Secret doors aren’t just the stuff of royals and spies; the modern man is just as deserving of a little privacy, albeit with a dash of mischief.
Hidden doors have been in use for centuries, acting as private passageways otherwise unknown to the wider household and potential prying eyes.
These secret entryways were capable of guarding riches, as well as simply providing a bit of security for the room’s occupant, and continue to promise the same today.
A hidden door is your chance to get a little creative with your secrecy, regardless of what lies on the other side. Clever bookshelves with a “trick” latch, wall paneling, and even built-in household implements can all conceal a sacred chamber, providing endless entertainment and intrigue for guests and owners alike. Many hidden door designs are deceptively easy to install, featuring a number of additional components to suit your space and needs. One thing is certain: your home will be the winking embodiment of the phrase “more than meets the eye.”
From Batman’s lair to the tombs of the ancient Egyptians, there are a number of inspirations behind a hidden door. Whether you’re looking to add a bit of fun and mystery to your abode or are keen on some old world seclusion, these hidden door ideas are your escape from the obvious–and an endlessly fun approach at that.
1. Bookshelf Hidden Door Ideas
This is one of the traditional methods for creating a hidden doorway. You’ve probably seen a large bookcase that takes up an entire wall. Then there’s one section that magically hinges open to reveal a hidden room. Another option is to have a door-sized bookshelf built into the wall but this bookshelf is actually a door that you can open and walk behind.
One thing that you’ll notice about all of these bookshelves is that they are flush with the rest of the wall. This makes it easier to attach the concealed hinges on the backside so that the door opens inward towards the hidden room.
When creating this style of door, you’ll want to think about the depth of your bookcase. You can buy a pre-built Murphy door or construct your own from scratch. The door needs to sit flush with the wall but also have enough room to swing open.
You can get creative in how your door opens by installing a latch on the backside that’s connected to a cable. Thread the cable through the bookshelf and attach it to a woodblock. Cover the woodblock with a book cover and mount it to the shelf on a hinge. Then when you tilt that “book” forward, it pulls the cable, which opens the latch.
2. Hidden Door Ideas for Paneled Walls
The brilliance behind a hidden paneled door is that you could be staring right at it and not know it’s even there. To the unknowing observer, the wall looks like a continuous wall with no breaks. This type of hidden door is a bit easier since you can use a standard door that you’ll then cover with panels.
Your first step is to choose the wall that you want to cover in panels. Remove any trim that’s currently around the door. You want to create a smooth canvas across the entire wall and door. Then choose your paneling material. This look works well in modern styled homes since it blends in with the sleek and minimalist look.
You have a lot of freedom with this choice. You could use repeating square panels, horizontal wooden shiplap, floor to ceiling panels, or vertical wood paneling. If you choose a panel pattern that has vertical seams, then it will be easier to hide the door seams in the panel pattern.
To make your door a success, you’ll need to buy a spring-loaded latch that’s more powerful than the standard. A spring-loaded latch will eliminate the need for a traditional door handle. Your hidden door is more substantial and weighs more than a typical door, so standard spring-loaded latches won’t have the pressure or power to thrust your hidden door open. Look for a latch that has more than the standard 2-3 pounds of pressure.
3. Hidden Door Ideas for Coffered and Wainscot Walls
While having smooth panels looks nice, they may not completely camouflage the door. This is where wainscoting becomes useful. Traditionally, wainscoting was used on the lower half of walls to hide the evidence of rising dampness. These days, it’s purely decorative.
There are five types of wainscoting; beadboard, overlay, raised panel, flat panel, batten, and board. If you want to easily apply wainscoting to your wall and hidden door, you can buy pre-fabricated panels and other trim pieces. This will make installation faster.
Raised-panel is the most traditional and respected form of wainscoting. It requires close attention to detail as each piece of trim is cut, routered, and beveled to exacting measurements. It features a variety of raised trim and panels to create a pattern of squares and rectangles. This style looks best in Queen Anne or Colonial style homes.
Flat-panel wainscoting is similar to the raised panel, but there are no raised center or decorative trim pieces. There’s a flat panel as the base and then trim pieces are places over it called stiles. The raised stiles will create a square pattern. This style looks best in Mission-style homes that embrace simple lines, exposed rafters, and an emphasis on craftsmanship.
You’ll see board-and-batten used more often as exterior siding, but it can also appear indoors. This type of wainscoting has alternating boards that have wider planks of wood placed first and then more narrow strips, or battens, placed over the edges of two neighboring boards. This type of paneling is more informal and considered “classic Americana”. It first became popular during the Victorian Era because of its durability and affordability.
4. Bathroom Hidden Door Ideas
One of the more popular hidden door ideas is to hide away a bathroom. Hiding the bathroom door can create a cleaner look to your home by hiding the entrance to this small room. This may not be the best choice for your main bathroom in the home, though. It can work well for your master or rarely used guest bathroom.
The one downside is that your bathroom location won’t be readily distinguishable to guests. This can lead to that awkward conversation of them asking and you having to show the way. But if you enjoy the theatrics and mystery, then this won’t be a big deal.
While you can use a bookshelf for your bathroom door, consider how often the door will get used. This door will get moved more often than other hidden doors, so you want anything on the shelves to be stable. A more practical choice is to use paneling or wainscoting.
5. Cabinetry Hidden Door Ideas
A cabinet hidden door can blend beautifully into your kitchen or dining room. You already have cabinetry in these rooms, so creating a false cabinet that’s actually a door will be relatively easy. To make this look work, you’ll make the door look like another cabinet door complete with matching hardware.
If you have custom cabinets, then you can ask the carpenter to make you a cabinet door in the dimensions you need. If your cabinets aren’t custom, you can recreate the look by covering a standard door to look like your cabinets. Be sure to use cabinet hardware instead of a doorknob.
If your door is a part of a wall of cabinetry, you can make it blend in by repeating a pattern found elsewhere. You could have a fireplace or bookshelf in the center of the wall, and then cabinets or bookshelves framing the central feature. One side is actual cabinets or shelving, the other matches in looks, but is hiding the door. This symmetry is appealing to the eye and will trick people into not noticing that one side is a door.
6. Hidden Door Ideas for Floor Hatches
Staircases can take up a lot of room. Instead of building out a set of stairs going down to your basement, why not create a secret hatch in your floor? This lets you use the square footage above the stairs as floor space when you aren’t using the stairs.
When creating your floor hatch, keep in mind that it will be bigger than you think it needs to be. The floor needs to open up large enough that you won’t hit your head while going up or down the stairs. Most end up being a long rectangle. You’ll also want to consider installing hydraulic arms. This will help you lift the door easily and close it smoothly. For increased safety, consider installing a handrail on the underside of your hatch door.
7. Under Stair Hidden Door Ideas
The space under your stairs is the most unused and wasted space in the home. Depending on the construction of your stairs, you could turn this space into a child’s playroom, storage room, guest bathroom, or mini home office. All of these ideas need a door. But having a door to the under the stairs space may look odd and out of place. Hiding the door allows you to utilize the space while not compromising the architectural design of your stairs.
To create this look in your home, skip the door handle, and opt for a spring-loaded hinge. This will give you a seamless appearance. You should also consider following the lines of your trim that are already in place. This may mean that your door is a unique shape, such as having an angled top to follow the angle of the stairs.
Consider having this hidden door swing outward. There may not be enough room under your stairs to have the door swing inward and still leave enough space for you to comfortably walk through the doorway.
8. Hidden Door Ideas for Behind Artwork, Murals, and Wallpaper
So far, every idea we’ve discussed has you blending the door into the surrounding furniture and architecture. But sometimes, you can hide the door in plain sight. One bold idea is to remove the door and instead mount a floor to ceiling piece of artwork on hinges. The picture will sit on the wall instead of being flush like other hiding strategies. Guests will walk by and admire your impressive and large display of artwork but you’ll know that it hides the entrance to a hidden room.
Another option is to disguise the door with wallpaper or paint. For the most effective camouflage, choose wallpaper or a painted mural that has a lot of detail and design. The eye will get distracted by the pattern and image. You can choose a plain color, but you will still be able to see the seams around the door when it’s closed.
The advantage of this method is that you can have a standard door handle on the door, and most people won’t notice it. It also works well for doors that you want to hide, but can’t turn into cabinetry, wainscoting, or bookshelves. Try using this method in a hallway where space is limited, but a bold wallpaper will make a beautiful interior design statement.
Hidden Door FAQs
Can I create a hidden door in my already built home?
Yes, you can! Look for a door that you want to hide. This could be a door to your under staircase area, in a hallway, off the living room, or in your kitchen. Once you choose the door you want to hide, choose from these ideas on how you want to hide it. Then build out your camouflage to conceal the door.
Do I have to put a handle on my hidden door?
No, depending on the hinge system you choose, you may be able to skip the door handle completely. But keep in mind that some hiding strategies benefit from a handle. Consider using a handle that blends in with the surrounding cabinetry and not a traditional doorknob. If you don’t want any handle at all, then look for a spring-loaded device. You operate the door by activating the secret switch.
Would I benefit from having a secret door?
Anyone who wants to hide something will benefit from a secret door. This style of door lets you create a secret place where you can hide your most valuable belongings. Hidden doorways and secret passageways can also add a level of whimsy and fun to your home. Instead of using your secret door to guard your prized possessions, use it to create a special entrance to your game room or children’s playroom.