Before and After: This Living Room’s New Addition Is a Bookworm’s Dream

published Jan 5, 2020
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Credit: Leila Qari

It can be hard to fit lots of people in a small living room—a struggle Leila Qari knows all too well. “I like to host dinner and book club gatherings but seating was always limited,” Leila says. “And my living room is on the smaller side, easily appearing cluttered with the addition of too much furniture.”

Plus, although it was nice enough—with good lighting, Leila adds—it was a bit plain and lacking in character. She knew she wanted to do something to make the room both more charming and more guest-friendly, but she couldn’t quite figure out what. She thought about a faux brick wall, a large mural… anything, she says, “to add interest and make it less bland.”

Credit: Leila Qari

Finally, she saw the potential in the giant windows at the front of the room. She decided to add built-ins with a window seat where she could display books and travel souvenirs, as well as give guests extra seating that doesn’t take up too much square footage.

Credit: Leila Qari

To do the job, Leila hired a local craftsman that she had previously used on a small woodworking project. “He had never done a built-in like what I had in mind, but as a result, gave me a great deal on the price,” Leila says.

The whole project, from design to build to paint to install, took a month and a half and came in under $3,000 for materials and labor. Leila’s thrilled with the end result: “I love that it adds dimension and character to my living room, making it feel more customized and less cookie-cutter,” she says. “And I like having books and tchotchkes in my living room without having to add extra furniture.”

But her favorite part? The extra seating, which comes in handy for book club hosting, as well as the extra storage. “I store extra blankets in one of the drawers, gloves, reusable grocery bags and my purses in another, and my exercise mat and other random stuff in the third drawer,” she says. Not bad for a one-wall redo!

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