Making a Library Nook Out of a Storage Space

For the last 14 years, there’s been a sliver of a room upstairs that I have used to store crafts, projects, and party supplies.

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Melanie G Photography

This was the room at its best – for a pro photo shoot of my entire house. Believe me, most of the time the floor was barely visible. It quickly became a dumping ground for things no one could find an immediate home for.

hobby room storage

Melanie G Photography

When we started the renovation upstairs, I decided that this hoarding hobby room had to go. It took a lot of cleaning out and organizing the remains, but pulling out the wall of this room would bring a ton of light from its two windows into the upper hallway and the entire upstairs.

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view of the room from its entry as we began clearing things out

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view from the top of the stairs before

 

I ended up used an existing IKEA Expedit (now known as Kallax) bookcase we already had, rather than building in a cabinet unit with doors like I originally planned. That’s when it started feeling more like a library/reading nook, rather than a junk hobby room. The back end of the space has a desk and chair to provide a little study space for one of my girls, while the small dormer holds MY special little spot.

library nook

 

This is how the dormer in the hobby room looked before:

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We relocated one of the doors that leads to storage under the eaves so that it made more sense for some furniture to sit beneath the window. When the painting began, it looked all kinds of scary:

painting windows black

 

I wanted a sunny yellow for the walls, so I chose one of my favorites that has worked well for me in historic interiors, Benjamin Moore Hawthorne Yellow HC-4. I had the windows, both sash and trim, painted in a glossy black to really punctuate the original windows and draw your eye to the views. My kids thought it looked a bit ghoulish upstairs during the process, but I knew it would all come together. Here’s MY reading nook after the transformation:

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The yellow reflects and bounces around a ton of light up here. Yellow is really the ONLY color that will make a dark room look brighter, which is why I like to use it in basements and rooms with few windows.

reading nook decorologist

 

Now, this was the original view from the dormer window looking back towards the staircase. So, so ugly with the crappy cheap paneled walls and fluorescent lighting overhead:

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We replicated the handrail and spindles we put in about ten years ago on the other side of the hallway (it used to be enclosed, as well). You’ll see I still have the closet, which now holds my scaled down party and gift supplies. My “hobby room” is now a “hobby closet.”

new staircase

 

Now you see all the way across the space into the new bathroom, which also sports a black window.

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Even though this area is now open to the rest of the upstairs, it still feels like a special place to hide out. This little estate sale find in its original upholstery is one of my favorite chairs in the house.

reading nook by the decorologist

The modern IKEA bookcase doesn’t seem too out of place in the space as long as there are plenty of of vintage books and decorative items inside.

bookcase

 

Remember the empty can from 1940 that I found under the flooring in the bathroom during renovation? It’s a reminder of the history of the home, and of how far we’ve come.

library nook

Next, I’ll show you the rest of the upstairs renovation – I promise! There are just so many before/after photos, it’s hard to get it all in one post. What do you think so far?

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Kelly
Guest

Looks so great Kristie! I especially love your little reading corner. So inviting! I have been purging a lot of my stuff also because we are moving. Tired of hanging on to stuff I will never use. Can’t wait to see the upstairs!

Jo Galbraith
Guest

Wow – what a great idea – removing that wall made such a difference. My mother’s house is painted in Hawthorne Yellow – it’s a beautiful soft yellow that pretty well always works!

Catherine
Guest
Catherine

I love how you turned this nook into usable space. It looks like the perfect place to sneak away to find quiet time to read…or think up your next decorating project. Thanks for sharing it with us, and I can’t wait to see the rest of the reveal!

Tammy Roberts
Guest
Tammy Roberts

Looks totally fabulous ! I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the renovation. I’m certainly enjoying how you specified the paint for my condo. Since that drab graphite gray has been painted over in the bedroom area, I can actually sleep without feeling like I’m in a dungeon.

Francie
Guest
Francie

That looks fabulous, Kristie! I really like how open it is now, and the yellow is so cheery. I would be spending a lot of time in that chair by the window!

Heather
Guest
Heather

Kristie, This is absolutely lovely. I adore the Hawthorne Yellow and the old books and furniture are so perfect! We are currently in the process of deciding on a whole-house interior palette – so overwhelming. I’ve been trying to find a place for HY as I’ve got mostly blues and greens so far. Our house was built in 1900 so I really enjoy seeing your reno and the colors and changes you’re making! Very inspiring. Seeing your upstairs hall/nook makes me think our hall and little nook at the bottom of our stairs would be a great place for a… Read more »

Lynn O'Brien
Guest
Lynn O'Brien

I love everything about this transformation! Taking out that wall made a HUGE difference! Absolutely love your reading nook!

Joanne
Guest
Joanne

I really like the black windows! I have all the interior doors in my home painted super dark brown (Dark Granite) because the windows were already dark bronze aluminum. I love the look — both yours and mine 😉

Phyllis E
Guest
Phyllis E

I love, love love what you did!! I know you aren’t “staging” your own home to sell, but, that cozy, charming space would make me want to put in a seriously competitive offer on your home for sure! What a huge difference you made by tearing out that wall! I love your chair, and all your other decorating, too! Thanks for the tips on yellow paint. When I first just saw the “in process” close-up of the dormer, the yellow seemed way too strong, and looked “ghoulish” for sure, but in the finished photos it looks perfect. (Funny how lighting… Read more »

Pam from Louisville
Guest
Pam from Louisville

I can’t believe it’s the same space. It looks fantastic. Putting the bookcase in the hall gives it the feel of a whole other room.

Judy
Guest
Judy

What a difference opening that wall makes to the upstairs! Hawthorne Yellow looks great there. We painted our school room HY, and now everyone loves to spend time in that room. It makes us all feel more cheerful in the mornings. 🙂 I’m looking forward to the rest of your reveal.

LibbyP
Guest
LibbyP

Kristie, I’m not sure how I missed this post originally, but I love it!! Love the open landing – both sides. And I’m a sucker for libraries and reading nooks. Pinning now!!

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[…] I know I have yet to show you the rest of our recent upstairs renovation, but I have an excuse. Rooms with yellow walls are difficult to photograph! I’ve taken photos […]