Dining Kitchen

How We Built a Hidden Room

Building a hidden library for my children was a dream project and one of my favorite renovations of all time.

We worked with professional contractors (this is not a DIY). However, I thought it would still be helpful to explain in depth the process of designing and building this room.

As with any project that is uncommon, there was a good amount of planning and problem solving that went into creating this magical space.

Related: You can find all of my room tours here.

When we purchased our home, it had a two-story entryway which is sometimes referred to as a “lawyer foyer.” It’s a hallmark of a 1990s McMansion.

You can see in image one above the way the entry looked as you were standing in the front door. In image two, you can see how it looked facing the front door (looking up).

The entryway was the only part of our home with a two-story ceiling (except the stairs, I guess) and in the third photo you can see how it looked from the second floor.

If you are looking at these photos thinking, “Why would you ever change this,” I completely understand. The first time we viewed the home I remember liking these details—it was not something I anticipated changing at first.

After living in the home for about six months and I was planning the renovations for the living spaces, I began to consider closing off the two-story entryway. The main reason was that the entryway had a weird vibe that did not appeal to me and it was difficult to decorate.

The downstairs ceilings are really high, so I was not concerned about the entry feeling low (it still feels great). Also, our home gets a lot of natural light from our many sliding doors in the living spaces, so I was willing to part with some natural light.

Here’s how it looked on construction day. I remember being so nervous and having that “no turning back” feeling. It was so surreal walking on the new floor for the first time.

After the floor was added, we drywalled the ceiling and added electrical. Then, we had wood floors added in the new room upstairs. The new room upstairs did not connect to any other rooms—it connects 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 is 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 an armoire (like Narnia) was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up. I loved the idea of having a unique room that is a complete surprise.

Next, I went shopping for an armoire. I shopped vintage armoires for several months. I wanted the biggest size that could fit well in our space, so I shopped based on those measurements.

Most vintage armoires have a lot of drawers and stuff inside, so I looked for one that was a simple boring closet inside. I found one on Etsy.

After the armoire arrived to our home, we started the process of building it into the space. We decided to build it into the wall so that it didn’t have so much depth and would not obstruct the landing room door.

We also had to remove the legs (this was heartbreaking) because of the constrains of making it fit into this nook with a roofline that was not flexible.

In the end, I am thrilled with how it looks! You can see the full hidden library tour here. To make it look more integrated, we added a busy floral wallpaper. Lastly, we cut a functioning door into the back of the armoire 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 that the armoire is a doorway and it’s my children’s favorite party trick to show people for the first time.

Sources: Similar Wallpaper / Augustine Evans Art Print / William Cleary Art Print (both art prints are by Janet Hill) / Arched Mirror / Rattan Lamp

Budget Sources: Wallpaper / Arched Mirror / Rattan Lamp

Please step inside!

Here’s 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’s been the happiest year making memories in this space and collecting books for them to enjoy now and in years to come.

Sources: Star Chart Art / Harry Potter Custom Art / Handful of Stars PrintMoon and Stars PrintShadow Puppets Print / Chair

The rug and chandelier are both vintage from Etsy.

If you have any additional comments, I’m happy to answer them.