If you have a crawl space underneath the stairs in your house, it’s probably more of a storage area than a place where you entertain guests. But one Canadian mom made hers the most enchanting place in her home and now, every visitor wants to see what’s inside.
“I really wanted a room where our (2-year-old) daughter could go to play, be messy and use her imagination,” Brittany Gogel of Regina, Saskatchewan, told TODAY Home. So she cleaned out her insulated crawl space and created what she calls an Imaginarium, a secret room based on one of her favorite childhood books, "The Chronicles of Narnia."
To enter the magical space, you go through a wardrobe, just like in the famous story. “I hired a carpenter to build the face of the wardrobe,” she said of the piece that is reminiscent of the Victorian period. “He designed it so that if we want to take it to another house, we can basically pull it out of the door frame and take it with us.”
Once you step inside, you enter what Gogel describes as “a place of wonder, excitement and adventure.”
A green turf, which Gogel said feels pretty close to real grass, covers the floor, while a whimsical wallpaper hangs on the wall. The ceiling is painted blue to resemble the sky and old thrifted Christmas trees give the space some realistic landscaping.
One of the most challenging features in the room were the tree trunks which Gogel made herself with molded chicken wire, papier-mache, joint compound and paint.
“I literally hadn't done papier-mache since I was a child and I didn't know if what I was doing would work at all,” she said. “But I did a lot of research beforehand and just kept working with it until I was satisfied. The scariest part was painting the trees because I didn't want them to look cheesy, but I was also really happy with how that turned out. It's all about the layers.”
Gogel did the project as part of the One Room Challenge and completed it over five weeks. Aside from the custom-made wardrobe (which she said was the most expensive part of the room), everything else, including the floors, trees and walls totaled about $1,000.
“Most of the time when people ask about the cost, I tell them that a lot of parents take their kids to Disneyland, but I would rather build a small piece of Disneyland here in our own home to get to experience every day,” she said.
And they do get lots of use out of the unique space.
“It's a destination for visiting friends and our daughter loves to play in it,” Gogel said. “Right now she's too young to read on her own, so we mostly play hide-and-seek or just chase each other around the trunk. It has become a place where adults are invited to play with children. We have had everyone from age 1 to 75 in that room crawling around on the floor and imagining all sorts of crazy things together.”
See more of the room and how she did it at Gogel’s blog, Brit & Barclay.