Published on January 20, 2019

Everyone has their own way of measuring success. For some, it’s as ambitious as a spot on the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List or owning a private jet. For others, it’s as altruistic as making a significant donation for a charitable cause or having the luxury of going away for six months to help build homes in less-fortunate areas. All these measures of success are valid—some perhaps more holistic than others.

But most of us also have total arbitrary (and possibly more achievable) ways of measuring our own personal successes: Maybe it’s by adding a coveted Gucci bag to our wardrobe, staying at a five-star resort on the shores of Lake Como, or buying a luxury car. For me, one of these entirely random measures of success is having a bookcase door.

Perhaps this was fueled by my undying passion for The Beauty and the Beast growing up, in which the castle library is filled so high with books that doorways have no choice but to be surrounded by more bookcases. Or maybe it’s simply the childlike excitement that comes with having a secret door that no one has to know about. Whatever the reason, a bookcase door is a completely arbitrary goal of mine—one that does require some level of renovation and a lot of built-in bookcases, but it isn’t entirely unachievable. Who’s with me?

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Photo by Sean Fennessy for Jesse Bennett Studio | Design by Anne-Marie Campagnolo

In this treehouse-like home perched high above Cairns, Australia, an entire wall separating the dining space to the master bedroom is divided by a floor-to-ceiling plywood wall complete with a bookcase—the thin railings of the built-in storage also serving as the door handle.

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Photo courtesy of Peter Jurkovic

In Bratislava, Slovakia, an apartment remodeled inside a 1700 monastery by architect Peter Jurkovic features a floor-to-ceiling bookcase spanning the entire length of the apartment—separated only by a wood-burning stove and chimney. On one end, the bookcase opens to reveal the master suite—hidden behind a row of books. On the other end, the bookcase reveals an opening that leads to the main bathroom.

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Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Brent

Perhaps the most achievable rendition of a bookcase door is one like the double door above in a Jeremiah Brent–designed New York apartment. Though the door itself is not a bookcase, built-in shelving on both sides frames the door to create an intricate doorway that’s far more visually appealing than a simple door.

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Photo by Tory Williams

Even The Wing coworking spaces in NYC use color-coded bookcase doors to provide meeting rooms and phone booths complete privacy. Each hidden behind a monochrome-hued bookcase wall in shades of yellow, pink, and purple, the doors open up to reveal small intimate phone booths or meeting spaces painted in the same color.

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Photo by TakujiIigai Design by Emmanuelle Moureaux Architecture for the Nozawa Apartment

Instead of a traditional bookcase door, French architect Emmanuelle Moureaux installed movable shikiri shelves—double-sided bookcases on wheels—in this Tokyo apartment. The concept behind these shelving partitions arranged with a ceiling rail system is to let a space evolve organically as family needs change, providing both privacy, storage, and a mutable layout.

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Photo by Laure Joliet

In the serene Los Angeles home of ceramicist Kathleen Whitaker, two bookcases flank the opening separating the living space from the eat-in kitchen, providing separation but also a space to display books, collections, and personal ceramic work. These small details are pretty simple to achieve but provide architectural interest and extra storage space.

See more bookcases we love: 

Attention Book Lovers: This Is the Prettiest Kids’ Library Ever

How a Designer Turned an Empty Hallway into a Library

Behind the Design of Jon Stewart’s Former Tribeca Penthouse

 

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