Decor Ponderings

So, y’all know I have been redoing the library. You know, the room I did in 2014.


The redesign process started when I began to experience a subtle…but nagging…suggestion in my brain: Hey, Ross, wouldn’t it be cool to return the small door to its original location?

This would mean removing mounds of books, dismantling sections of the 2015 shelving, making a huge mess, creating a new door opening where an opening had existed in 1894, and then blocking up the 2014 opening.

While this nagging suggestion was taking potshots at my brain, Cody came along with another suggestion: “Have you thought about removing some of the shelving on the west wall so the mantel has a bit more breathing room?”

My mind…being, well, my mind…amped up this suggestion: Why not remove all the west shelving?

And so began a lot of friggin’ work. And all this on top of my decision a year previous to move the island a bit to the north, meaning that one of the pendant lights also needed to be moved, creating holes in the ceiling finished in 2014.


Justin Scott Brock created the new small door opening, blocked up the 2014 opening, and moved the ceiling light. My job is to mud/tape everything, sand, prime, and paint. This should be done next week. Then I can redo the taken-apart shelving and place the books back in place.

And then I can take down the west shelving, after placing all the books on the floor of the parlor.


While the parlor was fully decorated in 2017/2018, I never decorated the library. I purchased wallpaper for the little bit of exposed wall, I purchased a stencil for the frieze (thanks, Megan!), and came up with an idea for the ceiling. But, for reasons I cannot fully explain, I never moved ahead with the decorating. I want to think I intuitively knew I would make significant changes in 2022 so held off on any decorating. But, sigh, the more likely explanation is that there has always 8,538,933 more pressing things to do. I mean, is decorating important when there is still no cat fence?

But a new subtle nagging is happening in my brain. It whispers ideas for how to, at long last, decorate the library.

Whisper. Whisper. Whisper.


When I first decorated the parlor it was…too simple. It was…not quite serious enough, whatever that even means. So, I redid the walls about a year later and have been very happy with the results.

This is now informing the whispers in my mind. And my 2015 ideas for the library will likely prove not quite right.

As the library expansively opens into the parlor, the two rooms do not feel really separate. Thus, perhaps the library should kinda sorta repeat the decorating motifs of the parlor, and its colors?

This idea excited the whisperers.


The plan.

I am going to paint the library the same colors as the parlor. I will, too, repeat HOW everything was realized in the parlor.


I will recreate all this. (The blue stripes are quite subtle in person.) Kinda. Rather than a bold damask stencil, I will use a different stencil for the wall ‘infill’ in the library. Something picking up a motif from the library fireplace? And I will subtly change the infill colors. The frieze will get repeated as it is so incredibly easy to do. The ‘cracked ice’ ceiling will get repeated as well, but rather than a single ‘oculus’ on the ceiling I will need to create five circles all mushed together as there are five ceiling lights. So, a centipede on the ceiling!


The picture rail will also repeat, and well as the gold raised gold trim of the wall infill. The edge stencil will also repeat. The curtains in the library are white, chartreuse, and teal.


Once finished, the library decor will greatly complement the parlor while still being subtlety different. This now seems like a no-brainer but it took years for me to realize this.

The whisperers…and Ross…are excited.







  1. Leigh on August 18, 2022 at 8:10 am

    Your readers are excited too, Ross. Yoi do you! Group hug!

  2. Barb Sanford on August 18, 2022 at 10:20 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together — and to you sharing your thought process as it evolves. Fun stuff.

  3. Amanda B. on August 18, 2022 at 11:29 am

    I agree with Barb…I really enjoy reading about your thought process. Should I be concerned that it makes sense? Lol jk There’s no doubt it will look fabulous. I can’t wait to see it! I also agree with Leigh….group hug!

  4. mlaiuppa on August 18, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    I think that is brilliant and definitely the way to go. The rooms would work together, but also retain their own identities. I like how you are restoring the original location of the door, even though it is involving the moving of the lights, doorways and shelving. I think in the end you are going to be much happier. I think you feel happy already just thinking and planning and executing.

    I totally get the change in direction and the time it took. I’ve done the same thing in my house. I replaced the original pulls on the kitchen cabinets when I moved in and am now in the process of changing them again, this time cobalt blue glass. I’m on my fourth dining room table. I originally brought over a small butcher block round table from the condo I was living in with bentwood cafe chairs. That didn’t fit at all. Next was a large piece of thick glass on two large plaster columns. I really liked that. I had a lot of plaster in the room as they were a shop not too far away that had it. I used recovered office chairs all mismatched. But the chairs were damaging the wood floor and some of the plaster had to go when I finally had a built in sideboard installed in the bay window (a 1949 addition) to cover up the patch in the floor. Next came an oval Victorian table, again with no chairs but I was never happy with it. My last is an actual dining set with four chairs that match. It’s a waterfall with burlwood veneer from the 20-30s and the house is content with it. The house seems to really like furniture that is the same age. I have a coffee table and two matching end tables from the same period in the living room, also with the inset veneer. Once they were in the house the lightbulb went off. I bought a bedroom suite for the guest room. Cheap as they weren’t very popular at the time.

    Paint and wall treatments were similar. The rooms were all white to begin with until I finally decided what to do. It took over 20 years to finally finish the last room and I still have a bit of stencil to finish. Decisions on the landscaping took even longer as I made a few changes there too. The last being the raised beds in the front yard for a “Victory Garden”. I only have one of the four beds complete but at least, finally, the hardscape and the bones will be in.

    Sometimes you just have to live in a place for a while before you know what to do. Then sometimes you’ll buy something or see something and a light will go off and there will be a change in direction. I’ve always felt that you’ll know when it’s right. You’ll wake up after a really good, restful sleep and be happy with a decision.

    Now, um, I notice that white light switch cover in the parlor. I imagine there are switches with switch plates all over the house. Have you considered doing something with those? In my library, I wallpapered the cover to match the walls. In my sewing room/guest room I gold leafed it. In some areas, the kitchen and bathroom, I left them as is because the walls are white and they need to be cleaned more often. Some I can’t replace because they were cut to fit flush with too close trim. I just replaced the one in the bedroom with an ornate lacquered brass one as I am going to be changing the knobs and plates on the doors. You, of course, do not have issues with your doors as you have all of your original hardware. But have you considered looking for reproduction switchplates for the light switches? I’m sure there are companies out there that make them. I stumbled across Nostalgic Warehouse and was able to get a plate that matched the new door sets discounted on Amazon. It is heavy and very nice. I am now considering getting two more for the hallway (an often overlooked decorating area.) They have matching covers for the wall outlets as well and am debating whether to get one as I only have one outlet that isn’t behind a piece of furniture.

    I’ve been in my house since December 23 of 1987 and I am still making changes and decorating decisions, albeit now they are more minor. But it was 20 years before I finally “finished” the dining room.

  5. Christine on August 18, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    Hi Ross, in a previous post you mentioned that you need to steal trim to finish the library room door. What about the wood around the hallway door that now is concealing the dumb waiter? Are you planning on keeping that opening? Didn’t you cut that door through the butlers pantry many moons ago? Or was that somewhere else?

    I’m glad to know that you’re working on the hallway too since it’s noticeable through the repositioned library door.

    You have said that the library wasn’t very photogenic. This may be the lift it needs to bring it up to par with the parlor. I also think that finishing the portico outside the library will lift the energy of the entire space to more “ahhhh” and less “ewww”.

    I do *so* appreciate all your efforts on behalf of this unique, interesting house. It would be so easy (and tempting) to slap up some drywall and call it better. For several years, I have observed you making the just right decision to make a space delightful. You don’t go the cheap, easy path of least resistance. You make the best decision for the house thus preserving its integrity and assuring its continued survival. No, not just survival- its prominence in Emporia. Thank you. You’re doing a service to the house, Emporia and all of us, your readers. I look forward to the day when I can come for a tour and to meet you. You’re such an inspiration for me.

  6. Laurie L Weber on August 18, 2022 at 5:57 pm

    Awesome. There’s so much for you to do, but having a “done” area will be so satisfying. Onward! 🙂

  7. Chris on August 19, 2022 at 10:54 am

    Sometimes life gets in the way. you have to address things that keep the roof on and all that before the creative parts. And at other times, the muse strikes while she/he is hot. “I have an idea, let’s do this NOW!” … and this is how we work. Can’t wait to see this come together!

  8. Sandra D Lee on August 30, 2022 at 3:56 pm

    Delightful progress and love seeing these ideas coming to fruition and taking place!

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