What should we do with our secret room?

We are about to finish our basement, and there is a 6x8-foot cubbyhole that we are thinking about turning into a secret room, probably hidden behind a bookcase door like this. The room has concrete walls on three sides, with no windows.

The problem is that although the concept of a secret room is incredibly cool, we don’t have any great ideas about what to do with it. My first thought was a hot tub. We loved the outdoor hot tub at our last house and would love to have one here, too. However, I’ve read that indoor hot tubs can be problematic: you have to ventilate and dehumidify the space carefully, and that can be expensive. Also, a very large space elsewhere in the basement is set aside for a bathroom, and it might be a better location for a hot tub, if we decide to go that route.

I’ve never used a sauna, but I don’t think I’d care for it, and I suspect it would be much more expensive than a hot tub, and have all the same humidity issues.

We have three grandchildren, ages 5 years, 2 years, and 4 months, and some kind of playroom would undoubtedly be quite thrilling for them. But since they only visit once a year or so, it seems a bit extravagant to spend a few thousand bucks for such a limited purpose.

We don’t need a safe room or a bomb shelter, and although my wife likes wine, we could never hope to use a space that large as a wine cellar. Another section of the basement is set to become the home theater, so TV room is out. And since we’re in the neighborhood of 60, so is “adult entertainment center.” (Which would be a bit awkward to explain if the grandkids happened to find it.)

So what options can you suggest?

Simple store room is the obvious, easy choice. When the grand kids come around, stash some snacks and toys in there and tell them that it’s a secret space that’s just between you and them and that your SO doesn’t know about.

Storage. Seriously. We once had a room like that in a house and we used it store christmas decorations, luggage, easter baskets, and other miscellaneous junk that 1) we only used occasionally but 2) didn’t want to actually get rid of and 3) needed to be stored somewhere dry. Most people store that kind of crap in closets (at least around here where nobody has basements) but once you live in a house where there’s dedicated clean & dry storage for that kind of stuff you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Sex dungeon

Hobo/hooker body storage

Booby trapped inner sanctum where you hide the simulacrum that houses your souls.

Man cave!

Definitely sounds like a blacklight poster, bean bag chair, incense burning, Led Zeppelin playing kinda place to me, but I’m only 50.

Reading nook. Some mood lighting, beanbags and comfy chairs are pretty cheap and it’s easy to turn it into a kid’s play area when the kids are around.

Another alternative to consider is to put some yoga mats down and turn it into a yoga studio/meditation room.

I forget the sitcom (maybe Malcolm in the Middle) but the dad finds a long abandoned bomb shelter in the back yard of their house. It has incredibly dated decor with a nice framed picture of J.F.K. on the wall, a full bar, way too much purple satin. Basically the tackiest examples of early '60s design plus cement block walls, gas masks and survival rations. Have fun and be goofy with it.

Don’t put a hot tub in there. I had some friends with a hot tub in their basement. The parents love hot tubs, so far as I know, they’ve had one or installed one everywhere they’ve lived. But anytime someone walks in to the house, it smells like chlorine. When they sold their house, ripping out the hot tub was one of the first things the new homeowners did.

Something else to keep in mind if you enclose it. Between all the concrete and being below grade, the room is likely to be cold and damp pretty much all the time. Mildew may become an issue. I’d suggest that you insulate it, but losing 4 inches on three sides is going to cut pretty far into a 6x8 room. If it becomes an issue, you might want to find a way to provide airflow through it.

Hide a body or two. (Maybe best to ice them down.)

Another for storage.

A vote against the hot tub. Besides the odor mentioned above, depending on the exact construction of your house, the added humidity could cause issues. Not just there but throughout the house unless you basically turn it into a more sauna-like thing of some sort.

Personally I would put my gun and ammo safes there. That way not everyone who comes into the basement will see them and wonder just what I have.

If kids are going to be playing in it at some stage, make sure it’s well ventilated, and that it’s not possible to lock yourself inside.

Use it for storage or whatever, but put a couple of chairs and a carpet in, and when the kids come let them use their own imaginations and make it into whatever they want. Don’t try to set it up for anything specific yourselves.

[Old Codger] These kids today have far less opportunity to use their imaginations in playing than they used to have in the good old days when I was young.[/Old Codger]

I’d say the opposite of this.



Ooh! Conservatory sounds way cooler.

Sauna? It’s fully enclosed so any steam you build up would stay contained.

This seems like the major concern. Whatever you do with the room, first make it livable and not a health hazard.
If it becomes a storage room, mildew could well accumulate on anything you keep there. If it’s a reading room/yoga room/playroom, you’ll need good ventilation and lighting.
So no matter what you later decide to use the room for, right now as part of the remodeling, run some air ducts into the room, and several electric outlets.

(Potential whoosh alert, but…)
Ummmm…to me, a conservatory is an above-ground room with glass walls and ceiling.

I have a hidden attic entrance which we refer to as a secret room. Definitely go with storage. Start collecting battered trunks and cool things you’d find in a hidden attic/storage space. Check out your second hand store for some appropriate objects to add to the ambiance. There is no reason it can’t be storage/cool and intriguing AND a ‘secret’ hidey hole for kids to occassionalky enjoy. Just a a couple of mismatched chairs and an old rickety table. In my experience it’s way more fun for kids if it’s all jumbled up and THEY have to sort it a titch to made a cool hangout.

Good Luck!

Do you have hobbies? Could use as an art studio or sewing room/ironing room or a woodworking room. Computer room or games room, set up all your playstations etc, and the grandkids games and your books. Home gym? Do you have pets? Could make a cat gym or set up your grooming table if you give dogs their haircuts. Music room, play guitar or piano or drums in there.