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When I was a student at the University of Toronto, my favourite spot to recharge (read: nap) was at the Hart House library. I still go there sometimes. It’s old-school comfort: large, worn-in wingbacks, thick rugs, leaded-glass windows covered in ivy, a huge fireplace, and books...stacks and stacks of them.

photo: Hart House library window

Now that we have decided to not completely open up our main floor, I am going to recreate this ultimate comfort zone (without the stress of exams) in my own home with a bit of a spare, modern twist.

I love the look of these cosy rooms…just add books.

Photo Blog January 6 Library Sofa

Photo Blog January 6 Library Coffee Table

Photo Blog January 6 Library Fireplace Cat

First, we need to uncover the fireplace that has been plastered over. This is a labour of love. Has anyone ever done this? It is painstaking work to chip plaster off brick. We chip away a little bit each week.

Photo Blog January 6 Logs Wood Fireplace

If the fireplace is not usable, I plan to fill it with logs for some academia-meets-log-cabin charm.

To keep things librarian-hush quiet, we may install a sound barrier such as Quiet Rock. I wonder if others have had experience with sound insulation. Worth the investment?

Photo Blog January 6 Brothers Dressler Bookshelf

While we could do simple shelves on either side of the fireplace, I’d love to include a handcrafted bookshelf like this one from Brothers Dressler.

Photo Blog January 6 Library Black Bookshelves

Or, the books can be the star of the wall with simple, dark-painted floor to ceiling shelves.

Photo Blog January 6 Art Book Fair Poster

Photo Blog January 6 Art Book Fair Poster Black & White

On the opposite wall, I’m going to finally hang all of the book-inspired art that I have been collecting over the past few years, including these colourful posters from the New York Art Book Fair.

Now, I just need to get through my book collection without falling asleep. With a cosy couch, toasty fire, and two purring cats, this is going to be difficult.

For tips on building built-in bookshelves around a fireplace, read Designing Built-In Shelves.

Photo credits:
1. Hart House, photography by Roger Leekam
2. Tine Guth Linse
3. Living Etc, Folk Living Room
4. Catherine MacIntosh
5. Living Etc, Wood-Stacked Fireplace
6. Brothers Dressler
7. Living Etc, Balanced Look
8-9. Catherine MacIntosh

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