For some people, there are few things more satisfying than doing work on their homes. And whether the task involves a spot of redecorating or restructuring the layout of a room, the changes that result can help personalize a place. There are certain individuals, though, who really raise the stakes when it comes to DIY.
Gez – known as notadeckofcards on Imgur – is one such person. Gez lives with his wife; and intriguingly, the couple found a hidden room beneath their house that they subsequently dubbed “The Dungeon.” When the pair discovered the space, there was only one entrance to it, located outside the property. And they used The Dungeon solely for storage in the months after they had moved in.
As time went on, though, Gez decided to make some major changes to the room. His first step was to clean up the area outside the house that led to The Dungeon. And after that, he focused on the interior, building a number of cupboards along the wall in which to store everything.
With The Dungeon’s floor space therefore now clear, Gez was able to move onto the next stage of his plan. Conscious, you see, that there was one sole entrance to the subterranean chamber, he wanted some easier access to it from inside the house itself. So, the DIYer built a secret trapdoor in his living room that led down into the transformed space.
One of the numerous joys of the internet is the ability to connect with likeminded people on topics that you love. Regardless of how niche your interest is, you can pretty much always find someone else who shares it. And Reddit is one particularly good resource here, as the website hosts a huge number of “subreddits” covering a multitude of different subjects.
Gez, then, was one of the many web users to take advantage of the platform, in his case visiting the DIY subreddit. A self-confessed “amateur” when it comes to home improvement, he wanted to share his story about The Dungeon with a wider audience. And then, in April 2016, the DIYer took to Imgur to show his initial progress.
Launched back in 2009, Imgur is a unique website that allows users to share a wide variety of pictures. Featuring everything from memes to regular photographs, the site became incredibly popular in the years following its launch. Indeed, by 2013 Imgur had become one of the go-to places for online image sharing, beating off the likes of ImageShack and Photobucket.
So anyway, Gez created a photo album on Imgur, posting it under the name notadeckofcards. He then shared more than 50 images of his work up until that point, with each one showing the early progress of The Dungeon’s reimagining. Before charting the transformation, though, Gez revealed a little more about the room.
Gez began his story by posting a photograph of the room from before the project had begun. As the DIYer wrote on Imgur in April 2016, “So here’s where we started. A room under our house which we called ‘The Dungeon.’ Full of junk left over after moving in.”
At that point, Gez revealed that The Dungeon had a noticeable safety hazard. He continued, “We left it like this for nearly a year while deciding what to do with the room. The steel support beams are about 1.8 meters [5.9 feet] off the ground, but everywhere else is perfectly fine to walk around in without hitting your head.”
After setting the scene, Gez then spoke about the goal that he wanted to reach at the end of the revamp. As the Imgur user wrote, “We eventually decided to turn [The Dungeon] into a home theater. I actually posted some of this in 2014 after the first week on the project, but in hindsight I jumped the gun.”
Gez added, “It wasn’t anywhere near finished. We have put a lot of work into it since then, so please enjoy the rest of the album to see the real finished product!” Then, he shared his progress step by step – beginning with the outside entrance into the subterranean chamber.
Prior to the start of the project, the only way that Gez could access The Dungeon was via a green door in his garden. The yard is on a downward slope, with the house itself towards the top of the elevated area. And as a result, alongside the wall, an old pathway was in place leading directly to The Dungeon’s door.
Gez’s yard was also surrounded by a wooden fence, with the partition cutting off at the back of the property. But to kick things off, the DIYer worked on the elevated pathway, which consisted of old wooden panels and bricks. So it was that he subsequently removed the former before knocking out the latter.
Gez then laid down new bricks in place of the old materials, setting the blocks alongside some sturdy-looking wooden beams running along their edge. At that point, the Imgur user also decided to fill the gaps on either side of the brick path with decorative gravel. But this wasn’t the only feature that he wanted to improve in the yard.
With the entrance to The Dungeon sorted, Gez enlisted the help of his father to move the fence. Together, the pair were then able to reposition the partition so that it was closer to the old green door, thereby creating more space outside the back of the house. The hard work didn’t end there, though.
After restructuring the fence, Gez painted both it and the green door white. And to finish things off outside, the grassy area on the slope was covered in decorative gravel, which matched the updated pathway. Gez then completed his work here by adding some stones near the top of the path.
Next, Gez focused his attention on The Dungeon itself, which at this point was still filled to the brim with what he described as “junk.” Following some spring cleaning, though, the room was at long last cleared. It’s also worth noting that prior to the renovation, the floor was made up of stone slabs, while one of the walls featured a bench-like structure consisting of stones and bricks.
Gez then proceeded to spruce up the overhead steel crossbeams with a fresh coat of paint before subsequently moving The Dungeon’s heating duct. Then, with the duct now out of the way, the DIYer looked to take out the metal shelving around one of the walls. And in doing so, he created a lot more space.
From there, Gez filled the newly created gaps with some cupboards, which were eventually painted dark gray. The DIYer explained on Imgur that he had done this “to improve the cinematic experience.” And in addition, he had left a small area open in the wall for use as a bar.
Now the home cinema was really starting to come together, with Gez putting in a new seating area around the old brick bench. After that, he created a box-like structure for the projector before installing a set of LED lights in the room. But there were still some finishing touches to make.
To achieve the desired effect for when it came to watching a film, Gez added some curtains around the edge of The Dungeon. And once he’d done this, he focused his attention on the floor, covering it with large rubber slabs. To complete his work on the floor, the DIYer then put down some AstroTurf prior to installing the big screen.
With the screen now in place, one final task remained for Gez. In the entranceway to the home cinema, he fitted two beige curtains above the doorway, thereby completing the room’s transformation. And the Imgur album detailing the refit subsequently garnered more than 300,000 views as well as close to 12,000 points.
Then, in January 2017, Gez returned to Imgur with another photo album. You see, while The Dungeon was now a fully functioning cinema, one small issue with it remained. Despite all the changes that had been made to the room, there was still only one way to get in: via the outside door.
So, Gez laid out the plan for his next project. As he wrote on Imgur, “So you may remember the dungeon I have under my house, which I turned into a cinema. But the problem was there was only access from outside. That’s fine when the weather is nice and/or you have appropriate clothes on.”
“But for cold days or when you’re just in your pajamas, I thought it would be nice to be able to access [the cinema] internally,” Gez continued. “As a kid, I always thought how cool it would be to have a secret tunnel or passageway in your house. So now that I own [a home], there was nothing holding me back.”
Gez added, “After my wife agreed that I could cut a hole in the floor, of course!” At this point, then, the DIYer pressed ahead with his plan, first choosing the best spot in which to create the secret entrance. In the end, he opted for the left-hand corner of the room, just to the side of the big screen.
After Gez had chosen his subterranean spot, he prepared to work on the section of the living room floor lying directly above it. He said of the corner upstairs, “It used to have a chair and was a nice place to sit. So I wanted to incorporate a sitting area into the solution, which would double out as a great secret entrance.”
“I did consider both a trapdoor and a bookcase but felt a seat was best,” Gez added. “I liked the idea of a bench seat with storage – but in this case instead of storage, a secret staircase.” So at this point, he assembled the bench and purchased the materials needed to create a cushioned seat.
And yet with the bench now in place, Gez faced one of the biggest challenges of the project. As he wrote on Imgur, “I had a few different… carpenters I was going to get to come cut [the hole]. But since it was made over Christmas and New Year’s, everyone was on holidays.”
Gez added, “So after calling my dad and talking to some guys at [hardware supplier] Mitre 10, I felt confident enough to do it myself. In this photo, I’m getting a feel for where the additional supports would go to frame the edge of the hole.” And from there, he cut through the upstairs floor, creating a square-shaped hole in the corner.
Gez then fitted some new brackets around the hole to help support the upstairs floor. And after applying the finishing touches, he switched focus to the ladder, which he’d be putting together himself. Using timber that was over 100 years old, the Imgur user assembled the structure outside his house.
Gez’s work on the ladder eventually came to an end when he secured all the steps with a number of “heavy duty screws.” Then, he hosed down his creation before taking it back into the house. And with everything in place, the Imgur user gave a brief overview of his efforts.
However, when Gez shared the finished results of the entrance, he also relayed some feedback that he had received. As he wrote, “You would open the [secret] door and… apparently reveal [a] ‘giant hole/death trap,’ according to Reddit. A lot of the main concerns from the comments [related to] the structural safety of this ‘death box.’”
“I fully admit to being an amateur (hence posting to r/DIY),” Gez continued. “And it was pointed out that the type of wood used to make the sides (melamine) – and holding it together with screws – wasn’t a great solution.” Despite the negative comments, though, the DIYer was offered a potential answer to the problem.
Gez added, “It was suggested [that I] build an internal frame, which would be the structural component of the seat. And the melamine would [then] become just a decorative skin.” Meanwhile, away from that, the DIYer was also informed of another possible issue with the home cinema’s secret door.
“The other complaint was that if the lid broke [on the seat], the person sitting on it would fall straight down the hole,” Gez wrote. “[And] while the chances of the lid breaking in such a way to allow it to do that were highly unlikely in my opinion, I recognized people’s concerns.”
So with that in mind, Gez revealed his solution. “[I] decided to bring back the cutout floorboards to make a trapdoor for the extra layer of safety,” he said. And from there, the Imgur user shared some photos of the entrance inside the cinema, with the ladder perched on the left-hand side away from the big screen.
At the end of the album, Gez had some final words regarding his two big projects. And after all the work that he had put in, he highlighted one of his favorite features. The Imgur user wrote, “One of the best things about this room is how cool it stays during summer.”
“This photo was taken in the middle of a day that was 35+ [95 °F] outside, yet down here it stays in the low 20s [68-77 °F],” Gez concluded. “Closing the lid blocks out all the light from upstairs, and you can enjoy a full cinema experience without leaving the house! Very, very happy with how it turned out.”