The room formerly called the Study, now known as the Library or Sitting Room, was our living room for the first 3 years that we lived in the house prior to the big extension at the back of our house. As such I'd done curtains and painted the walls the colour I liked, but now emptied of furniture after we've moved into the new back living area it's rather a blank canvas and our only formal living space in the house.

in its former incarnation as our living room

Originally this room would have been the Dining room. You can tell this by a few things - it's the largest room in the house and is rectangular, so it would have accommodated a Dining table better than other rooms in the house. It is also one of the two rooms in the original part of the house with a marble fireplace, deep skirting boards, elaborate cornices and ceiling rose and fancy door handle. Other rooms are much plainer in their detailing, as befits rooms that weren't 'public' rooms, gradually descending in hierarchy until you get to the former kitchen, which had no ceiling rose, no cornice and fairly perfunctory skirting boards. The ceiling rose in the room is decorated with swags of fruit, which also suggests its former use.

I had originally chosen a curtain fabric for this room that was a little younger an unexpected as we didn't want an uptight formal room that would end up unused, rather a room that was warm and slightly relaxed while still being more polished than other living spaces in the house. The random squiggles in shades of brown, cream and black give the informality, but coupled with the silk finish (it's actually a man made fibre that looks like silk so will do better in sun in the North facing windows and not rot) gives a polished feel. The walls are painted in a creamy colour (Dulux Hog's Bristle) which acts as a good background to the dark furniture that we have.


So, my last house update showed the completed plans for the library bookcases. Fortunately the cabinet maker was fast at making them up (when compared to the nearly 2 years of stop/start that the drawings took), so they're in and finished and ready for painting.




I'm going to put brass grilles in the bottom panel of the doors, which is quite a traditional feature. Brass unlacquered knobs will finish off the doors, and I'm going to do picture lights centred in the top of each bay to provide some lighting.

When I designed the bookcases I faced the usual dilemma of practicality over aesthetics. The ceilings are really high in this room, and without a (very tall) ladder I can't reach the highest shelves. Ideally I would have liked to do a library ladder, but I found it difficult sourcing the hardware for this (almost impossible in fact - I could not find anyone doing library ladder hardware that was in unlacquered brass, more chrome and steel). So in the future we may buy a freestanding antique library ladder… however this will take time to find. I decided to run the bookshelves to the ceiling to emphasise the vertical in the room, and the top shelves will hold books that I don't refer to often, and perhaps some ornamental bits and pieces (like more coral or shells) until I fill them with more books, those of the still to be purchased and read variety.


Furniture in the room consists of the Regency card table purchased at Auction a few months ago (above), a Georgian side table we use for drinks purchased a few years ago from a local antique dealer (below), and a piano, which is a new addition. My oldest has been taking lessons for the past 3 years, and I also play, so it's nice to finally have a proper piano instead of keyboard.


Artwork includes the large watercolour by John Caldwell (purchased at auction a few months ago), a very cheap sunburst mirror (from Recollections/ Early Settler who have surprisingly good mirrors at low prices), and a few artist prints/ watercolours that are small scale. Plus all our University degrees, which Mr AV wants to put back under the bed (where he thinks they belong?!).


When looking at seating furniture, of which we have none, it quickly became apparent to me that the rooms dimensions made furniture placement awkward. It's slightly too wide to put sofas/ chairs on either side against the walls, and pushing them in doesn't leave enough circulation room to have things against the walls, like our existing piano and side tables. I also wanted this to have a slightly more relaxed air.. so when I was scrolling through Pinterest, I started to find myself attracted to arrangements of 4 armchairs around a coffee table. This frees up circulation space around them, and makes a more dynamic seating arrangement. So, I'm having 4 made up in a plain cream upholstery fabric that blends with the background of the curtains. The style is reasonably classic/ modern - skirted armchairs, but with a square-ish profile for the arms and feather/ foam back and seat cushions. I'll get a round coffee table once funds allow.



all via

There'll be two additional chairs that I will have made up too - I'll put them one on either side of the card table, and they can be pulled out if extra seating is needed...but again, these will come later.  The idea is to make this a room for reading, maybe some entertaining (probably more in winter as this room will feel cosy), and music. There will be no tv. I'm also toying with the idea of a club fender around the fireplace for extra seating… we'll see.

club fender via

And then there's the elephant in the room - the pendant light. It's not my thing. I'm sorry if you like large repro Victorian branch pendant light fittings… I just don't. I'm happy to play with scale but this one is a bit too dominating. Ideally it will be replaced with a chandelier to give some sparkle. But I'll have to find the right one - it will be antique, and will no doubt take time to source. I found a nice one recently but at $14,500 I don't think it will be making its way into the house anytime soon…..!

So that's the plan, and now I just have to spend an awful lot of time painting the bookcases!! As the cost to paint is comparable to a designer handbag, I've decided to do it myself. So this may be the last you hear of me for a while… I suspect it will take some time!

33 comments:

  1. Love it all - the room the curtains the furniture! The brass grills will just go swimmingly well - i can't wait to see it filled with books as well!! I got a stand alone library ladder last year and i must say I have been using it quite a lot for just top shelves of storage and has come in quite handy. My library is also rectangular so i did a semi similar arrangement with my seating. but more impromptu than planned as our furniture is such a mish mash. I would like a piano but think it might be one of those things that I just put stuff on top of after my initial playing for two weeks. Where did you get the curtain fabric? love it.

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    1. The curtain fabric is Jim Thompson - as it's man made rather than one of their silks it wasn't overly expensive. I can't wait to see it all filled with books too, although the thought of firstly painting it (which will take me days) plus then hauling the books out of the shed, opening up the boxes, vacuuming off the dust/ bugs etc and then sorting and filling the shelves has me feeling fatigued already!!
      It's kind of fun to occasionally tinkle on the piano, but I don't play exceptionally well (violin was my main instrument), and really if it was just for me it would never get used!

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  2. I'm a big fan of chairs, the more the merrier, each person has their own autonomy, there's nothing worse at someone's house than being the one squished in the middle of a sofa!
    I'm really pleased that 'brown' furniture is coming back, there's a great auction here, they clear a lot of the stately homes and the loveliest pieces go for a song as no one really wants them.

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    1. I agree with you about chairs - I want some for our living area too, as people like to have an arm to prop themselves against so long sofas don't work so well when you're all lined up like birds on a wire.
      I SO wish I could come to the auctions in the UK - I'm sure I'd fill a few containers with things to ship home. I just think when you look at a lot of the new furniture that is high quality (such as Baker and McGuire in the USA) that it is clearly influenced by Deco, Edwardian and Georgian furniture, yet the real deal is so cheap compared to the new versions. I've been reading a book (Stuart Rattle's Musk Farm) - he was one of Australia's foremost decorators and it's about his home. I was surprised that he had an awful lot of brand new William and Mary style furniture in his house - he had a cabinet maker make it all… I kind of think it would have been far cheaper to buy it at an auction here?? But obviously he liked to have it made to his exact specifications… but yes, long story short I think the brown furniture will have its day again soon!

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  3. I love your fireplace flanked by the 2 new built in bookcases and your home is really coming together inside and out. I am likely going to do some redecorating this winter so will be referencing these posts again...I'll be waiting to see how the bookcase painting comes off.

    **Heidi, I think you have the same overhelpful auto-correct blog software. LIne 4 up top I think you intended 'hierarchy' rather than "heir achy" and it took me a minute to determine if this was some Aussie slang I wasn't familiar with.

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    1. Oh the bookcase painting will take me forever GSL - I just know it! I am good at painting as we did our entire last house inside and out, so I can do it to semi professional standard, but I'm not fast, so it will be a while before I crack open the book boxes from the shed and finally rehouse my books.
      Thanks for pointing out that annoying auto correct! Honestly if I knew how to turn it off I would as I get the silliest things sometimes coming out by mistake.

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  4. Heidi your plans for this room are perfect and wonderful job on the bookcases. I agree about the light, my least favourite style as well. We have recently bought some antiques from a dealer in a nearby city who was selling gorgeous French and English chandeliers for between $1350-$1800, they were gorgeous! I wonder if he would ship to Aus? Have a look at the French crystal chandelier for $1550:
    http://www.taylorsantiques.com/gallery.phtml?gallery=lighting
    The four chairs around a round table will provide the perfect cocktail hour seating when you have another couple around for drinks, love it. As usual I'll be pinning some of your images too.
    I hope the painting doesn't take too long as I always look forward to your posts!xo

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    1. Oh I will definitely check out that website! I've looked at 1st dibs too, but it's all baccarat crystal for $15,000 in a French dealers shop, so I just have to hope a local has something suitable in a better price point soon! I did find one when we first moved into the house, but we were spending money on replacing the veranda and front wall,, so I didn't buy it and of course it sold when I went back and I've regretted it ever since. It was the perfect size and even had some beads on it that were in a dark amber colour that worked with my curtains. Oh well!
      I will try to crack on with the painting - I'm aiming to have it all finished before school breaking up for the year, which is the second week of December, so the clock is ticking!

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  5. Hi Heidi,
    Your posts have taught me that renovations take time to come together and that the wait is well worth it. We painted our entire house in Hogs Bristle and was very pleased with the effect. Your idea of arm chairs as opposed tou lounges is brilliant! too awkward being squished on lounges or worse rolling into them!
    Happy painting.
    Vicki.

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    1. Hi Vicki, your comment has made me laugh because it has certainly taken us a long time to do this renovation!! It's been over 4 years now since we started, and we're still going… but I agree with you that we think the results are worth it. Interior decoration is also something that takes time. If you have the funds to do something well straight away then that's very fortunate, otherwise it works for me to just take a bit of time and do thing in slow stages and get the better result at the end.

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  6. I love the idea of your seating arrangements, our front room is where our "study", "piano" & "formal dining" room exists & our plans were to ditch my husband's family dining setting, old but not valuable (he has now gotten over the shock that I think they are ugly pieces of furniture) or useful (as we do't eat formally), keep the baby grand piano, install book shelves along one wall & keep the antique bureau. My only problem has been deciding on seating because of the room's dimensions & I had the idea of also using the room as a guest room for my mum as she ages & starts to struggle with climbing up stairs to the guest room! Back to the drawing board for me!! Happy weekend Heidi. By the way, I'll be in your neck of the woods in a month's time, hubby & I are off to The Louise in the Barossa for a long overdue weekend away to belatedly celebrate our wedding anniversary, can't wait.
    Cheers
    Engracia

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    1. Hi Engracia, have a look at some of my pins on Pinterest and you'll see a lot of non traditional seating arrangements. I read Stuart Rattle's Musk Farm book yesterday and saw that he also had non traditional seating arrangements (lots of chairs in pairs that can be moved around), and also its something that John Fowler used to do a lot at Colefax and Fowler. I think the strict symmetry we try to set up with lounge seating (whether that be sofas or armchairs) can really cause difficulties in a room if it doesn't work in a symmetrical way.
      As for your trip here to The Louise - lucky you! I have heard very good things about it, and I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time…. I've been wanting to get there myself so I'll look forward to your insta pictures and hearing all about it!

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  7. Hello Heidi,

    I've just stumbled across your lovely blog as I saw you had commented on GSL's and realized you have your own blog. How nice to have discovered you! I adore your Georgian (or would that be Regency) card table and your little side table also. I have a weakness for English Regency period furniture, along with American Federal, and love to find nice pieces for my home. It takes a while as I'm on the west coast of the United States, a little far from the epicenter of England.

    Your bookcases are wonderful and I bet you can't wait to finish those up.

    Oh, I've known people that hang their degrees in the w.c. as they felt that was the best place for them! Each to their own I suppose.

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    1. You are right, it is Regency! I was writing hastily late at night and trying to get the post up - a few errors slipped through unnoticed. I don't know a lot about Federal furniture, but have seen a little on some of the American blogs that I follow. We have no real equivalent furniture period in Australia, things were either English brought out contemporaneously or the furniture made locally at the time is just described as "colonial" but that will cover a very large period, rather than a specific style as Federal does.
      Well, the degree question is ongoing - my feeling is that it was 5 years of torture and that I deserve to hang my degrees on the wall, but my husband feels it is showing off, so wants to store his under the bed! The arguments will continue (it's been going for 14 years so a resolution may never be had!).

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    2. Heidi - I don't think you don't need to hang your degree anywhere - your whole beautiful home is your degree in action! The piece of paper is superfluous! Love it all and appreciate your generosity in sharing your ideas and knowledge on your blog. Cheers, Renie

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    3. I'll be pedantic Regency is in the Georgian era of course. A valuer once told me he didn't like the term Georgian, it was like calling something Louis. Having said all that I'll take any Georgian silver you have going :)

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    4. First thought was that pendant light doesn't look like Heidi. I'm very envious of your bookshelves, my mother had built in bookshelves in the living room and yes we couldn't reach the top shelves either.

      Great idea the chairs around the small table, talking of small tables saw quite a nice one in West Elm at Bondi Junction Sydney, ( hard to believe I know), alas on touching the top discovered it was plastic faux marble ..it would have been best left plain I think

      I have always wanted an original Saarinen tulip table, (think I just saw some pigs over the horizon) ..do you like them? ie the table

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    5. No, that light fitting is definitely not me! It wasn't quite so offensive as the other ones in the house, so it's managed to survive this long for that reason alone.
      I love Saarien tulip tables! They're a design classic, and will never date. Know what you mean about pigs though… they're not cheap, even the new ones that are made under licence… all that marble (of the real variety)!

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    6. Renie, thank you for your kind thoughts! I think Mr AV things the same way as you - he thinks the house is a monument to my Degree, and that the piece of paper is worthless. Of course it could be that he has a twinge of envy as my Architectural registration certificate is by far the largest and most important looking of all the certificates, and completely dwarfs in significance his three degrees!

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    7. If you've got it flaunt it, the degrees that is, I am some one who is never going to get one.
      The only thing like that ,that I could use would be my Children's state and Australian Fishing records and they want them.

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    8. State and Australian Fishing records? Now that is something to flaunt Dee! I'm afraid that we're a family of very poor fishers… I don't think we'd ever be able to live off the land/ sea, as demonstrated by our rather poor efforts in January where my 5 year old daughter was the only one to catch a fish and it was only just legal size. A very poor showing for all the effort!

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  8. Heidi I love the way you explain what your doing and why. I would have love to have had only chairs in my small lounge but the other half was adamant he want a long lounge to lay on. So I have the only super comfortable chair in the room. Now 5 years on ( even after 1 year) he is wishing he had got the super comfy chair instead of the lounge. Moral never listen to the other half. Love the room. Happy painting.

    Kind Regards
    Karen

    PS: How's the pool ? Hopefully not too far away.

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    1. Oh the damn pool!! Finally the stone was delivered yesterday and they have assured me it will be all hands on deck for the next 3 weeks and it will finally be over. I hope!!
      Funny about men and their preference to lie down on sofas - they must be trying to bring out their inner Roman! Fortunately after I demonstrated to my husband with newspaper cutouts on the floor the actual sizes of things, he agreed quickly that we couldn't fit a sofa properly in the room. It could also be that he is content as a sofa was recently delivered for his study downstairs so he can lie down on that whenever he finds work too tedious!

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    2. Yes well my husband's study is his shed and the only place to lie is down in the pit. Didn't tell you the fun of it when the great big sofa arrived ( I wasn't home ) it didn't fit through the doorway. I'd said to him in the store I don't think this is going to fit off course it will. He had to take out the glass in one of the panes in the front window which promptly smashed . So cut along story short new glass in front window and he went like crazy to get it fixed before I got home very stressful for him. So never listen to the other half. He's very careful that I don't see him sitting on my oh so comfy chair. But I've had the last laugh.

      Karen

      You'll be swimming by Xmas.

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  9. Love the plans and with you on the light! We keep adding more bookshelves to our library. The books take over and I love it!

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    1. I may end up adding more bookshelves too Wendy - I'll have to see exactly how many books I have in cartons… it's been so long I have no idea what it's going to fill!

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  10. Great post Heidi - don't envy you the task of painting those bookcases - I am the world's worst painter (according to my husband) and it doesn't help I have an allergy to mineral turps so can't go near any oil-based paint products!! Love your idea of the individual seating - works so much better for conversation than a long straight sofa. You have mentioned previously that you were planning to buy a piano, hope your son is enjoying playing. I love listening to my son play the piano, I find it very soothing. How exciting to be able to finally unpack all your book boxes and see what treasures you many have forgotten about! Good luck with the pool - may the finishing touches go smoothly. Sounds like you girls had a fab time last weekend - enjoyed your previous post/photos and just love Scruffy the poser (a real cutie). Have a great week. Jo xx

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    1. That's a very convenient allergy Jo! I've just done the base coat today, and it didn't take horrifically long, so I'm hopeful that the top coats will be done in the next week or so. It's easier now than it used to be when we had very small children and a dog to contend with (both are not good when trying to paint). My son loves playing piano, and my youngest also wants to learn Piano next year. My daughter does violin, but likes to play around on the new piano too. I'm not sure we're quite at the soothing point though yet. He's doing well, but it's still all of the plunky plonk type pieces rather than Concertos. Scruff is a people dog, that's for sure! Enjoy the week

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  11. This room is looking fantastic (although I completely agree about the light). What a good job you've done on the bookcases: I am sure they will look great painted, grilled up and with the picture lights. What a wonderful room. I love the idea of having an adult zone with no TV.
    The seating arrangement has given me food for thought. I am trying to work out what to do in our new house. I must start a blog so that I can get the insight of all of you cleaver design people. The 'formal' living/dining room in the new house is a strange L shape with two inglenook fireplaces. One of the parts of the L will be used for a dining room and the other for a formal sitting room (with the all important no TV policy applying). But I don't know what to do with the bit of the L where the two sections meet (if that makes any sense!).
    Good luck with the painting! x

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    1. Your new living area sounds tricky, especially with Inglenook fireplaces too… non traditional seating arrangements sound like your best bet. The bit where they meet - pedestal table in the centre with books on it (like a library table)? Maybe another seating area of some sort, such as a pair of armchairs? Hard to know without seeing how much space you have…. I definitely think you should start a blog Charlotte!

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    2. Thanks Heidi, I will have a think about both of your suggestions. So far I don't have much furniture at all for the room, so it is a bit of a blank canvas. Just my Ralph Lauren sofa which I had recovered in William Morris' brer rabbit in a light blue and our dining table a chairs. I like both ideas and will have to explore. I had a hunt around the Kingcombe sofa showroom the other week and they have a gorgeous colefax tartan sofa in blues which I have fallen in love with. But, I am trying to work out whether it actually works in the space or not. I think I will have to draw out the space and measure what I already have to see how it could work. Oh, the important decisions we have to make!

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  12. Hi Heidi. I love the idea of the 4 armchairs in a circle. Sounds lovely and a very nice room to sit in and never leave! Great for long chats with girlfriends! Can't wait to see the chairs in place. The joinery work is really beautiful! Aren't you looking forward to the styling part?? All these years?? Slap some paint on it already!! HEHE. Are the shelves mdf? Or what are they made of? I have been seeing 'naked' joinery around and wondering if it is mdf.
    How beautiful about the piano!

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  13. The bookshelf design is gorgeous Heidi, and I think the arrangement of four chairs will work beautifully. I'm in love with your little table too! xx

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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