Before & After :: Library

gallery-bailey-mccarthy-living-room-1 copy

Photo by Trevor Tondro for House Beautiful

It’s hard to choose- but I am pretty sure this “before & after” space is my favorite transformation in our whole house renovation. For many reasons. As I mentioned before, originally when we started looking for a new home we had our heart set on something modern. When we saw this house- I actually kind of loved that the 1960s addition on the back was modern even though it didn’t necessarily vibe with the 1930s colonial original portion of the house. After we got the house and began working on our plans for the remodel with Curtis & Windham, I had no idea what to do with this space. We already had a formal living room, as well as a family room, and I couldn’t really imagine a purpose for this large bonus space. 

28. Library Before

Curtis & Windham suggested a proper paneled library, and I thought shishishi! I’m in!

Then I suggested we keep the modern feel and replace the window with steel cased windows and they thought, she’s trippin’.

But because they are lovely and gracious they really just nodded thoughtfully and were like, ‘ooookaaayyy, that is one idea. But here is another! Floor to ceiling. Triple hung. BOOM!’ And I was like, cute! No, we are doing steel. And for a long time, that’s where we left it. Traditional in the front, modern in the back. An architectural mullet. Yeah.

But as we continued to work together, and I realized how completely superior their vision was to mine in every way, I finally came around and thank GOODNESS I did because they truly make the house. I will say, I did hold my ground on the paneling. They initially suggested a gorgeous darker stained finish, but I thought it would feel too formal and stuffy for us. We went with a wax seal finish that is just ever so slightly darker than the raw wood and it is one of my favorite elements of the house. 

Library 1

I chose the ceiling fixtures and a few of the furnishings as a nod to the original modern architecture. A happy accident- the chairs I had spec’d to sit at the back window accidentally weren’t ever ordered, so when we moved in I put the wingbacks we have had since our original Chicago home in the spot as a place holder. I can’t believe I didn’t plan to have them there from the beginning! And it is so special to me to have them there- we have kept almost all of our furnishings through our various moves, but by now everything has been recovered and refinished along the way. But these Craigslist cuties that I fluffed up with some Lee Jofa velvet have held their own, and are now one of our special family treasures. 

While upon first viewing I couldn’t imagine how we would use this room- I am happy to report we actually use it all the time. As a family we spend quiet time in here reading, or doing puzzles/playing games- and when we entertain this tends to be the late night hangout that people gravitate towards. Which might have something to do with the bar being located at one end- but that’s a post for another day!

6 thoughts on “Before & After :: Library

  1. Hi guys –am I confused or have you moved again. I remember the house that you removed the pool and then a country house. I absolutely love this room you are featuring here but cannot figure out where it is. I am Betty from Ontario Canada and have been following you long before those beautiful babies came to be.Actually I sent you a Canadian magazine that Biscuit was advertised in. ( I also remember the first house). Set me straight will you. Best wishes for a wonderful New Year

  2. Hi Betty-

    We moved homes about a year and a half ago, and the house was recently photographed for this months House Beautiful!

  3. This is just the bees’ knees. Seriously one of the most gorgeously designed and furnished rooms I have ever seen. The blue desk, the green chair, the amber table….AH! You are a true artist. Thank you of sharing your work with us to gush over.

  4. HI Bailey. I LOVE your style! Very inspirational indeed! I am re-doing a few things in my own home and would like to use nightstands like yours (the green bedroom with the modern art above bed). Can you please share the source? Thank you in advance. Best regards, Jessica Walmsley

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