When we were visiting the Bowers this weekend, we shared some fleeting photos of a super adorable kids bookstore on Instagram stories. Then we got a barrage of messages and comments to the tune of: PLEASE DO A POST ABOUT THIS STORE SO IT WON’T BE GONE IN 24 HOURS! So here we are, with those photos (and some more we didn’t share on IG) for anyone who’s looking for some fun kids room ideas. Or adult room ideas. We all LOVED this place so much. It’s in Monroe, Georgia and it’s called The Story Shop – and it’s the cutest bookstore we’ve ever seen. You think I’m exaggerating with that description but in the words of Hamilton: just you wait.
See that grand bookcase, library ladder, and globe collection? It’s like all of the elements of a cool old library executed in a fresh and playful way. And we loved that happy aqua accent wall (try Benjamin Moore’s Misty Teal for a similar look – just on one wall, a door, or a piece of furniture to avoid overwhelming a room). But my favorite part of this store’s entry was that little old TV under the pink side table. Written on it in white were the words “read instead.”
The other thing that caught my eye right away was this wallpaper which is Wild by Chasing Paper (yes, I asked a million questions while walking around with my mouth open). It’s peel & stick, so it’s removable and they said it was really easy to hang. It’d be so cute in a kids room on the wall behind the bed. I also loved those colorful animal heads (this one and this one) that they painted in bright colors and then added funny things (glasses! a crown! a mustache!). And of course the handmade sign with literary locales was just one of many clever book references throughout the store.
Speaking of magical book references, look at this armoire, er, wardrobe that LEADS TO A HIDDEN ROOM! Kids could climb right through it and it was SUCH A HIT. Let the record state that grown ups were doing it too. Fun for the whole family. Also – we’ve actually seen an armoire like this in a grown up bedroom space that led to a secret closet and it was equally mesmerizing. Just a really fun and unexpected idea for a home or a shop.
I realize this begs the question: what’s behind the wardrobe? It wasn’t lions or witches, but there was a whale involved. It led to their storytelling room, which was ridiculously fun. And it was really smart of them to fill the big space with two identical rugs (I tracked down the exact rugs they used) rather than to have to splurge on (or maneuver) one giant rug for the room.
Speaking of secret spaces, there was also a little round Hobbit hole door that led to a tiny play space for kids to hang out in. I remember a children’s clothing store growing up that had a little hole for kids to enter through instead of the main door and I LOVED GOING (and I hated every other clothing store by comparison). We actually featured a home in our second book with a secret “mousehole” passageway between two kids’ rooms that I’m still thinking about three years after we shot it (it’s on page 302, btw).
Here’s another shot of that hobbit hole in use, and you can also see some other fun touches, like that awesome brick wall they swarmed with butterflies (something we did in our playroom!) and the felt garland they strung from a piece of driftwood (I think this is the garland they used, but Etsy has tons of other options). Oh and see Peter Pan’s shadow? They didn’t miss a single opportunity to add in little storybook nods wherever they could.
Our kids (there were 6 of ’em between us and the Bowers!) immediately found their way to the swing that the store (bravely) hung in one corner. Everyone managed to take turns, mostly peacefully, and no one knocked over the incredible peaked bookcase village that displayed stories from all over the world – so I’d call that a win. You could easily DIY a little “cityscape” of bookcases like this, or purchase pre-made ones like this and this to recreate it on a smaller scale.
Also… hanging books. Do you see them suspended from the ceiling by strings? They had bent their pages like origami so they stayed fanned open, kind of like these. They were so much fun to look at from below (and they gave me flashbacks to the most recent season of Orange Is The New Black, which was so good you guys). Also those books in the foreground stole my heart. Especially this one about Frida Kahlo and this one about Maya Angelou.
They sold a few little toys, costumes, and t-shirts, so you’d figure they’d have hanging racks or rods or something for the clothing. NOPE. Colorful chairs hung from the wall. With Humpty Dumpty balancing on one of them. Because that’s how they roll.
Also, back to the big bookcase from the first picture. All of the art in the store had some sort of literary reference in it (including these Baby Lit prints they sold) which added to the whole “reading is fun” vibe of the place. And who noticed the rose in the cloche on the bookcase with the ladder? BELLE, right?! I’m telling you, there were so many cute hidden gems like that in here. Also, see the Cheshire Cat disappearing into that chair in the corner? They just ironed a mouth right onto the chair. These people could not have put more thought into this space. I know I’m gushing, but they deserve every last gush.
Here’s a close up of the rainbow books on the shelf. This little lineup of hardcover classic books by Puffin made my heart ache for a collection of my very own. Also, the Penguin ones below them. I might even let the kids read them too 😉
THEY EVEN FRIGGIN’ MADE GIANT PAPER FLOWERS like the queen’s roses that were painted in Alice In Wonderland. I mean. At this point I might have been hyperventilating.
Oh and see that room off to the right in the photo above? That’s the party room. Kids (and grown ups!) can have parties here and let me tell you, THEY DO NOT PHONE IT IN. The one they were prepping for was Peter Pan themed, and the table was full of sweet references, like thimbles in a bowl labeled “Kisses From Wendy” and a ticking clock like the one a certain crocodile swallowed. They also do Alice In Wonderland and other themes. I’m a 35-year-old woman and I want a party there now. “I want a feast! I want a bean feast!” (name that movie… based on a book, of course).
I also loved all of the twinkle lights they hung overhead (who says you can’t do that in a kids room – or your own room?!) to distract from all of the functional/industrial stuff in the ceiling. Those plus the “grass” on the wall and the string lights made this whole room feel like an outdoor courtyard. Or perhaps a tea party with a certain mad host…
Also, THIS CHAIR. I can’t. I just can’t.
No wait, THIS CHAIR. Nothing makes my heart go pitter patter like a hand-carved bunny (let the record state that ten minutes before seeing this chair I never knew that was my thing).
Even the back of the store was witty and charming. Have you ever seen a more clever way to keep customers out of the employees-only area?
Bonus footage: I did my best Belle impression while Katie stole a chance to rest her feet. I know how to act in public, I swear. “No denying she’s a funny girl that Bellllllle.”
So if you’re ever passing through Monroe, Georgia or if you live nearby I hope you have a chance to see The Story Shop for yourself. Even if you don’t live very close, this place is totally road-trip worthy! And when we shared some pics on Instagram we actually heard from the designer, whose name is Stephanie Cannon, and get this – she reads our blog and listens to our podcast (!!!!!). She was so sweet and actually saw us when we were in Monroe, so it was really funny because she thought she was fangirling us, but you guys, I AM TOTALLY FANGIRLING HER.
PS: John here, and now for a minor public service announcement to end this bookish post – please support your local independent bookstores. They may not be as cheap or easy to shop at as Amazon or B&N, but we’ve all seen a certain documentary called You’ve Got Mail, right? All kidding aside, we try to make it a habit of purchasing from great stores like these so that there can continue to be great stores like these. Okay, off my soapbox!
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