HIDE AND SEEK The broad ap­peal of se­cret-room ren­o­va­tions

StarMetro Calgary - - COOL STUFF - GEOFF GEDDES

If you love those scenes from old movies where a wall opens to re­veal a se­cret room, you can now put your­self squarely in the pic­ture. Hid­den rooms in houses – usu­ally cus­tom-built homes, rather than ex­ist­ing struc­tures – are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, and for good rea­son.

“The de­mand for these rooms is huge right now, partly be­cause thieves aren’t tak­ing tele­vi­sions or stereos any­more – they’re go­ing af­ter your iden­tity,” said Sandy Scheiris, CEO of Nulock Builders Inc.

As a re­sult, many peo­ple use se­cret rooms to stash cheque­books, pass­ports and other per­sonal items that used to be stored in home safes, un­til bur­glars started tak­ing the en­tire safe and forc­ing it open later. About 70 per cent of Scheiris’s clients are hunters and gun col­lec­tors, while oth­ers use the space as a panic room or to store wine, ar­ti­facts or fam­ily heir­looms.

The doors come lock­able with dif­fer­ent types of hard­ware, to keep the space hid­den and the valu­ables in­side se­cure. A se­cret room can be cus­tom made to fit any open­ing.

“You can get re­ally cre­ative with the de­sign,” said Scheiris. “We have book­cases, block walls or stack-stone walls that look just like a fea­ture wall in a house, but opens into an­other room be­hind it. There are also wain­scoted walls that are like pan­els where one part opens, and closet doors where the whole closet re­tracts when you open it and you en­ter through the right or left. These days, the only limit on what you can do is your imag­i­na­tion.”

An­other limit could be price, though there are op­tions to fit al­most any bud­get.

“Hid­den rooms start at about $1,399 and climb from there,” said Scheiris. “For $43,000, we put a door in hard­wood floor­ing over a wine cel­lar us­ing stain­less steel and hy­draulics. You would never know it’s there un­til the owner pushes a but­ton and the door opens to re­veal a stair­case down to the cel­lar.”

Ac­cord­ing to a jour­ney­man cab­i­net­maker with BF Wood­work in Rocky View County, most jobs of this




na­ture can be com­pleted in six to eight weeks. Be­fore you put the wheels in mo­tion, how­ever, he has some ad­vice.

“Think about the de­sign aes­thetic and how your hid­den room fits into the space,” he said.

“Will it feel like it’s hid­den or just like the rest of the room got smaller? Con­sider the pur­pose be­hind it and en­sure that the over­all look is what you want.”

That said, he en­cour­ages home­own­ers to adopt his per­sonal build­ing phi­los­o­phy when ap­proach­ing their own hid­den-room projects.

“Be re­al­is­tic in your ex­pec­ta­tions, but it doesn’t hurt to dream.”

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