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Clever Office: Hidden Space




Same-size bookcases, painted to match, are joined along one side by long piano hinges. One case is affixed to the wall; the other is set on casters to swing out and expose the workstation. A vintage latch adds an ornate touch. Opened, it's a compact, self-contained, innovative crafts or office nook. Closed, it's far more decorative than any tidied-up desk, without the slightest hint of its contents.



  • Colorful bins
  • Plywood
  • Wallpaper


  1. Step 1


    Clear shelf panels, made from Plexiglas, hold supplies on the swinging side steady without obscuring what's behind them. Interlocking containers ensure items stay stacked despite frequent movement. Colorful bins provide contrast to the rest of the area -- and extra storage space. Shelves on the bottom are tall enough to accommodate books, magazines, and file folders.

  2. Step 2


    A fold-up desktop, fashioned from plywood and painted the same shade as the case's interior, is attached with self-locking hardware. A pegboard backdrop puts all the necessary tools of the trade -- whether pliers or paper clips -- within reach. Sensor-activated, battery-powered LED lamps installed behind the molding shed light on projects.

  3. Step 3


    The exterior of the workspace is covered with a swatch of wallpaper framed in decorative molding, which is on display when the case is closed. An antique chair is set off to the side when not in use.

Martha Stewart Living, April 2008



Reviews (31)

  • lizpoor 21 May, 2012

    What a GREAT idea! I can't wait to set up my new sewing area.and personalize the front by hand painting my own design..Thanks for sharing..Love it!

  • 16FelinePaws 7 Mar, 2010

    Terrific idea! You could use locking wheels on the back bookcase instead of fastening it to the walll. Then the entire piece could be moved when rearranging rooms.

  • Alasandra 9 Mar, 2009

    This looks awesome! Wow I want to get materials and start building now. I am at work aka the salt mine. I'll have to wait till later. I will be down sizing my living space ,as my home must be sold due to the economy, but this will fill my need for craft space. Always be positive and good things will come youe way. TYperson who came up with this amazing craft space idea. It's pretty

  • jbanzet 5 Mar, 2009

    My fiance and I will be living in a very TINY apartment when we get married - and this will be a perfect solution to keep all my "things" from cluttering the place! Thank you!

  • piopeach 23 Dec, 2008

    Wowww! This is the absolute best storage idea I have ever seen. No kidding. This has solved a huge dilemma our family had. We needed an office workspace and a pantry. We can make two of these and our needs will be filled! Thanks so much.

  • Christine56 8 Dec, 2008

    This idea could be used as a pantry in a small space. What a functional use for bookcases!

  • chefette86 23 Oct, 2008

    whimsyt and StylieD: at the top of the article before step 1 is the title "Bookcase armoire how-to". It is a clickable link that takes you to a list of how to make everything for this armoire, incl. tools and materials. The article shown here is just an overview for inspiration. :)

  • cherisloane 21 Oct, 2008

    Our church has one of these units in one of the children's rooms. It's great for storing all of the toys away quickly and easily. When it's opened, the children can easily see what they want to play with and get it down.

  • TriciaJay 16 Oct, 2008

    I Love it!!! I am going to print out the pics and see what I can come up with!

  • TriciaJay 16 Oct, 2008

    I Love it!!! I am going to print out the pics and see what I can come up with!

  • michelleology 16 Oct, 2008

    In regards to adding legs to this item... you would need something to get the entire unit high enough to add the casters for the swing side. I would find vintage legs 6 inches or less or bun feet. You could add small casters to the bottoms of the feet and then by affixing the one side to the wall the whole unit would not move. Another great trick to make it more elegant is to add a crown molding top and maybe appliques to the front. This would make it look like more antique fancy furniture.

  • naoko53 16 Oct, 2008

    This is great idea for my jewelry work bench! I think I'll try that... But not just yet, I have no time to do this kind of work and no extra money. But I suppose I can go IKEA and buy cheap shelves then add paint on it. nice!

  • calla55 15 Oct, 2008

    My husband made this for me from scratch and I painted it. It takes a lot of time and $ but is well worth it. I just filled it up with my crafts last night. I painted mine dark blue on the outside and pink on the inside. I'm not happy with the color on the outside but it will have to do. I should have stuck with a cream color which gives it a more elegant look. You can't put legs on this cabinet as you need the casters to open and close it. Anyone else make one of thes?

  • Raechal-4 15 Oct, 2008

    My art studio is greatly running out of space. I have stuff crammed everywhere. When I need something, I look 1/2 hour before I find it. I have a large computer desk with an amoire top with shelve and a left hand return with a bookshelf on the end. I keep taking more and more ot it off, because it is too big for the room and does not store. enough. I now have only the desk top and the filing drawers that support it. I am thinking of trashing it to make this. Martha, you get 5 stars on this idea!

  • luvsanimals48 15 Oct, 2008

    To thohlfeld: In this same newsletter below where it tells about the armoire AND under comments, look for Other Great Ideas and click on Space Solutions and see the convertible workstation. Two shorter bookcases on casters with a hollow door used on top of bookcases for table and it hangs on wall when not in use. The armoire is beautiful, but this might suit for those that need more working space.

  • kitgolson 15 Oct, 2008

    I would love to see this done up with feet somehow to give a slightly more graceful, elevated appearance. Any handy people out there with ideas? Lovely concept and execution from MS!

  • TalleySue_Hohlfeld 15 Oct, 2008

    I'm wondering if shorter bookcases could become a sewing table? Would need to figure out how to attach a larger top surface.

    Love the Plexiglas/Lucite fronts to the shelves!
    Look at first and last pics--that back bookcase is not either fastened to the wall--it has to shift to the left to make room to open the front panel.

  • ddemoney 15 Oct, 2008

    StylieD, if you click on the "Print" button you'll see a link to instructions for building this unit. They are very detailed, and include a supply list. Hope that helps.

  • MaureenClark 15 Oct, 2008

    Wow! Great space saver. It could also be used as a pantry for a kitchen.

  • StylieD 15 Oct, 2008

    I love this idea too! Am sending it around to my crafty chicas right now! I agree that the directions are a little sparse but perhaps my handy friends can help.

  • whimsyt 15 Oct, 2008

    The actual directions for installing a working drop-down desk top are very sparse. "...attached with self-locking hardware" is hardly enough for the average home tinker-er to know what to buy in order to make this work! Good idea, but definitely short on directions with any substance to them.

  • Alabaxter 5 Aug, 2008

    You don't have to use wallpaper - there are gorgeous oriental fabrics out there - and you just modpodge them.

  • sunnyhope 22 Jul, 2008

    so wish i had seen this before i bought my desk, maybe if its enough room next place i live i will make one just to have hidden storage

  • calla55 1 Jun, 2008

    My husband is making this from scratch now. I am so excited! I hope I can find an ornate antique looking latch and wallpaper similar to this. This is such a great space saving idea. My craft items are all over my house and now will all be in one place. This will also be a calm peaceful place to wrtie letters.


    This is probably amongst the top three of the cool things I have ever seen on this site. Absolutely a wonderful idea that could be used in just about anyone's home and perfectly gorgeous whether opened or closed. The wallpaper on the oustside is to die for. Just a lovely project. Five stars!!!

  • LINDA3sons 20 Apr, 2008

    This looks like such a great idea...I can't wait to try somehting like this for storing my craft supplies, or maybe craft supplies for my kids in an out-of-the way space in my house...seems easy, very functional and looks good to.

  • suzettedorsey16 13 Apr, 2008

    I think that this is a great idea for an apartment. You can keep the little room in it that you have and make it seem like you have alot. No clutter.

  • DurangoGal 12 Apr, 2008

    I love this idea for tight spaces--Especially for teen's room. Plus the fact it keeps the room looking neat--hiding all the organized doo-dads inside. Great idea!

  • 1noblelady 10 Apr, 2008

    This is a beautiful idea. It's opens and closes like the doll house I had as a girl! Thank you Martha.

  • Inguanti 4 Apr, 2008

    Great idea!!!!

  • MinaNavidad 25 Mar, 2008

    love it!!!