Is This the End of the Beginning? How I Accomplished My Office Renovation

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Winston Churchill

The words above are taken from a 1942 speech by Winston Churchill concerning the Second Battle of El Alamein, one of the Allies earliest victories during World War II.

The occasion of my use of the quote is not nearly so dramatic, yet it begins to sum up where my office renovation project stands today.

You see, it’s not finishedand probably never will be.

I’m drawing upon another historical figure to give that statement some context:

The park will never be finished. It’s something I can keep improving every year. I’ve always wanted to work on something that will keep on growing. I have that now. Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is imagination left in the world.

Walt Disney

As you will see in both images and quotes from several books that have been guiding my thought process in both planning and undertaking the office renovation, the two quotes above will make more sense.


Last week’s blank canvas, over a period of weeks, became this:

Now, it was time for the real work to begin.

Having removed dozens of crates containing thousands of books, my first and biggest decision was to NOT bring the vast majority of them back to the renovated office.

As referenced in an earlier post, one of the – if not THE – primary measure of this successful renovation project was a vast reduction in the number of books in my office.

Guided by the wisdom of several authors who are experts on the subject of organizing a home library, see for yourself if the following quotes and images made the project a success.


Surrounding yourself with books you love tells the story of your life, your interests, our passions, your values. Your past and your future. Books allow us to escape, and our personal libraries allow us to invent the story of ourselves – and the legacy we that we will leave behind.

Nina Freudenberger, Biblio-Style

When we add books – any printed books – to our homes and lives and make space for them, something almost alchemical happens. We combine the author and their story with who we are and our story. The combination of the author and their story plus us and our story is a new story, and it is completely original.

Thatcher Wine and Elizabeth Lane, For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library


Books are beautiful objects in their own right – their bindings and covers – and the space they fill on shelves or stacked on coffee tables in colorful piles add balance and texture to any room. And just like any other part of a home, books require maintenance: They need to be dusted, categorized, rearranged, and maintained. Our relationship with them is dynamic and ever changing.

Nina Freudenberger, Biblio-Style


In this fast-paced, digitally saturated, screen-overloaded era we live in, printed books are a refuge of space and time. It’s OK to slow down and read; it’s OK to fill your home and your shelves with printed books and to celebrate the comfort and meaning they provide in our lives. 

Thatcher Wine and Elizabeth Lane, For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library


When we decide to keep a book and make space for it on our shelves, it becomes more than just a book. It comes a placeholder, a breadcrumb, an invitation that we can return to at any time. Perhaps it is to re-read it; or just to think about it for a moment as we pass by; or to respond to a guest who notices it and says, “I didn’t know you were interested in philosophy.” Walk into a stranger’s home anywhere in the world – want to know something about them or what to talk about over dinner? Simply look at their bookshelves.

Thatcher Wine and Elizabeth Lane, For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library


The books we keep reveal a story that is never-ending. It can constantly be rewritten, edited, and have chapters added, simply by changing the books on the shelf. Whether the books are in our hand or on our shelves, their covers open or shut, they keep on telling stories. And so should we.

Thatcher Wine and Elizabeth Lane, For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library


We are readers. Books grace our shelves and fill our homes with beauty; they dwell in our minds and occupy our thoughts. Books prompt us to spend pleasant hours alone and connect us with fellow readers. They invite us to escape into their pages for an afternoon, and they inspire us to reimagine our lives. 

Anne Bogel, I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life


We are readers. Books are an essential part of our lives and of our life stories. For us, reading isn’t just a hobby or a pastime; it’s a lifestyle.

Anne Bogel, I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life


And so here it is: my office renovation project, finished – but only as of today.

It will surely change; if not by the time you read this, then shortly thereafter.

If you have been challenged, inspired, puzzled – you can insert the word of your choice here – take a look at the outline Thatcher Wine and Elizabeth Lane provide in For the Love of Books for styling a bookcase:

How to Style a Bookcase Step-by-Step

  • Step One: Before You Begin
  • Step Two: Remove books from shelves
  • Step Three: Place objects and test book’s positions
  • Step Four: Move books (even if you love them) if they don’t look right
  • Step Five: Test out vertical and horizontal placements
  • Step Six: Experiment with different types of objects and accessories
  • Step Seven: Experiment with placing pretty covers with front facing out
  • Step Eight: Find themes to repeat
  • Step Nine: Try more unusual objects
  • Step Ten: Fine tune
  • Step Eleven: Trust your gut
  • Step Twelve: Take a step back
  • Step Thirteen: Group books by color subject and size
  • Step Fourteen: Be patient with the process

Why don’t you think about organizing and styling your bookshelves?

You may be wondering what became of the books that didn’t come back to my office.

Welcome to my office annex, a project in the making: About 2,000 books, cataloged and sorted for somewhat ease of access.

To be continued…