These Homeowners Created an Extra-Private Office Space With a Secret Bookshelf Entrance

Putting the office behind the built-ins allowed for extra soundproofing as well.

hidden home office

The hidden bookshelf door into the office. Photograph by Rebecca McAlpin

This office was featured in our “The Art of the Home Office” article. See more home office design inspiration here.

A secret entrance might seem like a show-off move, but for Jillian and Darren Moskovitz, it was a practical solution to a design problem. During a renovation of their Fort Washington Victorian, Jillian wanted statement built-ins for their expanded living room. Darren, who spends long hours on the phone when he’s not traveling for work, needed a private office with a closing door. They’d planned on a corner entertainment unit for the TV to make room for the opening, but then Darren suggested putting the door directly in the shelving.

To her husband’s surprise, Jillian, a design consultant with Down2Earth Interior Design, ran with the idea. She worked with WoodArt in Lancaster County to create built-ins with a hinged cutout set with shallower shelves and cabinets on the left-hand side. (The “door” opens via a hidden hinge from Murphy Door.) The unexpected choice comes with an added benefit: “Because that built-in backs up to the office, there’s an extra layer of soundproofing,” says Jillian.

home office

Computer monitors and TVs blend into the dark wall color when turned off, for a more seamless look. When styling open shelves, leave space between groupings so the eye has a chance to rest. Photograph by Rebecca McAlpin

Inside the space, natural light from French doors and a side window keep the black grasscloth wallpaper from Magnolia Home for York Wallcoverings from feeling sleepy. The file drawers, floating shelves and desk — it wraps around the adjoining wall in an L shape — are also custom-builds, but the rest was sourced at familiar spots: The chair is Pottery Barn, the rug is Ikea, and the lamp is from Target.

If built-ins aren’t in your budget, there are other ways to divide a room. Down2Earth founder Amy Cuker suggests freestanding MIO room dividers, which are easy to construct and have acoustic properties.

Jillian Moscovitz of Down2Earth Interior Design, Elkins Park.
Style philosophy: Function comes first in happy spaces.
Secret Philly resource: (Cuker) Kings Furniture and Peaceful Valley Furniture for handsome custom wood pieces at reasonable prices
Best WFH advice: (Cuker) Don’t position your monitor with a window directly behind you — it will cause glare on the screen — or in front of you, unless you can add a blind.

Published as “If You … Could Use a Little Privacy” in “The Art of the Home Office” in the December 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.