The Secret Treasure Room

Secret Treasure Room before and after

When we bought our house two years ago The Boy was not quite 2 years old. The room that was to be his had a storage room attached to it. Our roof pitch is really steep next to his room, so it forms a triangular room 7 feet by 12 feet. The door is about 2 feet by 4 feet.

secret door

The storage room, aka "The Secret Room" had an old linoleum floor, a light with a switch, some wood paneling and some exposed insulation. At the time it was certainly not fit for the kids to use. And we didn't figure a 2-year-old needed an extra room, but we agreed it would make an awesome surprise for The Boy at some point. So the dresser was parked in front of the door and The Boy had no idea for over two years! Here's a peek at the before:

secret room before4secret room before5

the ceiling
the "ceiling"

Sometime after his 3rd birthday we decided that The Secret Room would be his 4th birthday present. This meant getting it fixed up. We had our contractor, Steve, come work on it only during the hours that The Boy was at school. And I started talking excitedly about the project to friends and family. A lot of people were in on the secret. (Luckily, we never blew it before the big reveal on his birthday last month.) Steve ripped out the linoleum and wood paneling, then installed new drywall, wood laminate flooring, base molding and put on a fresh coat of paint. I decided to have him paint an accent wall, using a darker shade of the paint in The Boy's bedroom. Steve also installed a proper light fixture.

secret room after1

Then I got to work on decorating the space. Most of it was from Ikea or found around the house. I got a white Kritter table and two chairs to provide space for drawing, writing and small craft projects. I added a Bekvam spice rack, also from Ikea, on the wall to hold writing and drawing supplies, including note cards and stickers. The pencil holders on the table are two plant pots from Ikea, the same kind I use at the kids art table downstairs. I snagged the name banner that The Boy made at school to add to the wall.

secret room after4

secret room after3

I added the world map to the accent wall. The Boy has the US map from the Costco set in his bedroom, but I hadn't found an appropriate wall space to put up the world map anywhere yet. Similarly, I didn't have a great place for where to store dress-up clothes, so I knew I wanted to put them in The Secret Room as well. We have friends who use this Ikea box for dress-up and it was just the size to fit by the door. I added a rug from Ikea to the middle of the room and relocated a floor pillow and quilt from elsewhere in the house to provide a comfy reading area. (We've since added a backrest pillow as well.)

secret room after2secret room after5

It was a hit! There was a treasure hunt around the house with clues on The Boy's birthday morning for him to find his gift. His last clue was to push on the dresser to slide it over. He needed a bit of help since it was “really, really hard.” Then he could see the door. “What do you see?” I asked. “That door there,” he declared.

Me: “What do you think we should do?”

The Boy: “I think we should peek inside it.”

Me: “What do you think is in there?”

The Boy: “Some treasure is in there." He walked in wide eyed and asked, “where is my birthday present?”

Me: “You are in your birthday present.”

The Boy: “What is it?”

Me: “It is a whole room.”

“A treasure room!” As he took it in he got very excited and declared that he would show it to everyone.

I gave him the tour of the room. “Oh, this is pretty cool, mother.”

Then it really sank in. “A secret treasure room! I like this room so much,” he jumped up and down. “Thank you father and mother.”

Here he is enjoying his birthday bedtime story with dad in the secret treasure room.

secret room after6

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56 thoughts on “The Secret Treasure Room

  1. Amber

    Like!!!!! :)

    I've heard about this room for years but I hadn't seen "before" pics before. Awesome transformation. Love his treasure room!

    Reply
  2. Sherry Duarte

    Just awesome! Thanks for sharing the before and after Picts. What a lucky boy with very clever parents.

    Reply
  3. Steuard

    I am remarkably impressed! We had thought about doing something similar (though not with the added "in her room" awesomeness), but we just haven't managed to make it practical. This is just delightful.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Rumor has it that a 4-year-old friend has asked his parents for a secret room for his next birthday. :-)

      Reply
  4. Ian Osmond

    When I was a small child, my parents did birthday hunts for me. And I loved them, and they had all sorts of wonderful treasures and presents and fun.

    This blows all that away. You've got a very lucky kid there.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thanks, Ian. I always enjoyed the hunts for gifts. We've done them for The Boy before and they've been a big hit. No way we'll be able to top this one though. :-)

      Reply
  5. Ian Osmond

    My parents started doing it after I fell in love with the Eric Carle book "The Secret Birthday Message", which is a great book for kids who are ALMOST reading, but not quite. It's got words, but shapes are just as important, so I loved "reading" it with my parents' help.

    I don't know if you know it:
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/628205.The_Secret_Birthday_Message?from_search=true

    It seems like it would SO AMAZINGLY COOL to read "The Secret Birthday Message" with your parents while in one's Secret Birthday Treasure Room.

    (Of course, the danger of the book is that it may make your kid want a puppy, since that's the secret birthday present. So, y'know, that's a thing.)

    Just sayin'.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      How do I not know this book!? You may have noticed that The Boy's room is decorated in Very Hungry Caterpillar motif. Thanks for the book recommendation. Just ordered it! (We have a firm "no puppy" policy, so I think we're okay.) :-)

      Reply
  6. Joe

    This is an amazing idea!
    Not an object to use, put a place to be!
    Thanks for sharing and for the creativity fresh up =)

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thanks so much, Joe. I really appreciate your kind words. I've been touched by all the visitors and comments I've received about this project. Thanks for stopping by! :-)

      Reply
  7. Andey

    Brilliant! There's a similar crawl space in the attic attached to my daughters' room. They're currently 10mos and 2- that gives me a year or two to pull this off (step one, get husband on board)! And to work on it, ours is a lot rougher right now.

    Reply
  8. Jess

    I had one of these when I was growing up, except my parents never finished it and I had to climb down into it. It was so cool!

    What a beautiful gift for your son.

    Reply
  9. Cathy

    What a great idea. Such a beautiful room. I thought that banner looked familiar! I can just imagine the look on his face when he made the discovery. Precious.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thank you! As soon as the banner came home I snagged it. I think I'll also be creating something using all his melty bead projects to go in there. :-)

      Reply
  10. Cathy

    I know parents end up with shoe boxes filled with melty bead treasures. I know one parent used them as birthday present toppers-tied them on gifts with ribbon.
    BTW I am going to snag the spice rack idea for our writing desk, I will be heading to IKEA this week to purchase melty beads and I'm going to grab one of those spice racks also.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Yes, they did. We have some of the chairs at our art table downstairs and they are great. Easy for the kids to use, and stable enough for an adult to sit on if needed.

      Reply
  11. What an amazing idea! He's going to make a lot of memories in that room, and likely going to create some friendships over it too.

    Curious though, how's the ventilation in the room when the door is shut?

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thanks! He really loves to entertain in it. Last week 5 kids were drawing pictures and writing messages and they had a mailbox set up to deliver them to us in the other room.

      The rule is that if anyone is inside the room then the door stays open. Though if it were pulled all the way closed there's a pretty sizable gap at the bottom -- it's nowhere near airtight.

      Reply
  12. Just hopped over form Apartment therapy, this is so cute! We are about to move into our first home (that we own instead of rent) and I would love to be able to do this, but I'm pretty sure we don't have a side attic space. My parents could have done this though as they have it on both bedrooms! would have been so cool as a kid, your little one is so lucky!
    Enter the Two Hearts One Roof August Giveaway

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thank you, Chantele. I've thought a lot about creating fun spaces for kids. For an older child I think a loft bed with a decorated space underneath would be fun. It's all about considering a kids interests to create a personalized space.

      Reply
  13. That room is AMAZING! **I** would love it, and my girls sure would, too—even now at 11 & 13!! One question--how do you keep your son safe from the dresser if it's not secured to the wall? Is it still hiding the entrance? (We just moved & I spent this week securing furniture to keep our best friends' 3-year-old safe while often here). Just asking b/c another friend's niece died when shelves fell over on her.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's niece.

      His dresser hid the entrance for two years. He moved it (with furniture sliders and help from dad) on his birthday to find his gift. Now it's safely out of the way of the door. I too have spent a lot of time securing furniture to walls. We live in earthquake country, so it's necessary here.

      Reply
  14. Samantha

    Oh my goodness! This is an amazing and very creative way to use space. We are getting ready to move into our first home (owned not rented) and would love to do this for my children. We have a very boyish 5 yr old boy and very girly 9 yr old girl. Any ideas on how to incorporate both age and gender friendly special room? As they are totally opposite but we only have space for one room like this. All suggestions welcome:)

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Your kids are old enough that maybe they could brainstorm with you about how they could share the space. What are their interests? Reading area? Open floor space for legos or other activities? A table that could be utilized for art, writing, crafts, games, puzzles, etc? Pinterest is full of fun ideas for kids. Good luck! I'd love to see pictures when you get it done!

      Reply
  15. Jackelyn Lamb

    My youngest's room has 2 side attics. I don't think they are as big/tall as this but it is a neat idea to think about. Question though - since hers are attics to you have suggestions on how to keep it cool in summer and warm in winter?

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      As for it being warm in the summer it hasn't been too bad. I've monitored it in case we need to take a break from using it if it's too hot. His bedroom gets a decent breeze through the window and has a ceiling fan, so I think that has helped. And the rule is that if anyone is inside the secret room then we keep the door open. For winter, I imagine it'll be cooler than surrounding rooms, so we might be wearing more sweatshirts and quilts while reading and playing in there. :-) I'd love to see pictures if you fix up your space(s)!

      Reply
  16. Marina

    I would screw wheels on thr bottom of the dresser and screw the dresser to the door . That way he can just pull the dresser and use that as the door and make it more secret.

    Marina

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Hi Andrea! Nice to "meet" you! I love your post and all your fun spaces in your house. The Secret Room is a big hit on the tour here. :-) Thanks for visiting my blog.

      Reply
  17. Dita

    Hallo, Sarah! my name is Tia from Indonesia. i am 15 years old. nice to meet you. i really like to see your wonderfull ideas. especially this room. i really want to be someone like you. you are my inspiration thank you for being a really wonderful person :D

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thank you so much, Dita! It's been amazing to me how many people worldwide have found my blog due to this post. I'm so glad you are enjoying it and find my projects inspirational. :-)

      Reply
  18. Juliana

    Hello!!

    I saw this post and though it was the cutest idea! Then we bought a house and found a similar room and I want to do something like that for my girls! I loveee the idea! Thank you for sharing!!

    Reply

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