Sunday, April 03, 2005


In Which We Make Room...

Well, it's official: my dad's project this visit is to make a new room in the house.

To be more specific: We will be accessing a closed-off space under the eaves on the second floor. This is a dead space over the living room, behind one wall of our guest room. Previously it was only accessible through a small panel in the back wall of The Brownie's closet.

Before, when you looked in there all you saw was a lot of blown-in insulation and a bunch of rafters. No floor. No windows. No light. That blown-in insulation was next to useless, except as a respiratory irritant. Essentially, that space was like a big pocket of cold air in the winter, making the guest room and The Brownie's room pretty chilly (oh, and since The Brownie has a tendency to stuff clothes she doesn't like down her heater vent, that only makes it worse). The sheets of Styrofoam I added later didn't help.

Here's a before look:


It looks like there's a floor there. But it's all just insulation and rafters. Our first day working in there, I missed a rafter and almost went straight through into the living room. The kids were kind of hoping I would, I think. It would have been a good story.

Oh, and that's Dad in the lower left hand corner.

The room is too small--and will still be subject to too many temperature extremes--to turn it into another bedroom, but with a door and about $500 worth of lumber, it should be easy enough to floor and wall it, hang some shelves and turn it into a walk-in attic. I've been wanting to do this for a long time, partly because I hate the idea of any space going to waste. I also thought a walk-in attic would save Her Lovely Self from having to haul things up and down out of the crawl space above the garage. At least, that was how I sold her on the idea.

But mostly, all I wanted was the secret door.

See, here was my plan. We need to put a full-sized door to the new attic off of the guest room. But who wants a big door in the middle of their wall? So, my idea was to hang a door so it would be flush with the wall, see, maybe even nail some drywall over the door face. And then, and here was the good part, I'd hang a bookshelf on the door so it would swing open when the whole door opened. Oh! And I could rig one of the books to conceal some kinda latch or something. How cool would that be, huh? I mean, really! And when it came time to sell the place, well, that would be a feature, wouldn't it? Can't you see the listing? Three bedrooms, master bath, powder room, walk-in attic WITH SECRET BATMAN-STYLE HIDDEN DOOR!!!

Well, Her Lovely Self indulged this idea, right up until the moment she actually decided that we would do this project. After that, my little scheme went from being "the secret door" to "my husband's lame-ass bookshelf-on-the-door idea." Which meant, of course, that I wouldn't get my secret door. And, if you must know, I was actually pretty crushed about that.

So it's a good thing my dad totally killed me this weekend, because I'm too tired to be bothered by it now.

Yesterday wasn't too blistering, pace-wise. But there was lots of hauling of plywood and 2x4s while Dad framed the new doorway. It's tricky building a door frame, getting it just right so the door will close.

It's doubly tricky when you have my mom standing over you--literally--monitoring your work and offering unsolicited commentary:


(Number of doors my mom has hung in her entire life = 0, but never mind)

Anyway, today was the real ass-buster. We had to lay 2x4s and some strapping across the existing rafters, partly to strengthen the floor, but mostly to level the damn thing up. We got most of the floor in, which you can see here.


Not very impressive, I guess. But it was a good day's work.

Oh, in that last pic, you see that little silver rectangle set into the far wall? That's the access panel into The Brownie's closet.

In fact, when The Brownie came to inspect our work ("Oh, Papa! Are you building our whole house again? You're the Best World's Goodest Papa EVER!"), Mr. Chopped Liver here tried to impress her by showing her the secret door. Here's what she saw when I did the big reveal from the attic side, showing her an unexpected view through the closet and into her room:


I thought it might be a bit like peeking back through the wardrobe from the Narnia side, and I was right: she WAS impressed.

"My room," she said, in a hushed tone.

"That's right," I said. She was looking intently at the little access panel.

"Can you fix this so it becomes a little secret door for me?" she asked.

Before I could speak, the Best World's Goodest Papa Ever says, "Cawse we can do that! Why, Papa could even put a little doorknob on there and you could get in here from your closet whenever you like, by Gorry!"

"But--" I began.

"Oh good!" beams The Brownie, looking around this little corner under the eaves. "Because this is where I'm going to put my bean bag. And my books. And my Barbies. And Foxo (her stuffed fox animal) can live here too!"

I tried to explain that this whole area was going to be walk-in storage. But the BWGPE informed me--while The Brownie jumped and hopped and did her little excited boogie--that it would be a simple matter to wall off this little space and make it separate from the attic. That he could furthermore split an air duct so that we could vent heat and AC into the space. And The Brownie could have her own special secret indoor space.

"But wait--" I protested.

"YAY! Yay-yay-yay!" The Brownies squealed, running into her grandfather's arms. "Oh, thank you Papa!!! I'm a give you smackeroni-and-squeezes ALL WEEK!!"

Astoundingly, Her Lovely Self approved this variation on the plan without the slightest hint of concern or protest. Or irony.

So just like that, my daughter is getting her own private reading nook.

AND a secret frickin' door too!

Me? I'll be getting a new ass at the Ass Store tomorrow. To replace the one I busted this weekend.


From Somewhere on the Masthead

Think of it this way, the Brownie has your genes. I mean, you wanted a secret door and so does she. Right? And it's your house, so ultimately it's your secret room too, but you get the satisfaction of knowing that you've done something for your daughter that none of her friends have...a secret room. Her own Narnia.

You should be proud of your creativity and that you are able to share that with your daughter. *g*
Hahahahaha! Oh the unappreciated sacrifices we make for our rugrats.
I'm with you - I've always dreamt of a house with secret rooms and stairways. If you're lucky, maybe you will be invited in to play Barbies with the Brownie someday.
I know.....not exactly what you had in mind.
that totally rocks. i still think you should go ahead with the bookcase as well. when i have a house, there will be a secret room. --b
Did you really think her lovely self would say no to brownie? Come on now! She knows which battles to fight. Can't wait to see the finished project
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