When is a bookshelf not just a bookshelf? {Life in a London Flat}

{So tall it doesn't fit in the picture}

When is a bookshelf not just a bookshelf?

When it is a rainbow. 

When it is a home for all the books previously stores in dusty boxes in the attic. 

When it is an invocation. 

I have been dreaming about this bookshelf for several months now. I visualized it in all it's rainbow glory. I knew exactly how I was going to arrange the books. I knew how it would look when I was lying on the couch, admiring it. 

With all things, though, the actual reality of getting it was more complicated and more hilarious than I could have ever imagined.  

Our good friend

Anne van Mansvelt,

a master woodworker, designed and installed the shelves.  To make sure they were perfect, he built the whole unit in his workshop beforehand. When he arrived and placed it on our front step I was blown away. 

It was beautiful.  

It was so beautiful and sooooo tall. 

There was no way it was going to fit up the steep, narrow, Victorian staircase leading to our flat door. We tried and got catastrophically stuck trying to manoeuvre around the first landing. 

Being Dutch, Anne's first thought was to haul it up through the windows. In Amsterdam all the tall narrow houses have winches hanging in the eaves, perfect for moving heavy furniture in and out of the windows. 

Our flat is very high up on the third floor (second floor to Brits), and we don't have any winches.  There was no way the bookshelf could come up via the front. However, after a complete inspection, we realized that our bedroom window in the back overlooks the flat roof of our ground floor neighbour's bedroom. 

That was the solution! 

It's not every day you find yourself pulling a bookshelf through your downstairs neighbour's flat, into their garden, up onto their roof, and then through your own bedroom window. After that the installation went as planned. But what an adventure! 


Now that the bookshelf is there it feels like an invocation. An act of calling upon the creative spirit for strength and inspiration. 

We have brought all the books down from the attic and organized them beautifully on the shelves. We are finally treating all of our books with the respect they deserve. They have an honoured place in our home. 

This, then, is a turning point. I am ready to continue this journey in writing and illustrating. 

There are some objects that acquire layers of meaning beyond their basic function. This bookshelf is one of them. 

{copies of Magic at the Museum, signed, and ready to be delivered to Somerset House}