Hidden Doors, Secret Rooms, and the Hardware that makes it possible! - Fine Homebuilding
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Job Site Diaries

Job Site Diaries

Hidden Doors, Secret Rooms, and the Hardware that makes it possible!

comments (15) January 18th, 2013 in Blogs
Matt Risinger Matt Risinger, Blogger

I've been blogging now for about 5 years and it's funny to look at the statistics of what videos or blog posts get the most hits. By far my #1 most watched is the Hidden Door video I took 3 years ago which is approaching 250,000 views! Who exactly is watching and why I wonder?
Anyhow, I love doing these hidden doors. The Sugatsune hardware I'm using is so sweet. Here's a few pictures of some recent ones I've done. This is a Powder Room tucked under the stairs on a 1940's house we remodeled with Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects

Modern Powder Room design by Austin Architect Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects


Modern Powder Room design by Austin Architect Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects

The doors that open out into the room all utilize this Airplane hardware that Eric Rauser who works with me found. He tracked down this Industrial Touch Latch Hardware from St. Louis Designs in Austin TX who makes hardware for Lear Jet cabins! The cheap ones you find in most cabinet hardware catalogs don't have enough muscle to throw a heavy door out. This one produces 12 pounds of force to push out a solid/heavy door.    

St Louis Designs Industrial Touch Latch (Magnetic)

Here's a 1935 house where we re-used the ship-lap sheathing for an interior paneling and hid the door to the hall bathroom in the horizontal ship-lap. Hugh Jefferson Randolph was the Architect on this one too.  



Close up of the Sugatsune three way adjustable hinges I use most often for these hidden doors. 

 Finally, we worked with FAB Architecture on this remodel below. What you are seeing is an Oak paneled basement wall with two hidden doors. The door on the right is to a secret media room. You can see the vertical outline of another door to the left which hides a mechanical closet for a wine conditioning HVAC unit.  



This hardware isn't cheap but all good hardware is well worth the price paid. The expensive part is paying a fine craftsman & Builder who can actually pull this all off and make it flawless. Fun stuff! 
Matt Risinger
Risinger Homes in Austin TX
Risinger Homes is a custom builder and whole house remodeling contractor that specializes in Architect driven and fine craftsmanship work. We utilize an in-house carpentry staff and the latest building science research to build dramatically more efficient, healthy and durable homes. 
Be sure to check out my video blog on YouTube

posted in: Blogs, remodeling, , finish carpentry, bathroom, cabinets, stairs, doors, built-ins, hardware, Hidden Door, hinges, secret room

Comments (15)

MarkSindone MarkSindone writes: Beautiful. And such a special way to keep all the unsightly things in storage away from prying eyes and guests that come over! Maybe it's time to see how we can seal up the door to our storage room in the same way hey?
Posted: 10:14 pm on November 19th

Oleahome Oleahome writes: Hi Matt. Great work! Hidden doors are getting very popular. Which is why I wanted to ask you how tall was that bathroom door? Because when you see the specs in the Sugastune hinges, they don't support 8 feet tall doors. Where I work, basically that's what I sell. Just wanted to check if your door was 96" and if the hinges supported the weight.

Posted: 5:47 am on June 16th

lastchancecarpenter lastchancecarpenter writes: I'm working on a hidden door that will open out. The finish "skin" is pecky cypress over a four panel pine door and I would like to minimize the gap needed on the hinge side to prevent binding.
Any suggestions on hinge choices? It weighs around 200 pounds.
If I set the SOSS hinges into the 3/4" pecky, I'm afraid I'll lose structure...
Posted: 9:06 am on June 3rd

lastchancecarpenter lastchancecarpenter writes:
Posted: 9:02 am on June 3rd

Matt Risinger Matt Risinger writes: @Sneaky: I'm not familiar anyone in Nashville. But, I'd ask around to see if a hardwood floor installer has done this. I've done floor safes in hardwoods that were pretty obscure. Or, look for a high end finish carpenter and he will likely have done one or would LOVE to do one! Best, Matt Risinger
Posted: 2:14 pm on May 9th

Sneaky Sneaky writes: Matt,

Unfortunately I don't live in your area. Do you know of anyone in the Nashville, TN area that does this kind of work? I can't seem to find anyone, but perhaps I am looking in the wrong place. I'm looking for an access door in the floor for fast access to our storm shelter located in a basement/crawl space. We have hardwood flooring and hope to have the "door" blend with the floor in order to remain unseen. Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


Posted: 12:02 am on May 9th

AmolPattekar AmolPattekar writes: Matt, love your blog and the videos. We are doing a remodel and and need to put in a door in a visually important wall, so I am looking for ways to hide the door. We are trying to build something like the powder room door in the picture above (the door opens towards the cladded side and reveals visually hide the gap between the closed door and the wall)

I was wondering how thick the cladding is on that door. From what I understand, the Sugatsune hinges need to be installed pretty close to the edge of the door (the installation instructions say the edge of hinge to the edge of door should be max 4mm). Any thicker, and the cladding on the door will push against the cladding on the wall when the door is opened.

I was wondering you solved this problem.

Thanks a lot!

Posted: 1:49 pm on February 16th

jeremiahschwenger jeremiahschwenger writes: Lol! For this to be done where I live you would need it to be done without a permit, have it lead to a fall out shelter, a vault, or the bat cave. No way would a building inspector allow this in a home here in southern New Jersey!
It's way to dangerous, no doors to any rooms allowed without clear markings.
Posted: 4:28 pm on September 16th

MPaulyd MPaulyd writes: If the door is an inswing how did you get it to close without a handle?
And when closed is the framing what keeps it from out swinging? or does the hinge simply stop it?

Posted: 10:02 am on September 11th

Boerboel Boerboel writes: How can you call them "hidden" doors if they can be clearly seen?
Posted: 10:06 am on August 8th

Edward1234 Edward1234 writes: What a great idea. Thanks for this post. you might also want to visit Brejnik Fine Homes.

Posted: 2:59 pm on May 14th

CharlesIrion CharlesIrion writes: Love the hidden bathroom under the staircase. That is awesome!

Posted: 2:04 am on January 28th

Matt Risinger Matt Risinger writes: @TheTimberTailer: Thanks! These doors are really fun for my whole team to build and it's fun to show off our craftsmanship. Be sure to look up St Louis Designs, killer hardware and not easy to find! Best, Matt

@HobbesJourney: The Powder Room under the stairs is all clad in MDF panels that were fitted then painted at my cabinet makers shop with an Automotive finish. That was really tricky because it's all glossy and couldn't be touched up easily . Next time I do that design I'll figure out how to site paint it. Best, Matt
Posted: 12:01 am on January 20th

TheTimberTailor TheTimberTailor writes: Matt,
I remember your initial post about the hidden doors... its good to see you've found a niche doing such cool projects! Thanks for the link on the St Louis Designs heavy duty touch latches, I've needed similar hardware a number of times and always came up short at the hardware store.

Nice work,

Posted: 10:03 pm on January 18th

HobbesJourney HobbesJourney writes: For the Powder Room tucked under the stairs on a 1940's house, what panel material are you using? The panels appear to extend the full length from floor to ceiling and appear to be segmented panels. Not sure what material though and whether or not they are pre-sized and cut panels.
Posted: 2:59 pm on January 18th

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