My wife and I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a local event called the Parade of Homes. I’m not sure if the Parade of Homes is a national brand or just a local or regional organization, but I imagine most places offer a similar opportunity. Over a two-week period, you can tour recently completed homes in your local geographical area. The event serves as great publicity for area home builders, so obviously they like to get their best homes in the show.
While I had seen advertisements for the parade before and always thought it looked interesting, this was my first year attending. (No, it’s not because we’re in the market for a home. Sadly. Still in the rental stage for now.) I’d say there were roughly 25 homes in the parade, and we were able to make it to about half of them. Let me tell you what…the homes were impressive! We had such an enjoyable time touring each home. Some were extremely high end (multi-million dollar mansions), while others were more modest (relatively speaking!) starter or mid-life homes. Some featured very traditional architectural designs, while others were trendy and modern, and still others very progressive.
Whatever the size, whatever the style, every home we saw was immaculate and very well staged. Decorations and themes were consistent throughout the homes. Impressive art work was on display. Extremely creative ideas had been incorporated in the layouts, from a slide that slid from the kitchen table to a foam pit in the basement below, to elaborate miniature home playrooms, to secret doors and passageways. More extravagant homes included features like pools, indoor basketball and racquetball courts, and even indoor climbing walls.
Almost every home also boasted a state of the art entertainment center. On the modest end were the starter homes, which were decked out with large flat screens and wireless surround sound. On the other end were the mansions, with theater rooms that would put even the most modern movie theater to shame, what with their recliner chairs, perfect sound systems, and even their own snack counters.
Yet as we toured these homes, I never did see the one thing I kept wondering and hoping I might: a home library. Now, I will grant you that many homes had very nice home offices, spaces where I would love to settle in for a day of productive work. Most, if not all, of those home offices had built in shelving with beautiful books, books whose distressed, worn covers matched the décor very well (not knocking it; I’ll probably do it myself one day).
Also, many of the homes’ bedroom sets included elegant nightstands with thoughtful books resting on them, almost calling to me to do a little light nighttime reading before tucking into the warm, cozy covers and drifting off to sleep (though maybe in another post I can share what my ideal bedtime reading setup would be. No homes had it, by the way.)
But in no home did I find a room dedicated to reading. A room whose walls were lined with shelves, shelves full of books, books offering endless opportunities to be transported to another time, another place; to learn something new; to be reminded of a feeling; to improve. A room with oversized arm chairs, inviting you to sit down and get lost for a bit, while a warm lamp reads over your shoulder. Perhaps, I would dare imagine, a room with a fireplace, keeping the space toasty and inviting on a cold winter day, offering you the perfect excuse to escape to a warmer climate, even if only in your mind.
That room, dear friends and readers, is the room I wanted to find in one of those homes. No doubt the picture I just painted is on the more grandiose side, probably most fitting to a mansion. In fact, the description reminds me of only two home libraries I have actually seen: the personal reading library of JP Morgan in his New York City home, and the library the Beast fixes up for Belle. (Oh yea, and all those amazing home libraries pinned to my “Home Library” Pinterest board.)
Truly, though, a home library doesn’t have to be so extravagant. I think that any of the homes we saw had room to spare to devote a quiet space to a library. And I’ll admit I was sad to see that none of them had. All found room for a theater room (again, not knocking it; I wouldn’t mind one myself) or at least a spacious entertainment center. All boasted tasteful decorating and high end finishes. All were the best work of highly skilled builders guided by plans crafted with the input of homeowners who cared deeply about the final product. But search as I might, none included the one feature I really hoped to find. A home library.