DIY Hidden Rooms & Passages

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Narnia lives in books... and maybe in your child's bedroom, too, when you link an adjoining room or play alcove through an old armoire. Secret passageways, concealed safes and bookshelves that open to reveal rooms are fun at any age. But children lucky enough to have a room behind the wardrobe will be the envy of their friends. Get double use from the armoire gateway by mounting clothes hooks on the inside of the doors that open to reveal the entry to a magical world.

Things You'll Need

  • Large wood armoire with center-open doors
  • Tape measure or yardstick
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver
  • Hook and eye
  • Angle braces
  • Vintage clothing (optional)
  • Toys
  • Playroom furnishings
  • Stuffed lion (optional)
  • Clothes hooks (optional)
  • Hunt for just the right armoire -- one that is taller and wider than the existing doorway and made of wood. Old and embellished armoires will make the design seem more like a fairytale. Measure the width and height of the doorway and mark off both on the back of the armoire. Use the jigsaw to cut a rectangular hole in the armoire's back along the lines.

  • Sand the edges of the cut very well so no splinters can catch on clothes or a tender hand. Leave the armoire to one side while you redecorate the playroom in a fantasy or simple play-space design. It might be fun to recreate some of the Narnia landscape features in the playroom, if your child is a fan of the book and movie series. A playhouse covered in twigs can become a beaver dam. A curtain of paper snow can hang before the door so kids must push through it to enter and leave the room.

  • Fasten the real playroom door to the wall with a hook and eye, if it opens into the room. If the door opens into the bedroom where the armoire will be placed, you will have to remove the door. Just push a flathead screwdriver under the top of each hinge's door pin where it meets the top edge of the hinge and pop the pin out. Store the door in the basement or garage for the day when you want to reinstall it. Tape the pins to it so they don't get lost.

  • Move the armoire in front of the door to the playroom and fasten it to the wall or door frame with angle braces -- one each at the top and bottom on both sides. Hang a few real clothes or vintage clothes in the armoire, but leave the center free so children can discover the secret.

  • Remove the latching hardware from the armoire so no one accidentally gets locked in Narnia for the afternoon. Buy a big, stuffed lion for the playroom and hide it in a corner for intrepid explorers to stumble across.

Tips & Warnings

  • Put an "always on" nightlight in the playroom so no one is ever left in there in the dark.
  • Use the new hidden passage to introduce a Narnia read-aloud to inspire fantasy play in the room. Leave the set of "The Chronicles of Narnia" in the hidden room.
  • Set some rules for the wardrobe doors to prevent fingers getting caught by exuberant slamming.

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References

  • Photo Credit David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images
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