How hidden doors add character to homes

Ned Browne

From a financial point of view, installing a hidden door is hard to justify. But homes should be fun too and on that level they work every time. And, if you come to sell, a touch of quirkiness might just make your property stand out from the crowd…

Hidden trap doors

Although trap doors are still common in Public Houses, they are rarely seen in residential properties. This is such a shame, as they can save space and add character and intrigue.

I saw one such example in an unprepossessing flat in Streatham.  The owner rolled up the rug and lifted the trapdoor—the stairs beneath led to the garden. Before the trap door had been installed the living room was blighted by a porch-like structure at the top of the stairs. The trap door saved space and became the talking point of the flat.

I’ve also seen hidden trap doors above wine cellars and basements. One was circular and hid a stunning stone spiral staircase, which led to a well-stocked and dusty hoard of claret.  Simple trap doors can be made on site and installed by a competent joiner. More complicated types will require specialists.

 

Revolving book case doors

The most well known of the hidden doors, these are also the ones that require some serious engineering, especially if you’re planning on having real books on display.  Books are, after all, very heavy. This is part of the reason these doors tend to be revolving as opposed to hinged. Done well, however, these never fail to raise an eyebrow. Children, in particular, seem to love them.

There are a handful of companies operating in the United Kingdom who will install these. Don’t attempt it yourself, unless you are highly competent. 

 

The mirror door

This is possibly the easiest hidden door to create but to make it look convincing, it’s the small details that will add up. 

The best examples tend to be thin, have a pseudo-frame and be buttressed by architrave-free walls. A quick Google search will unearth loads of examples and stacks of ideas to borrow.

 

Hidden panel doors

If you are planning on panelling a room—that has at least two doors—this is the moment to create your hidden door. 

To create the illusion, it’s crucial that the lines aren’t interrupted and that the colours match. The handle needs to go too.

They could be replaced by a simple push-to-open latch, or you could opt for something dinky, such as a hidden catch.