The House: The Library

Please, please, indulge me. This might bore regular readers of my blog,  afterwards we will return to our regular programing.

 When I started this blog, it was to tell of our progress and show pictures of the house and garden to  family and friends. Ian and I have been transferred a few times, and a lot of our family and friends are not able to visit Kilbourne Grove. 

 So, this is the first post on the inside of the house.  When we bought it was a “work in progress”.  The old owners, a doctor and his family, had lived there for over 40 years, and it had not been updated.  When the doctor died, his wife moved to a nursing home and a developer bought it.

They redid the kitchen and the two bathrooms, as well as new roof, new furnace and forced air ducts (taking out the beautiful old rads that Ian and I love so much.)  Most of the rest to do is cosmetic.  However, we have been so busy on the garden, that we have mostly left it alone.  I wanted to get as many trees, hedges, shrubs in as early as possible, so the “bones” will have a chance to put on some growth, before we move in full-time.

Our first project has been the library.  For most people this would be the living room, but as we have so many books, we call it the library.  It is a long room, 25 x 16, with a corner fireplace, a bay window and pocket doors to the front parlour.  It also has doors to the front hall, kitchen and butlers pantry as well as another window, so there is not a lot of wall space.  The ceilings are 12 feet high.

This is the way it was when we purchased it.

Here you can see past the corner fireplace (I hate corner fireplaces) to the front parlour. The front parlour was where the doctor saw his patients.

Here is a close up of the fireplace. The metal insert is very beautiful. There is matching ones in the front parlour and in the master bedroom. (all corner fireplaces, grrr)

We chose to paint this room red.  Every house that Ian and I have owned has had a principal room painted red.  This time we chose a Farrow and Ball colour called Mercer Street Red.  I don’t like white mouldings/ceilings with red, (a bit too Canadian flagish for me) so we chose Farrow and Ball Wall White  for the trim and F & B  Off-White for the ceiling. However, when the developer got the house ready for sale, she slapped a fresh coat of paint on the walls, over the wallpaper. It would have been a big pain to try to strip (I do not even know if possible) so we got the walls skim coated. We were so happy we did this, the walls looked amazing, even before the paint was put on. All the little cracks covered, like slapping a thick coat of foundation on your face, lol

There were only two walls where we could build our bookcases.

Here we are in the process of putting the furniture back against the wall.

Looking east towards the front parlour. (please ignore the mess on the floor, around the fireplace, I was too impatient and did not want to wait to take a picture)

Another view, looking east, this time you can see the bookcase we had built behind the chesterfield.

Looking west towards the other bookcase. The paint colour really changes with the time of day. It is a true red in the evening with the lamps lit, fading almost into black in the shadows. Sometimes during the day, it ranges from pink, to fuchsia to burgundy. It is quite a chameleon.

We spent this weekend moving the rest if the furniture in and hanging some of our art. It is starting to fell like home.

Looking east towards the front parlour.

There is still changes to come. We need a chandelier over what will be a round pedestal table.  The Bay window will hold our desk (which is being used as a dining room table in Toronto at the moment. A large rug to take the place of the sisal. And the floors need refinished. But it is almost the way we want it, yay!

One room done, 11 to go….sigh! 



87 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    fairegarden said,

    It is wonderful, Deborah, already. I love the bookcases and the warm cozy feel that the red color offers against the stained wood. I hope you will learn to love corner fireplaces, since you have several of them. It will make for a happier life. Give yourself the hard sell, list all the good things about them, and discard the things you don’t like, then fake it til you make it! 🙂

  2. 3

    Kiki said,

    Awesome! your house is most beautiful..and the library is gorgeous! I love all vintage homes and historical homes..pretty amazing. Enjoy your wonderful space! yay!

  3. 5

    Barbara H. said,

    What a wise woman Frances is. One of the best things about corner fireplaces is that they are so much better than none at all! Your room looks wonderful – the color, the books, the furniture. And it sounds like it will only be getting better as more of it falls into place. Skim coating over the painted wallpaper was a brilliant idea. Congratulations!

    • 6

      You are so right Barbara. We have always had a fireplace in every house we have owned, it was always on the must have list. Even our flat in London had a fireplace, we love them!

  4. 7

    teza said,


    Now this is how one should spend their winter months as far as blogging is concerned! You’ve teased us woth outside shots of Kilbournegrove, but up until now we’ve [at least I have] had to guess what the inside was like.

    By any chance, do you or Ian read? Sweet jesus girl, you have more books than my public library! Perhaps a post that focuses on those books, with a zoom in to some of their titles? Please! Please!

    Never lived in a home with a fireplace, so really can’t say that I’d be disappoiinted with one in the corner. Love the idea of crackling wood and the smell of smoke in the evening, on days just like this.

    I have to admit, I am not a fan of red but…….. this looks smashing! I notice what you meant about the colour shifting throughout the day. Very nice! Ut makes the room so inviting….. you want to go in and curl up on the sofa and lose yourself in a book or two or….. twenty. Luckily they are on shelves as I’d hate to confess I wanted to look through your drawers….. at the books of course!

    Eleven more rooms…. eleven more posts. Yay!

    • 8

      Teza, Ian and I have got books from all over, not just the ones we have bought to read. I have my grandfathers collection of history books as well. I hate to tell you but all our books are not here. This is just the fiction, travel and my cookbooks. My gardening books are on the upstairs landing. Maybe I’ll let you have a peek!

  5. 9

    Carol said,

    I love your house. It looks so warm and inviting. All I need is the books, coffee croissants or tea, and I am happy all day long. This would be the ultimate vacation for me. Thanks for sharing.

  6. 13

    Thanks for giving us a look inside your house. I enjoy interior decorating almost as much as I enjoy gardening, so this is a treat. My son recently bought a townhouse with a corner fireplace. It is lovely to look at, but furniture placement is tough! I really like your library. It is a welcoming, comfortable room. I can imagine reading for hours in your gorgeous red room. Congratulations on a job very well done!

    • 14

      Deborah, I think we are twins, sometime I will show you my huge collection of decorating books and magazines. I certainly do sit for hours reading in there, my chair is the green one by the fireplace. Ian is usually off snowboarding.

  7. 15

    leavesnbloom said,

    Can I come and sit in your library and look through all your books now? Deborah – I love your style and choice of furnishings. So cosy and welcoming. I just love wood and its lovely seeing all those beautiful wooden features in the the room. My husband would need a room like this for his books.

    Just like Teza I too would love you see your book titles. If I go to anyones house and they have a book case I always head over to see what their taste in books is.

    Thanks for sharing………….. I love “looking through the keyhole” to see what others homes are like and I think that red is a good colour for that room. I’ve never been bold enough to have that colour in my home ………….. but my ceilings are not 12 ft high.

    Thanks for sharing

    • 16

      Rosie, I am always over at their book collection as well. I will have to write a post (with pictures) on the books. My gardening books are in another room. I have actually had red in three of my houses mow, one with 8 foot ceilings and one with 9 foot ceilings. I just think that you need light floors and furniture if you are worried about it being too dark!

  8. 17

    shutterboo said,

    This is lovely! I love the bookcases – they look like they’ve been there the whole time. And I love old fireplaces; the original tiles and iron covers add an immense amount of charm.
    I took down wallpaper in November: it sucked. And I painted red walls in my last house: also sucked. That is why I’ll never 1) put up wall paper and 2) paint red walls ever.

    • 18

      Thank you, I am in the process of stripping wallpaper in the front parlour now, quite a chore. The red was a hard colour to pick, I tried many test pots before picking. There is also 5 coats of red and a charcoal primer to get the depth. It is much nicer in real life, looks a bit pink in the blog.

  9. 19

    nancybond said,

    Deborah, this is stunningly beautiful! I’m a huge fan of red and it’s such an authentic colour for an older home, and it looks gorgeous with that off white trim. Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your home — this is a room in which I could spend many contented hours. 🙂

  10. 21

    miss m said,

    I love it !

  11. 23

    As much as I love gardening, I do love decorating indoors as well. I absolutely love old homes and the character that comes with them. Your transformations are just beautiful and I love the red walls 🙂

    • 24

      I do too Noelle, I love to spend the winters moving furniture around, (or stripping wallpaper, this winters task). I would never buy a new home, I love the character and wonkiness of old houses.

  12. 25

    WOW Deborah, what a transformation, I love what you’ve done. You have a beautiful house and it’s a pleasure to read/see about it’s development as well. 🙂

  13. 27

    Wow! Super cozy. Love it! I applaud you for choosing color. It drives me nuts when people leave their houses boring and white/cream in preparation for selling it years down the road. Live in the now!

    • 28

      My husband was one of those people when we bought our first house. I (nagged) him for years, trying to get him to accept some colour. Finally got our living room painted(red) the year before we had to sell, (due to a transfer). The real estate agent said the paint colour had been one of the main selling feature!

  14. 29

    Mike said,

    I’ll take a library over a living room any day.

  15. 31

    Grace said,

    Bored? Are you kidding, Deborah? I love reading your makeover chronicles. It looks like you’ve got yourself a gem of a house. I can’t wait to see more of it. Please, please. The white walls were wrong, wrong, I agree. Your color choice is warm and rich. I have two corner fireplaces in my home and I completely concur. They’re hogs, making it much more difficult to situate furniture. Still yours is embellished with gorgeous woodwork.

    • 32

      It is a gorgeous fireplace Grace,but it is hard to arrange furniture around it. I love to sit and read, toasting my toes in front of the fire, but there is only room for one chair. Whenever we have company, they gravitate to that spot!

  16. 33

    Jean said,

    Deborah, So nice to know that those 500+ garden books have such a beautiful home! -Jean

    • 34

      Jean, my gardening books aren’t even in this room, they are upstairs on the stair landing, and some of them are in Toronto as well. I might show you some pictures of that as well.

  17. 35

    jornalista said,


  18. 37

    Radipt said,

    you’ve got very nice house!

  19. 39

    johnson said,

    I am green with envy – what a beautiful room, I love the colour. How I wish I had space for books. In our tiny cottage, most of mine are packed in cartons and I can never find the one I want!

  20. 41

    fifin1 said,

    I wish beautiful home…….,,

  21. 43

    Clarissa said,

    This friend of mine is taking pictures of normal objects that look like letters and then making words out of it…check out his website…

  22. 45

    […] The House: The Library at Green Theatre […]

  23. 46

    What a delicious and inviting space you’ve created. It all comes together as if it has “always been” — yet seems fresh and young. I’d take a corner fireplace or few over no fireplace in a heartbeat. Now, just pass me an Armagnac, and hand over that book, will you?

  24. 48

    gloria bonde said,

    Hi Deborah – I love your house it is beautiful and thanks for sharing it. It has an elegance to it. Please show us more – G

  25. 50

    Wendy said,

    how absolutely beautiful! I love the shelves and we too, would have made it a library. It has a perfect cozy feel. I’d LOVE to while away the winter blahs in this room… Great job!!

  26. 52

    Lovely shade of red. My university library had a small red reading room with wingback chairs and leather couches. It was my favourite space in the building. Your library will be a place of peace and contentment. Great job.

  27. 54

    Looks great Deborah! The red has created an aura of its own….keep up the good work.

  28. 56

    Barbara Bonardi said,

    Absolutely gorgeous. Congratulations on your bold choice of color! You have a wonderful sense of design. P.S. I’m a graduate of Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design (1981) — I could not have done better myself.

  29. 58

    Congratulations on nearly finishing your first room Deborah! A stunning transformation too. I love the bold warm color you have chosen … it is inspiring and alive and would stimulate great thought and writing I would guess. Beautiful details and your fireplace inserts are quite lovely. You have made a cozy library, and I look forward to details of your handsome bookcases. 😉

  30. 62

    slamdunk said,

    You all have done an amazing job with the place–congrats.

  31. 64

    yohabloespanglish said,

    My boyfriend loves rich colors like this and I let him convince me to paint a large wall in a largish room dark red but it ended up stifling the room. Your library is the first time I can honestly say I would enjoy living with a room painted this color! It must be all the open spaces in the walls. Also, I think it’s fantastic that you don’t have backs to your bookshelves, it allows the room to have more red but is broken up nicely by the books and shelves.

    Looking forward to seeing more of the restoration, your house looks amazing…something I can only dream about having right now.

    • 65

      I actually love the fact that we did not have backs on the bookcases. You get to see more of the red. Over the years, I am sure that we will purchase more art, and more and more of the red will be covered.

  32. 66

    jingle said,


  33. 70

    Barbarapc said,

    What a great house. Love the red. A good friend of mine bought a great apt in Toronto with floor to ceiling windows on 2 sides – we have to walk into his hallway sideways because the bookshelves line both sides of the narrow long entrance. Too many books and not enough wall space. A much happier conundrum than the reverse.

  34. 72

    teresa said,

    Your home is just beautiful. I think you and I would get along well when it comes to taste in houses and colors. My dining room is that color too. I just love it. There is nothing better than an old house’s charm.

  35. 74

    Edith Hope said,

    I have lived with Farrow and Ball all my life. Be bold – don’t stop with the red. Have you considered teaming it with Chinese yellow? This may sound a step too far but a visit to the John Soane Museum in London would surely convince you otherwise. A great friend of mine uses both colours to remarkable effect in her drawing room combining them with silk fabrics and trimmings. To me, the look you are creating is very English country house……amazing when you are in Canada.
    Encouraged by friends I have very recently come to blogging and am thrilled to have discovered your site so early on. I am so pleased and interested to see that you are combining both house and garden as that too is my intention. I shall look forward to following your progress with indoor and outdoor rooms.

    • 75

      Thank you Edith for your lovely compliments and comments. I do love Chinese yellow, I actually had the trim and ceiling in my last house in a gold, so I wanted a change this time. I am in love with Farrow and Ball, the colours are so intense and very appropriate for a historical house.
      Do give blogging a try, it is great fun and you meet some very interesting people. I hope to see you back again soon.

  36. 76

    Joanne said,

    What a lovely transformationto a warm and interesting room. I am sure it was a lot of work but great to have the before and after photos as a recrd for you and your family to share.
    I look forward to further posts of your lovely home.

  37. 78

    Barbara said,

    You’ll have to work hard on your garden for it to live up to your beautifully decorated house. What is skim coating? Don’t answer, I’ll look it up. Sounds like something I might need soon. We used to have a tradition of one room with red carpeting, so I understand that color affinity. Thanks for sharing your house with us. Barbara

    • 79

      Thank you Barbara, you notice that I didn’t show you the rest of the house. Or the holes in the floor where they removed the hot water radiator system. We will wait and get all the floors done at once so they all match.

  38. 80

    Diana said,

    WOW! what a beautiful and charming makeover. You must be so proud. I like your attitude: one step (room) at a time. 😉 Diana

    • 81

      Thanks Diana, if we lived in this house full time, it would be decorated faster. But, we have the luxury of taking our time, and giving it lots of thought. I’m glad that you like it.

  39. 82

    catmint said,

    Hi Deborah, thanks for inviting us into your house. It is so wonderful. I would love to spend time in the library in particular. Cheers, catmint

  40. 84

    commonweeder said,

    I love this room. I think red is a fabulous color for a library. The only red room I ever had was a big kitchen. I seem to be in a green period right now, although the tiny upstairs bathroom is terra cotta. The paint can said so.

    • 85

      I so love green, it is definitely my favourite colour. When I get around to more painting, you will see green at some point. But I must be careful, when I was a child, my mum went through the avocado green phase. We had green sink, tub, toilet, fridge, stove, and carpet. It turned me off for a long time!

  41. 86

    puppyparents said,

    What a change Deb! The bookcases turned out beautifully!
    I wish I could snuggle up in there with a good book on a winter’s eve!!!

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