I know, I know. I already revealed the library/dining room in this decorating for Christmas post, but I didn’t really reveal it. You didn’t see it from all angles and you didn’t get a sense of what it actually looks like when it isn’t all tarted up for the holidays.  Everything looks different when it’s tarted up.   I for one look totally different when I’m tarted up than I do when I’m just everyday slumming it.

I feel like I look better when I’m tarted up a little bit, but whenever I watch Survivor and I see the contestants on the final “reveal the winner” show in a studio I’m always a bit horrified.   The women have makeup on, the men’s scabs have healed and nobody is missing big clumps of their hair.  I mean, they look awful.  I much prefer how everyone looks on the show when they’re makeup-less, wearing ratty clothing, chasing an escaped chicken through the woods.  So … I like it better when they look just like me.

I’m sorry, it’s a little late for me to say Ta Da but, TA DA!  Probably should have said that at the beginning of this post.  This is what the dining room looks like on a regular day, sans ornamentation, garland or a big barfing of sparkles.


O.K. it’s not exactly how it looks. I don’t normally have a stack of plates and cutlery on the middle of my table, but the table looked empty so I had to stick something there for the photo.  That’s what we like to call propping.  Or “dressing” the set as we used to say in the world of television. (Which I quit 5 years ago because they insisted on clean hair and perfect makeup almost ALL the time. It was infuriating.)


I cannot put into words how much I love this dining room now. And I’m a writer, plus kind of a talker, so that’s saying something.  Actually I’m just being lazy. If I sat here for an hour or so I could probably pound out a really great sentence that would sum up exactly how I feel about this dining room, but why bother. I know what you people are like.  For this type of post, one that’s a reveal of my library/dining room, you’re just in it for the photos.  Now, if I were giving you a post on the date I went on last week you’d want the words.  And probably pictures now that I think of it, so not a great example.



I know a lot of you were worried about Margaret (who I intend to research a bit more about this year by the way) and whether or not she’d stay.  No matter what happens in the rest of my house for the rest of time, Margaret will never leave.  Margaret is my homeboy.  Schizzle mafizzle.



The shelves aren’t particularly styled and I really didn’t spend a lot of time putting things in there.  I just stuck some stuff in and made sure it was all relatively balanced in terms of books and “objets d’art”. Which is a fancy term for knick knacks, the same way penis is a fancy word for that big purple thing. Literally translated objets d’art is “art objects”, but anything that’s generally small, has artistic interest or is a curiosity can be convincingly called an objet d’art.

But here’s the thing.

Not all of my “stuff” is an objet d’art.  In fact some of my stuff is just regular.   It’s not arty or cute or curious.  It’s just bleh.  Stuff like toilet paper, tripods, other camera equipment and craft supplies.  I’ve always had trouble finding spots in this storage-less 175 year old house to put crap like that.   People didn’t need a lot of storage in 1840 because they only owned a shotgun, a potato masher and a bottle of snake oil.

So what to do with all of that extra, boring stuff?

Put it right there in the bookshelves with everything else.

Ready for the secret surprise?


Yep.  In between every single, individual bookcase is secret storage with shelves, hidden behind a door.



It. Is. A. Storage. Miracle.


That’s part of the reason the bookcases took me so long to do.  There was a bit more planning when I had to also figure out how to approach my storage idea.

I ended up just using flat, stock pieces of MDF for the “doors” combined with concealed hinges.  I bought them off of Amazon (here’s the link to them) and they worked great. These particular concealed hinges are incredibly easy to install because they just screw directly into the door and you don’t need to recess them at all.  There are other, sleeker concealed hinges but they’re really difficult to install and way more expensive.  If you want to do something like this, and you aren’t a master craftsman these non-mortise concealed hinges are the way for you to go.



I mulled over a few ways to put the corners on hinges as well, but ended up just using strong magnets to hold the corner doors in place.  It was the easiest, cheapest and most effective way to do them.  Being able to take the entire corner door off meant I would gain another inch or so of space to shove things into the corner.



That extra inch is exactly what I needed to be able to fit my entire white Christmas tree into the corner along with a whole whack of Christmas decorations.  This in turn means I don’t have to shove this Christmas tree up my 18″ wide basement staircase every year AND I gain that much more room in my basement.




The other corner doors come off the exact same way, only hidden behind it is my 1950’s era floor buffer, some photography lighting and backdrop equipment.

One entire section of the super-secret, hidden storage areas is devoted to my canning.



Everyone.  That is the definitive list of those who tried to dissuade me from putting these bookcases in my dining room. Every. One.  The reasons they gave were everything from “It’ll make the room look smaller.” to, “… but the bookcases look good in the foyer!”.  Well, the room somehow looks bigger with the bookcases, the foyer looks just fine without them and most importantly, I knew that I was going to love it.  I could just feel it.

And sometimes that’s just what you have to do with decorating, with clothing, with life.  Go with your gut feeling.  Nobody knows you better than you do. Other than maybe your mother.  And even she gets you wrong sometimes.

The room isn’t completely done, I’d like two new head chairs, I need to move my chandelier to centre it over the table, and I’d actually like to make a new chandelier.  I have paint on the floor I still need to scrape up and I need to make a roman blind.

But for now I’m just enjoying the fact that the bookcases are done, the tarty Christmas decorations are out and I can finally behold my new library/dining room in all her natural (slightly scabby) glory.


  1. Rebecca says:

    Speakeasy spaces and using up every square inch of possible storage are two of my favorite things! You had me at “secret”, but I think I surprised myself with a gasp of awe when I saw that your christmas tree fit into that corner spot. Brilliant job all around!

    Incidentally, finding your website 10K clicks from initially researching how to fix the entire concrete sidewalk/driveway “easily” by way of city gardens with terraced levels, quite made my insomniactic wee morning.

  2. Erica says:

    This is the most amazing thing!
    I mean, I thought it was beautiful when it appeared to just be book shelves. But the hidden storage!!! Brilliant!

    • Karen says:

      I have to say, I’m still pretty impressed with myself whenever I go into the room, lol. Especially when I go in there to put away huge packages of toilet paper! ~ karen

  3. Mariella says:

    Hi Karen,

    I love your bookcases! And what a neat idea of adding storage in between the units. I do have a question no related. Where do I get dinning room chairs like yours? Are they comfortable? Thank you! I love your blog.

  4. Shauna Henry says:

    I am so in love with these bookcases. Before the big super secret reveal, I kept thinking how I liked the look of the thick partitions between each bookcase, and now, now to also have storage – it was so brilliant!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Shauna! I actually like the look with the wide spaces and I was surprised at how so many people were worried they weren’t closer enough together, lol. ~ karen!

  5. Anne MacKay says:

    You are a genius – it’s beautiful! I so love the bookcases in the dining room, you were right all along. And brilliant hidden storage.

  6. Karin Sorensen says:

    no waaaay!!! get the fluff outta here!!!! this is flipping ridiculously amazing! you put….. YOU PUT…. storage shelfs …. in between….. wow, just wow…. I can’t even.

    wow. I’m blown away.

    Margaret is a cool lady and all, but YOU my virtual friend are the real Schizzle mafizzle!!!!!!

  7. Dawn says:

    Ah! Brilliant! I was wondering why you would waste all that space between the bookcases just for nothing. Outsmarted us again, ya did. Well done.

  8. SeaDee says:

    Oh thank god. When I saw the earlier posts about the bookcases I was screaming at the computer screen “What a waste of space!!”

    I should know better. Forgive me for doubting you! :-p

    Happy 2017!

  9. Janelle says:

    Well, I for one, did not see that coming. Well done! It’s brilliant! And FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY….if you are wanting to part with that light fixture, let me know and I will purchase it from you.

  10. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    You never cease to amaze me…also I would love to hear Margaret’s story…

  11. Melinda says:

    I am speechless. You are the Queen of Eclectic Charm…it is so beautiful and unique!

  12. Liz Douglas says:

    Hi Karen,That was genius!!!!!! I have an old house that is lacking storage and that is perfect. Thank you so much for great ideas. Now I can see why it was difficult to do. Actually most anything done in an old house is difficult. I don’t think that they even had squares or rulers.

  13. Julie says:

    I was hoping there was something more….I didn’t think you’d let wasted space happen! They look amazing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Art of Doing Stuff