A (Secret) Room of One’s OwnSeptember 22, 2017
The truth is, almost every child has dreamed of finding a secret passage a hidden room or secret compartment found in a cabinet or drawer somewhere. There’s just something about the excitement of finding or even having a place that is concealed from other areas. Having a hidden room can be both fun and practical. It allows you to conceal valuables and collections from burglars or hide a completely separate room such as a gun safe, a man cave, kids’ playroom or even a panic room.
Secret rooms, passages, and compartments were used to hide people during times of persecution. At various times and situations, cabinet makers were able to conceal large pieces of furniture such as desks, work benches or even beds for when they aren’t in use in homes or aboard ships where space is always at a premium.
Considering a Secret Room for Your Home
According to Tommy Silva in a recent episode of This Old House, more and more homeowners today want to have hidden doors or hidden compartments installed in their homes. What’s more is that secret rooms and hidden compartments can add to the resale value of your home. The cost of putting in a hidden door will usually cost a few hundred dollars and up, depending on the kind of features you want to include.
You can construct such a project yourself or buy them premade from one of the many companies which specialize in constructing interior doors that look like built-in bookcases. By means of hidden latches and hinges, the bookcase or piece of furniture will swing open to reveal a hidden room or space. If you are doing new construction or thinking of a remodel to your kitchen or other parts of your home, you can also work with your cabinet contractor to help you come up with some ideas for hidden compartments or storage.
Whether you are going to do it yourself or are working with someone to create the perfect concealed room or space, you will quickly find that there’s more to it than you might expect. If not measured exactly within 1/16th of an inch you might find that it’s far too easy to discover. In order to successfully install a door concealed as a cabinet or bookcase, the door jamb must be made the level so that when it opens and closes it doesn’t stick or have noticeable gaps that reveal the room. Plus, most hidden doors scrape along the ground to avoid putting a gap at the bottom, but this can create a path on the floor. Many of these features are made of wood which tends to expand and contract based on temperature and humidity. This can make a secret door stick.
Keeping a Secret
Here are some ideas of where you might want to consider having a concealed space around your home.
- In the kitchen, one of the most unused spaces of all is the kick plate underneath lower kitchen cabinets. Some homeowners use this space for storage of extra cookware and such. If well concealed, this can provide a hiding place.
- Another common place to stash a secret room or hidden passage is beneath a stairway. One woman built a playroom for her children directly under the stairs completely concealed from view unless you know how to access the door.
- In the 1950’s, many homes hid built-in root cellars to keep extra foodstuffs during the winter months. One clever homeowner in the Midwest hid their root cellar right under the garage and carport of their home when it was first built. A built-in system that was concealed under the basement staircase also served as a door to the space that was also used as a storm shelter for the family.
- Installing a false back or a false bottom in kitchen cabinets can be a great hiding place. This idea has gained popularity at home shows around the world where items such as knives are hidden in compartments directly behind upper kitchen cabinets and are revealed at the push of a button.
If you want to install a hidden compartment, it’s best to speak with someone with experience in their installation due to the tight requirements. But once installed, these features can greatly add to the resale value of the home.