Building a hidden library for my kids was one dream project and one of my favorite renovations ever.
We worked with professional contractors (this is not a DIY). But I thought it would still be helpful to explain in depth the process of designing and building this room.
As with any project out of the ordinary, there was a good amount of planning and problem solving that went into creating this magical space.
Related: You can find all mine room tours here.
When we bought our home, it had a two-story entryway that is sometimes referred to as a “lawyer’s foyer.” It’s a hallmark of a 1990s McMansion.
You can see in the picture above how the entrance looked when you stood in the front door. In picture two you can see how it looked towards the front door (looking up).
The entryway was the only part of our home with a two-story ceiling (except for the stairs, I guess), and in the third photo you can see what it looked like from the second floor.
If you’re looking at these pictures and thinking, “Why would you ever change this,” I totally understand. The first time we saw the home, I remember liking these details – it wasn’t something I expected to change at first.
After living in the home for about six months and planning the home renovations, I began to consider closing the two-story entryway. The main reason was that the entrance hall had a weird vibe that didn’t appeal to me and it was difficult to decorate.
The ceilings downstairs are really high so I wasn’t worried about the entrance feeling low (it still feels good). Also, our home gets a lot of natural light from our many sliding doors in the living areas, so I was willing to part with some natural light.
This is how it looked on the day of construction. I remember being so nervous and having the feeling of “no turning back”. It was so surreal walking on the new floor for the first time.
After the floor was laid, we plastered the ceiling and added electrical. Then we had hardwood floors added in the new room upstairs. The new room upstairs was not connected to other rooms – it connected to a foyer at the top of our stairs.
I had a lot of fun planning what we could use the hidden room for. It’s the size of a walk-in closet, so I had to find a use for it that worked for that size.
We could have left it open with an arched opening or something, but I decided that hiding the door with a wardrobe (like Narnia) was a unique option that I couldn’t pass up. I loved the idea of having a unique room that is a complete surprise.
Next I went shopping for a wardrobe. I shopped vintage wardrobes for several months. I wanted the largest size that would fit well in our space, so I shopped based on those measurements.
Most vintage wardrobes have a lot of drawers and stuff inside, so I was looking for one that was a simple boring cabinet inside. I found one on Etsy.
After the wardrobe arrived at our home, we started the process of building it into the room. We decided to build it into the wall so it didn’t have as much depth and wouldn’t block the stairwell door.
We also had to remove the legs (this was heartbreaking) due to the limitations of making it fit in this nook with a roofline that was not flexible.
In the end, I’m thrilled with how it looks! You can watch the full thing hidden library tour here. To make it look more integrated, we added a busy floral wallpaper. Finally, we cut a working door into the back of the wardrobe and added a handle on the inside.
Now, when people walk into this room for the first time, I can tell they have NO idea the closet is a doorway, and it’s my kids’ favorite party trick to show people for the first time.
Please step inside!
This is what the inside looks like. We added built-in shelves on both sides and then painted the entire room the color “Silent film” by Behr.
My older daughter is learning to read and it has been the happiest year making memories in this space and collecting books for them to enjoy now and for years to come.
The rug and chandelier are both vintage from Etsy.
If you have any further comments, I will be happy to answer them.