The only thing better than a great book is probably finding an equally great place to read it. And while a simple hammock or cozy couch will do just fine, we have a feeling we’ll forever be underwhelmed by anything that isn’t this epic reading nook from artist Hannah Hathaway.
Take a look:
Built by hand for her three children (ages seven, four, and one) at their farmhouse in Eastern North Carolina, the hand-painted nook is entirely DIY—from the cushions on the floor to the twinkling fairy string lights dotting the ceiling. Even the wardrobe “portal” itself was custom-designed, crafted, painted, and stained by Hannah herself.
The fairytale-inspired reading haven is the stuff of any book lover’s dreams. But it’ll hold an extra special place in the heart of any C.S. Lewis fan. With nods to the classic children's book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (including a carving of a lion's head) from The Chronicles of Narnia, the entire space quite literally brings the novel to life.
The result is breathtaking for children and grown-ups alike.
“It was just going to be the custom wooden wardrobe at first,” Hannah tells Ikaroo. “I thought it would be a fun, roomy space for my daughter to climb in and read her favorite books as she grew older. But when we moved into our new house last year, I realized it would fit perfectly in front of the dormer hallway. That's when the idea came to me."
As with all great adventures, this one started with a secret door. Hannah dismantled the back of the wardrobe she'd built months earlier, added hinges to turn it into a swinging, door-like panel, then began transforming the dormer hallway behind it.
Gorgeous mixed-media paintings followed suit.
“Each of those giant paintings features one of the kids doing something magical,” Hannah explains. “My sister, who’s also an artist, helped me out with those, and we spent several weeks working on them.”
Constellations of animals on the "ceiling" of the wardrobe complement the interior designs, while the Dawn Treader (the ship in the fictional world of Narnia) emerges from one of the paintings. It all makes for a magnificent sight.
But the crown jewel might be the library within the nook.
“If you look straight down the room, you’ll see the faux library wall,” Hannah continues. “This is supposed to encourage my kids to read, so I wanted it to contain a full library. But they're so little right now, and they’re still at that stage where they’re pulling things down. I knew that any beautiful, old books would get destroyed.”
Instead, she and her sister got to work cutting out wooden blocks in the shape of book spines, hand-painting them, and adding titles in gold paint.
As the children grow older, Hannah plans on bringing more "grown-up" books into the nook. But for now, her kids can grab a kid-friendly title from a bookshelf in the family’s playroom before heading into their personal Narnia.
So, what’s next for the room behind the wardrobe?
“I’m constantly adding more and more little details. We're halfway done with one painting, and suddenly we're inspired to start another,” Hannah laughs.
Of course, that's all part of the magic.
“It’s been just as cool for me as it's been for the kids,” she says. “It's a world of creativity for us both.”
You can read more about this project on Hannah’s blog, We Lived Happily Ever After, or follow her at @welivedhappilyeverafter on Instagram to view the painting and building tutorials on her Story Highlights. You can also check out more of her sister's artwork at @thewishingwoods on Instagram.