Before and After: A Luxe Redo Turns a Blah Living Room into a Bookworm’s Fantasy

published Feb 6, 2021
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Before: Empty living room with beige walls and beige carpet
Credit: Lee Braden

A plain, builder-grade home often isn’t the most exciting — but if you’re looking for a blank canvas ready to be customized, it’s a goldmine. Case in point: this beige-filled living room belonging to Lee Braden (Corner of Sunset) and her husband. “Our home was built in 1995 and prior to us purchasing it in summer 2019 only had one owner,” Lee says. “The appraiser summed it up best with the comment of, ‘nice home, great shape, not a lot of interest or detail.'”

Credit: Lee Braden

The space was intended as a formal living room, but since Lee and her husband had another hangout spot they used, this space sat empty. “It felt superfluous,” Lee says. “It was genuinely a blank beige box with crown moulding as the only architectural interest.”

But that blank box was the perfect place for Lee to bring a longstanding dream to life: a home library. “Libraries have always been my sanctuary and played an important role in my life,” Lee says. “I even married my husband in a library in 2016. I had decades worth of daydreaming of how I wanted my own library to look.”

With its big bay window and plenty of open wall space, this room was a prime candidate.

Credit: Lee Braden

Lee and her husband did the whole project themselves, DIYing nightly once they logged out of work for the day and on weekends, too. They started by building out a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves; little details like Art Deco-style column caps and a library ladder with cast iron rungs make the built-ins look extra luxe. The couple also installed four matching dimmable sconces to add some soft lighting to the space.

The room’s show-stopping deep green color took a long time to choose, says Lee. “I spent nine months mulling over color samples because I was obsessed with mimicking how an emerald stone reflects light — darker in the center and brighter towards the edges,” Lee says. “I want people to feel as if they have stepped inside the jewel when they stand in the room.”

Credit: Lee Braden

A cozy scroll-arm loveseat matches the room’s high-end vintage feel, especially when paired with a glass-and-gold coffee table. Lee also added a couple armchairs by the bay window for seating.

“I visited many many libraries and looked at hundreds more before I began this project,” Lee says. And it’s still in the works! Lee and her husband plan to rip out the carpet and replace it with hardwood floors later this year.

But for now, the little home library is a glamorous and cozy hangout fit for whiling the day away over a good book.

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