It’s Where We Hide the Bodies…

Not really…don’t call the cops. All you’ll find is the furnace and half a dozen garbage bags filled with returnables. I PROMISE!

This project, the hidden door, is one that I have wanted to do for a number of years but never had the house to do it. I had done a bunch of research on how to build one, and where you could buy one complete if you wanted to. Those, by the way, are expensive. My door would also need to fit into a fairly tight space, swing in, instead of out and be made on a budget. I eliminated the use of SOSS hinges from my design. They are expensive, and I’m not sure they would have worked well with this door. First step was to remove the old wooden door. It had a few layers of drywall screwed to the back of it for insulation (I assume). It was heavy, and it didn’t shut well.

Once the door was removed, I measured the rough space to get an idea of how much room I would have for the frame of the door. I didn’t want it to be any less of an opening from what I had before, and I wanted to have the ability to remove the door if needed. If I were to do this project again I would use plywood where I could. I think it would hold up better over the long run. The picture below is of the outside shell, where the door will eventually be mounted. On the workbench are the sides of the door (bookcase).

I did a rough assembly of the door before fitting it in place to be sure everything moved the way it should. At that point it was just a bookcase, with a frame around it. The plywood back is thick enough to offer a bit of insulation from the cold basement, but I may add some foam to it as some point.  It took some adjustments to get everything working fine once it was in place. It really didn’t start to look like a success until the trim was on.

The installation was the most difficult part. The door didn’t completely clear the inside ceiling to the basement… it was off by about a half an inch. I was able to shave that off. Notice the project manager in the picture above. No not me…. it’s the one with the ears!

You can see with the picture above where I had to shave some plaster off of the ceiling inside the stairwell to the basement. Here you also get an idea of how the hinges and frame work. There are some pretty big bolts securing the frame of the door to the right. We knew we would want to put cookbooks on the shelves since this was in the kitchen. The door is kept closed by a few double roller cabinet catches. The weight of the door is enough is enough to keep it from being knocked open. I also routed a groove on the underside of one of the shelves for an easier grip to pull it closed. You can’t see it unless you are looking for it.

The picture above shows the beginning of the trim. The piece of pine at the top is just hiding the hole that was left by the old door. I added some crown molding to the top to make it blend in with the wall, and gave it a few coats of paint.

And the final project…

Shortly after I finished this project we had to replace our forced hot air furnace. I was showing the furnace guy into the basement one day and noticed that he hadn’t made it past the hidden door. He hadn’t seen anything like it before. I still get a kick out of it every time I have to add to my collection of returnables.

Total project time: 2-3 weekends.




Filed under Renovation

27 responses to “It’s Where We Hide the Bodies…

  1. Wow… That is really cool! makes me want one!

  2. Whoa! That is seriously the best thing I’ve seen in a while. I definitely want one!

  3. SO COOL!! Neat idea, and great job pulling it off!

  4. This is awesome!! I’m so impressed!!

  5. Coolest project ever? Uhh, yeah. Jealous.

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  7. Penny

    So totally awesome! I have always wanted a hidden room and I love the bookcase idea. I have thought of doing this with a large mirror but this is so much more practical! Thanks for sharing it! Here in Arizona, we have so few basements but that won’t stop me from developing a new space!

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  10. Julia

    Love it! What color did you use for the trim?

  11. Looks awesome! Which hinges did you use? Did you have to notch them into the shell of the bookshelf or wall so they’d flush?

  12. Anna

    This is really great and seems exactly what I was looking for! I need to separate one little room from a sitting-room, the wall in between is 12 inches thick, and both rooms are small, so I was wondering whether I could use this 12inch depth somehow. And I needed bookshelves! The problem I don’t know how to solve well is the diagonal vs horizontal dimension of the shelf… if I want the door opened, I need to have them a bit narrower than the actual passage, so approx. 2inch gap will need some camouflage. Did you have to hide any gaps too, on the left side of the door? Thank you so much for sharing this project details! Greetings from Poland! 🙂

    • Matt

      I did have to fill a gap on the left, and you can see that I covered it with the molding but I think it turned out okay.

  13. Mark

    Totally cool. I have a double bifold door in my living room that covers my laundry room. I am getting ideas of a bifold book shelf with a secret book to unlock it. The hinges have to open forward to gain access to the washroom but I found some sturdy ones that are used for aircraft doors. Expensive as heck though. Really like the looks.

  14. Well done sir. It looks like a professional job. I’m certainly impressed. I think one day i’ll try that with our hall closet door. I gotta finish my other projects first before i start a new one. Thanks for sharing. Good job!

  15. Rocco

    Hey Matt i’m looking to build one and I would like to have a locking mechanism any ideas?

    • Matt

      I wish I did. I’ve seen a few that use a book as a way to hide a locking mechanism but that requires a bit of ingenuity.

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