Creating a Cozy Home Library

What do you do with a room that is is the size of an area rug, has just one useable wall for furniture placement, and is mostly a hallway between the living room and mudroom? For the last three years, the answer to that question has been, “I don’t know… maybe I could pile all of our junk and papers in there and just close the door.” This tiny, awkward room has been a major design challenge for me, and it has seen many different arrangements over the last few years. After some secondhand furniture hunting and critical problem solving, I finally found a solution that feels right.

I won’t say too much about the photos, but I want to show you all of the different iterations of this room so that you can see how a space can evolve over time. I started with white walls and wall-to-wall carpet. Over the last three years, we’ve removed the carpet, painted one wall black, painted the other three walls sage, and tried a few different furniture solutions. I am finally happy with the function and the style of this space, and think we’ve found an excellent solution for office storage and a workspace that fits my preferences. I realized after three years that I just don’t use a desk, and it was taking up half of the room without providing any storage. I put the desk in the basement where I can leave all of my sewing supplies out, and replaced it with a cozy secondhand loveseat where I can comfortably work from my laptop. The secondhand bookshelves provide storage for our books, and the bottom cabinets provide storage for our printer, filing cabinet, electronics, and other office supplies.

Let’s take a look at how this room has evolved over three years!

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Who knew that one tiny room could experience so many different looks! I took out the carpet, painted a wall, moved the desk, took out the desk, painted the other three walls, brought in hutch, moved the hutch, brought in a different desk and moved the hutch again, got rid of the second desk, moved the hutch AGAIN, brought in a loveseat, got rid of the hutch completely, and replaced it with two giant bookshelves that somehow make the room feel BIGGER. What?!?!

Here is what this room looks like right now. We’ve renamed it from “the office” to “the library”. The leather loveseat was $20 on Facebook marketplace. The bookshelves were $75 each on Facebook marketplace. The trunk was $20 at a farm auction that we went to right after moving to Alta in 2016. The real brass lamp was $3 at Goodwill. The rug is “thirdhand”, because my Mom bought it secondhand and I poached it from her. (Thanks, Mom 😉 ) The gingham throw is actually a cape scarf that I made from a yard of fabric from Joanns. I just store it here to cover up a tiny tear in the upholstery of the loveseat (and no one would ever know!). All of our books fit on the shelf, and all of our office supplies (including our printer and filing cabinet) fit in the closed storage below.

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This just goes to show you that your space might need to go through a few transitions before it feels juuust right. 

I’m happy with the function and feel of this room now, and I love how inviting it feels in the evening when all of the lamps are turned on. If you have a similar space in your home that you just don’t know what to do with, it may help to ask yourself a few guiding questions.

  1. What is the main purpose of this room? Is it an office, a sitting room, or a storage space? Do you want it to be all three? What kind of furniture do you need to achieve the purpose of this room?
  2. What do I love about this room and want to keep?
  3. How do I want this room to feel? Do I want it to be fresh and modern, or cozy and full of vintage charm? This will help inform your furniture and decorating decisions.
  4. What do I need to change about this room in order to have it function the way I want it to function? Do you need to sell a piece of furniture that isn’t working so that you have the money to buy something secondhand? Do you need to rearrange or repurpose the furniture in your space to function better?

These guiding questions will hopefully help you figure out how to best utilize the awkward spaces in your home. I know that the process and evolution of design can be exasperating to some, but I want to encourage you to see the process as an opportunity to refine the function and feeling of your home so that it reflects your style and serves your family well!

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