A (Hidden) Room of My Own

In case you live under a rock, Downton Abbey is back on for another dramatic season of tea and sharp wit. What does this have to do with books, you ask? Everything.
There is a swinging bookcase in the library of Downton Abbey that pleases me to no end. It isn’t used nearly enough by the servants to move surreptitiously in and out of the library. There is something magical about a hidden door, especially one that leads to books.

Library at Downton Abbey
Seeing the bookcase in Downton Abbey reminded me of a swinging bookcase I saw in a house I visited years ago. My brother was in an a Capella group in college and it went on a tour at one point. When they swung through my area, I went with my mom to the house of one of the group’s members for a night of singing and drinking.
The mother of the singer greeted us at the door. Her home was beautiful, inside and out. It was old but well-maintained with shining wooden floors and molding everywhere. She took our coats and ducked through a small doorway set into the wall of the front hallway. I couldn’t help myself – I followed her in. It was so clearly not a closet. I suspected a hidden room.
I was right.

Not the house but something like it.

The door swung inward. There was no bookcase on the door; it would match the wall when closed. Inside was a small room with a tiny window, a table and some chairs. Other coats were piled on the table. I asked the woman what they used the room for and she shrugged. Sometimes her husband used it but not really. It was just a room. She left to greet more guest and my mom motioned for me to get out of the hidden room.
How could they not know what to do with that room? In my mind, I had it fully outfitted as a secret reading room. There would be a super comfortable upholstered chair with an ottoman. Blankets and pillows nearby. A small table near the chair for a cup of tea. Bookcases filled with books. Probably piles of books on the floor. A small table and chair under the window for writing. (In an even more perfect world, I would have a working fireplace in there as well.)
I love the library I have created in my home. And I enjoy my office/yoga room where I spend my mornings. But if I had a choice, a cozy room that was mine to fill with books and come up with stories would be ideal. And a secret room to boot!
I saw another secret room when I visited Castle in theClouds in New Hampshire this summer. This grand home literally in the clouds at the top of a mountain had a small room hidden behind the wainscoting of the sitting room. You need to duck down to get inside but there’s no need to quibble. There was a small window with a table and chair underneath, a comfortable reading chair to the side and small bookcase. Perfect.

A girl can dream.


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