If you’ve been following along with the Creating With the Stars Contest, you know by now we didn’t win – we ended up in third place.
Just kidding – I’m super proud to have made it as far as we did, and third place is fantastic. Sarah, who won, did an absolutely amazing job and is beyond talented – it was a well-deserved win. And, even though the voters didn’t seem to be huge fans of the reading room we created, I’m IN LOVE WITH IT. That’s what matters right?
Let’s jump right in.
I’m not gonna lie – Corey and I waffled back and forth a lot over what we would do this week. We share the vast majority of our home here on a regular basis, so it was next to impossible to think of an area that wouldn’t be quickly recognized by you guys.
Then, we remembered that we have one room that has basically been untouched since the day we moved in – we use it to hold our two (giant) dog kennels, and I work out in it, but other than that it’s pretty unused. It’s rarely been shown here on the blog, and we figured once it was emptied out of the kennels (which would be a dead giveaway – not many people are crazy enough to own two giant dogs) it would be more or less unrecognizable.
Once we settled on giving this room a makeover, it was a pretty quick process to land on the idea of a reading room. I’m a huge reader and would love a dedicated spot in our house to hang out and read, and we’re both a huge fan of built-in, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, so we decided to run with it. We started off by emptying out the room…
And then it was time to get to work. We wanted it to have the feel of what you think of when you picture a traditional reading room, but we wanted an updated, more modern version of that. We decided to add some architecture with crown molding and trim around the room – and the first step was marking where we wanted it. Our decision was kind of arbitrary – Google told us that the standard height for chair molding is anywhere between 30″ and 36″, so we played around with it by holding up a piece at various heights. We decided to go against all of the rules and hang ours at 40″ – no real rhyme or reason, it just looked best to us…and we’re rebels like that.
Once it was all marked, I got to painting. We went with a pretty hunter green for the top half (Juniper by Valspar, if you’re interested) and a bright white on the bottom. At this point, our dogs’ kennels were still in the room (it’s a pain to take them apart, so we were postponing it), so I used ‘em as a nice stepladder to help me reach the ceilings. Hey, I’m nothing if not resourceful!
Oh, and if you’re curious, let’s keep it real and share what the bedroom next to this one looked like for the duration of this project.
Yeah, it’s basically an unwritten rule of DIY that in order to make one room pretty you have to make (at least) one other one look absolutely insane. It happens.
Once the room was all painted, it was time to bring in the bookcases. We wanted to add a bit of fun to the back of them (the room so far was very traditional, and it needed a fun modern punch), so we decided to go with gold stripes. I did them 3″ thick, and I just taped off every other stripe with my trusty Frog Tape and spray painted the backs.
(Can you tell we had just finished photographing for Round 3 when these were taken? Accessories all over the place in our garage!)
After everything was all dried, we brought it into the room. We laid down a spare 1×12 board to give the bookcases a little more height – without it, the crown molding wouldn’t have fit, so we needed to bump them up just a bit. It’s not even noticeable in the finished product, it just blends right in and gives it an extra inch.
One of the tricky parts here was that we had an outlet and a light switch on the wall where the bookcases were going. We wanted the whole thing to look as built-in as possible, so we needed to cut some holes in the back of the bookcase. To figure out where to cut, we got creative and put some lip gloss on the switch (and the outlet) at the four corners.
Then we pressed the bookcase up to the lipgloss so it would transfer over exactly where it needed to be…
And from there it was super easy to cut a small hole and add the cover!
It’s a small touch, but it makes a huge difference towards making the whole thing feel more custom and built-in.
At this point, the bookcases were in and it was time for the finishing touches – like the trim! I won’t give a full rundown on how we did this (there are so many other people who could explain it so much better than me), but it was a pretty straightforward process – except for the crown molding, which hurts my brain and we won’t be doing again for as long as we can avoid it!
In addition to the chair molding and the crown, we added some picture molding around the bottom half of the wall – we wanted to amp up the traditional feeling of the room a little more and add some fun detail. It’s one of those touches that kind of layers into the room and isn’t that noticeable in the finished product, but it wouldn’t be quite the same without it!
As you can see, we also added a cute, modern wingback chair from Ikea that the dogs were instantly drawn to, especially Ranger. I’m surprised we got them to stay out of it long enough to take the final photos!
Once the trim was complete, it was time for the fun part to begin – bringing in the accessories!
Most of the stuff on the shelves we already had laying around our house, but we had to do a little shopping to completely fill it out. Luckily, we’ve got a HomeGoods in our town and they came to the rescue with some of my absolute favorite things in the room.
Isn’t that elephant the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? And that pillow? I’m obsessed with it.
We also added some DIY-ed accessories, like the “READ” letters, which we made from some cheap-o cardboard letters from the craft store. Just add a coat of black craft paint and brush a light silver coat on the top – instant faux metal letters (you can see more on how I create them on this old post)!
Our other big DIY project for this room was our tree stump table. I’ll be doing a more detailed post in the next few weeks, so if you’re interested, be sure to check back!
And that’s how we turned an empty, boring room into a reading room that I plan on using on a daily basis. I’m so excited about it and can’t believe how different it looks now! Love, love, love.
Anyone else have a reading room in their house? How about that final round of the competition? The projects were incredible, right?!