You don’t have to be Harry Potter to enjoy the novelty of secret access and egress via a seemingly invisible door or panel, Groth and Sons can build hinged door panels for discreet storage or concealment along with movable bookcases that offer inconspicuous access to adjoining rooms. The illusionary effects are endless and can be achieved through the of use leather bound book spines, tromp l’oeil or fabric panels. Secret doors can also be used in conjunction with wainscot panelling to great effect.
In the image above this study appears to be totally surrounded by built in bookshelves, and from the outside of the room it looks like a built in bookcase set within a small recess. On closer inspection this panel is actually totally flat and painted with a tromp l’oeil – the real bookcase is on the back-and when the panel is pushed it opens to reveal the undisclosed chamber. The image below shows that the tromp l’oeil intricately painted with book spines carrying such details as the clients family coats of arms and punned titles, which makes it extremely personal to its owners, but can be very much enjoyed by others.
There is something quite wonderful about the surreptitious withdrawal from one room to another, or equally being able to stand in front of what is conceivably a fixed wall or bookcase and with just a simple push being able to walk through, a little bit of magic with perhaps a nod to the world of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. To add to the illusionary effect of secret doors Groth and Sons have employed numerous ideas, they have hung framed artworks directly to the wall which moves with a mobile wall panel, they have engaged the use of elaborate artworks in oils and acrylics to add that very personal statement, incorporating images tailored to their client’s requests. This may combine personalized book spines, images of sentimental value or a collection of their clients most treasured possessions.
A recent project saw the completion of a secret door leading into an entire room for the storage of medical files which totally segregated them from sight of the adjoining home library cum music room, thus allowing the two areas within the space to have their own narrative providing an aesthetic, yet very practical outcome. Another project saw the client purchasing the adjoining apartment in a North Shore residence and rather than access from one front door to the other entree was provided via a secret door which is part wainscot paneling with a gold framed artwork hanging above it. I know that on more than one occasion they have played tricks on their guest by their stealthy disappearance once backs are turned, only to reappear once again as if by magic, leaving their visitors slightly nonplussed. This highlights the fun which can be achieved by the designer but emphasis should not be just on shear folly, a secret door can allow the designer to play with the narrative of the space and also engage it for very practical reasons.
For an internal space to work well it must first and foremost address ones needs in terms of functionality, but a design that is exclusively functional may not always meet our requirements for self-expression, to create a mood the space should be comfortable, relaxing, stimulating and should connect to the emotions intended for the space usage. By incorporating a secret door, not only is this a distinctive and fun approach to an interior space but it is also a very useful design element and one that can evoke an emotional response on a daily basis, creating a very special narrative to an interior space. Implemented appropriately the effect can be comforting, reassuring and an arousal of the senses.
The previous two images show an elevation with elegant wainscot wall panelling to the base and above the dado rail there is an art work covering the entire wall. Captured in acrylics are the owner’s favourite things, the sheet music has a much loved piece which is actually transcribed note for note, and the envelope has the owners grandmother’s handwriting and a corner of the note paper reveals part of the detail of an old family apricot jam recipe. Visitors are always too engrossed in the artwork to ever work out that a section of the wall actually leads off to a marble lined bathroom.