. As a librarian’s daughter and having spent time working in libraries myself I can never understand why anyone would group their books by spine color or turn them around — how do you ever find the book you need with such random organization???? The horror! (/rant)

    I love this room. You’ve clearly worked so hard to fix it up in a respectful, purposeful way, and I really admire that. And I love your black doors.

    • Thank you, AnnMarie!

    • Ditto! Drives me crazy when they turn them spine inward. I’ve always thought they don’t actually read books………………. :)

    • Me too. I can’t imagine having a bookshelf where the books are in random order because of styling. It would kill me trying to find a book.

  20. Everything about this room gives me tingly, happy feelings.

  21. Hooray for actual books on bookshelves!

  22. I have that problem with black paint now too…1st it was a cabinet, then I ordered black plantation shutters, then I painted the front door black, then the bathroom vanity. It’s hard to stop! I love how you have used it!

    • It’s kind of addictive, right? People are so funny about painting stuff black (“it’s going to look dark!”), but it works so nicely (and is actually very traditional, really!) as an accent. Sounds like you’re putting it in all the right places! :)

  23. Gorgeous !! SO nice to see bookshelves that look realistic and not styled, color sorted, blah blah blah etc :)

  24. Just phenomenal, Daniel! Bravo!

  25. Finally! A bookshelves being used as intended. I never understood the clutter of objects instead of books on bookshelves. (I also never got the “spine in” nonsense. How do you know which book to get? This is for people who use books as decoration.) I love love love what you’ve done. You are just amazing. I wish I could hire you out to make over my entire house. Gorgeous.

    • I realllllly don’t get the spine-in thing at all!! Max and I had a big debate about whether people were just doing it for photos or whether they kept it like that all the time (Max argued the former…). Unless it’s an artsy installation for a retail space or something (admittedly, the variation of whites/beiges/yellows of the pages is very pretty), I don’t stand for it! :)

  26. I can’t believe that sofa was your grandparents’! It’s so cool. I love all the black in the space. This looks incredible for being “temporary”!

  27. That is one very sexy black leather couch. Good design seem to actually run in your genes!! I am with everyone else on this one, I really don’t like bookshelves for decoration purpose only and I don’t like the color code thing either, yours looks real. I love the black doors and the chimney cupboard is so adorable. Again, you did so good!

  28. I’m so happy that you don’t organize your books by color or put the spines on the inside. Every time I see color coordinated books in design blog photos I cringe. They’re BOOKS! Not decorations. Putting the spines facing in is even more stupid. How are you supposed to find the book you want if you cant see the spine? What’s the point?
    Aaaanyway, Gorgeous results all around, of course.

  29. Looking good! It must be such a relief to reclaim some more actual living space in your house. And I can relate to the newly-discovered-room dream as well. I recently planned out a meticulous renovation of a non-existent guest bedroom in my sleep.

    • Ha!! I’ve absolutely renovated nonexistent spaces in my sleep, too. So disappointing to find out all the work was for nothing!

  30. you are so incredibly good at this. this room is lovely and i want to lounge on that couch and read some of those books.

  31. I love that you’ve fully filled up your bookshelves with books! I feel like overly-styled bookshelves need to start fading. The world needs more good readers :)

  32. When you are ready to transition the ‘big’ living room to being a living room, this will make a FANTASTIC study. Put a huge library table style desk under the twin front windows – plenty of room for two workstations, move the piano back across the hall and fill that wall with more bookshelves. Pair of comfy reading chairs in front of the ‘fireplace. Done.

  33. Daniel this room looks lovely!! So glad you have a space to relax in now – hopefully it will be a perfect place to rest after all the hard work you’re putting into both of these awesome houses! BTW, thought you might want to know that you’re not crazy about the shelves looking bowed in the photo and not real life – it’s probably a lens aberration (distortion), which can sometimes cause straight things to look bendy, especially things that are closer to the edge of the frame. Some editing programs can take it out, but it’s totally normal – just makes us think we’re losing our minds :0).

    Great job – love following along on your renovating adventures!

  34. I love it and you are so winning on that bookshelf!!! It’s refreshing to see books where they belong! The blogger pinterest worthy way to do it has taken the magic out of book shelves. There is such a promising excitment about shelves overflowing with books.

    You keep being you Daniel this is beautiful and unique and that is awesome!!!

  35. Daniel,
    You HAVE to show us the inside of the skinny wall closet! I’m DYING!

    • Yeah man I agree. Are you on Instagram? If you’re not PLEASE create an account!!!

      • I didn’t realize people would be so interested! I’ll have to snap a photo!

        And Jack, yes! You can follow me @DanielKanter!

  36. BRAVO!

    January is turning into a dreamy month for blog posts! Loved the posts about framing (oh wow, that’s just a horrible pun….) and this amazing reveal of your front room. I feel so sorry for you, you work SO hard. It’s so worth it, though. You’re doing such a great job.

    • I like hard work, especially with this kind of stuff! Nothing to feel bad about at all! And thank you!

  37. Beautiful! I think my favorite thing about this room is the little chimney closet. What are you storing in there now?

    • Just cans of paint and supplies from renovating this room! Cleaning it out is on my to-do list today. I don’t know what I’ll do with it after that!

  38. I can’t tell from the photos but a general rule of thumb for long shelves is to have support every 24 inches. If they truly are bowing you might just need to add a few more stanchions and brackets to help distribute the weight.

    • Thank you! I’ll see what they do, I guess. I just looked at them again and I think they might be bowing a little bit in real life, but the lens distortion in the photo seems to really exaggerate it. The brackets are about 30 inches apart so I might add two more later on.

      • You could also add a 1×2 to the front of each shelf to both give the illusion of a thicker shelf and provide strength. I used the same hardware and method for kitchen shelving that held my microwave, cookbooks and dishes – super strong.

  39. The room is so incredibly lovely looking! The hearth, the black doors, the bunch of color that comes from the book case… sigh. Just great!!

  40. Yay!!!! This looks FABULOUS!
    I just went through the process of “aging” a ceiling medallion myself. I was at the local paint store and was looking for a solution to getting the medallion looking like it belonged in my 1910 apartment. When I explained to the paint store guy what I was looking to do, he looked at me like I had three heads and asked “Why would you want it to look old?” and then proceeded to show me several faux finish options. :p

    I ended up mixing plaster of paris one to one with cold water and slathered it on… Looks great! Can’t wait to get it up on the ceiling this weekend.

  41. It looks wonderful. You have a great eye. I’m going to reiterate that I like books on a book shelf, rather than a lot of busy stuffy stuff. I am about to put up some enormous shelves to make a big wall “right” and sadly, I don’t have enough books! I already have anxiety about putting space-filling junk on it until a lifetime’s worth of books are available to fill it. I love the black door – you’ve given me inspiration to deal with a few of mine. I’m in a new house that I can’t even hope to fill up quite yet, but I found that adding house plants really made some of the empty spots spaces feel much more homey. They’re a nice, cheap stand-in while I slowly make changes. You’ve got great light and Ikea has cheap palms that would look lovely tucked in a corner or two. Lastly, I have a recurring hidden-garden dream myself. My new house has so much more gardening space and I’m dying for spring to get here so I can dig in!

    • Thank you, Sarah! Don’t sweat filling the house—it’s a nice issue to have! We have too MUCH stuff (somehow…) and I know there will come a point when I have to pretty aggressively get rid of stuff that I know just won’t get used, even if I really like it. Just build slowly, buy consciously…you’ll get there. :)

      (and YES, this room is DYING for a good plant!)

  42. Gorgeous! Your inherited pieces look so lovely in the space (and I love the latch on the chimney cupboard too).
    What are the heights of your shelves? I’m building a bookcase right now and am figuring out shelf heights. Yours look like they decrease in size as they go up – did you start at 12″? What are the top ones? I know my dimensions will be dictated by the size of our wall and our own books, but I like the way your shelves look uniform but are (I think) slightly different heights.

    • Thank you, Katie! I Basically just based the spacing off of the size books we have…bigger on the bottom (which are art + design books) and smaller on top (novels, memoir, etc). I think having the spacing descend as you move up helps also give the illusion of adding more ceiling height, too! The rough spacing is (moving upwards): 15″, 13″, 12″, 12″, 10″, 10″.

  43. Love it ALL, especially the dinky little cupboard (closet?), the piano, the sofa and the Arne Norell chair (I have a Safari but I personally prefer the Norell chair). Once again a job well done Daniel.

  44. This looks AMAZING. Every time you post an After I want to find another house to redo, this time with HIGH ceilings and loads of light. (A derelict Greek Revival that I’ve been stalking here in Cambridge since 2007 just listed this week, and I’m FURIOUS that I don’t have $1.7 million to buy it and another 500K to fix it. I wish someone would just let me do it FOR them, I don’t even need to live there! UGH.)

    Anyway. You’re the best. This is terrific. The black doors slay me.

    • Thank you, Kate! You should—you’re good at it! Can’t wait to come see your place. (I want to see that listing!!)

  45. So much hard work to get this room to this point. Can’t wait to see you tweak the room further down the road to give it your signature touch. Love that little chimney closet door and the vintage latch, so cute! Are you still going to make the the blue stone hearth darker? Maybe you can switch the mirror and the picture? Was surprised the piano is in this room already. A lot of work to move it, especially when it’s just taking up limited space while this room is functioning as the living room.

    • Thank you, Suzanne! I don’t know about the bluestone…I still have to experiment on scraps and see what happens! I don’t mind it as-is, though.

      I originally did put the mirror on the mantel, but I didn’t really like it there, so I’m keeping my eye out for a good painting I think. I actually moved the piano in here almost as soon as we bought the house…there’s only a couple of walls that it can really go on because of where windows and radiators sit, so I wanted to get it out of the big living room since it filled the ONLY large wall in there, which I think I’d rather have a painting on. But we’ll see! It’s not impossible to move, so it might end up back where it started depending on how that room pans out and what this room eventually ends up being.

  46. My love list: the floating bookshelves, the piano, the black radiator. But that fireplace? It’s killer! It’s so, so good. I went back and read your post on it. Amazing. The room is good without it, but with it is just stunning. So glad to have been introduced to your blog.

    • Thanks, Sarah! I’m really proud of that fireplace. It’s kind of stupid but it completely changes the room—I’m so glad I went for it!

  47. Am I correct in seeing that you switched the orientation of the chandelier? Did you have to rewire it?

    • If I’m understanding correctly…the shades actually swivel so they can be angled up or down (or somewhere in between!). I like them up better…it diffuses light much nicer bouncing off the ceiling, and allows us to use energy-efficient LED bulbs without having to look at them. :)

  48. things I love….the black doors…a bit of drama in the room
    the corner rad….
    the bookselves with all those books…(books add life to the room)
    the ceiling medallion..(obvi)
    the beat up floors…good enough for now
    that little door by the fireplace…character for miles.
    not “crazy” about that couch but hey it was free…and it’ll do for now…

    great job Daniel..you are such an inspiration.

    • Thank you, Debbie! I’m admittedly not crazy about the couch as the room stands right now, but I’m holding out hope that I can figure out how to rock it. The size really is perfect and it’s VERY comfy, so we’ll see. It’s petite enough that it could end up somewhere else as well.

  49. I love the black doors! And that was the best decision ever in putting those pipes behind the walls. What a difference that made. Really loving seeing all the rooms come together.

  50. GORGEOUS! I love getting snippets of reveals like this in the middle of framing craziness. I love both types of posts, but both can become redundant if there isn’t any variety. It’s such a luxury (haha, I’m sure you wouldn’t put it that way) to be able to post the opposite ends of the renovations spectrum. It’s rare that you get to see that in a blog.

    • Thank you, Kari! It’s a luxury for me, too—I like doing this stuff so I feel very fortunate to be able to work on both of these projects at once! It’s definitely a relief to have the house I’m living in start to be less of a construction zone, though…a couple of months ago I might have told a different story! :)

  51. SO lovely, it’s incredible what you did with the space…I loved your descirption of your dreams about hidden rooms, you were clearly born to do what you’re doing. :) Greetings from Berlin

  52. Great job (as usual) Daniel! I think it’s really smart for you to go ahead and use it as the living room.

  53. It all looks fantastic! You should take piano lessons (in the spare time I’m SURE you have right?). I had a house come with a piano too, I took lessons and now can play the opening notes of a few songs. Impressive, I know.

    Re: The blanket, it’s either a Hudson’s Bay Blanket or a Pendleton Glacier Park blanket. Sadly it can’t be a beautiful hybrid of wool goodness.

    • Ha! I don’t think I’ll be taking piano lessons for a longggg time. I did as a kid and I hated it!

      You’re right! I guess I just use Hudson Bay as a catch-all term for point blankets, but yes—Pendleton does call it that.

  54. Hi Daniel, love the remodel. As a fellow book hoarder I am particularly envious of your shelf space…I moved 6 months ago and my books are still stacked on the floor for lack of a better shelving solution! Can you link specifically to the hanging system you used for your shelves? Also, do you think this would work with natural (vs painted) wood for the shelves themselves?

    • Sure! The brackets are these (they come in lots of different sizes) and the upright standards are these. (I’m noticing now that both products have pretty negative reviews, but they seem to be more of a problem with the reviewers than the products themselves…just sayin’)

      And yes, you could absolutely use unpainted wood! I’d definitely recommend sealing it, though (I like 3 coats of water-based polyurethane for stuff like that), so that it’s easy to wipe off dust over time.

  55. Will I get shunned for not loving the bookshelves? Yes, bookshelves are for books but seven massive shelves, from floor to ceiling is a little overwhelming for the room. Especially beside the fireplace, which now looks very busy. Am I alone out here?

    If you need the books in this room, you could keep a couple of shelves where you have them and maybe add the Sapien Bookcase or IKEA lack wall shelf between the two windows? Add another shelf above the piano? Spread the books around a bit! Just some thoughts.

    Otherwise, the room is beautiful, the natural light is beautiful, and I love that fixture. An amazing reno through and through. Great job!

    • Ha, no shunning! Well, I won’t shun you, anyway. I’m SURE you’re not alone. I never expect anything in my house to appeal to everyone—I’d actually much prefer if it didn’t! :)

      I personally don’t find the shelves overwhelming or busy in the room, but that’s just me. I actually think it would feel much busier to have shelving on every wall—I like that it’s contained this way and then the other walls can kind of breathe and be used for art and stuff. Different strokes!

      • Haha, I didn’t even think about how spreading the books around would give that busy illusion, but I think you might be totally right!

        What I would LOVE to see is this room to one day become a study (like you mentioned). It would have every wall, floor to ceiling, covered in books! But then have very minimum furniture, just a chair and side table… and maybe a lamp.

        Somehow I feel like I may have contradicted my original post!

  56. Daniel, it’s gorgeous and a perfect example of how awesome a room can look even in the transition stages. It’s so worth it to have a nice place to crash when you’re exhausted from all that demo and construction. Have you tried Rejuvenate on the floors? We used it on the oak floors in our 1939 Sears bungalow, and it really makes a difference. It’s super easy to apply–just pour it on and spread it around with a microfiber cloth. It dries in less than 30 minutes. Good luck with everything you’re doing–I love both of your houses and your style–but most of all, I love your respect for old stuff!

    • Thanks, Diane! I actually did try Rejuvenate a little while ago on the dining room floors, but not in this room! I did either two or three coatings. I was impressed with the results and can see how it would probably work really well for floors with less damage, but these are really just in HORRIBLE shape and it kind of didn’t even seem worth it! I don’t know…I might still do it anyway, but ultimately the only thing that will help is refinishing. They’re decades overdue at this point!

  57. Gorgeous! From the white walls and glossy black doors and radiators, to the fireplace and the furniture, and the books! And that chandelier! What a transformation! Love it all.

  58. Looks amazing! Yes a deceptive amount of work goes into all that. I do think if I had a blog, I’d be obsessively telling people how long and hard it all was!
    Q – do your dogs bug you when you’re trying to paint, or tape, or work in general? I have three, and mine drive me crazy when I’m trying to do much of anything, under my feet, in my way…sometimes I just give up if it’s not nice enough outside to put them out for a while (where they then proceed to bark and while..oy). Maybe I need new dogs! ;)

  59. Awesome!

    Very cool that the pups added their own little decor touch with a bone on the rug (last pic). :P

    Where do you guys watch TV?

  60. Your shelves probably look like they’re sagging in the photos because of the lens you’re using. The wider the angle of the lens (anything smaller than 50mm, usually), there’s noticeable curving. So unless you fix that in lightroom/photoshop, straight lines won’t look…straight.

    I’ve been debating shelves or built in bookcases for my house since we moved in. It’s a 1902 with no built ins, so part of me wants to add character, but another part of me is worried they won’t look good. :/

    • That’s probably the issue, yes!

      With built-ins, I think it just depends on the house (like what kind of potential space is available for them) and then it really comes down to execution! I’ve seen new built-ins look great and others look terrible…the more research you do into what’s appropriate for the house (and the more attention you pay to the details that already exist in the house), the better. Done well, that kind of stuff can definitely add character and value…like with the fireplace in this room, I guess my hope is that I’ve added something that looks “right” but is still my contribution to the house. It’s not original, but I think it fits well enough that nobody would be inclined to tear it out in the future, you know?

  61. I’ll trade my dreams for yours… I had a dream a man was trying to kill me – I stabbed him a WHOLE bunch with a kitchen knife and he just laughed and kept chasing me. I blame the Criminal Minds marathon that I’ve been on for the past few weeks.

    Your living room looks so cozy. I desperately want shelves in our living room. I’m saving this picture as a reference. :)

  62. You are awesome. This is gorgeous. You inspire me.

  63. The room looks lovely. It’s nice to think that you, Max and the dogs have somewhere to relax after a hard day renovating.

    I hold you responsible for converting me to black. I’m using it more and more, much to the astonishment of those who know me and know that I wouldn’t have had it anywhere near me in the past.

    I am totally with you on the way you have the books arranged. I do so by category / genre and most definitely with the spines showing. How else do people find the book they’re looking for? Or are their books just for show?

    • Thank you, Susan! I’m glad to hear you’re experimenting with black!! It’s funny…people have such an aversion to it (conceptually, at least), but it’s really a very traditional choice—I think that’s why it looks good in so many types of places. But I know it’s kind of scary to make that leap!

      I have no idea how people find their books! I was thinking about it and I wonder if the sorting by color thing is a trend because it’s more effective for very visual people (like, say, interior designers)—i.e., more likely to remember the spine color (or size) of a specific book, therefore making it relatively easy to find. Or it’s just nonsense! :)

      • That’s definitely the case with me. My books are sorted by colour these days* and I remember the look just as well as the title. They’re also sorted by height so as to cram as many books as possible in my tiny billy shelves.:-)
        *I a bit ocd and the visually calm look helps me relax.

  64. It’s amazing that the room seems soothing to me considering it is sparsely decorated and white. Must be those books and the vintage touches like the couch, rug, and piano!

    BTW: Did you use Simply White on all, or the color you used in the dining room on the walls?

    • Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t mention the paint colors! DOH. I’m dumb.

      Walls: Benjamin Moore Soft Chamois (flat)
      Ceiling/moldings: Benjamin Moore Simply White (flat/satin)
      Doors: Benjamin Moore Onyx (satin)

      (all color-matched to Valspar Reserve paint available at Lowe’s!)

  65. The little cabinet behind the fireplace! I die.
    Never apologize for books.
    Great job! Beautiful room, as usual! Thanks for sharing so much of your home,

  66. I obsessively follow your blog and consider you a genius. This room, like all of yours, is utterly masterful. Your fireplace makes such an impact. It’s completely ridiculous that I have any suggestions at all for you, but I can’t help think that piano would look gorgeous also painted black. Would that be a major violation?

    • Shucks, thank you, Lisa! That’s very kind!

      I don’t think it would be a violation (I’m not really someone who gets super protective of wood furniture or anything, and the finish on this piano is really a mess), but I like it more or less as-is. It has a lot of wear and patina which I think lends some texture to the room, especially with almost everything else in the room more freshly painted or newer/sleeker, you know?

  67. This room is so pretty!

  68. Thank you for putting books on your bookshelves, spines facing out and not color coordinating them! I think bookshelves/books are decoration in themselves, so bravo to you!

    We recently erected some of the same kind of shelving: Lowes, brackets, etc., except we stained the wood because it looked better in our den. I really love them and the simplicity of the look.

    By the way, we live south of you, a few miles from New Paltz. We love the Hudson Valley.

  69. amazing.

    can you show what is inside the chimney cupboard?
    that is my favorite part of the room!

    fantastic job, daniel!

    • I’ll take a picture of it when it’s cleared out! Right now it’s still full of paint cans and screwdrivers and stuff!

  70. Black radiator = fantastic! I know just how you feel about remodeling vs simply decorating. Our house takes soooo much just to get a simple coat of paint on the walls, and ours is only 35 years old, with only one bad remodel. When I post photos of white painted walls on Facebook, I’m sure half my friends are thinking “so what?”. Those jerks. ;-)

    I love the shelves and I think the books look great as-is. It gives me hope for my own shelves. I’m always inspired by you.

    P.S. – I didnt comment on the cottage framing posts, but my vote is they are not at all boring. I love to see remodels from the ground up, with all the details!

    • Yes, exactly! Paint is the easy part—everything that comes before it is where the real work is!! Good luck with your place!

      I’m glad you like those posts! :)

  71. DK –

    Do you have anything in the chimney cupboard?

    I hope so.

    XOXO

    • Like, just spoons or something. Or cans of dog food.

    • Exactly what you’d expect—a bunch of paint cans and rollers and brushes and tools that I was using when I was working on the room! I have to clear it out and figure out what to do with it! I do like the spoons idea.

  72. OMG all good things come to he who renovates!

    gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous

    YEA for BOOKS arranged for REAL PEOPLES!

    interesting that you hung the shelves – i would be scared of the wall falling down – however if one has hundreds of books, one has 12 bookcases and not hanging shelves.

    anyway, echoing all the comments

    ps whats in the cute chimney closet?

    • Thanks! Chimney cupboard is just full of DIY supplies from working on the room—no idea what to put in it for the long haul!

  73. Wha, weird! I was just telling my therapist about that recurring dream today. I have it at least twice a year and it sucks so bad to wake up and realize I don’t actually have a room devoted to cats or like, pillow parties. I feel way more normal now after reading this than I did earlier.

  74. Have you tried JC Penney for window coverings? Their shades are ridiculously inexpensive and nice quality.

  75. As a librarian, I feel so relieved that you put your books on the shelf by category. It’s as though you intend the books to be used! Read! Pondered! To connect ideas and discover new things because they are next to books that are like them! And you don’t have to move cute crap out of the way to do that. Hooray!

  76. BRAVO!!!! like always, you’ve impressed us :)
    question about paint colors- what did you use for the walls and trim? Im about to move and am looking for “that perfect white”….

    • I can’t believe I didn’t mention!

      Walls: Benjamin Moore Soft Chamois (flat)
      Ceiling/Trim: Benjamin Moore Simply White (flat/satin)
      Doors: Benjamin Moore Onyx (satin)

      All were color-matched to Valspar Reserve!

  77. It looks great! Congrats!

    Can you tell us how you prepped the moldings for painting? Did you strip them? Scrape off flaking paint? Other?

    Also what is the wall color?

    Thanks!
    Emily

    • I think I’m going to do a whole post about this stuff, but the basic steps are…

      1. Rough sand either by hand or with a mouse sander
      2. Patch all holes (either ReadyPatch or something stronger like Bondo)
      3. Scrub everything with TSP substitute
      4. First coat of paint (primer if necessary)
      5. Caulk all gaps between walls and moldings or on moldings.
      6. Second coat of paint.
      7. Third coat (if required) and touch-ups!

      The wall color is Benjamin Moore’s Soft Chamois!

  78. oh! i’ve missed the house posts. this is just ace, and everything is wondetful, most especially the bookshelves.

  79. I love how even your “not perfect, half-finished” room is still perfection to me. What a stunning room. Your energy is so inspiring!

  80. Love the bookshelves and so happy to see a blogger who has more than coffee table books!

  81. I’ll second (and 3rd-ing and 4th-ing, etc) that the bookshelves look amazing. Because it is a solid mass of books and you’ve framed it out with space all around – it looks like a giant piece of art. Like, if you stand back and blur your eyes, it becomes this cool abstract piece. Well done!

  82. I (along with everyone else in these comments) absolutely adore your floating library. I don’t really have any place to display my books at the moment, but I’d definitely want something like that!

  83. Daniel, I know you are justifiably proud of your fireplace. It provides a nice counterpoint to the real heroes of the room, and your whole house in fact – those magnificent windows. How much attention have they received? I don’t think you’ve told us much about them. Apologies if I’ve missed something.
    I love all the choices you’ve made, especially the unglamorous ones like hiding plumbing and replacing the ceiling rose.
    p.s you can’t be that surprised that people are keen to see inside the chimney cupboard. It’s such an appealing little door, you just want to open it!

    • Thanks, Pippa! The windows haven’t gotten a lot of attention yet. They’re protected by storm windows on the outside and in solid shape (no major rot or structural issues), but they will definitely need attention down the line—probably lots of stripping, replacing cracked panes, re-glazing, replacing sash ropes, etc. etc. That sort of feels like a whole separate project and one I can circle back to when the house in general is in better shape, so my basic strategy is to just paint everything up to the sash itself, clean the window sashes, and hang a shade. I’ll get there!

  84. Wow, I love it! What a beautiful and comfy room! I especially am adoring those gorgeous shelves (especially in combo with the leather chair, rug, and fireplace). Agree the closet and its little tiny latch are stellar. One question: I am definitely not someone who thinks crown molding must be everywhere (I am sure there was never any in our hall, for example) but I am feeling like this room maybe kind of needs some. Some nice hand-run Greek Revival crown molding, that is. (Not something from stock from the hardware store.) I do know some (reasonable!) guys in Brooklyn but maybe there are some in Kingston too…. For later, of course, when you have time for such frills. What do you think?

    • I’ve wondered about crown for these spaces, and I think I’ve decided against it! I know it kind of looks like it should be there (and I think done well it would look amazing), but I haven’t uncovered any evidence that there was ever crown molding! Original wallpaper goes right up to the ceiling line, and there’s just no evidence of it being pulled off…I feel like typically you’d find some clues. I’m sort of thankful, honestly…it would be a pretty spendy upgrade but would also make me CRAZY trying to choose just the right profiles!! But yeah, we’ll see…it could always be added down the line.

  85. Wat do ewe keep in teh tinneh closet?

  86. Every time you work on a new room, I feel like your house must just sigh with a big thank you. I adore that fireplace and all the choices you made for it, though I must admit, at first I thought going bigger might be overwhelming, it really wasn’t! A good call, as usual. I think the new lighting works so well against the ceiling medallion!

  87. What a happy room! I’d never want to leave. White walls, black fireplace. Black door with white knob, black radiator with white turny thing, black lighting fixture, and gorgeous, warm furniture. Just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Incidentally, I’ve been looking for a couch like that for my office-I’m a psychoanalyst, and my office is small, and that couch would be perfect. Do you know who made it? You have awesome grandparents and parents.

    • Thank you, Rebecca! It’s funny that you say that—I always call it the shrink sofa!

      I don’t know why I never checked this out before…the cushion says Dema, and it looks like it’s a 1980s Italian design by Roberto Tapinassi called the Rataplan Sofa. Looks like it’s still produced, too.

  88. Dude, you are a fucking genius. I don’t even use the word dude! I am in awe that so much editing talent and taste has been given to you. I love this room soooooo much. It is just right and the black on the fireplace and radiator and door is divine. Thank you so much for sharing your talent and hard work. I can’t believe it is the same room. Putting that faux fireplace is was genius! And I would love to see inside the little chimney closet…so adorable. Love everything!

  89. Wow, Daniel the room looks fantastic! I LOVE the bookshelves! The straight on shot of the shelves (photo 13 I think) really highlights them. The open space all around them and the fact that they’re uniformly full of books makes it look like an art piece-maybe it’s just my weird book lover/art brain :)
    -my favorite thing in the room is still that crazy corner radiator.

  90. Just wanted to say ‘THANK YOU!’ for not styling your books by color. When I read a post where a blogger does this I actually feel myself becoming stupider just for being an observer of such things. The room looks great by the way! We had a similar ‘conundrum’ at our last house – two spaces with living room potential. We ended up preferring the smaller room for hanging out as it felt cozier.

  91. So flippin’ amazing and inspirational! Your hard work is always a delight to see!

  92. I WANT TO LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE! It’s beautiful, you have a really good eye for simple detail and I am just madly in love with all the black and white.

    I have two questions if you have a second at all:

    1) Would you consider using the Enje blinds from Ikea in the room? I know you have used them in the past (that is actually what brought me to your blog in the first place as I was googling for images of them) and I’m considering them in my house so wondered if you had a reason for not using them again.
    2) Did you remove the radiator to paint it? That might be a stupid question but I want to do the same thing and have no idea where to start :)

    • Thank you, Sarah!

      Unfortunately, IKEA changed the design of the Enje shades a while ago, and they’re not as nice as they used to be! They used to work on a pull-chain, but now they’re on a spring-mechanism that (for me at least) seems unreliable at best and totally inoperable at worst. The other issue is that they made them significantly shorter, so now they’re not even long enough to cover our windows! It’s a shame, because I really love the light-filtering quality they provide.

      Nope, the radiator stayed in place! I just painted it with a regular 2″ angled brush. You can’t really paint the back but typically you just paint the parts that are visible and it looks great. :)

      • What a shame Daniel. I bought one a couple of months ago here is Australia and we still had the pull chain version then. If you didn’t have so many windows and postage wasn’t so ridiculous I would get some for you.

      • Yes, I think they’re still available in the old design everywhere except the US and Canada! It sucks!! I have actually thought about getting someone in Europe to send them to me, but between taxes and shipping it’s just so much money. It doesn’t seem like it should be so hard to find something here, but the quest continues!

  93. What a wonderful, wonderful space. The fireplace is so very good. And I love those bookshelves!

    We’re renting an apartment right now as we save up for a house, and seeing your work gives me hope that we really will find a house we can live in someday — even if it ends up being kinda beat up to start with. This also helps me justify the garage full of grandparent hand-me-downs that I just can’t let go of. We will find room for them! Someday!

  94. amazing. thank you for sharing.

  95. I’m now ashamed to say I have some colour-coded bookshelves – I feel like I might be banned from reading the blog now. I do read all my books (and I have loads), but I have never had organised bookshelves before so I used to skim along the shelves looking for the book I wanted and not really reading the spines, just looking for the right shape/colour/style of lettering anyway, so colour-coding helps me find them. I love your shelves though and I agree with the people who said it looks like an art installation! I actually squeaked out loud at work today in excitement when I noticed you’d updated with pretty photos instead of building site pics. Love the black doors, my doors are the original 120-year-old wood so I can’t bring myself to paint them but I look at yours and it makes me wish someone else had committed that sacrilege so I don’t have to.

    • Ha, you are not banned!! I actually mentioned that in a comment above—I bet color-coded books makes a lot more sense for more visually inclined people, who I’d imagine are more likely to associate the books with their color, shape, and size. Hey—whatever works for you!!

      (And thank you!)

  96. books. on book shelves. love it. if you’ve posted, i read you first – i think that means something good.

    i, too, am questing for the perfect shade that allows light in but doesn’t allow my crazy neighbors to see what brand my tv is – and doesn’t cost a fortune – let me know if you find it first. i am so tired of cleaning 2 inch wood blinds!

  97. I love the hits of black on the doors and the radiator. It’s unexpected, yet very becoming of this classic home.

  98. I absolutely love the chandelier in here (the west elm one) — it’s really gorgeous in the space. I love the play between the modern and the old character of the house.

    I also love the shelving. we were setting up to do that in our apartment, but then discovered that we’ll be purchasing a live-income property within the year (likely), and fully renovating to move in when our lease is up (fingers crossed). So, we figured, we’ll keep the books packed for now. :) I’m thinking it will be a great option in our new place, though, when we get there.

    I think it looks great, and I can’t wait to see more (of both this house and the little cottage flip). Also, do you still have your apartment in the city? Is that undergoing any changes?

    • Thanks, Jennifer! We do still have our apartment in Brooklyn, but it’s usually sub-letted to help cover the cost while we figure out if/how long we’re keeping it. I do a little project or two whenever I’m there…I’ll post an update at some point! :)

      • That’s awesome. I like how you’re becoming a property/design mogul. :)

  99. Ok, I have possibly had the most shite day ever, and as soon as I saw the new post, I almost cried with relief of something good. You are AMAZING!!! I love every part, especially that the chimney cupboard detail ties in so perfectly with your fab mantel. I vote the chandelier goes in a bathroom. Cracking up about everyone’s comments on the books (which of course are brilliant) — I love seeing books on display by people that actually read. I spent a weekend organizing my mom’s hoard of books (we’re talking 1000s) and unless they’re Penguin paperbacks I’m all for grouping by subject, as it really reflects who you are. I didn’t realize that I’m not alone with the “extra room dream”. Mine is always in an apartment I’ve never been in, but apparently I live there (be it’s with my current landlord), and it’s haunted — as in demons haunted — behind a random side wall so I spend the whole dream trying to figure out how to get the space cleared. But back to you… I LOVE your gmom’s sofa, it is brilliant, as is the piano and its history. I also really like the white door handles on the black. Honestly, I love all of it. You really are talented, and it’s so nice to see all of the lovely, well-deserved comments. Thank you so much for sharing and bringing some sunshine to my day.

  100. Oh.my.God with that chimney cupboard. The most adorable thing I’ve seen in a while. Great job. Looks inviting and cozy.

  101. I’m curious about how this room looks at night. With only two light sources and your main light facing up, is it bright enough at night?

    • Yes, it’s very bright! We actually have the overhead light on a dimmer and I find it too bright even dimmed all the way down, so usually it’s just the lamp and some candles. I like dimmer lighting at night, though.

  102. Daniel,

    I haven’t been keeping up with your blog for a while, but today I had time to read this post.

    It’s so inspiring to see how much work you already put into the fabric of the house. I take my hat off to you. I love the bookshelves! The fireplace is fantastic! And the piano is a respectful inclusion of the former owner’s life here in the house, and I like that.

    One complaint . . . I need to see inside the little chimney cupboard! Stop being so coy! What are you hiding in there??? I also think the little porcelain knob and brass hinges are so cute. As always, beautifully restored.

    • Thanks, Thel! I didn’t realize anyone would be so curious about the chimney cupboard!! I’ll take a picture of it for the next post I guess. :)

  103. I nth the bathroom for the chandelier. Wow Daniel it must be so nice for you and Max to have such a nice soothing place to sit (and read!). It feels like I miss a bit of comfort (as in a couch that you can sit on with the dogs and Max) or the Eames lounge chair you restored. But other than that it is amazing. I do love the couch. Very handy that furniture rotation system that you have going on in your family.
    And I really love your bookshelves. I guess practice makes perfect. Nice that they are so high and spaced out evenly with the wall and the window and keeping them off the floor and FULL of BOOKS. I love a piano in a room, it just finishes things off.
    Congratulations with this. Have a wonderful day!!!

    • P.S. I second having all the doors in the same color at least throughout the same floor. We once checked out a house where every room had a completely different color and decor and it was a mess. Just the thought of having to paint it all over made me not want that house.

    • Have you thought of shutters? It would help insulate the windows when cold (and closed) and if you place two levels of shutters on top of eachother you could f.i. open up the top ones for light while keeping the bottom ones closed for privacy. And no fabrics flopping around (though I do love linnen). Just a thought.

      • I’ve thought about exterior shutters, but I don’t think interior shutters would really work for this house! I’m fairly certain that the exterior originally had shutters, though, which I’d LOVE to restore someday.

  104. Congrats on a room to be comfortable in! Seeing the books made me so happy for you – unpacking the books means you’re finally home. And I love the floating arrangement of solid book, no “accents” needed. Extra blogger points from me for being original. Personally I never got the idea of turning the spines to the back, what?

  105. This is so beautiful. The light, the old furniture, the black and white, the books. Bravo.

    I have a technique question: do you have any tricks for painting paneled doors like that one? I always end up with this weird brushstroke collision when I try to transition from the vertical paneling bits to the horizontal bits. Do you just use vertical strokes all over?

    • Thank you!

      I actually do have a pretty specific way of painting doors…I think I should just write a short post on it rather than try to explain it in words! (Basically, I start with painting the four panels, then the vertical parts between the panels, then the horizontal parts at top, middle, and bottom, and finish off by painting the vertical sides. I think this is the best way to keep the brush strokes tidy-looking!)

      • That makes sense! And of course a post about painting doors would be lovely. I think you must be an expert since you have painted so many of them.

        But mainly, this house is beautiful. Every time you post I get a fresh shot of energy for my own projects because I’m just so inspired.

  106. Love! Love this room! Question — when you redo the door hardware – are you able to just lift the doors off their hinges? Or does it take enormous plying off of years of paint? I want to restore the beautiful old doors and hardware in my 1911 Brooklyn apartment but I am a lone yet hearty lass so I’m trying to determine how big a task this is.

    Super inspiring.

    • Thank you! It depends on the door hardware—some hinges have a central pin that can be removed and the door can be lifted off, and some doors need to be removed by just completely unscrewing the hinge (most of the ones in my house are like this). It’s not the easiest thing in the world to take on alone, but I’ve done it and it’s not so bad! Sometimes it helps to have a couple of books on hand to slide under the door to kind of prop it into position when you’re trying to reattach it. If the screws are really painted over, the best way to get to them is usually expose the screw heads with a box-cutter and then use a manual screwdriver (and a lot of pressure!) to unscrew the screws from the frame. I hope that helps! I feel like I’m not explaining this very well—I’ll have to write a post!!

  107. I love the bookshelves just the way you have them. In my opinion book shelves or cases are for books not knick knacks. Of course, I love books. I am also not a fan of turning the books around. Need to be able to read the spine.

  108. First… THAT LOOKS AWESOME!!!!!!!! Second, what happened to the corner raditator cover!!! It looked so cool!!!!!!

    • Thank you!

      The cover is really not cool, I promise!! It’s just a bunch of wood and a metal radiator screen to allow the heat to escape. I’m not a big fan of radiator covers except in certain instances (like if it doubles as a window bench, which is common in craftsman-style houses)—I’d much rather see the radiator itself! Most of the ones in our house are so ornate that I feel like it’s a shame to cover them up!

  109. So cosy and inviting! You really know how to make a house feel like a proper home, Daniel! I really love the books on the shelves, by the way. I don’t understand why people keep putting up bookshelves when they don’t own books, like WTF?! Anyway, yours give me a Larry Kramer vibe, on a much smaller scale of course, but hey! That is a big compliment! (Shout out to The Normal Heart, Taylor Kitsch FTW.) I so look forward to seeing the big reveal of the proper living room. Needless to say I will be following you for years to come :-) (If you quit blogging, I’ll just move close by and sit by your house at night, no biggie!) May I point out how much your gorgeous, still to be finished other living room reminds me of The Stepford Wives? (The original – the remake doesn’t count!) Same layout! I always loved how spacious and light the living room looked with those windows on opposite sides! Love, love, love :-) I also love how your brain works :-) If you wanna be my friend, just let me know! I won’t stalk you I promise!

    • Why thank you, Nell! So many kind words! :)

      I have to watch the Stepford Wives again and see this room! I haven’t seen it in years, but I do remember loving the art direction of the original. I’m glad you can see the potential in my living room! I think it’ll be pretty amazing someday…I can’t get to it fast enough!!

  110. I just love the backdrop of the home with the pieces you have. Seriously cool and inspiring.

  111. Thinking of the space over the fireplace, I had an idea for cheap fun temporary art that’s BIG. Uprinting (http://www.uprinting.com/large-format-posters-printing.html) makes nice posters for cheap out of small pictures—like the 1950’s picture of your house. Too redundant? Beautiful job as always, by the way!

    • Oh interesting! I probably wouldn’t do a photo of the house, but that’s a great service to know about! I’ll have to give it a try for something…

  112. Hi! Are you still using White Dove for the wall color?

    • I can’t believe I didn’t mention in the post! The wall color is Soft Chamois by Benjamin Moore and the ceiling and moldings are Simply White. All color-matched to Valspar Reserve at Lowe’s. :)

  113. Stop it — this is to die for! Tell me you’re going to post paint colours! Love love love

    • I meant to in the post—DOH!

      Walls: Soft Chamois by Benjamin Moore (flat)
      Ceilings: Simply White by BM (flat)
      Trim: Simply White by BM (satin)
      Doors: Onyx by BM (satin)

  114. Bravo! I love it and love that have a place where you can relax. What amazing light! The shelves are perfect and I love that they are not styled. The books look like an art piece.

  115. I LOVE the bookshelf! Especially the fact that it is filled with actual books :) Also, you make me want to paint because omg that room looks SO good! I keep putting off painting the boring things in my apartment (like trim and windows..), but clearly I need to stop making excuses and just get it done. You inspire me :)

    • Thank you! Painting that kind of stuff makes such a big difference! It doesn’t take very long, either…just put on some good music and get into a zone!

  116. I love the black doors and radiators. They seem perfect for this house. I gotta admit, I’m not feeling the light fixture, but it’s your house and you have to do what you love:). And, finally, I love books. Load up those shelves:). Jess

  117. I also use the solar shades from JC Penny that Ryan recommended. They are great. I have only ordered them in ivory or white and don’t feel the need to raise and lower them. They let in great soft light in the daytime, while protecting privacy. You can see through them at night however, so I use a JC Penny roman shade on the window frame. It’s a clean look and very affordable.

    • Thank you for weighing in! I’m definitely interested. I really wish the stores around me carried them so I could check them out in person! I might order a test one for a small window…

  118. That is really interesting about the crown molding. I didn’t know you had old wallpaper (other than the fake painted stuff).

    I was thinking about the cupboard and the phrase “warming cupboard” popped into my head. I don’t know what that is, though, or what you’d put in there to warm. Kittens, perhaps, as you say above.

  119. Your bookshelf reveal was very timely for me. I was debating either IKEA’s Ekby Gallo or the system that you put in and you have convinced me to use the one from Lowes. I just wanted to know what depth your brackets are? It is a lovely room and I enjoy seeing the different phases that you are in in each house.

    • Hi Wendy! I think I used 9″ brackets. The wood is 1×12 (which is really like 3/4″ x 11.5) so I just wanted to make sure the brackets were recessed. Obviously your shelves could be shallower…I like the flexibility of this stuff for that reason!

      So funny that you mention the Ekby Gallo—I actually bought a bunch of those brackets (the deep ones) for exactly this purpose months and months ago, but once I realized how full of books the shelves were likely to be, I worried about the strength of the brackets. They don’t seem to have a weight rating listed anywhere but I don’t think they’d hold up to this weight. General rule of thumb with books is about 35 pounds per linear foot. I do love those brackets though.

  120. As someone who organizes books by the Dewey decimal system, I am glad to see you and many others also use common sense! :) Love your use of black and white–mod vibe in a historic space. Love that couch … what a great heirloom. Your grandparents had style! I never would have thought to use that lamp hanging from a ceiling rose, but it makes me smile! Another great job!

  121. Wow, Daniel, this is awesome (I haven’t read any of the other 211 comments but I’m pretty sure I just echoed everyone else…whatever; it’s the truth!). I’m kicking myself right now for not buying that chandelier on final sale. I couldn’t quite see it in our space, but you turned the shades upside down, didn’t you? and now it’s perfect. Sigh.

    If you don’t mind my asking, where dId you get the plain white steel bookends? I have been searching fruitlessly everywhere for exactly that (most of our books are in four IKEA Fjalkinge units–yep, we got more books than anyone) and all I can find is black. I hope these aren’t the IKEA ones that they carried forever and that they now seem to have discontinued, in which case I’ll just sigh again.

    • I’m so sorry and so brain dead. Of course I went back through and of course you had already answered both questions. Feel free to administer a dope slap.

      • Ha! No worries! Both things I really should have mentioned in the post, I’m an idiot!

        (those bookends are great. VERY sturdy.)

  122. Looks just beautiful, congratulations. Is it nice and warm and cozy in there even in the midst of winter?

    • It is! That corner radiator puts out a pretty incredible amount of heat. It’s the warmest room in the house!

  123. Fantastic job. That sofa is to die for, I love it.!

  124. The room looks great, and I always enjoy your writing style! I just had to comment because I’ve had that dream many times, also. Usually, it is about a house I used to live in, or even one we looked at but didn’t buy. In my dreams, though, the room is gymnasium-sized or some kind of vast floored attic with 20-foot ceilings. Rich with possibility. I looked it up on a dream website, and it said that this dream represents your finding new possibilities for yourself. So, here’s to new possibilities for you!

  125. FYI, the chimney cabinet — when i was in 7th grade we went on a class trip to philadelphia and included in our tour were some restored colonial era homes. in the dining room of one of them there was a chimney cabinet like yours, set behind the fireplace. our tour guide told us it was used to store china in the winter months in order to keep the dishes warm – using the heat that radiated through the chimney. (insane that i remember this, i thought it was so cool… ok, i was a weird kid. ;-) ). perhaps your room was once a dining room in a different incarnation?

    • That is really interesting, I love that you remember that! I wonder if that’s what this cupboard would have been for. There’s also a very shallow closet (like 12-14″ deep or so) in the dining room on the other side of the chimney, so I’m wondering now if that’s the intended function of that closet, and the cupboard in this room was for wood or…I don’t know! Thank you for bringing this up!

  126. I totally have the book problem. I would never organize books by color or size, since that would be completely confusing and useless, or turn them spine side in, since that would be even more confusing and useless. One solution I read in the Young House Love book is to cover all books in white paper (or whatever you want) and write the titles on the side. Do I have patience to do that? Absolutely not. We have about three times as many books as you have there. That would not be time well spent. Plus we can easily retrieve our books because we know what the spine looks like.

    So we’ll just do what you did. Yours look ok, because you at least pulled out the books to the edge of the case, and they are all neat and straight, and not falling over or in random horizontal piles likes ours are. Also, having the stark white background and shelves makes the colors become decorative.

  127. Daniel, your´re so inspirational and clever. You´ve really done terrific job. When I see pictures “before”, I can´t believe that it´s the same place. I´m keeping my fingers crossed to your renovation :)

    Veronika
    http://livingbypanicca.blogspot.sk/

  128. This place is so beautiful I want to cry. I could never in a million years make all the decisions you have to make and have it turn out so well. Nor have the courage to put in a fake fireplace, nor the skill to make it look so awesome. And this is your ‘temporary’ room… I’m inspired but I’m also sad!! All of the feels.

  129. This post made me go through your archives and it really is amazing how far she’s come since you moved in! This is room is gorgeous!

    Count me on the side of showing some spine, both in books and people.

  130. favorite thing …the teak bench with the piano. It works!!!!! Leave it be.

  131. Completely lovely and stylish, as expected! I think the visual heaviness of the bookshelves balances out the fireplace being not centrally placed. Your mix of styles and eras is perfection.
    I have to admit to the colour blocked novels – I like a big chunk of orange or black and find it easier to locate by colour than author but its gotten annoying as I have too many that are more than one colour on the spine! I used to be a librarian so I have been obsessive about dewey/alphabetical too. But hiding the beautiful, colourful spines it not an option either way!
    Thanks for the work you put into this blog. Your readers, myself included, love you more than is normal for a complete stranger!!

  132. Hi Daniel,
    Love everything in this room… regarding your bookends…. was wondering.. if you want your books to appear even more like they r floating? from the sides?… if so then why don’t you try sort of slip your book ends between the book’s covers and the pages! Similar idea to the umbra floating book system in a way!
    ….not sure if that made any sense lol

    • Makes total sense! I never really thought about doing that…I guess I don’t mind looking at the bookends…but now I feel like I need to try it, like it would be fancier somehow. Ha! :)

  133. Dearest Daniel — What colour paint and finish do you use on your black doors? And white on your walls? (not like you haven’t been asked this a million times). Has anyone told you how perfect you are. Well then, I am telling you. Perfect. Thank you from the 2nd coldest capital in the world. Ottawa, Canada.

    • Well, that’s very nice of you to say! :)

      Here ya go…
      Doors: Benjamin Moore “Onyx” in Satin
      Walls: Benjamin Moore “Soft Chamois” in flat
      Ceiling/Trim: Benjamin Moore “Simply White” in flat/satin, respectively.

  134. I’m late to the game in commenting, but couldn’t let this one slip by… STUNNING! Truly this looks so, so good. You must be so happy hanging out there :)

  135. I’m going to echo a lot of the commenters here and say that I like the bookshelves much better this way! I’ve tried arranging mine in so many of the blogger/pinterest-popular ways, but they’re so impractical. I take books out and shift them around all the time. I want to be able to locate the book I want without a lot of searching, and put it back without a lot of frustrating rearranging. So I gave up on all that and I’ve arranged my bookshelves like a regular, normal person ha ha. The point is that I like your bookshelves exactly like that! They look accessible and practical, not picture-perfect and untouchable. Good job, as always. Keep it up:)

  136. For a moment, I thought “What?! After all that work, did Daniel go over to the Dark Side & wallpaper…?” Ahhh, no. Before pictures. Good to be reminded of how much archeological dig it takes to achieve ‘effortless’ decor. Tongue in cheek: Bookcase ‘bow’…Re-purpose paint cans from the closet as auxiliary support for the bookshelf…2 birds, 1 stone. Serious Q: Did you try the mirror over the fireplace/art work over piano? I love the artful functionality of your bookshelf. Confession: I discovered that cataloguing our books by subject, by author, etc. did not work for me. What has worked is arranging spines by color. In my case, what looks like ‘slave to trend’ is aberrant brain wiring.

  137. I just found your blog,and I’m in love! My favorite thing, and I had to laugh at your commentary about it, is the fact that you actually have books in your bookshelves. That is THE BEST! I literally sighed, and thought “how nice, books, and they don’t all match!”.

  138. Hey Daniel,

    Do you have a good source for porcelain doorknobs, or have all of yours been existing rescues? I’m sure this is covered somewhere in a post, but really appreciate your advise.

Comments are now closed for this article.

Back to Top