Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Housework/The Study

This Thanksgiving we had an alternative day to most US celebrations. Tom painted and painted!

Our study hadn't been painted in almost ten years. It took him the whole four days and then the next weekend to complete the job. My part was choosing the paint colors. I'm just not a painter.

When choosing paint colors and design, I had two pictures in mind - one from the movie, The Holiday:

and the other, a photo I found online.

There are four painting areas - ceiling, walls, window/door trim and door, and the bookshelves. What we had was linen white ceiling, walls, and bookshelves, with a greenish trim.


I went back and forth trying to decide, and then asked my daughter what she thought. We spent a fair bit of time in the room, looking it over, and she came up with just the answer - keep the ceiling and walls linen white, paint the bookshelves a light blue (I chose Benjamin Moore's Ocean Air), and the door and trim a little bit darker blue, Benjamin Moore's Gossamer Blue. I hadn't considered this possibility of the shelves being their own color, and thought it brilliant!


It would be fun to call it a library, but somehow it sounds pretentious for this old farmhouse, so the room will continue to be known as the study. Whatever its name, it is the reading room of my dreams. No distractions, lovely view out three windows, and all those books. I decided to put our nonfiction on the built-in shelves, and was amazed at just how much I have. Methinks I need several lifetimes to read them all. The other shelves in this bookcase house my mysteries, and poetry has its own shelf. My beloved Virginia Woolf has a shelf as she did before. Faulkner has his own shelf, while Hemingway and Fitzgerald, probably to their distress, share a shelf. They have the travel and film books to keep them distracted from one another. Dear Wodehouse and Mortimer share another shelf, which I think would please them both.

I am not a collector, but over the years have come to own some china cups and four vases. I love the way they look above the books as you may see in the 'after' picture.

And there are a couple small shelves in the Larkin desk where our Norton Anthologies from college live, along with new children/young adult books I've bought for myself, and a bit of fiction. We were given this desk many years ago by Tom's step-grandmother. Her husband had won it from selling soap when he was a boy. Here is a little history of the piece if you are interested.

From prowling around the internet a bit I've learned it is possible that my mother's mahogany desk is in the 'Governor Winthrop style.' I believe they were mass-produced in the early part of the 20th century since they seem to be quite common. This is where my mother paid bills and wrote cards and letters.

I use a different desk for my personal work, while both my mother's and the Larkin serve as lovely places to store various items.

My desk has a fun story. My father owned a Pontiac dealership when I was growing up. When he died, my mother took over the business of trying to get money that was still owed my father at his death. This was successful to greater and lesser degrees. There was a man who lived out in the country in a bit of a shack, and he gave this desk to my mother in payment of a debt. It can be made into a bench by flipping the top to the back. It may not be worth much, but both Tom and I adore this piece.

The African chair had its own posting three years ago. ;<) The other evening we put up some photos so that now the room is complete except for sanding the floor which is the first job on the agenda when school is out. These two are my mother graduating from high school, and then nursing school.

These are two of our grandfathers; Tom's on the right, probably from the 1930s, and mine from 1902, taken in the very town we live in, which is not where he lived. I can't imagine how he got here and who those two young women were.

Margaret walked in one day and said she loved it because there was nothing 'digital.' It is indeed an old-fashioned room. It is a destination room - only for sitting at my desk or for reading. We are so very pleased.

Addendum: I took a rug from our bedroom and added it to the study. I think it looks and feels cozier with a little more of the floor covered.


  1. It looks fantastic,so welcoming and relaxing.curled up with a good book,a quilt on your lap and that veiw.

  2. gosh I love your everchanging header pictures, they are just beautiful...

    so, let me just say that that is MY kind of room, peaceful, tranquil and cozy, but still light and fresh..I can't stand oppresive, dark good job Nan and Tom!!!


  3. Margaret pegged it exactly reminds you of a quieter, gentler time. I love it!!

  4. I think your study looks absolutely stunning, Nan. So peaceful and welcoming.

  5. I'm enthralled with your "destination room"! (Also pleased you mentioned The Holiday...I suspect it was YOUR blog where I first saw it mentioned, jotted it down, and watched it last week with my husband. We thoroughly enjoyed it--but I'd forgotten who to THANK!)

    The colors and applications you chose are very attractive--cool and calming.

  6. Oh, it's beautiful! (And I'm so jealous of all your shelves.) I enjoyed the tour so much--thanks for sharing your pretty home with us. Blessings, Debra

  7. I feel very fortunate to have popped in today. I'm getting ready to have some built-in book shelves put in our family room and have been looking for ideas. Your photos are not only very pretty but very helpful to me, as my brain is so fuddled trying to figure what I want and how it will look afterwards. Now I have something to show the carpenter. A big thank you from me.

  8. What a wonderful room. I know you love being in there with all your books. My Virginia's have their own shelf, too! And Daddy never drove anything but Pontiacs!

  9. What a beautiful room. Your daughter is a colorist. Perfect idea. A room inspiring to reading and writing.

  10. Lovely to see the photographs and read the history of your house and objects. It all looks very smart from its new paint job.
    The top photograph reminds me of my own cottage, the books are all over the place here too, and funnily enough I was watching The Holiday earlier.

  11. Your room is LOVELY! I like all the shelves and the color as well. Your husband is a guy I'd like to borrow....LOL

  12. Eep! It's absolutely lovely. I'll be over in fifteen with buttermilk scones. Plenty of time to have the tea ready. :)

  13. Now I know your secret for getting to read the amount of books that you do - a perfect room! I love the new look, entirely inviting.

  14. Beautiful!! Thank you for inviting us all into your study/library/reading room :-) Margaret is right - I love your telephone for being with a dial. Until not long ago, my sister still had our grandparents' old black backelite telephone in use. Now it only serves as a decorative object in her library/study/reading room, which I actually think is a bit of a shame.

  15. How lovely for you to sit and read or write surrounded by those family memories. It is a beautiful room.

  16. WOW!!!! For once I am speechless, you guys did a wonderful job. I especially like the repainted bookcases.


  17. Oh Nan! It's SO beautiful! I love that room from the Holiday, and you have recreated the most beautiful, calm, relaxing space in your own home. I love that there's nothing digital in it, too. What a truly inspired and lovely study! I would so enjoy a room like that. You're lucky indeed! And Tom is a very talented painter!

  18. "Nothing 'digital'"...I would love a room like that:) I just love when a piece of furniture, or any object for that matter, has a history. Just makes our surroundings so meaningful and a home a home. The paint turned out beautifully. Good job, Tom!

  19. Nan, it all looks so good. He is quite the painter. Very professional. I love the room in The Holiday, and now your room has its same clean feel.

    Also, I love your quilts.~~Dee

  20. Back in October, on a leaf peeping trip up near Saugerties, we stopped in at an antiques shop where I saw the Larkin desk you had pictured. Found out there were two versions - one with the mirror, one without. We saw the one with - and I fell in love with it! Especially those two bookshelves on the bottom.

    Couldn't fit it into the car so took a pass. Did make some measurements and as it turned out, it was just too big for the spot I wanted to put it in. It was also most likely a reproduction since the asking price was between $300-$400. Never forgot it - wonder it it's still up there?
    Kept the photos on my Blackberry.

    Dang technology is good for something...

    Funny also the story you wrote about your mother trying to collect some old debt. My father was also not the best businessman - and opened his heart to everybody. One day he came home with a tray of these bulky chocolate covered rings. He had fixed a bakery truck but the delivery man couldn't afford the repair. So he paid my father in donuts!

    My mother was not happy - but the donuts were pretty good... :)

    - Jeff

  21. What a very fine spot for reading or writing or just thinking. I love the colors you chose and painting the bookshelves and trim was just the thing.

    Oh my, that desk! What a beauty it is and such an interesting piece of history as how it came to be in your family. I just adore pictures and stories like this one has.

    Thank you for this interesting post.

    Oh, I always go back in forth calling my room here the library then the den, often calling it the library/den. It is really, when all is said and done, my refuge.

  22. It looks smashing. The colours make it look so relaxing and airy. Enjoy.

  23. Nan, the study (library) looks wonderful! It looks like an awesome reading room! I love that you can see your books and look out 3 windows-perfect!! Enjoy your "new" room!

  24. What a beautiful home. Especially love the library.

  25. Thank you for an interesting tour. There was a Larkin desk in my grandfather's house which had probably come from an earlier family home. I remember sitting at it and attempting to write neatly using the ink and scratchy old pens I found in one of the cubbies.
    Your room is a beautiful and tranquil place.

  26. I love it!!! All the woodwork (floors & furniture) look gorgeous. And that bookcase. A reader's delight!

    Now to watch Holiday this weekend... :)

  27. What a lovely room and a lovely post, Nan. You had me giggling at the [imagined] distress of Hemingway and Fitzgerald!

    We have always had a no-electronics room for reading. In our 1770 farmhouse in New Hampshire, it was called The Pretty Room. Here in our old adobe house in New Mexico, it is called Most of the Rooms. If I could get rid of the TV, I would, then it could be All of the Rooms.

  28. Love your home, your colors, all you have done.
    I felt so welcome and at home :) When I moved last year and downscaled - I gave away so many of my books and they are once again beginning to accumlate. Must have my books :)

  29. Your study looks so inviting. The colors suit you. The heirloom furniture lends so much character to your spaces. Great job picking the colors. I can imagine the work of moving and sorting all those books. Your collection of cups etc look nice displayed up to of the books.

  30. Great job! Such a lovely, soothing room with all that you love! Great bookshelves, great choice of colour, love that old-fashioned telephone, the way you have organized the book shelf, the hanging quilts and the wonderful stories you have shared...a perfect room with many memories!
    Thanks for sharing,

  31. That is just really lovely. The colors are perfection. You definitely captured the feel you were going for. :)
    Have a very merry Christmas, Nan!

  32. Thank you, madness and mayhem. I so love it.

    Niki, I couldn't resist the header. I do love snow. I like what you said, and I agree. None of our rooms have curtains which makes that 'light' feeling prevalent throughout the house.

    Staci, I thought so, too!

    Cath, thank you. That's it, 'welcoming' - it just says, 'come read.'

    Oh, Rebecca, I just love the movie. You can read the posting on it again if you wish in the tab under the blog header photo to see if that may have been where you heard of it. I love Iris' house!

    Thank you, Debra. Some friends built the shelves for us just before Margaret arrived. They have been so very useful over the years - from toys and kid books to now.

    Denise, this pleases me so very much!! I will be interested to see what yours look like!

    Jenn, thank you. I am really pleased.

    Wow, Pamela! I'm impressed. Sadly, they are going to stop making them, or maybe already have. My father would be so upset that Chevys are still around, but not what he considered to be the much more superior Pontiacs. ;<)

    Linda, I think her idea really makes the bookshelves stand out. I was so happy with her thought.

    Carole, I imagine your house to be like Iris' and envy you!!

    Thanks, Diane. He has a lot more rooms to do before he can be on loan. ;<)

    How I wish, Colleen!

    Susan, I do hope to read more during the day now!

    Librarian, it isn't a dial, but a push button. You, too may own one! It is called a Crosley Kettle Classic Desk Phone, and amazon carries it. It has a lovely, lovely ring as well as looking beautiful. We bought a separate caller-id machine and answering machine to accommodate it.

    Monix, I feel the same way. It's nice to see the pictures, and the desks.

    Cornflower, the color reminds me a bit of the ones Mr. C did a while ago.

    Thanks, Nadege!

    Bookssnob, you'll have your own someday, I am sure of that! And maybe even a whole cottage like Iris' - wouldn't that be great!

    Stacy, I don't have many heirlooms; and what I have are mostly in that very room!

    Dee, thanks. The big quilt by the shelves was made by my aunt Susie in 1927. More here:

    Jeff, donuts sound like great payment to me! A friend of mine has the Larkin without the mirror, and I think I like it better with. I wonder if you'll go back and get it. Maybe put it in a different spot??

    Life on the cut off, I love your word for your special room. Actually my whole house feels like that to me, and this room is the one for reading. (though I do like the living room a lot, too!)

    Thank you, Laura. It is 'airy' indeed. And the cool colors work because it is a sunny, south-west room.

    Susie, I do hope so. :<)

    Sherri, thank you!

    Ron, we are really happy with the way it turned out.

    Morning's Minion, what a great memory! Old desks are the best.

    Les, thanks, it sure is!!

    Clair, I love the names. I have a tv posting coming up soon - well, maybe after Christmas. :<)

    Ernestine, the accumulating is such fun!! Now on to the rest of the rooms.

    Lisa, that was my other part of the job - packing up the books and bringing them upstairs for a few weeks. And the reversing the process. I loved setting up the shelves. It was fun to go all around the house finding the nonfiction, and bringing it all together. The colors are definitely 'me.'

    Joanne, as I noted to Dee above, one of the quilts is very special. The other one came from Gooseberry Patch. All cotton, inexpensive, and beautiful soft colors.

    Thanks Karin, and the same to you. Yes, I did get the effect I wanted. A real combination of both those pictures. I am so very happy with the result.

  33. Nan, that is a wonderful room. It is perfect. I really enjoyed reading about your shelving system. And the whole post brought back dreams unfulfilled because we opted to travel instead. I'm happy with the decision we made, but if we had kept our house we would have changed one of the extra bedrooms into a "library". (Yours deserves that title, BTW).

  34. What a perfect room! Warm and comfortable with books and a perfect cozy chair. I love that there is nothing digital in this room, too.

    It's the kind of room that inspires stillness and good thoughts!

  35. LOVE your snowy header, Nan. It hasn't snowed here in Northern New Jersey AT ALL this season. When it does, it will probably be a deluge!

    Your study looks very cozy and inviting. A great place to read and think.

  36. Love the study. Looks like a room you could spend the enitre day in. So calming.

    Also love your picture of the frosty trees. Winter is every bit as beautiful as the other seasons. Maybe more beautiful.

  37. I just love your room. It is beautiful, restful, and individual. A real picture of elegance combined with comfort. Very well done!
    Margaret P

  38. It looks great but what I kept thinking as I read all this interesting stuff and looked at the pictures was your starting point: "hadn't been painted in almost 10 years." I think we have stuff in the fridge that dates back that far! When we bought our old farm house every room had a different wallpaper - most featuring large flowers. That was 1993. A couple of rooms still have Farmer Brown's wallpaper. The ones we managed to strip and paint (12 or 14 years ago when we had energy for such things) still count in my mind as having been recently re-done! Obviously you people at the Hill Farm have high standards!

  39. I LOVE your library. Go ahead and say it, it's not pretentious at all. The colors are great. You're blessed to have a willing husband to paint for you. I'm the painter in our family, which is why I hired a real painter last week to finish up my three-year-old projects. Now they're getting done much faster than I would have done them. I have too many distractions after all.

  40. Nan don't know what happened to my comment...maybe I didn't click the last click!
    Anyway, I love your new room. Just the sort of room I gravitate to myself. And, yes indeed, your mother's desk is a Governor Winthrop and I have one of its twins in my living room. I have documentation that mine was made in 1900.

  41. I love the room, it looks so bright and inviting.

  42. What a beautiful room. The floor, the colored woodwork, and the quilts, oh my! And the luxury of not needing curtains. Altogether perfection.

  43. What a beautiful room. Lovely colors. And I so enjoyed info about your shelving organization. I still have some of those Norton anthologies - and I had a desk just like yours with the drop leaf. It belonged to my mother and my middle daughter loved it, so now it is in her living room.

  44. Sallie, I think it is a hard decision to make at retirement - whether to take to the road or stay home, or travel occasionally. As much as I love seeing other places, we are both tremendous homebodies. Both choices are excellent - just depends what you want from those years. Thanks for your kind words.

    Thanks, Marion. That chair is the most comfortable La-Z-Boy I've ever sat in. :<)

    Yvette, even the southern part of our state doesn't have much snow. The room really is so comfortable.

    Carolyn, winter is definitely my favorite season, other than worrying about my kids on the roads. I'd love to spend the whole day in there. Haven't yet. :<)

    Margaret, wow! thanks.

    KSV, very funny! We have a couple closets that are just as we found them with the limestone and hair walls. Whose hair?

    Debbie, we used to hire painters but don't have the money now, so Tom is doing it. He actually enjoys it and is already talking about the next room - the entry hall. We're thinking gray walls and bright white casements.

    Jill, thanks for letting me know. How great that you have the documentation. It is a dear desk and I love the pigeonholes, don't you?

    Ann, it is very bright - two south windows and one west.

    J.G., we don't have any curtains in the house. We both like the look.

    Commonweeder, that's so nice she wanted it. Great little desk.

  45. You study is amazing! It's inviting, calming and of course, studious looking. :)

    I'm sure it will provide you all the peaceful reading time you deserve.

    Happy New Year!


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