Long time followers of this blog will know that for the last few years, ever since the concept of our ‘snug’ was born, I have been talking about a library wall. It was designed to go along the right hand wall (if you are looking from snug into kitchen) up and over the door and to incorporate a TV within it. I say ‘designed’ as it really was……the entryway from snug to the kitchen was determined in such a way as to allow, on the right, the width of an average book case. Electrics were chased into the wall and a TV aerial socket affixed.
And that’s where we stopped.
Since then we’ve oscillated between options: do we build our own shelving from old floorboards? Commission the kitchen company we used to make something to match our units? Or buy something off the peg? At one point there was even talk, a little one-sided I’ll admit, about our one library wall becoming two. I rather liked the idea of shelving enveloping the snug and consuming within it the prison-like window we insisted the builders incorporated when they bricked up the pre-existing side return one. But this idea was soon dropped when I started to look again at the options and realised the only possible way we could pull this off would be if we employed an expensive carpenter with a penchant for complicated mathematics in order to match up the planned rectangular boxes of the shelving, doorways, windows and corners. And expensive carpenters were never one of our options.
However something needed to be. We had not long moved the office out of the box room and down into the snug to make way for Baby A’s nursery. During the move the filing cabinets had made their way into the spare room and the suggestion had been, to my horror, that they stay there. In fact an idea was also, albeit very briefly, aired that they should go into the loft and filing be done up there, but as I’m Chief Filer, that received a categorical no. Quite where there would be room for filing cabinets to go in our loft was another question. Pressing down on the joists of our ceilings were about 8 heavy, large boxes of books which had gone up on moving day and stayed there – and as lovers of books we both missed them.
So late last year, just before our bank account was due to be eaten up by Christmas, I thought I’d present S with a few ideas. And knowing that historically I have never been very good at this…and for reasons I explained in a recent post about S’s brain being at capacity and therefore never very receptive to ideas I broach when he’s home and trying to relax…I thought I’d’ approach it a different way and get him in work mode. By email.
“Hi darling” I wrote. “I’ve been thinking about the library wall in the snug. I’ve attached a few images of things I like the look of. Just some ideas to get the ball rolling….wanna chuck me some of yours?”
And I attached a little selection of library-wall porn.
Top: Source unknown
Bottom: Left Ikea catalogue Right: Mad About The House
Quite why I felt the need to come over all American casual-like I don’t quite know. I suppose I thought I sounded open to ideas. I wasn’t. Not really. I wanted shelves and I wanted them now.
No ideas came.
I tried again.
“I didn’t get a chance to talk about this the other night” I opened. “But the way I see it we have two options. I can’t really see you ever having the time to make shelves out of old floorboards. So we have option 1) Cheap: Billy Bookcases. 3 x 80cm ones would fit. Would cost about £350. They wouldn’t go right to the ceiling but wouldn’t be too far off. Or Pricey: Hem. This place allows you to customise either preexisting shelving or build your own from scratch and to get it in a range of finishes including solid oak (we’re talking £2000) or oak veneer (more like £1200). I’m happy with the Billy ones if I’m honest – it would just be good to get those boxes of books unpacked. What do you think?”
Perhaps, I decided, it was time to do things the way most couples do. Perhaps it was time to Have A Conversation.
That night, as we tidied up the toys after bedtime I tried again. “I was thinking about these shelves” I said. “Hem ones would cost about a grand…”
S cut me off.
“We don’t have a grand to spend”
Or was it? Most people would take that as ‘forget this whole idea’. I chose to interpret it as ‘let’s go with the Billy option’. The next day I went to Ikea. I took a look at the quality, did a bit of measuring up then sat in the cafe with the obligatory plastic-tasting fish’n’chips I eat each time I go there and did the maths on the back of an envelope.
I opened my email.
“Live from Ikea – Authorisation required” went the subject line. “For £345 all-in I can get our bookshelves plus extra office storage (a 40 cm shelf unit next to desk filled with matching box files plus an L shaped shelf running above desk and into alcove much like the one in the kitchen above sink/work surface) So office would be fully functional”
And then I added as a by-line, you know, just to press home the point, “(no running upstairs to file)”
That evening I broached the question again. “Should I go ahead and get the shelving?” I asked. There was a humph. I interpreted it as a yes. I bought the shelving.
The delivery took place exactly one hour before the boys and I left for the airport to visit my sister, and so it was a kindly neighbour who facilitated the receipt of the tall parcels. S, despite his disdain for the whole project and because he must surely be the Best Husband in The World spent the week we were away studiously building each unit, fannying about with the electrics to fit the additional lighting (which admittedly took the price over and above the £345 quoted), fixing the shelves securely to the wall and shifting the numerous boxes of books down from the loft. We came home to find our library wall gloriously operational.
Now we have all our books to hand all we need is time to read them.
And I’m not sure they have any of that for sale at Ikea….