Building a hidden library for my kids was a dream project And one of my favorite renovations of all time.
We have worked with professional contractors (this is not DIY). However, I thought it would be helpful to explain in detail the process of designing and building this room.
As with any uncommon project, there was a fair amount of planning and problem-solving that went into creating this magical space.
Relatedkisa: You can find all I have Room tours here.
When we bought our house, it had a two-story entrance that is sometimes referred to as a “lawyer’s lobby.” It’s a hallmark of ’90s McMansion.
You can see in one photo above what the entrance looked like as you stand in the front door. In the second photo you can see how it looked facing the front door (looking up).
The entryway was the only part of our house with a two story roof (except for the stairs, I think) and in the third photo you can see what it looked like from the second floor.
If you’re looking at these photos and you’re thinking, “Why would you change this one day,” I totally understand. The first time we saw the house, I remember being impressed by those details—it wasn’t something I initially expected to change.
After living in the house for six months and planning renovations of the living spaces, I started thinking about sealing off the two-story entryway. The main reason was that the entrance had a weird vibe to it which I didn’t like and it was hard to decorate.
The ceilings downstairs are really high, so I wasn’t worried about the low entry feel (it still feels great). Also, our home gets a lot of natural light from our many sliding doors into the living spaces, so I was willing to give up some natural light.
Here’s what it looked like on Build Day. I remember being so nervous and having a “no going back” feeling. Walking into the new floor for the first time was surreal.
After adding the floor, we installed the drywall and added the electrics. Subsequently, wood floors were added in the new room upstairs. The new room upstairs didn’t connect to any other rooms – it connected to a hallway up the stairs.
I had a lot of fun planning what we could use the hidden room for. It’s the size of a large wardrobe, so I had to find a use for it to fit that size.
We could have left it open with an arched opening or something, but I decided that hiding the door with a cupboard (like Narnia) was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I loved the idea of having a one of a kind room that was a complete surprise.
Next, I went shopping for a cupboard. I shopped vintage cabinets for several months. I wanted the larger size that could fit well in our space, so I shopped based on those measurements.
Most of the antique armoire has a lot of drawers and things inside, so I looked for a simple, boring armoire inside. I found one on Etsy.
After the armoire arrived at our home, we began the process of building it in the space. We decided to mount it in the wall so it wouldn’t have too much depth and wouldn’t obstruct the landing room door.
We also had to remove the legs (this was heartbreaking) due to the limitations of having it fit this nook with a roofline that wasn’t flexible.
In the end, I’m happy with how it looks! You can see in full Hidden library tour here. To make it look more integrated, we added a busy floral background. Finally, we cut a door running into the back of the armoire and added a handle on the inside.
Now when people first enter this room, I can tell they have no idea that the cupboard is the entrance and that my children’s favorite party is showing people for the first time.
This is what the inside looks like. We added built-in shelves on either side and then painted the entire room the color “Silent Film” by Beer.
My eldest daughter is learning to read and she has had the happiest year making memories in this space and collecting books to enjoy now and in years to come.
The rug and chandelier are both vintage from Etsy.
If you have any additional comments, I’m happy to respond.