While completing demolition of an existing space (to become a re-envisioned restaurant in Cap. Hill) this week, to our total surprise we discovered a hidden, boarded-up space under the building's main stair! This is one of the many reasons why I love working on older buildings: the chance of finding something totally unexpected and cool, then adjusting and adapting the design to take advantage of it. It satisfies the part of me that always wanted to be an Archeologist.
The surfaces in this particular space are blackened and charred, as if burned in a fire decades ago. Its a mystery how this happened or why the space was boarded up, but certainly fun to imagine the possibilities.
The idea of creating your own Secret Room is intriguing and fun, but often overlooked in a design due to the pragmatics of budget and schedule. But in buildings with otherwise un-usable spaces (for instance, in an attic or under a stair, like in the example above) are perfect places to add a bit of whimsey and character to a space. When Danielle and I were remodeling the basement of our last house in West Seattle, we took an un-used space under the basement stair and turned it into a secret compartment where we kept our safe and emergency supplies. The panelized wall system hid the seams of the door perfectly. It didnt cost a lot of money to do, but certainly added to the appeal of the house when we sold it.
Here is a great link to some ideas for integrating secret rooms into a space: http://www.oddee.com/item_97712.aspx
If you're considering a project, especially your home, think about adding a secret compartment, passage or room under a stair or in an unused attic space!