From the Print Edition:
Pierce Brosnan, May/June 2014
Without a doubt, the most delightful feature of a secret door is its trigger. For Adam West’s Batman, a switch hidden within a bust of Shakespeare activated a sliding bookcase, revealing a pair of kitschy Batpoles that led down to the Batcave. The eccentric Willy Wonka tickled the opening notes of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” on a diminutive piano in order to open the musical lock that safeguarded the entrance to his Chocolate Room. As for you, what will the trigger be for your secret door?
That’s one of the first questions asked by Steve Humble, founder of Creative Home Engineering, the world’s premier hidden-door design company. Humble is keen to follow up that question with a common assurance: the trigger for your secret door project is limited only by your imagination. From a spinning fireplace opened by the pull of a nearby candlestick holder to something a bit more sophisticated, such as opening a series of cigar boxes in your regular humidor to reveal a hidden, private stock of smokes behind a panel in the wall (fully humidified), it can be done.
“I love building secret switches that are unique to the individual client,” says Humble. “But if you’ve seen it in a movie, it’s a good bet that I’ve built it, too.” Humble’s company has designed secret doors for some of the wealthiest people in the world, including a few royals in the Middle East.
An ex-mechanical engineer, Humble says the process for building a secret door in your home is rather simple. (“The hard part is usually getting permission from the wife.”) Prospective buyers will send photos and measurements of the space they want to convert (the majority of his clients, Humble says, get their contractor or architect to do it). Humble then consults on specifics like wood types, security features (biometric access devices like finger scanners are available) and, of course, what the trigger will be.
His company then builds the door in their Arizona facility, tests it in a special jig that mimics the opening at the job site, and then ships it to the client. For an additional fee, his company can even come to you to install it. The bare minimum for a secret door is $2,500, and that cost rises depending on the level of detail and sophistication of the project.
So one more time: What will your trigger be?
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