Introduction: The Legendary Secret Fort
I let my inner child run wild with this one. Posted to tiktok several months ago and it blew up with over 20 million views! Never knew there were so many child-minded grownup's like myself out there. Check out the full video in this instructable to get an overview of what I did.
The first thing you need to do is find empty spaces in your home to build the secret room and determine how you are going to conceal it. You want to use common household items that at first glance look quite normal. I chose a mini-fridge and a fake air vent, but let your mind run wild. There are endless possibilities.
I will start by saying that this instructable focuses more on the approach and doesn't to go into tons of technical detail because I realize every house is different. I also added tons of pictures because a picture is worth a thousand words. Feel free to message me if you want to recreate something similar and I can go into more detail if you get stuck.
old/broken Mini-fridge, 25x20 Air Return Grille (with fixed hinge door), Oscillating MultiTool or Angle Grinder (for cutting), Cordless Drill/Screwdriver, Safety Wear (mask, gloves, safety glasses), various lumber materials(2x4,2x6,screws,nails,etc.), Mitre saw (for cutting your lumber) and your imagination!
Step 1: Discovery and Planning
The planning phase is most important. You will need to find an area in your house to build your secret room or fort. Look for areas with lower ceilings or areas that butt up to the attic or empty spaces between walls. This may require crawling around in the attic to find these. Typically, builders never use 100% efficiency when mapping out floor plans, so there's always some wiggle room for expanding into small crawl spaces. I started the fort in my closet because it butted up to my shower, which had a lower ceiling. And then found an upstairs room that backed up to the attic for the mini-fridge exit.
Step 2: Cuting Your Entry/exit Holes
Above you can see the before and after pics of the small room above my shower. I had to replace the shower light with a slim profile LED recessed downlight, so I could get the floorboards to lay flat. Make sure to chalk around the light after install, otherwise you will get alot of moisture in your secret room.
For the Air Return Grille, I used a TRUaire 190-25X20. This is the only one I could find with a fixed hinge so that I could open and close the door. Most of them have a removable face which I didn't want. Pro tip: DON'T get the 190RF. When using an air return vent, they come in various sizes. Mine was 25"(tall) x 20"(wide). The first number (25) is the side with the hinges. Be careful because they also make 20x25. (with 20" being the hinged side). I had to learn this the hard way :( I found that 25x20 is the perfect size for a human to crawl through.
If you are not construction savvy yourself but still want to build this, you might consider hiring a general contractor or framer as this does affect the sound structure of your walls. If your home was built with 24" studs you may be able to do all the work yourself quite easily. However since most houses use 16" spacing between studs this means you will have to cut a stud and add a header beam in order to crawl through the opening. You can use (2) 2x4 glued&screwed together to make your header as seen in the picture above. Make sure you use a studfinder before you cut your hole in your sheetrock so you can find the right placement for the entry frame.
Step 3: Construction Time
Once you have your entry hole cut and framed then it is just a matter of finishing out the space, (hopefully you don't have to move any wires). If you see crossbeams like the ones in the picture above, do not cut or move these without consulting a structural engineer and obtaining the proper permits. They are used for the structural integrity of your home. I would also highly recommend adding fiberglass insulation so your fort or secret room doesn't get too hot or cold. These come in rolls and are available at your local hardware store. They can be cut to size with a razorblade knife but make sure to wear gloves and protective eye glasses when handling.
Use sheet-rock or plywood, cut to size, to finish out the interior of your new crawlspace. You may need to add extra support for the flooring if installing on a 2nd floor. For my black light room, I used chalkboard paint and liquid chalk markers so they didn't rub off on your clothes.
For the hidden ceiling trap door that leads to the attic make sure to cut one of the sides of your door at an angle so it opens and close easily. Then you can just use hinges on the opposite side. See images for details.
Step 4: Mini-Fridge Entrance/Exit
I had an old fridge that I used in the dorm in college that wasn't cooling very well, so I cut off the back of it using the Angle Grinder and Oscillating Multi-tool to create an open back. Then I used 90 degree angle brackets to mount it to the wall. You want to cut the opening in the sheet-rock much smaller than the outer dimensions of the fridge, so that you can't see it from the outside. Then use GreatStuff spray insulating foam to seal the gaps. This will also help with bugs getting into your secret space. Use sparingly because it does expand quite a bit.
Step 5: Final Thoughts
All in all this took me about 3 months to build the entire secret fort, working on it several hours each day after work. I build it in sections, expanding as I went so dont feel like you have to conquer it all at once. If you have questions about anything I did that i didnt go into detail about don't hesitate to ask.
I'm also working on expanding the tunnel system as we speak so stay tuned for more info.
Follow me on instagram or tiktok for future videos. @partyweave
Participated in the
Secret Compartment Challenge