Building a home Library: Phase I

So the Domestic 6 and I decided to build a home Library. Its been something of a labour of love.

We’re old fashioned sorts, and I wanted to do something more with a Victorian/Steampunk feel.

We were inspired by some of the old Sherlock Holmes movies with colours and a lot of pictures of old Victorian libraries thanks to Google.

For fun and since I haven’t blogged anything in a coons age I figured I’d post what we did with a few how we did it’s.

Before Library 2

Before, only with curtains

Before Library 3

Before, only with curtains

The room we started with had some really nasty berber carpet. The colour on the ceiling had turned yellow from cigarette smoke from the previous owner of the house and the walls were a off cream colour.  We’d been using this room for storage since we moved in, and when we replaced he carpet in the rest of the house we purposely did not do this room. We put curtains up otherwise that’s all we did to the room once we emptied it of boxes.


Before -Library

Before, only with curtains

As you can see there is a horrid paper border around the top of the wall as well.

Since we weren’t worried about the existing carpet we went straight to painting.

We picked a colour that was close to the 221B Baker Street Library of Holmes. This image became sort of our template. It gave us our Victorian and Library colour ideas in one shot, as well as what we felt was a warm and comfortable feel.   What we didn’t want was the print on the wall from the wall paper.  So we used the colour as our baseline for paint instead of wall paper (although we did consider it briefly).


221B Baker Street today

While painting over the lighter colour we noticed something kind of cool.  When we did just the first coat the wall came across as having a old sort of tie dye, or painters mat look to it. Sort of what you would get if you rubbed your hand over a suede picture matting with the various shades and whiting.

Library painting the walls

What we called the “paint mat affect” on the wall to the right of the ladder.

So we stopped painting for a bit and brainstormed, and decided to use this to our advantage. We came up with a plan, but we needed to paint more than just the walls. We had to paint the ceiling as well. More on that in a bit.

So we painted the walls and the ceiling then we ripped out the carpet, and cleaned and mopped the underlying floor.

Library Ripping the carpet

The rip out


Library Floor ripped and painted

Carpet removed and floor cleaned. Wood flooring stacked on the right.

You may have noticed by now that we painted the outside of the door but the inside. That’s because we wanted the door to not break up the perception of the room.  However we didn’t want the closet to be a cave with the colour, so we stark white painted the closet and door so it would not be dark inside. The exterior of the door we painted to match the rest of the room so it would flow, or at least thats how we felt about it.

That left the ceiling. In our image hunting for ideas we came across several images of Victorian libraries.  All of these had something in common: ceiling murals.

750_PR_Victorian_Homes_shoot_library_ceiling 800 pixel Turkish Smoking Room Ceiling Post-restoration_11

Now neither of us are Michelangelo or a painter of any worth. And the idea of wall papering a ceiling is to say the least a daunting task.

We remembered out painters mat affect we discovered, and decided to do something rash.

Now to clarify things, we are not professionals. We’re just folks trying to make our house cool without spending a fortune. So with the exception of having a friend run a electrical outlet, and having my step dad help us with some carpentry everything we did is 100% us.

Further we have done any thing like this before. So to say we were scared to death that we were going to ruin our home would be putting it very mildly. Terrified is more like it.

At any rate we went for it after much deliberation.

We painted the ceiling in a single coat, leaving the imperfections and fading.

Then we procured a giant wall mural.  Measuring over 10 feet wide and almost 9 feet tall it is a monster. It’s also divided in to 8 pieces.

Friends, if you have ever tried to line up latitude and longitude lines, Latin words, all while standing on a ladder and working overhead, then you know the pain we experienced.

The first 3 pieces went relatively easily.

Library Placing the map 2Instead of using wall paper glue, we used a mixture of Contact Cement that could be applied with a paint brush, both on the ceiling and on the paper itself.

Just before placing a piece, we would also quickly spray the area with a #M spray adhesive.


Library Placing the mapYou’ll notice that the center of the room is white. That is because we didn’t see a point in painting the entire ceiling.  Call us lazy. But we knew that it would not be seen.  The single coat on the rest gave the outside edges the painters mat look that we thought was very cool.

After 2 days of gluing and giggling (probably linked if I had to guess) we finished the ceiling.

Library Ceiling After 3 Library Ceiling After 6 Library Ceiling After 5 Library Ceiling After 2 Library Ceiling After 4 Library Ceiling After

The old white ceiling fan was not going to work with our current plans. So after doing some digging and research we picked a fan that was as unique as our room.

Unfortunately the light was not very bright. So a lamp was going to be necessary.

Still the fan was perfect, even having a clock on the light.

Library Ceiling After 7 Library Ceiling After 8










Now was time for the next piece: the floor. We have hardwood in a lot of our home already, but matching new flooring to the existing was almost an impossibility. The old floor was butcher block that was hand sanded and stained. So we did our best, and found a engineered real hardwood that almost matched and put in the floor of our Library.

We had a friend install a electrical outlet in the floor. As we were adding a multitude of book shelves, we knew that getting to the wall outlets would be problematic. We also knew we needed a lamp and didn’t want wires laying all over the floor. So the floor outlet was a need.

Now came the little things.

We wanted a bench under the window so we could see out while reading, but we wanted storage as well. We settled on a pleather bound bench with a storage box from Amazon that had furniture nails in the old style.

Window seat

Window seat

For seating, we liked chairs, but we wanted to be able to still use the room for guests if they stayed over. So we went looking for a sleeper sofa. It was difficult to find one that went with our decor, and this one wasn’t exact but it was the closest we found after weeks of scouring both local furniture stores and the internet. It also was relatively inexpensive.

When we started discussing lamps, I knew we needed a end table. By happenstance I also needed a larger humidor. So I convinced the Domestic 6 to allow me to buy a end table humidor. We found a nice lamp in a second hand shop that matched our decor.

Finally to round it out we liked the idea of Sherlock Holmes fireplace so much, we procured a “cool touch” electric fire place. Wood fireplaces and books don’t mix so the electric works great in the room and can even be used without heat to provide simple ambiance.

Library Before Shelves Etc

Fireplace, Humidor and lamp

Library Pre Shelf installation

Slowly coming together, and the kids already using it!

Thus concluded the First Phase of our home Library.

Next, came the book shelves!

One Response to “Building a home Library: Phase I”

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