Magical thinking: Hallway becomes library

Hallway at former Sparks home on West Avenue in Austin. Photo by Trey Hunter

If I ever get to design a house for myself, or just remodel a hallway, I’m totally doing this: Brilliant use of space in this very wide hall gave the owners their own mini-library.  It even has a sliding-ladder contraption, a thing I have coveted for years, as I am teensy.

Big bookcases can really fill up wall space and make a room look dark and crowded; ditto for all the photos and souvenirs that bring a smile to your face but are packed away because you don’t really have a place for them. And a hallway is nothing but wall space. Think, too, of the fun moments that could happen if this hallway linked all the bedrooms: Pajama-clad family members chatting as they pick out their books for the night. Kids choosing their bedtime storybooks. Houseguests pausing to study your unfortunate hairdo choices through the years.

This could really be the heart of a house. When we win the lottery (yes, the one we don’t play), we’re building this. Also the secret room. We completely agree on the need for a secret room.  Maybe one you enter through part of this bookcase!  How Scooby-Doo.

The enticing photo above was taken by Trey Hunter, and I use it here with his kind permission; I first saw it when I read this story, which describes the home at 1510 West Ave. in Austin — on the market for just $2.195 million. (Photo gallery here)  It was built in 1927 by former state treasurer Sam Sparks. A recent remodel brought the wiring up to date but kept a lot of the history; I’m not sure whether this feature is old or new. But I’m sure you need a pretty dang wide hallway to pull it off.  Else you’d be bumping into the ladder all the time. Ouch.

And because I’m grateful to him and I like supporting photographers, here’s a little more about Hunter: Based in Austin, Trey Hunter offers photo editing and tutorial DVDs (learn how best to photograph homes) in addition to his residential and commercial photography services. Learn more at

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