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!
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. 🙂
In a nutshell, some of the walls could be opened up, and some of the doorways were closed.
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:
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:
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.
The popcorn ceilings:
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!!
Now for a little inspiration for what to do with that hall closet space:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Where there once was a bathroom door, there now is a lovely old Colonial style window transom.
The hutch serving as a linen closet is like a landing in the hallway.
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.
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.
Here are more carpentry renovation ideas:
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