The functional beauty of hidden doors


They say the ultimate in luxury is reserving some things solely for yourself. In our opinion as designers, this “secretive” strategy comes in handy for a few reasons, with opulence definitely being one of them. Incorporating hidden elements into a space can enhance its style, improve function, and add an element of intrigue that nobody can resist. This is why covert design features such as secret passageways, hidden doors, concealed appliances and other unseen elements have become a big trend. And now here’s another little secret – they aren’t just for the rich. The right concept, coupled with the right dose of creativity and craftsmanship, is all you need to turn your home into a pleasant surprise.

Why so secretive?

The origins of hidden design features in homes are largely utilitarian and, in most cases, were reserved for the upper class, as a place to hide valuables, to serve as an escape route in times of danger, or to give the household staff a means to move through the home without being seen by the residents and their guests. The modern-day reason homeowners and designers incorporate hidden features is to customize a space in terms of function and style.

A sneak peek at today’s hidden features

You’d be surprised at the number of unique, unseen elements in homes these days. Who wouldn’t love to have a secret room devoted to a hobby, personal indulgence or special interest? A quiet book nook, a wine-tasting room, or a love nest to share with your partner can be camouflaged with a door that blends in with surrounding wall panels or is concealed on the other side behind a bookcase. When closed, they are completely undetectable. The only ones who know it’s there, are you and the people you’ve told.

Hidden doors can help streamline a space, and can be easily adapted to minimalist, contemporary, classic or maximalist home styles.

Short of a whole room, hidden doors can hide spaces of many forms and functions, such as smart pantry storage off the kitchen, a coat closet in the front foyer, a powder room off the main hall, or an office. The same principle can be used to conceal appliances, seamlessly transforming the kitchen into an elegant dining and entertaining area.

Styling your secret space

In true ‘stealth-wealth’ fashion, consider how you plan to style your secret room. Remember, just because it’s hidden, it doesn’t mean you should write off its aesthetic. In fact, we’d argue that these spaces call for a little extra attention, and can handle some oomph, since they are typically smaller and aren’t visible outright. So, consider painting your hidden space an indulgent shade or splash it with that wallpaper that you thought might be too loud for one of the main living areas. A great strategy for decorating a secret room is to pull a pattern or colour inspiration from your main living area, such as the feature wall or backsplash tile, and then kick it up a notch. This visually connects the hidden room to the rest of the home, while giving it its own unique flair.

Indulge yourself

Your secret room – whether big or small, functional or purely decadent – should be a thoughtful reflection of your lifestyle, interests and aesthetic preferences, and tailored to you alone. This is one indulgence you don’t have to share – or even divulge, for that matter. So go ahead, do it just for you.

Trish Knight and Nicole Varga
Trish Knight and Nicole Varga

Designers Trish Knight and Nicole Varga are co-founders of Knight Varga Interiors. Collectively with two decades of experience, this Vancouver-based multi-award- winning design firm is known for creating well curated interiors. The firm provides complete bespoke residential design services throughout Vancouver & North America. @knightvarga

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