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Oh, how we’ve been itching to reveal this super fun space. WHAT’S BEHIND BOOKCASE DOOR NUMBER ONE? Any ideas? I mean, it could be ANYTHING, right? From a hoarder-like stash of Christmas nutcrackers to a master bedroom no child knows actually exists (is that the secret to sleeping in?). But before we spill the secret, let’s talk about this upstairs landing on the second floor of the Portland home.

Emily Henderson Portland Traditional Upstairs Hallway6

This second floor is a new addition to the Portland project. As a reminder (catch up fully on this house here), we reconfigured the floor plan, added the top story and shifted the stairs a bit so that all three floors (top, ground, basement level) would have a continuous staircase. We worked in conjunction with Base Modern to design the railings and banister (which we went into a little more in the entryway and stairway reveal), and the open metalwork work so well up here to bring in light from the ground floor as well as from the other rooms on the second floor (should the doors be open).

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While this could have been treated like an open loft-like landing, we decided to make it a LANDING, designing this custom built-in cabinet as a showpiece for beautiful things (art, books, decor items…and as you’re about to find out, the entrance to a super top secret room). Craig Cowing from Crestwood Inc. helped to execute the work (he also did the cabinetry in the kitchen). To work with the color palette throughout the home’s permanent fixtures, we decided on a slate-like blue by Sherwin-Williams called Grays Harbor and it’s the perfect saturated yet moody shade.

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We worked with Velux here (as we did throughout the home) to bring in some more natural light via skylights (at night that stunning organic yet modern Rejuvenation light—which is ENORMOUS and such a power piece up there—illuminates the area). Had the skylights not been installed, the only sunlight that could have potentially graced this space was dependent on the doors being open from the master bedroom and two guest rooms. That just wouldn’t do. This was an opportunity to flood in whatever light the dreary Portland skies would offer, so we had to think outside the window and Velux was a “light” saver here.


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Since we’re talking about light, I think it’s time to pivot and move into what’s behind that secret passageway through the bookcase because it also involves natural light…

Emily Henderson Portland Traditional Secret Room 11

THIS PLAYROOM. Well, really it could be anything, but considering it’s only about 5 feet 5 inches at its highest point, we thought it would make perfect sense to be a little “hideaway lair” for the littles in the family. However, how badly would you want to commandeer this for your grown self and turn it into a full-on read-until-you-fall-asleep nook? Honestly, this could have been a throw-away space for Christmas decor of year’s past, but instead, we had some fun. It was actually just rafter space over the living room. There’s a breaker box in here that need some access so why not turn it into real usable space?

Because this was essentially a niche under the roofline, we knew we needed to bring in light, otherwise it’d literally be a tiny cave, which sure, is cool, but frankly, this is cooler. As we did out in the stair landing, Velux came in and positioned a skylight to provide maximum light. At night, there are cans in the ceiling for when the sun goes down.

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Aside from the lighting, because it’s a really tight space (literally, the ceiling drops to about 2’5″ at the lowest point), it was important to make sure this secret room was comfortable. I mean, let’s get real…wall-to-wall carpeting, though not super desirable, is AMAZING. Picture yourself as a child…wouldn’t you want to be smooshing your tiny toes into plush carpeting? Roll around uninhibited? Think about what you’d want as a kid…then do that.

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Let’s take a second to admire this insanely chic play kitchen by Milton & Goose. Play kitchens absolutely DID NOT look like this in the ’80s…right? The adults might have to duck and kneel to watch the cooking show or come over for plastic pancakes, but I think it’s well worth the spatial sacrifice.

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Okay, coming back to the cabinet to talk art, because we had the pleasure of working with so many unbelievable artists and artisans for the staging of the whole Portland project. The vessels (the knobby white concrete vase and the tiered wood bowl atop the books) were loaned to us—the vase from by The Good Mod and the bowl from Mantel, both local Portland stores, which, if you’re in the area or traveling there, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t stop in. Both stores have GOOD stuff, folks.

The little blue geometric piece is by Jessica Poundstone, available through Chairish, the threaded work of the bridge (the detail in person is insane) is by Amy L. Frazer, and the small collage piece is by MaryAnn Puls.

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On the opposite side of the cabinet is this really pretty vignette graced by the Annie Selke runner and that sweet wood stool via The Good Mod (designed by Spencer Staley). More local artist work dot the cabinet and boy do we love all these pieces. The large abstract with the colored organic shapes is by Mia Farrington (you might remember her work from the rumpus room we revealed last month), the embroidered mountain piece is by Annie O’Dorisio, the landscape by Von Stead Art on Etsy, the mixed media wood-like piece by MaryAnn Puls, and the botanical artwork by Kelsi Cross Studios. It’s a mix of price points (i.e. that wildflower is $28 while some of the other pieces are a bit pricier), but art doesn’t have to be all “collectors” pieces. As long as it strikes you, it could cost $1 or $100,000…

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Lastly, the wood figure set (from McLauchlan Made) and the geometric sculpture by Aleph Geddis (which we borrowed from The Good Mod), bring in the warm tones of the Mangrove Ventura planks from Hallmark Floors. It’s important to balance cooler tones (like the blue of the cabinet and art) to get a well-rounded, welcoming look.

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And there you have it! Below is the Get the Look with all the shopping resources, but let us know if you have any questions! Pop into the comments and let us know what you think!

Emily Henderson Portland Project Stair Landing Secret Room Get The Look1

1. St John’s Bridge Thread Painting by Amy L. Frazer | 2. Small Abstract by MaryAnn Puls | 3. Kinetic Lines 4 in Navy Blue Print by Jessica Poundstone | 4. Untitled by Mia Farrington | 5. Tim Lamp Pendant by Rejuvenation | 6. Wildflowers by Kelsi Cross | 7. Small Abstract by MaryAnn Puls | 8. Nature Painting by Von Stead Art | 9. Cabinet Maker | 10. Ball and Rod Sculpture by Spencer Staley via The Good Mod | 11. Cabinet Knob by Rejuvenation | 12. Vase | 13. Expand by Annie O’Dorisio (similar) | 14. Wood Sculpture by Aleph Geddis via The Good Mod | 15. Large Vase (similar, original via City Home) | 16. Small Sculpture Set by Elise McLauchlan via Mantle | 17. Runner by Annie Selke | 18. Wooden Bowl by Elise McLauchlan via Mantle | 19. Painting by Whitney Jordan | 20. Play Kitchen by Milton and Goose | 21. Table Lamp | 22. Wood Side Table | 23. Wood Stool by Spencer Staley via The Good Mod | 24. Bean Bag | 25. Soccer Ball | 26. Red and Blue Basketball  | 27. Storage Bin | 28. Sherling Rug | 29. Octopus Throw Pillow | 30. Alligator Knit Throw Pillow | 31. Striped Pouf by City Home | 32. Guitar | 33. Dot Pillow by City Home | 34. White Pillow (similar) | 35. Tebby Bear (similar) | 36. Cat Throw Pillow | 37. Deer Knit Plush | 38. Wood Train Set (similar) | 39. Skylight by Velux | 40. Wood Flooring by Hallmark Floors | 41. Oyster White by Sherwin-Williams | 42. Pure White by Sherwin-Williams | 43. Grays Harbor by Sherwin-Williams | 44. Baseboard by Metrie

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