Basically, it's a hidden space in your home that can't easily be detected when walking into a room. In the grand old mansions of the past, these rooms were designed and built into the homes by the architects. Many were elaborate with hidden hallways built into the walls that allowed the homeowners to move through these areas without being detected in the public rooms of the home. Hidden panels were part of the design, often with the pulls connected to a decorative item on a fireplace or on a specific book on the bookcase in the library that would be pulled out in order to open the doorway and allow access to enter the hidden room or passageway.
I've always loved this design and growing up I would watch the old black and white movies that would show these homes where people would appear out of nowhere or escape down into the secret laboratory tucked away. Whether it's the wardrobe door in Chronicles of Narnia, the platform 9 3/4 in Harry Potter, the Bat Cave in Bruce Wayne's mansion or secret temple entrances in Indiana Jones style movies, we all love these secret passageways that lead to the unexpected treasures!
While most homes these days are not so elaborate, we can still create this look and feel in our home with a hidden doorway that opens to a secret room. Here's a design that I created, let's peek inside!
Creating a Secret Room - Start to Finish
In the entryway of this home, there was a thin closet with sliding mirrored doors. The doors slid across to open to hold a few small shelves inside and that was about it for the space. On the other side of this entry was a second coat closet, so there was the ability to alter this closet, while still keeping a closet in the entry to store coats, umbrellas, etc.
This area was undergoing renovation beginning with removal of an old cracked tile floor in the entryway. It turned out that the previous home owner had installed tile over old tile and it was quite the project to remove the various layers of tile that had been laid over each other for decades. That's the thing with renovations, something can look fairly straightforward, but once you peel back the first layer, things can and often do get messier than expected.
In the first photo here, the tile has all been removed down to the subfloor and the out of date (and bad feng shui energy!) mirrored sliding closet doors have been removed. Shown here is the thin closet with wire shelves that were previously installed. The shelves are holding materials that the contractors are removing like an old light in the hallway and other odds and ends. As you can see, there's not much room here in this closet.
At the end of this closet, there is a hallway and down this hallway, is a second closet that is larger.
Upon seeing this second closet, this is when the idea began to form about creating a secret room!
After a review of the house plans and consulting with an architectural engineer and the contractor, it was found that the back wall of the closet, was the side wall of the second closet on the other side of the hallway. (Before doing any renovations, consult with an architectural expert first).
We began the investigation by creating a small hole in this wall to peek through to the other side and there was the second closet. It was confirmed that this wall was not load bearing and it didn't have any plumbing or electrical in this wall. Even with this in mind, only a small area of this wall would be opened, structurally it wouldn't be touched, the integrity of the wall would remain as it was, only a portion needed to be opened to allow entry into the larger closet area.
We then opened this portion of the wall and you can see here in the photo the second door, which allowed access to the second closet from the hallway.
The next step was to remove that second door and make it a wall, so that the room was no longer accessible by the hallway. In this photo you can see the hallway and how the two closets have become one. The new floor from the entry has been installed and allowed for seamless installation into the closet room. The walls have been painted, (Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige), new sconce lighting has been added to the back wall and crown moulding is being installed to give the room an elegant feel.
So at this point, a "secret" room has been created, but it's still very visible from the entry way. This is where the hidden door comes into play. For this look, I choose swinging bookcase doors to allow entrance into the room.
Here are the bookcase doors being installed. They swing on hinges that allow them to easily be pulled open.
Getting a little exciting right? It's starting to come together!
Here are both doors fully installed. The hidden bookcase doors are by Murphy Door and come with the moulding that installs above and around the doors to create a seamless look that says, "Hey, I'm a bookcase".
When this project was complete, many people would enter the home and say, "What a great recessed bookcase, it looks amazing" and never knew that it was a door to hidden room.
To open the doors, you pull behind the moulding on the right side door and the door swings open. There is an upgraded option where you can have something installed that operates as a pull to open the door, just like in the old movies! But in this option, we kept it simple and the door was just pulled open to enter.
At the bottom of the doors in the next photo, notice the hinges that secure the door in place when closed.
As an added effect for this room, the sconces were installed with a motion detection feature. So when the doors were opened, the motion automatically turns on the sconces, creating a dramatic effect as the room is revealed.
Now the fun begins as it's time to decorate! The choice for this room was to make it a wine room, with a cabinet to store wine and glasses and an elaborate wine opener (from Frontgate) to uncork and simulate the feel of a wine tasting room. A champagne bucket in the background allows for items to be chilled.
Books and decor are placed on the exterior shelves of the door to create the appearance that this is just a bookcase in the entryway. As it stands alone as a bookcase, it's quite attractive with the moulding and useful.
Inside the now secret hidden wine room, glasses, ice buckets, carafes, and supplies are being loaded on the shelves in order to stock the room. As wine and liquor are being added, I begin to call this space the Prohibition Room, thinking back to the Roaring 20s era and how liquor had to be hidden and speakeasy's were created, where one needed the password to gain entrance into the secret room or club. There's such a fun feeling to creating a secret room in a home.
The Secret Room is complete and ready for use! This wine cabinet is from Pottery Barn and is modular, made from six independent pieces that can be stacked and moved around as well as making it easy to move something of this size in and out of a small area like this room.
The grid makes it easy to store wine and there are knobs on the lower cabinets, above the drawers, which pull out a shelf to place a wine glass and pour. A leather club chair has been added to the room to enhance the experience.
While this room was created to store and serve wine, this room could also have been used as a playroom for children, storage and security for a homeowner to keep valuables, a meditation room and really, the possibilities are only limited by one's imagination.
As a final touch to the entryway area, crown moulding was added throughout the room, with dimmable recessed lighting behind the moulding.
These swinging doors can also be installed over an existing door in your home without the added work that was created here by merging two rooms.
I hope this sparks some ideas for you of what you can create and how you can change the look, energy and feel in your home. Make your space uniquely you!
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