The Allure of Secret Doors in Interior Design

Our San Antonio Interior Designers and Architects Reveal All the Design Secrets About Secret Doors 

Stumbling upon a secret door to reveal a hidden passageway feels like a scene out of a movie, and many homeowners are choosing to bring the drama of the silver screen right into their homes! As a result, the popularity of secret doors in interior design plans is rising, and it is easy to see why. Secret doors create allure and a theatrical entrance into the next room. Who wouldn’t want to feel like James Bond, after all? Our San Antonio interior designers and architects reveal all the design secrets about secret doors. Learn how secret doors work, the different types, the best places to put them, and all the benefits of adding one to your home. 

What is a Secret Door? 

Secret doors are also referred to as jib doors, phantom doors, hidden doors, frameless doors, and, of course, James Bond doors. While most entries are designed to stand out, secret doors are designed to blend in. They can be flush with the wall and finished with the same wallpaper or paneling, or they can be made to look like an unsuspecting bookshelf. Secret doors are one of those exciting and mysterious features we expect to see in old Victorian mansions, grand Tudor castles, or ultra-modern studies fit for a spy. Adding a secret door to your home project can create a fun surprise and an engaging conversation piece.  

Concealed Panel Door
Adding a secret door to your home project can create a fun surprise and an engaging conversation piece.  

How do Secret Doors Work? 

All hardware, trim, and framework must be hidden to create a secret door. Soss invisible hinges effectively conceal door hardware because they close into the door and frame, leaving no visible hinge exposed when shut. Soss hinges were designed by Joseph Soss in 1903. They function like an accordion, folding in on themselves for a disappearing effect. Touch-to-open spring latches and pivot hinges are also used to create secret doors. The best option will depend on the materials and door design used. 

Who Can Benefit From Installing a Secret Door in Their Home? 

Just about anyone can benefit from installing a secret door in their home. Everyone from James Bond to Batman to your average movie spy has one in their study to conceal their top-secret office. The President of the United States has two jib doors in the Oval Office, maintaining a streamlined look designed for concentration. Marie Antoinette had one in her bedroom to escape the Parisian mobs who were not too fond of her cake comments. Of course, Nancy Drew is a big fan of exploring the passages and rooms connected by secret doors in spooky mansions. Your neighbor may even have a secret door that you have yet to notice! While some people use secret doors to conceal, our San Antonio design team thinks the real enjoyment comes from the surprise reveal. What will you house behind your secret door?   

Marie Antoinette's Door in Versailles
Marie Antoinette’s Door at the Palace of Versailles

Types of Secret Doors

Hidden Jib Door

Hidden jib doors are one of the most popular types of secret doors. These doors don’t have any visible casing, framing, or hardware, allowing them to stand flush with the wall and blend in with their surroundings. Jib doors can be hidden by continuing the same wallpaper or millwork from the wall across the door. 

Pivoting Bookshelf Door 

Pivoting bookshelf doors are also called Murphy doors. Rather than blending in flush with the wall, Murphy doors mimic a bookshelf and open on a pivot hinge. These doors can be incorporated into a wall of built-ins and are perfect for spaces that need extra storage, like an office or study. How fun is it to find the book that opens the secret passage?  

Bookshelf Door by Philip Vile
Bookshelf Door by Philip Vile

Disguised Wardrobe or Mirror Door

While jib and Murphy doors conceal themselves by blending in, other secret doors can stay hidden while standing out. Disguising a door as a large wardrobe or hanging mirror can create a dramatic and playful effect. It may feel like you are entering Narnia or stepping through the looking glass! Wardrobe and mirror doors are great for kids and kids at heart. 

Where to Put a Secret Door in Your Home

While secret doors are fun, they are also practical. Here are some strategic places to put your secret door. 

Hallways 

We’ve all seen hallways that have an unsightly run of too many doors in a row. For halls where door placement feels haphazard and chaotic, secret doors can be used to hide them away. As a bonus, it would be fun to tell guests that the powder room is behind the secret door with the Picasso print hanging on it. 

Under Stair Storage

Secret doors can be used to hide under stair storage areas, which is especially effective for formal entryways that need to welcome guests and house the day-to-day chaos of the family.

Under Stair Jib Door by Sarah Hebenstreit House. Beautiful
Under Stair Jib Door by Sarah Hebenstreit

Safe Rooms 

For homeowners who want a safe or gun room, secret doors can provide an additional layer of security and prevent guests from stumbling into the space accidentally. 

Home Bars 

Concealing a home bar behind a secret door is a fun conversation starter for cocktail parties and events. 

Hidden Bar Door Design by Miles Redd. Photo by Roger Davies.
Hidden Bar Door
Design by Miles Redd
Photo by Roger Davies | Source: Arch Digest

Libraries

Libraries and studies lend themselves to hidden bookshelf doors. This fun feature could hide a private office or storage space for sensitive files. 

Guest Wings

Secret doors can be used as an exciting way to hide the entry to guest wings that are rarely used. Visiting friends will be wowed when their quarters are revealed behind a pivoting bookshelf. They may never want to end their stay! 

Designed by Andrew Howard. Design in Collaboration with Cronk Duch Architecture. Photo by Lucas Allen
Designed by Andrew Howard in Collaboration with Cronk Duch Architecture
Photo by Lucas Allen

Secret Passageways

With a secret door, run-of-the-mill hallways become captivating secret passageways. Creating a secret passage to a game or media room is a fun way to start the night and set the mood.  

Secret Door from Batman Movie
Secret Passage from Batman Movie

Benefits of Secret Doors

Capture the Imagination 

Secret doors are one of the romantic interior design elements that our team of San Antonio designers keeps coming back to. They capture the imagination and remind us of mystery, intrigue, and playful fun. For homeowners looking for ways to personalize their space, secret doors may provide the key!

Start a Conversation 

It is impossible to open a secret door for your guests without starting a conversation. How cool is it to reveal a bar behind a bookshelf? This element of surprise is pulled straight from the movies, delivering cinematic drama and fun. After all, why shouldn’t we have some fun when it comes to interior design?  

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