"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Can't I Have a Home Library?

You know how people make up their dream house plans in their heads? Well, my dream house has always included a rather elaborate library. If you've seen Disney's Beauty and the Beast you may have some idea what I mean... towering bookshelves at least two stories high with ladders on roller systems to get to the best books, which are always way up on top. Well, I'm tired of waiting for "some day" to come.

So the question is "Why can't I have a home library now?" Well, practically speaking ...
1. I live in a two bedroom, 1200 square foot duplex with three kids who all share one bedroom
2. The kids include one girl - 17 yrs old, and two boys - 20 months and a 6 year old. (My 19 year old son is out on his own, so in this instance, he doesn't count (no offense K).
3. I run a home daycare, so the house is also crammed with toys and baby equipment.
4. We do not have a den or family room.
5. There is not a single bit of extra space in the house.

So the odds of having a nice, quiet, relaxing library space are basically nil. I got to thinking that perhaps the garage was a good candidate. After all, my sewing room is out there. But the garage has gotten a little over-run with junk. It was organized last year, when we put up 6 very large industrial 6-foot-tall shelves. We managed to get most things up on the shelves. I even moved three bookshelves out there and had them together in an area. This was mostly done out of necessity, as there was nowhere else in the house to put them. They were all crammed full, with the largest one holding two rows of books on each shelf (they are deep shelves). And here's what had become of our nicely organized garage when people started carting things out and not putting them away...

The area to the left is where I hoped to put a library. The area to the right is my buried sewing room. Now keep in mind, this is my garage we're talking about. The house is much neater! But when you lack space, and you also lack organization, you end up with overwhelming piles. Nobody knows where to put things, because nothing has a specific place, so everyone just walks out and dumps.

This had gotten very out of hand. We had to climb piles of stuff if we needed one of the books on those shelves.

The sewing room was actually functional, but I have to admit that I didn't really want to spend time in there. Who would, when it looks like this? It certainly wasn't a haven.

Well, then came a dilemma. We were hoping to be able to rent the other half of our duplex to use for the daycare. Our oldest had been living over there for 5 months, ripping out carpet, repainting, etc. for the owners, who are our friends and my husband's employer. We had already sort of spread out into his garage. So when we learned that the employer's sister was going to move in over there, we knew we would have some drastic re-organizing to do in order to fit our stuff back in our own space.

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We sorted, donated, recycled, and threw out a bunch of stuff, and in the process of reorganizing, I was struck with the idea of creating the library I've always wanted. (Well, okay, so it's not the one I have planned out in my mind, which includes a fireplace, huge, cushy leather chairs and floor to ceiling built in shelving throughout the room, but it's as close as I'm going to get in the place we are now.)

The space now contains 6 bookshelves, a cushy leather office chair, two tall 4-drawer filing cabinets (those were already there too) and a small desk.

These two bookshelves sit on top of a dresser that our old neighbor left for us. The dresser is solid wood and very heavy - and very nice. He bought it new and had it less than 3 years. It faces my sewing area and holds a variety of sewing supplies and projects. Putting the dresser there accomplished a couple of important things. First, it divided the rooms. Now you have to walk through a small "doorway" between the dresser and chest freezer in order to "enter" my sewing room. This should cut down clutter. (That and the fact that the children have been banished from this space unless they are actually sewing.) It also provides a great place to keep my current projects separated, and has plenty of space for supplies. When I put it in, though, all I could see was the top of a dresser that would be a catch-all for piles of junk again. That's when it struck me that I could put the bookshelves on top of the dresser. (This is not an entirely new thought, as we already have two long dressers like this stacked one on top of the other in our master bedroom - one for my husband and one for the one-year-old. We were out of floor space inside too.)

I love how this provides a barrier between library and sewing area. The desk was a happy accident. It was one of the last things that had to be moved from next door and there wasn't anywhere else to put it. I backed it up to the dresser, and it makes a great study area. My six year old spends a lot of time at this desk drawing and coloring while the daycare kids nap in the afternoon.

Here's a better picture of the dividing shelves. I'll give you a tour of the new sewing space tomorrow. The shelves are somewhat organized, but I will need to go through those one of these days and edit and organize. I also have more books coming in the mail, so I will need to make space for those too.

There's quite an assortment of books in this space. Everything from classics, to homeschooling books, to hymnals and sheet music, old Taste of Home magazines, recipe books, and the big tall shelf behind the office chair is all Bible study related books. My husband is a Bible college graduate. The Bible shelf is still mostly double stacked, and I still have books in boxes out here too.

So not everyone has an exercise bike in their library, and that doesn't exactly evoke thoughts of relaxation, but then not everyone has a treadmill in their sewing room either. But I'm guessing by now you've figured out that I march to my own drum beat. Not to mention, I don't have room indoors for an exercise room either - ha.

So what's this awkward empty space? It is going to be my indoor built in bookshelves ... eventually. This is a very odd space that was left when the designer of this home couldn't figure out what to do with it - ha. No offense. We love the layout of the home, but at the end of the hallway to the bedrooms, the bedroom doors angle into the rooms - you walk toward a "v" shape at the end of the hallway, where the doors connect. But this little space is left over. It's a good amount of space - almost 20 inches wide and 30 long. I had one of the bookshelves here, along the longer wall section, but it fit so well in the garage that I moved it. I have all the materials for creating built in shelves - floor to ceiling - along the shorter section. I've just been so busy with getting the garage in order and our junk out of the neighbor's way that I haven't had a chance to put this together. Maybe this weekend ... but then that's what I've been saying for a month, lol. No rush now that I've got my garage in order. I'm going to take some time to enjoy that space! Besides, I've been thinking, maybe I'll make an "L" shaped bookshelf and extend the shelves onto the longer wall too. I'd need more supplies for that though, so I'll probably just start with what I had planned, and see where it goes from there. That's how I approach all my projects.

Anyway, hopefully I've inspired some of you to make the most of what you have and quit waiting for someday. Oh, and by the way, did you notice, I now have "floor to ceiling" bookshelves? Just like Beauty and the Beast ;)

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