The YA Library

If you work really hard at something but have no proof of your efforts, does it count? Damn straight it does!

We bought from IKEA the final Billy bookcase we needed to make a wall of books. I went through all the books in the boys’ rooms and purged, organized, sorted by type, and then alphabetized. I didn’t take one picture. Oops!

It sounds like more work than it was. One of the great outcomes of the young adult fixation with book series is that it’s easier to group and organize books. Mikey’s shelves were especially easy: Ralph S. Mouse, Hardy Boys, Paleo Joe, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, 39 Clues, Star Wars, etc.

I put everything in what was once our last bookcase and made it a Young Adult/Children’s section. All their books are now in the family room. All the books are now in the family room. I put the mature young adult books on the shelf second from the top. As you can see, I’ve only read the cultural phenomenons. I’ve been reading more, though, and the genre is growing on me. Books often reflect the present culture and society, and reading young adult makes me feel like I can get at least a dim glimpse at what they’re thinking. The desire to do so becomes stronger as the boys get older.

The bookcases aren’t floor to ceiling. I wish! We could get extensions, but the Mister doesn’t want to spend any more money on this project. At least he didn’t before we got a quote for floor to ceiling custom bookshelves. ($7500) Those temporary Billys are looking pretty permanent.

All my grammar and reference books are at arm’s reach, as are the homework files.

As for the boys’ shared bedroom, it’s a work in progress.

I need to determine some sort of toy storage. This Target cabinet is a faded prom queen. Once good, now good from afar.

Here’s part of the room as it stands now. Pretty plain, nothing much happening because I can’t figure out what I want that is practical and will make both boys happy. Picking out bedding sucks as much as I anticipated. I can’t find anything I like because everything is themed or stereotypical boy. Please, bedding people, boys are more than construction sites and sports and patchwork stripes.


This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.


Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Tell us about it with a link or comment. A few guidelines:

  • Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
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  • Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Your post way back when about this bookshelf project kick started my own. We now also have a wall of bookshelves in our living space – Billy’s, but in white. It looks even better than I thought. We have 9 of them (4 80cm and 5 40cm) and are still overflowing. Seriously need to cull some books. Because of the overflowing situation we will be buying height extenders, but they are ridiculously expensive in Australia – $50 for the 80cm and $40 for the 40cm. Take advantage of the great prices in the US & go for it. Buy them. They will look great. I looked at hundreds of Billy libraries online and the ones with height extenders always looked the best.

  2. says

    Oh, and I am also combining three boys in one bedroom & despairing over the quilt choices. The selection is no better in Australia. If I had a sewing machine I would be buying fabric & making my own.

  3. says

    I love good YA lit (and not just because I’m a high school literacy coach). It’s some of my favorite writing. I will admit, though, that I couldn’t get through Twilight–even though I wanted to just so I could better understand the phenomenon. Life is too short and there are too many good books to spend any time with those that are badly written!

    Love your wall of bookcases. As for boy’s rooms, well…My son’s room is sometimes clean. It’s not too pretty. Hard to invest much there because he really doesn’t care. And bedding: You might go with solid colors and use other elements in the room to make it more personal/interesting.

  4. says

    We have four Billy bookshelves in our office that hold too many books. (Thank you, grad school.) My only regret is that they’re not lighter, they make a nice little cave on that side of the room (that doesn’t get much natural light). BUT what I wanted to say is that these look great! I have no problem with perma-Billy. Sometimes custom gets chunkier, too, and it makes it hard to reimagine a room. We had custom shelves/cabinets in our living room at our old house and while it was great, it made for one seating arrangement, which got old.

  5. Susan G says

    Looks great! I LOVE organizing/playing with books. And I have to admit one thing I like about Rachel’s YA books is so many of them are in a series and they look so nice grouped together. :) Our bookcases don’t go all the way up (wish they did) but we have books piled on top of them anyway.

  6. Bethany says

    We have two walls of custom (handmade) compression shelving for our books. It’s a toss up between 70s modular/hippie living, which is where the plan is from (Thanks Dad!) and contemporary pretty cool. An easy way to dress up Billys or other shelves like that is to tack crown molding to the top. If you want to get really fancy, you could add 1×2 or 1×3 to overlap the sides of the bookcases as well. That really makes them look built in.

    Miniwax has this polystain that’s awesome to apply and comes in lots of shades. It’s covering both sets of our bookshelves. I absolutely adore the finish. Just make sure you steel wool well between coats that makes it feel like satin.

  7. Ari says

    Target had (I think they still do, but I’m not sure) plain reversible quilts. They had a dark blue/light blue and a red/gray.

  8. yasmara says

    Have you seen this?

    I love the idea of maps on the walls and fairly plain bedding with a colorful camp blanket for an accent. Land’s End is rocking the washable wool blankets (lots of stripes!) right now – here are some that caught my eye:

    Patchwork throw:

    Pendleton stripe blanket:

    Pendleton windowpane blanket:

    Stripe fleece throw:

    The blankets are expensive, but they last forever, and there are *always* discount coupons (look for 30% off today) & free shipping from Land’s End. You could layer with one of their solid down quilts for winter.

    Garnet Hill also has a ton of cute bedding – I’m partial to the stars:

    And also the stripes!

    And the rocketships:

    My 2 boys share a room as well. I got them matching quilts from Garnet Hill several years ago (unfortunately discontinued) – the quilts have multicolored squares all over them (about 8″x8″). Each boy also has a solid wool blanket to layer in the winter along with a Land’s End comforter (their room is the coldest in the house!). They also each have a cheap fleece blanket that I picked up at Target – I ask them to keep their beds mostly made (ha), but they can drag the fleece blanket around the house for various purposes (fort making, mostly). Of course, my youngest covers his bed with so many stuffed animals that you can hardly see his bedding!

    Good luck!

    • says

      This so funny. I hadn’t seen the AB Chao room, and it’s very similar to what I had in mind. If you follow me on Twitter, a while back I was asking if a white bedspread with an expensive Pendleton blanket was asking for trouble. I love it, thank you!

  9. Catalina says

    It looks great! And kind of built in because it fits so perfectly :)
    I would go for the extensions, especially because your book collection is permanently growing (practical!) but also because it’ll look nice.

    Can’t wait to see what you do in the boys’ room, I’ve no doubt you’ll find something.

  10. Rose says

    I ‘m sure you’ve probably already seen this, but just in case, Centsational Girl used the billy bookcases to make built ins. She had a gap between hers and the ceiling, like yours. I bet you could stain some moulding to match if you didn’t want to splurge on the extensions and were wanting the built in look.

    But they are already looking really good, and I wish I had a family room/ library like yours!

  11. says

    Love those shelves. All the books, sigh.
    Tommy Smythe has done some masculine rooms before, I like this look for boys (black and white large check), cohort Sarah Richardson did some nice ones too…
    I love a tartan look for boys (or girls, or grown-ups, or dogs…)

    The shared boy/girl room was hard for me. It is probably far too feminine for a lot of folks, but both my kids like it, and they are fine with the turquoise and whites/blacks.

  12. says

    Stop it, you’re making me want to switch out my own large Ikea shelving system in my living room for a whole wall of books. (Mine is more “modern” in style, and backless.) It looks great, & makes a warm room even cozier.

    Funny, I also immediately thought “AB Chao” when I read about the boy’s room. Great minds. (My own boy has a “space” theme. You forgot that one. I’m itching for him to move on & let me redo his room. Next year?)

  13. says

    hi Jules,
    I don’t know if it would be your/the boys’ style, or if Cath Kidston is even available in the US, but I love her children’s bedlinen. There’s one set with cowboys and one with dinosaurs, but in a cool retro way rather than a cartoon-y childish way. But I’m sure whatever you end with will be stylish and beautiful.

  14. Kory says

    I spy Diana Gabaldon books!! My fave!

    Have you read any of Sara Donati’s books? Some of the outlander characters cross over, it’s really fun :)

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