Public library transformed into fresh and inviting home in Portland

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The Library House was a complete remodel and addition to a small structure that was originally the public library in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, Oregon by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design. When the library moved, this building was re-purposed as an office for the church across the street. When the designer’s clients approached them, they had the idea to transform the building into their home. With almost 1,829 square feet, the main floor is the heart of the home.

The design team was struck by how lovely the volume of the old library was, and decided to keep the big open space to house a great room, with kitchen, dining and living areas. They enclosed the open front porch to create an entry and powder room, and added on to the side of the building to create two small bedrooms and a new bathroom. They did a lot of excavation work in the 678 square foot basement where they added a sauna, laundry room, exercise room, and a recording studio for the clients who are both voice actors. A small new garage was also added.

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In keeping with the theme of the original library, bookshelves were added throughout, defining the entryway, flanking both sides of the great room, and surrounding the little desk in the guest bedroom. Since the volume of the main space was so tall, library ladders were added at both ends of the room to provide access to the tall shelves. Because of the density of the neighborhood, the bedrooms needed to be quite small so useful cabinetry was built in wherever possible, including around and under the bed.

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What We Love: This inviting home features multifunctional living environments that are warm and cozy. The living room is a fantastic space with it’s built-in window seat for curling up with a good book… the library ladder on a sliding track is a great touch! Another sliding ladder in the kitchen creates harmony and a nod to the home’s past. Bookshelves are in abundance, including the guest bedroom and two staircases that allows access to the books placed in the higher parts…. Readers, what do you think of this home? Have you decorated your own home with books?

Note: Have a look at a couple of our favorite home tours from the talented Jessica Helgerson: Split-level mid-century ranch home gets fabulous facelift and Stunning mid-century renewal in Portland by Jessica Helgerson.

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Many aspects of the design are fairly traditional, in keeping with the vintage of this inviting home, but with very modern pieces layered on. A warm palette of jewel-toned color is introduced in the furnishings and art, which include paintings by Portland artists Anya Spielman and Jocelyn Rahm.

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Photos: Lincoln Barbour

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