Cozying Up The Office with Dept. 56 Lit Houses and a Few New Bookcase Additions

Welcome to the 503rd Metamorphosis Monday!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! For this week’s Met Monday, I thought I’d give you a quick update on what I’ve been up to with the bookcases here in the office. There have been a couple of additions but also quite a few subtractions.

Small Lamp for Office

 

Can you tell I’ve reduced my collection a bit? I took a huge stack (probably a shelf’s worth) to Goodwill this weekend. Since then I’ve culled out a few more books. These were books I had purchased long ago and just never read anymore. Don’t worry, I haven’t parted with any of my favorites found,  HERE.

The three Dept. 56 lit houses I mentioned ordering in THIS post all arrived last week. Unfortunately, one arrived with a broken part and had to be returned. I re-purchased that house again and it should arrive sometime this week.

After the houses arrived, I started thinking more about how I would connect them all together on the shelves. I had already worked out where I wanted them to go, now I just had to figure out the logistics for the wiring.

Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses on Bookcase

 

Things always have to get worse before they get better. This was the state of my office on Saturday evening. Arggg! It was a good workout, pulling all the books off the first bookcase (and later, the second one) to get started on this little project.

Dept. 56 Lit Houses on Bookcase

 

After removing all the books on the first bookcase on the far left…

Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses on Bookcase

 

…using an Exacto knife, I cut a tiny hole into the cardboard back of the shelf. I cut it down in the corner so it would be as close as possible to the middle bookcase and hopefully not noticeable once the books were back in place. The cord you see below is the lighting cord that came with one of the Dept. 56 lit houses I had ordered.

Cutting Holes for Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses on Bookcase

 

Here’s how it looked from the back. Initially I thought I would be able to just push out the cardboard backing on that side to squeeze the cord/plug through the side, but once I pulled all the books off and looked at the back of the bookcase unit, I remembered (from when I put them together) the backing actually fits into slots on either side of the bookcase. These Ikea bookcases were not expensive, so I didn’t mind cutting the hole to complete this project. I don’t think I would want to do this to really nice wood bookcases, especially if they were antique!

Wiring Ikea Bookcases for Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses

 

Next, I cut a tiny hole in the far left corner of the next bookshelf. I probably could have cut one in the center of the bookshelf to run both cords from the bookshelves on either side, but I was concerned the cords of the lit houses would not be long enough to reach from the bookshelves on either side if I did it that way.

See that outlet that’s cut out at the bottom? An electrician cut that section of the cardboard backing out a couple of years ago when he needed to access that outlet after another outlet stopped working here in the office. So glad he did that since I needed access to it for this project. I widened the hole he created, more on that in a second.

Wiring Ikea bookcase for Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses

 

So here’s what I’ve wired so far: There’s a tiny hole down in the far right corner of the left bookcase and there are two tiny holes in either corner of the middle bookshelf. One of those little holes isn’t visible in the photo below, but it looks just like the other two that are visible. I had to pull both of those bookcases out in order to cut the holes and run the wiring.

You’ll notice I’ve widened the hole that my electrician made over the outlet a few years back. That was so I could plug in a timer so the lit houses will automatically come on each evening around 5:30 pm as it begins to get dark this fall/winter. I’ve also connected an extension cord that all three houses will ultimately plug into on that center shelf.

Wiring for Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses on Bookcase

 

After getting the wiring done on the left and center bookcases, I replaced the books and added the two houses that arrived (not broken) last week. When the third (replacement) house arrives this week, I’ll remove all the books from the bookcase on the far right, and again from the center bookcase, to connect that house to the extension cord running down the center bookcase to the outlet.

One nice thing is that once the wiring is in place, I can easily switch out the houses anytime I like since all the Dept. 56 lit houses use the same type of cord/lighting. It would be fun to change out the Literary Classic houses for some of my Dept. 56 Christmas houses at Christmastime, but knowing me, I’ll probably just leave these in place.

Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses on Decor Library Bookcase

 

See the white pumpkin on the bookcase on the far right? That’s where I’ll be placing the third lit house once it arrives this week. If I decide one day to add the only other house available in the Dept. 56 “Literary Houses” collection, the mansion from the book, The Great Gatsby, it could go where you see the family photos on the center bookcase. That would be an easy addition later since the cord from that house could easily run behind that shelf since it’s a movable/non-fixed shelf.

I kept the lights off for this photo, trying to show the houses in their “lit” condition. It’s so much prettier in the evening than photos can convey. I love the “cozy” factor the lit houses have added to this side of the room.

Adding Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses to Bookcase

 

The is Satis Manor from the literary classic, Great Expectations. The houses came with little characters/figurines, but I don’t think I’ll display those on the shelf with the house. I really just wanted the lit houses on each shelf. The little figures could easily be knocked off or broken when pulling a book off the shelf, plus they would create a lot of work when dusting this area. So for now, I think I’ll leave those off. I should take a photo with the figurines and add it to this post so you can see those. They are cute!

Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses on Bookcase Shelf

 

Here’s a close up of Satis Manor from the book, Great Expectations.

Dept. 56 Literary Classics, Great Expectations

 

I’m not sure if this little house from the book, Little Women, will stay in the center bookcase once the third house arrives. I may move it to where the white pumpkin is now. This house is a good bit smaller, so I think it would look better placed higher up on the shelves.

Add Dept. 56 Literary Classics Houses to Bookcase

 

Here’s a close up of the March residence from the book, Little Women. Dept. 56 calls it the March Residence, not Orchard House where Louisa May Alcott grew up. This house looks very different from her home. I guess Dept. 56 designed it based on the descriptions in the book. I haven’t read it in ages, so don’t remember all the details now.

Psst: I know Little Women was set in America, I just grabbed the first cottage book I saw that had the colors I liked to put under this little house to give it a bit more height on the shelf. I need to look through my book collection and find one about American cottages, preferably cottages in the northeast since it’s believed the March residence was in Massachusettes.

March Residence, Little Women, Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit House on Bookcase

 

So, just waiting now for Aunt Polly’s house from the book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, to arrive to complete this little project. It was the first house I ordered but sadly arrived with a broken fence on the side of the house.

Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses on Bookcase

 

It will go here (unless I move the Little Women house here) taking the place of this adorable pumpkin I found recently in Marshall’s. This little pumpkin really spoke to me because sweaters, boots and cozy winter clothes are pretty much the only thing I like about cold weather. I love the clothes that go with cold temps, just not the temps! 🙂

Sweater Weather Pumpkin

 

I looked to see if this pumpkin was available online and the only place I could find it was here: Pumpkin.

Sweater Weather Pumpkin for Fall

 

Will share an update once the third house arrives!

Dept. 56 Literary Classics Lit Houses on Bookcase

 

Looking forward to all the fabulous Before and Afters linked for this week’s Metamorphosis Monday!

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Comments

  1. What a job, Susan! I saw all those books on the floor and thought your legs and back would surely still be feeling that today! Great job, though. It looks nice and tidy and the houses & pumpkin are so cute! Having those holes will give plenty of seasonal decorating options! Thanks for inviting us in. Have a good week. Prayers for NC.

  2. Lovely job, Susan. I particularly like Orchard House, from Little Women. Did you know that it’s the 150th Anniversary of the publication of Little Women this year? Lots of celebrations going on to mark the occasion, I understand. Little Women is one of very few historical novels (particularly books about women) that was an immediate success.

    • Really? I did not know that! Helen, have you read the book recently? It’s been ages since I read it. Does the “March House,” which I think is what Dept. 56 is calling it, look anything like the cottage in the book? I noticed it doesn’t look anything like Orchard House in MA where Alcott grew up. I need to read the book again or listen to it on Audible…been so many years.

  3. Lori MacKenzie says:

    Susan,

    I love what you did with the houses! Wonderful to enjoy all year, and next to the appropriate book. My choice would be (if there was such a decorative house) would be Orchard House, in Concord, Ma., next to my beautiful copy of Little Woman. My all time favorite story.

    • I know, sadly I don’t think Dept. 56 made an Orchard House. Orchard looks very different from the one Dept. 56 made. I guess the “March Residence” is based off the cottage in the book. I need to read the book again to see how closely the design matches the description in the book.

  4. Lori MacKenzie says:

    PS:

    I have the same bird clock that I spot on your wall. I painted over the wood tone too! It appears you also did.

    • I love that clock! My sister, who has since passed away, gave it to me many years ago. I need to replace the battery, just noticed it has stopped. I haven’t painted the wood framing around it, but it doesn’t match anything in my office. It’s kind of a golden honey color right now. What color did you paint yours, Lori?
      It’s hilarious when I’m on the phone talking with someone and suddenly the owl starts hooting at the top of his lungs. 🙂

      • Lori Hojnicki MacKenzie says:

        Mine was a gift from a dear old friend – I learned so much interesting things from her. Actually I said it all wrong!! It was a plain color & I painted it brown (!!) which gave it a wood tone. Also, when I saw yours it dawned on me that I haven’t heard the birds either so I changed the battery!!

  5. The houses look great! What a fun idea, and of course, I love all of your books. You have a wonderful library.

  6. Oh No – where is the teapot?

    • He’s downstairs in the kitchen cabinet, still visible through the glass doors down there. 🙂 I’ll take a photo of him and add it to a future post. I promise he is doing very well! 🙂

  7. Susan, I absolutely love this idea! To use little ‘literary houses’ on your book-shelves is inspired and so, so, cozy! So cute. Thanks for sharing this. I’m sorry your other house arrived broken, AND that it was such a big project to install these, but it will be so worth it once it’s finished.

    I was just thinking this morning that Met Monday is quite a demanding project to feature every week, yet you always manage! (That famous Susan energy!) I suppose the one good thing is that you get a lot of things done, lol. This was a great one. One of my favorites. 🙂 Have a lovely week.

    • Thanks, Pam! Hoping the next one that arrives won’t have any broken parts.
      lol That’s true! Met Monday keeps me always thinking about the next project.

  8. The houses look so right at home on your bookshelves. But I would find it difficult to not put a Christmas house somewhere there, or at least a tiny wreath on each one.

  9. Anita Garner says:

    You did a great job. It all looks quite magical now with the new lights.

  10. Wow, that was a lot of work! Your new houses look so cute mingling with your book collection! Thanks for sharing and hosting~

  11. Jane Franks says:

    What a fun project, Susan! I LOVE those houses. I’m such a literature buff and have read all of those, of course! Such a great idea! I have one “unsolicited” idea (if you don’t like it, just ignore me!! Ha!) — I’d love to see Orchard House (Little Women) sitting on an American literature/history or something book!! Satis House is just outstanding, too!! Great find!! And I love the pumpkin, just adorable!! Jane xo

    • I know, I was thinking about that when I was taking photos. Orchard House is supposed to be in the new England area…possibly Massachusetts, I think. I just grabbed a cottage book since I didn’t have time to look through my collection for an “American” cottage house book. I hope I have one that’s appropriate, I probably do.

      • Jane Franks says:

        Yes, Orchard House is about 15 miles from where I grew up (Reading, MA), and we visited it several times — once on an elementary school trip. It’s a lovely area of New England, on the “Concord Road” they used to call it, made famous by Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride”! Very historic area — Concord, and Lexington, of course. Well off to do some food planning. I’m having minor foot surgery on Friday, and have to keep my foot elevated for 3 days (most of the time), and fixing some things ahead my hub can pop into oven!

    • I just Googled and found a photo of Orchard House, the house where Louisa May Alcott grew up, and it looks very different from the March’s residence that Dept. 56 created. I guess they based their house off the descriptions in the book. They call it the March Residence, not Orchard House, I guess to show that they aren’t the same.

  12. Linda I Palmer says:

    I love a display of lighted houses anytime of the year. My friend keeps her Christmas ones out all year and it makes the room seem so cozy. She has 5-6 behind her sofa next to the wall at all times. It’s easy to find lighted houses at thrift stores for very reasonable prices. I love the ones you’ve chosen, ideal for a bookshelf. I’ve never seen this line before. Thanks for the tips on wiring for the houses.

    • They do cozy up a room! This collection was a surprise to me, just found it a few nights ago when I googled for lit houses that were not decorated for Christmas.

  13. You have the best ideas! I’m loving the lighted “lit” houses on your bookshelves. By the way, I didn’t see that adorable face teapot on any of the shelves. You know I told you to let me know if you decided to ever get rid of it. Oh, I just saw that someone else asked about the teapot and it is now in your kitchen. LOL I didn’t think you would give that to Goodwill.

    • Yeah, it looks very different from the “March Residence” that Dept. 56 created. I guess they based their house on the description in the book. I need to read it again to see.

  14. You really do get the best ideas! I love little houses so your houses that light up really are appealing to me. I have collected little replica houses from places I have travelled to around the world (along with 5 x 7 watercolour paintings to sit next to them) and have them displayed on a book case unit, but had never considered light up ones. Now you have me thinking in a whole new direction! So enjoy your posts, thank you.

  15. Utterly, utterly just utterly charming. Worth the work.

  16. Love your lighted houses Susan. They are perfect scattered thru out your bookcases.

  17. I adore and admire all your hard work on all your displays. THANK YOU for keeping my book Sentimental Living From the Porch on your bookshelf. Honored to be in such great company. Your blog is so inspiring!…hugs!

  18. Good idea to add the power for lighting where it is easier to access. I have definitely cut down on book collections and now am at the most minimal ever! The ones I plan to keep forever and leave for those after I am gone are ones written by my friends who are authors. Many crafting and reading books were given to others or donated so that others would get enjoyment from them. Pass it on, I always say! It ain’t good just sitting on a shelf!

  19. The houses look great, Susan! That was a big job, but I know you’ll enjoy having the warm glow in your bookshelves. Love the pumpkin, too.

  20. Great job! I always love seeing anything having to do with lighted houses!! thanks so much for hosting each week!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

  21. Gloria Brady says:

    Your book case looks VERY nice, Great job.
    Thank you for posting with all your lit up houses etc. Beautiful!

  22. It’s going to be so cozy when the lights come on automatically and you walk into the room to enjoy the houses. Moving all those books…what an enormous job! I have so many books stored in bins..never going to read them again. I guess at some point I thought I would. I also cut holes in my Yield House bookcases to feed wires for the TV-DVD, etc. No regrets. Whatever is on the shelf covers the holes.

    • I love that about timers, it’s like a big hug when you walk into your home or into a room and the lights are on to welcome you home. 🙂
      I so agree, you have to make shelves function for your needs and sometimes that involves cutting a few holes in select spots. No regrets! Life’s too short for regrets anyway! 😉

  23. A perfect addition to your office, Susan! I love the idea of having your lit houses on timers: what a warm and inviting glow they will give, especially as the early winter evenings will be upon us soon. I had to giggle when I saw how precisely you “carved out” your squares for your plugs and how differently the electrician had cut out the piece during HIS initial repair: there honestly isn’t anything you can’t do when you set your mind to it! You are a marvel!!

    • Awww, thanks Rosie! ♥ I was a little miffed with myself that I couldn’t get the holes a bit neater and more square. Cutting with an exactor knife is tricky! lol

  24. Bobbi Duncan says:

    I am crazy about any lit up holiday or seasonal decor (explains why our basement has so many Dept. 56 houses) Ha! Ha! The literary houses are such a “novel” idea, and it will be so cozy when you’re working in your office in the evenings. I didn’t even know Dept. 56 had the literary series, which is sooo perfect for any place one shelves their books. My friend had a shelf installed around the perimeter of her library, above her books, so that she could leave out her Dickens Village all year . I am in love with that room!!!!!! I’ve thought of doing that in a room at our house but, oh, the constant upkeep! Louisa May Alcott’s home is on Lexington Rd. in Concord, MA. I’ve toured it several times as Little Women is my all-time favorite movie, especially around Christmas time. Hugs!

    • Thanks, Bobbi! I know, I had never heard of that collection before. I just tripped over it when I started Googling for “lit houses not decorated for Christmas” or some such phrase. I totally missed that collection when it was out. It may not have taken off like some of their other collections because I think they only made 4 houses.
      Love that idea…of adding the shelf up high around the perimeter! I guess you would need to get on a ladder periodically to dust it, but the good thing is, being up so high, no one would notice the dust for a very long time. 🙂

  25. Oh Susan,
    this is such a wonderful idea! I love those lighted houses and I know the difference they can make! A few years ago I added four flameless lanterns to my bookcases and I love, love, love them! Of course, they can’t brighten all the shelves but they make the bookcases “homier” and that’s all I wanted. Sometimes, when it rains, I love to sit in my wing chair listening to the rain with just those lanterns lit; it’s the place where I feel more comfortable in my house during fall and winter. Nevertheless, I love your idea, too, and if available I’d choose the “Green Gables farmhouse” because I love Anne very very much! 🙂 PS: Susan, whenever I remove all my books from the shelves to dust and clean them, that usually takes a few hours because I love to turn the pages of each book trying to find my favorite passages, does this happen to you, too? If so, how long do you need until you are done? I think I’d need one week (or two) considering how many books you own! 😉
    PPS: I ♥ your new wreath! It’s soo beautiful! I also love the golden one and that “foxy” one! The latter is too cute!

    • Cecilia, the same thing happened to me, I got so distracted wanting to stop and read so many of the books! This winter I’m going to do that for sure, revisit many of the books I have on my shelves. You sometimes forget what’s there!
      Oh, that would be perfect if they had made a Green Gables farm house…love that idea!

  26. Cyndi Raines says:

    Great minds think alike! Just a few weeks ago my husband and I started sorting through his collection of WWII books, keeping his very favorite and reselling and or donating the others. I have to tackle my stack of books yet, lol. The lighted houses are just too cute and will make your office even more cozy! Love the automatic timer idea!

    • Thanks, Cyndi! It felt good to go through so many of them and to open up a bit of space on the shelves. I’m trying to limit myself to these shelves…hard to do when you love books! 🙂

  27. Oh my you have been busy!!!…I am an admirer of the Dept 56 houses. I started collecting the Dickens Villages back in the 80’s…I have 5 out of the 7 original houses…I have collected over 100 houses!…ask me where they are?! In their boxes that have been stored away for 14 years!…I used to bring them out an set them up during Christmas…but by the time I finish decorating, there is no time to set them up, which takes a long time. I usually just set up the Santa’s Village collection…..the bookcases look great and I spy a great collection of travel books! Thanks for hosting Susan and have a great week!

    • Wow, that is awesome Shirley! I remember when I first started collecting houses from the Snow Village, I would periodically come across some of the original houses on eBay and they were always very expensive. I love Dickens Village, it is one of my favorites! I think I have just a few houses from that collection. Love them all! It addictive isn’t it…collecting these adorable houses?! lol

  28. The houses look great on your bookcases. Great idea. I look forward to your blog. You are so talented.

  29. Hi Susan,
    I’ve been collecting Dept. 56 Houses for years and have quite the collection. I’d display them all at Christmas with a special stand my husband built for me. Then, sadly, I noticed that the new pieces being introduced were gearing more towards commercial brands (McDonald’s, Harley, etc) so I stopped collecting them. The past few years (since becoming empty nester’s) I will display a few of my favorite pieces in different areas of the house instead of all together in “village” form. I didn’t realize Dept. 56 added Literary pieces. I may have to revisit them to see what is available. Once again, you bring the newest and best to your readers. Thank you!

    • I love that idea, displaying them throughout the house! They may have only made 4 houses in the Literary Classics collection…that’s all I’ve been able to find on eBay. I guess that collection didn’t do as well as some of the others. I love it, though!

  30. Thank you so much for hosting the party. Happy Fall, Kippi

  31. Girl, I JUST LOVE THIS!!! Enlightening and perfection!! franki

  32. Quite a bit of work but the results are worth it! When I moved South, I gave my Dept 56 houses to people I knew would care about them, and if they had some relevance to that friend….they all seemed happy.

  33. Jean from Georgia says:

    Last week I saw something that would be of interest to those of us who have heavy items on our sagging bookshelves. Take a thin piece of plywood and cut it to fit the width of a book but the height of the proper distance between two shelves. Then cut out a notch for the plywood to fit into the book. Place the plywood upright in the cut out notch from the pages. Then place on the shelf. No one will ever notice the plywood piece inside the book as a support for the sagging shelf. Hope this is understandable to you.

    • That’s an awesome idea! I don’t why Ikea doesn’t make their shelves thicker/sturdier. Unless you putting very small/light books on the shelves, they sag terribly. I was hoping I could flip some of the shelves over to straighten them out again, but they are designed with notches on the underside that fit over the shelf supports, so they can’t be flipped. That’s a cool idea using the plywood and camouflaging it with a book! Thanks for sharing that, Jean!

  34. Susan, you are such a ‘work horse’ ! I mean that in a lovingly way of course … . Thanks for sharing. -Brenda-

    • lol I know…once I get an idea in my mind, I can’t shake it. Unfortunately, that first little house I ordered that arrived broken..the second one just arrived broken in the same spot. Argggg. I’m beginning to think I’ll never get this little project finished.

  35. Hi Susan. I wanted to let you know there is also a fifth house in the Literary Classics Collection. It is Sherlock Holmes-221B. You can see the picture of the house on retiredproducts.department56.com. I hope this helps. I always love searching for thing. Love your wonderful blog.

    • Really? Oh, I definitely would love to see it. I will check out their retired products to see it. Thanks for letting me know, Kay–and thanks so much for those kind words! ♥

  36. James Whales says:

    This is really awesome idea for home office! At this time I’m working at home, and I really feel uncomfortable because of a lack of something new in my room(home-office) :))
    You share really great idea, I will ask my friends about their old books, and I think some of them will give it to me, and I will do something similar like you.
    Thank you a lot for sharing this amazing content!

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