Transform Hall Closet into Library

hall closet into library

Last year we bought a house… a late mid-century with little to no character, mid-century character or any other kind of character.

My goal was to take this super bland slate of a house and turn it into feeling more like a Colonial Revival from the 1940’s.

In this post, I’m going to show you just how boring the front hall was, and how we transformed the hall closet into library space!

I’ll mention many times in the upcoming posts, as I reveal room after room, how I attempted to build in character in each space throughout the house.

This front hall was no exception.

It needed a few issues addressed, (besides the obvious things like flat panel hollow core doors, 1970’s ranch molding, way too fancy of a style of light fixture). The hall felt super long and narrow. It was poorly lit, and had the bathroom at the end of the hallway. There was nothing interesting in the hallway. No character whatsoever. Instead, what felt like the final destination, the bathroom, was the attention grabber. Not good!

hall closet into library

In the ‘before’ picture you can see how it was a long and narrow hallway directly leading into the bathroom.

I had a plan in my head to completely change the feel of the hallway space as well as add character to it.

Part of that plan included switching around the bathroom assignments. The guest bathroom at the end of the hall would become the master bathroom, and what was the master bathroom would become the guest hall bathroom.

Confused yet? Let me go on and really muddy the waters of description for you…

By changing the guest bathroom, located at the end of the hall, to be the master bathroom, we could delete the direct access to that room. Then what was the master bathroom, (to the left in the hallway) would now become the guest bathroom.

This area to the left would gain room into the hall space from what used to be a closet in the master bathroom too.

I could have built in a linen closet, but I felt to have a freestanding hutch here would visually open up the space more.

Okay, so that part of the hallway plan, with changing which bathroom goes where, is a bit confusing. When friends would come through and I’d try to explain how we were opening up a door on one and closing the door on the other, their eyes always would glaze over… it did sound confusing. But fortunately I knew, and my carpenter knew what we were doing. 🙂

hall closet into library

In a nutshell, some of the walls could be opened up, and some of the doorways were closed.
hall closet into library

The hallway started feeling wider as things were removed. The bi-fold doors on that first large closet were taken down. (for some reason the drapes from the bathroom got set there, rod and all… there they remained for a few weeks while other things were addresses) Then the wall to the left with a new opening to the old master bathroom was created.


the end of the hallway got shortened and a new wall was built separating the hall from the old guest bathroom:

hall closet into library


That long skinny hall awkwardly leading to a bathroom was gone. The space now felt so much more open.


The carpenters built the new stud wall, but the first time around, they forgot to build in the opening for the vintage transom window I had bought.

Next morning they fixed it:

hall closet into library

There we go, that’s going to still let in light from that window, but not give a view into the bathroom. Instead the beautiful antique window will be a lovely accent.

(BTW: Here is my favorite place to shop for vintage and antique leaded glass and stained glass windows)

Next up…

The popcorn ceilings:

hall closet into library

Our friend came over and scraped all the popcorn texture off all the ceilings on the main level! It’s a messy job, and I’m so grateful he did it for us!!

(here’s a post I wrote highlighting how to change a popcorn ceiling texture to knockdown texture)

Now for a little inspiration for what to do with that hall closet space:

hall closet into library

This lovely library, pictured in Traditional Home, was my inspiration! We have a lot of books. To transform the hall closet into library space would be perfect!

hall closet into library

I measured out the space and transferred my ‘closet into library’ plan onto graph paper taking special care to have comfortable sizing for the bench seat height and good space for head allowance etc.

Being available to discussed details with my carpenter as he went along was invaluable.

hall closet into library

The carpenter decided it’d be best to have the wood floors installed first, then build the library on them after.

Once the plan came to life I could prime and paint it.

We had extra pickwick pine paneling left over from the dining and kitchen, so that was perfect to work into the hall detail.

It’s good to repeat certain details, sort of ingraining them into the design spaces.

hall closet into library

The built-in seat has a lift lid for storage. The hinges are special safety hinges so the lid will not fall on top of little fingers.

hall closet into library

Deciding the exact placement for the wall sconces was easiest with the wall sconces in hand! A different mounting height may be necessary for a different style light. It’s always good to have items already on the job site in order to make precise detail decisions.

hall closet into library

Concerned that the wall sconces alone weren’t going to light any of the top shelves, we added a hidden under cabinet light up at the top of the library space. It turns on with the wall sconce switch.

hall closet into library

Here is where I found these library wall sconces at Houzz. (they’re not just for a library)

Now, when you come into the front door, this view greets you. The closet into library transformation feels like a destination in itself. It is like changing that hall closet into library space added a whole other room to our main floor.

hall closet into library

Where there once was a bathroom door, there now is a lovely old Colonial style window transom.

hall closet into library

The hutch serving as a linen closet is like a landing in the hallway.

hall closet into library

The closet into library shelves hold kid’s books on the lower shelves and adult books on the uppers. A few found treasures from The Kennebunks adorn the walls, along with a gifted map pillow of the southern Maine coast.

hall closet into library

The ‘after’ pic looks so different from the ‘before’ pic at the top of this post, doesn’t it?

I love projects like this!

I didn’t add one square inch to the space, but in using the given space differently, taking down walls and adding walls, the space became so much more usable and appealing to the eye with interesting character.

Did you know I now offer e-decorating? I can help you with your decorating needs via email, without having to step foot in your home. If you’re interested in more information, visit my e-decorating site: Frame and Frills. I’d love to help you with your project!

Here are more carpentry renovation ideas:

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please feel free to follow and share this blog with your friends, as well as on Facebook, Pinterest, Flipboard, Bloglovin, YouTube and now Instagram! I appreciate you reading along.

This post is linked up to these other sites: Between Naps on the Porch, Refresh Restyle, Skip to My Lou, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Cedar Hill Farmhouse

Reader Interactions


  1. Lin says

    Truly a great idea to change access to your guest bath. A few suggestions to provide more continuity to your new hallway, while it may be interesting to have a few different finishes in one specific area , you have several. Between the flooring, the painted white doors and jambs, the hutch, your library seat would look good painted white as well. It would also look inviting with a nice fabric covered cushion. It’s important to allow the eye to rest in a room by not ovetstyling with so many accessories on almost every surface. Your new hallway is quite an improvement that is now practical
    and far more aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps over time you might decide to tweak your styling just a bit. BTW I rarely offer these types of suggestions but as I am an interior designer I thought I’d share a professional opinion. Obviously, you have good ideas of your own. Sometimes, less is more. Enjoy your new home remodel??

    • Liz says

      Thanks Lin, I’m an interior designer as well. 🙂 Thanks for your input. Yes, I do have the cushion for the bench on my sewing to do list, along with about 100 other sewing projects. We’re still moving in so we’ll get there eventually. I purposely painted the library a dark color so that it recedes in the hallway. By doing that it actually appears to be a larger library space and less intrusive in the hallway space. If I would have painted the bench white it actually would ‘jump’ out into the hallway, just the opposite effect I wanted. I do agree with you that it’s important to have a place for the eye to rest. The style of this house is decorated as a cross between farmhouse and colonial revival. Overall it is a white background, walls, trim, doors and ceiling all same white. Light pine floors, very neutral and easy on the eyes. The only ‘color’ is dark grey or black which is quite non-demanding visually. That had left me with a wonderful blank/neutral palette for the accessories and furnishings to have the color. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you’ll come back and see the rest of the house as I am slowly getting it ready to reveal.

  2. Trudy says

    Flipping the bathrooms was the first genius idea! Getting rid of the bi-old doors was the second! I love the library, but where do the coats go?
    BTW It is graph paper, not graft. Not sure if that was a typo or auto-correct.

    • Liz says

      Thanks Trudy, yes, that was a typo… Lol BTW, We built a mudroom addition for our coats, and have an antique hall tree in the front entry for guest’s coats, plus we kept the small coat closet on the left as you enter the hallway. In other words, we still have good coat storage. 🙂

  3. Mj Hoop says

    Beautiful job. I have a house from about your time period, and the bathroom door is visible from the living room. Need 3 ft wide doorways to bring up to modern code, and no way to do that, as the BR is so narrow. And no way to move the doorway. Don’t know who designed this house, but I’d like to meet him and give him a smack upside head! Or a good reprimand. Your new look is so great. Well done!

  4. Donnamae says

    Oh Liz….what nifty ideas! From the transom to the closet transformation….great use of space. I wish I had a closet I didn’t need now….I would certainly make myself a library. Love those lights, too. Enjoy your day! 😉

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