Family House with a Secret Room
By Jaime Gillin / Published by Dwell

The owners of the house, empty-nesters who have three kids in college, "asked for a small and rustic modern cabin that would be flexible enough to accommodate the kids and their friends," says DeForest. "The challenge for us was to design a small house that could sleep from two to 15 people!" Part of the architects' solution was a secret room, hidden behind a bookshelf.

With a gentle push, the bookshelf swings open on hinges to reveal a secret media room.

At first glance, this bookshelf looks like a completely normal built-in...

The shelf swings in to reveal a large media room equipped for sleeping and movie-watching, with couches and a Murphy bed.

A view of the bookshelf in situ, sited discretely at the edge of the family's open-plan living space.

When the bookshelf is pushed flush with the wall, you'd never know there was anything behind it. We love this clever and playful approach to space planning. For more examples of smart approaches to small spaces, see this 400-square-foot cabin with a plethora of built-ins, this Seattle houseboat, and many more on

Jaime Gillin


When not writing, editing, or combing design magazines and blogs for inspiration, Jaime Gillin is experimenting with new recipes, traveling as much as possible, and tackling minor home-improvement projects that inevitably turn out to be more complex than anticipated.

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