Modern Secret Room Dreams (and Nightmares): From Creative Hideouts to Dreadful Spaces
Hidden passages have a long history of appearing in fictional novels and films but an even richer past in reality dating back to Egyptian tombs passages for Christians to worship in hiding from Romans. Over the years hidden passages have been used to arrest kings and evacuate popes, hide shogun warriors, facilitate guerrilla fighters, enable drug smugglers and conceal serial killers. In recent times, however, many more modest individuals have created (or discovered) secret passages in ordinary everyday households and there are even companies dedicated to designing secret doors, rooms and passages in middle-class houses. In some cases the discovery of a secret room is a wonderful find but it can also be a twisted nightmare.
With so many secret rooms built into houses is it any wonder that some people are surprised to discover that their very own house has one they were entirely unaware of? One couple in an ordinary and unspectacular A-frame house found out they had their very own secret room after a year of living in the structure. The room itself: a space as large as their main bedroom and complete with somewhat creepy accessories including a sleeping bag, electrical outlet and even unopened beer cans.
While for one couple the discovering of a secret room was exciting and resulted in additional usable space for another family a similar find was the beginning of a nightmarish tragedy. In their secret room they found a mysterious note from a previous owner of the house who claimed that the structure was riddled with harmful mold that had made his children very sick. As it turned out, the note was right: an inspection revealed high levels of various dangerous molds and the new owners were able to sue and settled for having the house repurchased at the price they paid. And the previous owner? Apparently he was worried about someone with a vested interest in selling the house finding the note and therefore hid it.
Hidden rooms today usually serve one of two purposes: security or fun. Sometimes a hidden door is used to disguise a safe or a ‘panic room’ where residents can hide in an emergency. The room showed above, however, is one couples’ unusually creative gift to their very excited teenage daughter. This room works as an office and play-space and goes entirely unnoticed by clueless visitors (or even building inspectors). A remote control amazingly lifts an entire staircase out of the way revealing the hidden passage.
There are a number of design and construction companies that have grown up with the public’s recently renewed fascination with secret doors, rooms and passageways. Creative Home Engineering has a number of stock products and also creates custom hidden door and room designs. Their ready-made products include classics like the fireplace that opens when you twist a candlestick and a bookcase that opens when you tilt a book. The Hidden Doors company and others have dozens of simpler and less expensive stock items to choose from as well – from cabinets to pool racks and wine shelves masking hidden doors.
Until recently we thought that installing a hidden door in real life would require a hiring a general contractor who would surely shoot us a suspicious look when we explained what we wanted. In fact, there are over a dozen companies with the specialty of installing stealth entrance ways. Some stock pre-built hidden doors.
And you needn’t have a spooky mansion, eccentric tastes or a now-it-puts-the-lotion-in-the-basket creepiness to you to have a secret door either. There are several reasons why you may want to consider having a hidden door in your house.
Primary among those reasons: space efficiency. A normal door occupies wall area that could otherwise be used for, say, a bookshelf. Do you have a room or storage area you don’t need frequent access to? Hide the entrance to it behind a fireplace, staircase, mirror, wall panel or even a painting.
Some people have hidden doors for security reasons. To conceal a vault, for example. Or to hide a panic room made popular by the 2002 Jodie Foster flick.
Mostly, though, we think there’s something about a hidden door that’s magical—and exceptionally cool. (Check out the photos, below).
Companies that specialize in hidden doors include:
Creative Home Engineering — Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite hidden door company. They have the most creative designs and build all types of hidden entryways included armored doors and doors with biometric access control.
The Hidden Door Company — specializes mostly in bookcase hidden doors but will manufacture designs specific to your situation.
Niche Doors — has high-quality pre-built hidden doors made of wood.
Hide A Door — offers some of the most inexpensively priced hidden doors. Their website has a form where you can request a free quote.
Want a secret room but aren’t sure you want to pay for one? Well, there are do-it-yourself options for creating your own disguised doors to hidden spaces though the process is somewhat complicated. There are of course a lot of things that have to be considered with a secret door such as hiding visible gaps with trim and giving the doors a comfortable swing capacity. Also, load issues need to be considered if you have, for example, a swinging bookshelf in mind. Remarkably, though, this can all potentially be accomplished for just a few hundred dollars – a relatively small price to pay for such a clever interior design feature.
Ultimate Hidden Staircase Ideal for Wannabe Bond VillainsBy AddyDugdale
Giz is a big fan of the secret passageway, but this sub-staircase version really is the mutt’s nuts. A cross between a drawbridge, a private jet and something that, to kids, is straight out of Indiana Jones and the Duplex of Suburbia, the concealed hidey-hole is just one of a series of designs from Creative Home Engineering, a firm that puts hidden doors just about everywhere you wouldn’t think of looking. Prices range from $5,000 to a cool quarter of a million. [Creative Home Engineering via BallerHouse]