Design & Décor, Living with Style

Super Secret Storage: Hidden in Plain Sight

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China Storage“I have far too much storage space.  ~Said no-one ever.”  Truer words were never spoken!

In my family, growing up Southern was all about entertaining, so it was imperative early on that I discover entertaining ins, outs and short cuts.  When designing our home in Newport in 1999, I gave a lot of thought (I mean a lot!) to creating living spaces conducive to entertaining and its paraphernalia – in easily accessible and secretive locations.

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin

When friends see these stealthy, sly spots, their reactions are usually along the lines of, “You MUST share this on your web site!” (…said with a touch of longing).  And so share my secrets, I will.

Candle Storage

To lessen entertaining’s inherent ‘daunting factor,’ streamlining is the name of the game.  One way to do this is by having event necessities stored just steps away from where they play their supporting role.  We chose when designing our house NOT to have a specific “dining room,”a somewhat eighteenth century notion, which provides a welcome bit of flexibility. Rather, we  use  each room on our first floor for all types and staging of dining…from the library to the salon to the sunroom to the solarium…and, of course, the kitchen. The star of the house is the oval salon, with three of the four curved corners providing welcome storage (the fourth is the door into the kitchen.)

Roll out the tables. To hide and easily access the requisite 54” round folding dining tables,  we designed a pair of deep, narrow nooks within the walls that separate one of the two
main rooms.  With a tap on this ‘slab door’, the magnetic button releases and allows entry to this covert closet.

Salon Table Storage

Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats.  How’s this for sneaky storage? Tucked into this closet are party chairs hung Shaker style up the walls. The two closets at this end of the room hold a total of 16 chairs, enough for two round tables.

Salon Chair Storage

Have a light? A concealed candle closet is in a third corner of the same room, next to the fireplace. Loving candlelight as I do, it fortunately worked out that this odd-shaped interior space was just perfect for taper candles, pillars, all different styles of votive holders, sundry candle paraphernalia (ie. bobeches and felt pads to wrap around candle bases to make them fit an odd-sized candelholder.) You’ll also find here that very practical “Lucifer” (as acolytes use in church) to snuff out the candles on the chandeliers.


And the plate is right next to the spoon. Our china closet was designed to pack the stacks, be easily accessible directly next to the kitchen and all the while not taking up much square footage. Whether it’s for summertime “Bellinis and Blossoms in the Garden” or wintertime “French Picnic by the Fireside,” my china closet is one of my favorite go-to closets.


Some pieces were inherited, others were wedding gifts long ago and some were found in treks through antique shops and bazaars around the world.


With each comes a memory, adding to the pleasure of entertaining. Teacups “on tenterhooks” before a party.


Larder Love  My kitchen was designed to be super-functional, yet low on modern day cabinetry (see the recent post on my mother’s armoire). I use the armoire plus two pantries whose doors are secreted in the faux-painted wall on either side of the breakfast nook. One is for foodstuffs and its counterpart is the silver closet, whose interior walls, shelves and door are lined in Pacific silvercloth which cuts way down on tarnish. As you can see here, adding a baseboard trim to the door completes the trompe L’oeil effect of pretending this is all wall.


Style note: when a room design calls for multiple doors and entryways, consider a hidden door that blends with the wall so your eye isn’t bombarded with doorway after doorway, their molding surrounds breaking up a beautiful surface (not all doors deserve to be called out, and certainly not a pantry door.)


Setting the Bar High  I love the idea of entertaining at the drop of a chapeau.  But I don’t love the idea of bar accoutrements and liquor bottles on permanent display.  Answer: a hidden bar in the library.  Ours is part bookshelf/part party space.


Lift up the top panel…


Drop down and secure a second panel, and voila, “Isaac Your Bartender” awaits your order.


On that note, here’s to entertaining and stealthy storage solutions!

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

11 thoughts on “Super Secret Storage: Hidden in Plain Sight

  1. Brilliant! I am amazed at how thoughtfully you planned your space and storage! Brava Bettie!

    The Arts by Karena
    Dreams of Spring!

  2. Love seeing all of this! Maybe in my next life…
    You are one creative lady. Miss seeing you and Jonathan.

    1. Thank you, I’m so glad you’re staying in touch; remember all those fun parties on East Wesley?
      Hugs to you and Bill!

  3. Your storage solutions are genius! I’m honestly impressed by the well thought out and convenient storage solutions of your home. We just purchased our first house and I’m definitely showing your post to my husband to think about adding some options of hidden storage during the renovation.Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Oh Evelyn, I’m so glad that this has proved helpful; when working on building or renovating, you need all the help you can get. Hopefully, you’re at the stage where you can
      still tweak and create great storage spaces! Good luck.

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