It seems pretentious to call this Our Library (and especially obnoxious when pronounced with a British accent whilst wearing an ascot) but some things just can’t be resisted. Actually, Rob and I referred to this part of our living room as The Book Nook until we realized we had to pay Barnes and Noble a substantial fee every time we said it aloud. To all of you who have e-readers, thank you for saving the trees – I’ll probably join you some day when the time is right (and only because it rhymes, I will now type the word ‘luddite’.) Like most aspects of our house, this area includes items that are both old and new, many of which have a story…
1.bookshelves: I have always appreciated books as decorative objects. In my girlhood bedroom, I spent more time re-arranging the books on my shelves (interspersed with dolls and various knick knacks) than I spent actually reading them. I am proud to say that I have read most of the books displayed here: this probably represents hundreds (thousands?) of hours of reading over the years. Likewise, I enjoy browsing through other people’s book collections – it’s like a window into their minds and their leisure time. These shelves were installed by Rob using a great deal of ingenuity, patience, and materials procured at the local Home Depot. The one-shelf wraparound idea was inspired by the Philip-Lorca diCorcia photography exhibit we saw awhile back at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City. As you can see, here, the photos were lined up one by one, horizontally, around the entire space. Ever thoughtful, Rob installed these shelves at this specific height so that the book titles would be exactly at my eye level. (It should therefore come as no surprise that, in addition to being a talented artist, he works as a usability expert.) Indeed, unlike some of the floor-to-ceiling book set-ups I have had over the years (both built-in and freestanding), finding a precious tome here doesn’t require any fancy acrobatics.
2. loveseat: This was purchased in 1997 at a thrift store somewhere in Cambridge Mass., for $25 then lovingly re-upholstered in this purplish hue by my mother with needle and thread. For the last few years, this seat was subjected to the purgatory that was my storage space, since there wasn’t room for it in my last few Manhattan apartments. To clarify: yes, I was paying good money to store inexpensive items like this and several other things that were actually street/garbage pickin’s. Do I regret this? Not a bit. I hoped to one day have the perfect spot for this piece and…voila. (Full disclosure: this mid-century seat is not something we love to sit on, due to its rickety nature. We intend to get it refurbished/stabilized someday with the help of one of the many fine furniture re-sellers here in Nyack.)
3. mid-century ottoman: Long before I lived in Rockland County NY, I had been going to the excellent antique stores of nearby Tarrytown in Westchester County NY to fantasize about one day decorating my own house. The store that has always gotten my heart racing is Belkind Bigi. This is where I discovered the hovering/swooping/soaring beauty of the old school arc lamp and the simplicity of classic Saarinen and Knoll designs. This ottoman called out to me…how could I not answer?
4. willow branches: These were plucked (with permission!) last July from my friend Sandra’s fabulous wedding centerpieces. Repurposed and remembered with fondness.
5. pillow: This is from one of my favorite stores, Marimekko on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Though their products originate in Finland, this cow throw pillow is an homage to my Wisconsin roots.
6. lamp: Part of a wonderful housewarming gift from my husband’s parents. The base and the shade of this Boka Lamp from Crate and Barrel are both flat, so it can balance on a skinny shelf, cozied right up to the wall. This also comes in a pleasing persimmon color, but I’ve long had a crush on Kermit the Frog and amassing items in his shade (scarves, shirts, vases) keeps the flame alive.
7. rug: Also part of the housewarming gift from the in-laws. This exact rug seems to have been discontinued at Crate and Barrel – I think we got one of the last ones on sale — but they have lots of other intriguing round rugs, if you’re into that sort of thing.