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Design Planning

Each new year, we all look for ways to restart, recharge, and refresh ourselves and our surroundings. Like many of you, several of our Harris County Public Library branches have recently embarked on a journey of transforming our spaces, to make them more functional, comfortable, and engaging. The La Porte Branch Library's need for new flooring and paint triggered a major redesign project that would require the staff to move, literally, everything in the building.

Anticipating this, we knew that it was the perfect time to design a new floorplan to maximize this amazing space. While we are waiting to share this space with you in person, we can share our redesign process, as well as free, helpful library resources. Whether you try your hand at DIY décor pieces, or tackle a full reno, we hope that it inspires you to recreate the space around you.

Our Redesign Journey (so far)

Getting Started on the Right Foot with Flooring

Swatches and Paint Chips

The branch's flooring was nearly 20 years old, and ready to be replaced. As a public facility, we needed new flooring that would be able to withstand high traffic and plenty of spills. Ideally, it would be able to be easily cleaned or replaced, and would not create any additional noise when walked on. Carpet squares met all of our needs, and as an added bonus, we would have replacement squares on hand, in case of the unfortunate event that a square was damaged beyond repair. Before making our selection, we looked at online photos and requested samples that we could view in the library, alongside our bookcases and our paint chips. In the end, we selected a modern print in a neutral color palette, that should look fresh and clean for years to come. For rooms where messy arts and crafts would be the norm, we selected a complementary luxury vinyl tile. Choosing the flooring was actually the easiest, and quickest part of our redesign.

Coloring Your World with New Paint

Accent Colors
New accent colors bring the children's and adult spaces to life.

The wall paint was just as old and in need of refreshing as the flooring. For the selection process, we used a fan deck to compare paint colors, preferring to see the colors in person since they can appear much differently on a computer screen. We then painted samples on poster boards, and used painter's tape to stick the boards to our walls. This method was very helpful, and we quickly learned that shadows created by the building's unique architectural features darkened the appearance of the paint in several areas of the library, up to two shades darker in some cases. Viewing the paint in different lighting helped us to select wall, trim, and accent colors that complemented our unique space and created the new feeling that we wanted.

The Best Laid Floorplans

New Floorplan
Take a look at the completed adult space and the new library courtyard.

From the beginning of the project, we already knew what we liked about the library's layout -- the children's area, with its bookcases perfectly angled so that you could see all of the big windows, and what we didn't like -- the overpowering bookcases in the adult area that were turned so that they blocked out all of the windows and natural light. We also knew that we wanted a more defined, dedicated space for teens, and a more welcoming, less academic, feel throughout the library. Redesigning the floorplan was the biggest challenge that we faced, and we knew that it would be all but impossible to fit our library collection into the new configuration that we wanted.

Scale Model
    This paper model came in very handy!

The only way to know for certain, would be to use a scale model to rearrange the bookcases, computers, and other furniture, to see if it would all fit. We knew that we would not need to keep all of the shelving, but we didn't know how much we actually needed to house our collection. So, how did we get around this obstacle? A tape measure. And a calculator. And, a lot of math. By calculating the measurement of books in our adult collection and the amount of shelf space that we wanted to fill, we could calculate the number of shelves that we would need to keep. If this all sounds confusing and time consuming, that's because it was. But, it was completely worth it. In the end, we were able to completely redesign our layout, creating a new area for adults to read and relax, study tables with window views, and a new central space that we now refer to as the library courtyard.

The Next Step

New Library Layout
The reconfigured adult shelving mirrors the much-loved original design of the children's area.

Our next step will be to create new signage and compile a wish list of new furnishings to replace those that have worn out. Currently, we are working on an amazing DIY décor piece, but more on that later. Check out the awesome, free resources below to get inspired and get started on your own redesign journey.

Digital Databases

Access Inspirational and Instructional Articles from Renowned Publications

Ebsco Reference Center

DIY Downloads

Read These Right on Your Digital Device


1-Day Projects


The Complete Book of Home Organization


Style Secrets


Down to Earth



Kitchen Ideas You Can Use


Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design


Rescue, Restore, Redecorate


Reno Ready Books

Print Books That You Can Request for Pickup
Homebody Colors for Your Home Affordable Interior Design Complete Do It Yourself Wood Floors Smart Approach to Home Decorating One-Day Room Makeovers

Looking for More?

For more books on interior design or home renovation, try browsing our catalog, or request your own custom Book Bundle by calling your branch or submitting the online form.

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