How to Live in a Book: Part Two | Creating a Jane Austen Regency Salon

Have you ever wished you could live inside your favorite books? All it takes to transform a basic room into a literary-themed oasis is a few key pieces, and I'm here to show you how! This is part two of my How to Live in a Book series, and today I’ll illustrate the theory behind immersive decorating by showing you exactly how I transformed a very plain room into an elegant, Jane Austen inspired, Regency salon!

If you'd prefer to watch this discussion on YouTube (with lots more photos!) instead of reading through this whole, long post, please click here!

I launched the Storyteller’s Cottage to create immersive events based on my favorite books, and if you’ve watched any of my videos where I explain how to host a literary-themed event, you’ll know that I always start with evocative decor!

Just a quick review if you missed Part One … The commercial property I bought to house The Storyteller's Cottage was built in 1891, and I redecorated it so each room had its own distinct theme that could serve as a backdrop for a variety of bookish activities.

The living room became the Victorian-themed Jules Verne Steampunk Library.

The dining room was transformed into the Regency-era Jane Austen Salon.

The sun room became the whimsical Alice in Wonderland Tea Room.

An upstairs office became the Magical Common Room, and we even built a bookcase wall with a secret door into a Medieval Castle Keep.

Two bedrooms were transformed into escape rooms that were themed to time travel and Agatha Christie.

And within months, the whole house was filled with delighted book nerds enjoying enchanted activities like Harry Potter parties, Great Gatsby jazz supper clubs, masquerade balls, Jane Austen tea parties and even live murder mysteries!

Today I’m going to explain how I used the same strategies that I used to create literary-themed spaces for parties … to transform an entire house. I’ll share all of my secrets so YOU can also create magical, otherworldly spaces, inspired by your favorite books, on a very tiny budget.

Now let’s see how I transformed this empty green room into a cool and elegant vintage dining room, inspired by Jane Austen and Regency style.

This room became the backdrop for all sorts of literary-themed events, from midnight dinners, to themed tea parties, and even writing & art classes led by local authors and artists. Be sure to check the links at the end of this post to watch the rest of the series to see how I transformed each of the other rooms at The Storyteller’s Cottage.

This room is located directly off the front hall of the house, just to the right of the staircase. It had fantastic bones, with a glass French door, gothic window arches, and a beautiful original fireplace surrounded by this vibrant green tile, but you can see that when I arrived, it wasn’t being used to its full potential.

You can tell why the previous owners chose this green paint for the walls, thinking it would match the fireplace surround, but their choice of decor was a little chaotic, and too busy for my taste.

For my purposes, I needed the space to be more neutral and flexible, so we could temporarily decorate over and over for our events in any theme or color, and not feel like we were fighting against the wall color.

As I’ve mentioned previously, decorating a “blank canvas” of a room happens in five layers:

  • Your background

  • Large furniture

  • Accent furniture

  • Lighting

  • Accessories

1. The Background

So the first thing I did to begin the transformation of this room was to paint it a cool blue with grey tones in it. Blue and green complement each other really nicely, so the fireplace blended right in, and the light blue shade contrasted well against the dark brown woodwork and helped to highlight the windows.

I knew I wanted to build this room around blues, specifically because I was inspired by Regency era artwork like this. I love how delicate the light colors are, and I wanted to make good use of silver and white lace to create the kind of gentle, graceful space that Jane Austen would recognize.

This very light and feminine room is a direct and purposeful contrast to the very dark red, more masculine Library across the hall. These two spaces on opposite ends of the spectrum gave me the variety of backgrounds that I needed as foils for the range of different types of events I wanted to host.

So with the walls settled, I moved on to rugs, and added this very large vintage oriental rug with blue and green tones in it. As I mentioned in my last post, I know a guy, so I was able to get a hold of this massive rug very affordably, and I understand that I’m very lucky to be able to do that. Rugs make a huge difference in a room, softening it up and making it so much more welcoming, and a vintage room like this really needed an actual vintage rug to anchor it.