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Secret closet--fail!!
aclark900
February 8, 2013 in Design Dilemma
So, I always wanted a "hidden" secret closet in my house to hide goods, jewels, etc... We just moved in our new custom home and the "hidden" closet looks like crap! So the trim carpenter said he could come back and try to do a better job. Any ideas of what to do with this awful thing?! I hate to Sheetrock it off, but can't live with this. I don't see him making it really any better. This is in the master bedroom. Thank you in advance! :-)
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Creations Nadia Interior Design
oups! i would sudgest to put French door with frosted glass and painted it:)))
4 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 5:13PM
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tennisanyone
Sure throws off the balance of the room.but it is cool. This is tough. Maybe try what Creations above said, doors with glass for display.
3 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 5:18PM
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lisacabinetree
Possibly the trim style combination is throwing it off? Hard to tell from this picture but the idea is great. Could they try a different style hinge that wouldn't show on the edge, and some type of trim - picture frame trim or chair rail type to overlay the 'gap' where the two trims separate. Possibly add a crown moulding to the top to finish it off?
10 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 6:31PM
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Scott Design, Inc.
A heavy duty SOSS hinge should do the trick. It will allow the "door" to sit flush with the trim around it without any hinging to be seen.
11 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 6:48PM
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Jefferson Park Collection
He was close. Since this is a "Stand Alone" unit it should look more like a built-in. Soss hinge idea is correct but he will need to beef-up the cabinet frame. You may also have to use a roller to help hold the weight. Most of the hidden closets I have worked on open in so it's easy to just use a heavy duty pivot hinge.
Good Luck!
2 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 8:03PM
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Keitha
One thing that would help is to beef up the thickness of the shelves. They are too skinny and cheapen the overall look a bit. An easy fix , simply apply a wider trim piece to the front of the shelves as shown in the attached picture.
14 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 8:17PM
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LB Interiors
This is a tough one! I think I would create a backdrop for mounting art. Create an art gallery wall. Meaning, construct another frame above the closet out of the same material. Place as close to the top of the existing frame as much as possible.

Purchase frames that will cover the entire space. Fill the frames with art of your choice. You may like to use some gift paper, wallpaper or calandar pages to use in the frames. Mount securely to the closet framework. On the wall, add other art to the right side of the structure.

Sketch below ....


2 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 9:09PM
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LB Interiors
Would a 1/2 round moulding work at the hinge side and place all the the way around the frame?
Maybe the depth of the 1/2 round will camouflage just enough to conceal the hinge from your view as you enter the room?
3 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 9:20PM
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wildfan
Really cool idea! Find a way to make it work for you. How many people have a secret closet?
3 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 10:26PM
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LB Interiors
Another thought. Apply a wallpaper door mural to a thin plywood panel. Attach to existing bookshelf unit. This will feel like you are viewing the scene from a glass door.


1 Like   February 8, 2013 at 11:04PM
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aclark900
You all are Awesome!! Great ideas!!! Thank you so much!!
1 Like   February 9, 2013 at 4:29AM
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tennisanyone
LB- This problem reminds me of the "vent" we are trying to hide. for another homeowner. All your ideas are interesting on this one too. Be interested to see what gets done too. Keep us posted.
1 Like   February 9, 2013 at 5:07AM
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LB Interiors
Yes it does, tennisanyone.
0 Likes   February 9, 2013 at 8:56AM
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Welcome Home designs
I think I would just make it a bookcase.

5 Likes   February 9, 2013 at 2:28PM
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Aja Mazin
If you have valuables and jewels that need security and protection, nothing less than a professionally installed safe will do.

At this point, you have already breached security, by posting on Houzz.
5 Likes   February 11, 2013 at 8:02PM
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calikym
Tee hee - a full security breach goin on. :D
3 Likes   February 11, 2013 at 8:07PM
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Aja Mazin
RED ALERT!!
3 Likes   February 11, 2013 at 8:27PM
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Ironwood Builders
The weirdness of the "bookcase" and the reason most open in is because the angle of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of its sides...the shelf is longer on the diagonal than on its long right angle edge...and that can't clear the edge of the door opening. Your carpenter failed to communicate...not to build the bookcase....and a different hinge won't change the geometry. SOSS hinges are great. The entire casing would need to be hinged in order for this install to work. And maybe not then with a bookshelf at 9" minimum.
3 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 12:11AM
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carole
its all very confusing!!!but i can understand wanting a safe!!!and now through all of us all of them know to look in bookcases too!!
1 Like   February 12, 2013 at 4:31AM
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Aja Mazin
There is no doubt that the "homeowner's secret closet" is a not so secret disaster that appears to me to be the result of inattentiveness and lack of attention to detail.

I think Iron Wood clearly identified the primary problem.

The homeowner refers to this as a custom build.

So what is a custom built home?

Custom Homes
The true definition of a custom built home is one that is designed and built entirely according to the homebuyer’s vision. Architects and builders work together to design and construct a home that is unique. Rather than build model or spec homes, these custom home contractors sell the idea of a dream home, as they do not normally ever construct two homes that are exactly alike.

This kind of custom home building is the most expensive option of all and one should expect construction to take many months. However, if you really want a home that is specifically all about your own unique vision and have the necessary funds available, such custom homebuilders are the people you should be turning to. When budgeting, however, be prepared for the fact that unexpected expenses will inevitably arise during the construction of a truly original home.

Does this home fit the definition?
I do not know.

Is it possible that this was not an custom build and that the workmen were asked for more than they
could comfortably deliver?

Or perhaps the homebuyer was not prepared for the fact that they had to invest a considerably larger amount of money than they may have initially thought in order to have their new home built as close to their specifications as possible.

If indeed the home has been closed upon, my question is how were such "issues" overlooked on the final walk thru/inspection?

In most states, the fact that the owners took possession is acceptance of the house [w. noted exc.]

I wish the new homeowners the best of luck.
1 Like   February 12, 2013 at 8:19AM
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Jayme H.
What would bother me about having it there is how it could be throwing off the balance in the room. It doesn't look that great there, to me, but I can only see a small area. I would rather cover it with sheetrock than have a non-balanced wall....Maybe built-in's on both sides of bed with a hidden, pull-out within? OOOPPSS..sorry so much for a secure idea! LOL Best of luck, I hope u get what u are happy with.
2 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 8:26AM
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Aja Mazin
Jayme,

did you konw you could download classic movies from youtube?
1 Like   February 12, 2013 at 8:31AM
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Jayme H.
I have not tried that yet...we just got a new computer and for some time were not able to do anything, which sucked...so now I am watching classics on hulu and netflix...(limited choices)...but I will check U tube out too Aja..thanks!!
1 Like   February 12, 2013 at 9:49AM
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Aja Mazin
Did I mention for FREE?
2 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 9:52AM
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LB Interiors
Agree with Jayme, I'm not fond of the balance in the room only seeing the pics that are posted. If you sheetrock it in, you're wasting some unused storage space behind the bookcase. At least it's not a large closet space! It's a dilemma alright!
0 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 11:13AM
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Liza Jane Interiors
I would put a panel over the shelving unit - bye bye shelves. Pull off the large trim mold and install small trim and paint it the same color as the wall. It will disapear somewhat and you can still have your secret closet.
0 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 11:19AM
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tkeiter
How deep does the "closet" go behind the bookcase front? Is it for safety, or just for extra storage?
0 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 11:38AM
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tennisanyone
LB- check out my dilemma in shed and fence (should I paint the fence). I don't know how to contact someone directly. For this problem, I would just sheet rock it and not want to live with it off balance for 20 years.
0 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 11:41AM
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colleen77
Hidden closets are a fantastic idea but they have to be done well. Your closet has some challenges but I dont think it would take too much to save it. I have 2 ideas - one is a tweak and the other is rebuilding it.

First off - the tweak. The piano hinge must go - your carpenter made a poor choice there - it's visible and it gaps the door. He needs to use a hidden hinge system. It is also really obvious based on the moulding proportions that this is a door rather than a built-in bookshelf. You need lots more detail to make it look like a genuine built-in and that it belongs there. The shelves themselves feel wimpy. You can solve this by having your carpenter cap the fronts with a trim piece. I think you will solve the balance issue just by beefing up the molding around and above the unit and then addiing some art to the wall and perhaps something that creates a vertical effect like a palm or ficus.

Second - the rework - I would suggest extending the built-in all the way to the right to create a larger wall unit. What I would do is pull out the drywall to the right and build it into the wall 4 inches or as deep as it can go and then bump it out some to create your usable depth bookshelf. That should give you enough clearance to open your double door. It will also create a smaller box on the back of your hidden door so you avoid that bank vault feel when you open it. It's obvious but shelving and good organization inside the closet itself will also help how you feel about it and how usable it is. Any seams should look like they belong there and are a normal part of the construction. The door would also have to swing open in the opposite direction than it is now. You might also consider painting it an accent color. Hiding in plain sight is the key here.

Do a search on Houzz for "understair storage" and "hidden storage". There are a lot of good ideas for closet and drawer projects. **edit** just found one picture on Houzz where there was a large wall unit that looked like lots of others. It actually hides the entrance to a home office.
0 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 1:21PM
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Scott Design, Inc.
Here is the way a SOSS hinge approach can work. I assumed with my first comment that the carpenter would do the math since it appears he has already taken into consideration the depth of the case to a certain degree otherwise you wouldn't be able to open it now. In this illustration the sizes of the opening and box are random (not knowing the actual) and the molding style is a quick read on typical but the concept is doable. It's basically an offset approach illustrating Ironwood Builders geometry. I have also indicated a ball caster on the bottom back corner of the bookcase for additional support. The mfr. suggests 4 heavy duty hinges for a 30" wide door at 200 lbs. Since there is a caster, there can be more weight.

I agree with Ironwood about the apparent lack of clear communication between owner and carpenter. It also takes more time and money to install SOSS hinges.
1 Like   February 12, 2013 at 1:29PM
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LB Interiors
tennisanyone, I will and get back to you.
0 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 3:06PM
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mdasay
Look at hiddendoorsdirect dot com. It can be done! Good luck.
1 Like   February 12, 2013 at 3:28PM
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Aja Mazin
mdasay,

NEAT!

Now offering services directly to builders, architects and designers nationwide.
IT SEEMS THAT THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN THE BEST WAY TO GO!
1 Like   February 12, 2013 at 3:42PM
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tallyhill
You don't have a professional carpenter to begin with. Find someone ELSE who knows what they are doing by visiting references and seeing work. Aja is right, "custom" isn't what you think it is apparently. It doesn't just mean "anything over 350K that looks like a Pottery Barn catalog". But to the point, the geometry is all wrong on this attempt as some gentleman suggested upthread--and you will likely have to start over entirely.

The "hang pictures over it" suggestion up there is perfume on a pig...geeez...why don't you just drape a velour Elvis blanket over it for Jupiter's sake?

Good luck sweetie. Be prepared to spend some coin to get your vision right.
3 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 4:06PM
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LB Interiors
@ tallyhill. Well, the homeowner, aclark 900 liked the artwork idea. We all have differences of opinions.
3 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 4:12PM
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hparks74
Perhaps The mistake was recessing the door. I have scene many times book cases as doors that strictly look like bookcases. The trim around it is what throws it off.
1 Like   February 12, 2013 at 5:12PM
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hparks74
While I feel confident that most people appreciate the input and free suggestions from both professionals and the nonprofessional, I think sometimes it would benefit everyone if suggestions would be read out loud before submitting. A little less brassiness when providing ones opinion. JMHO
3 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 5:21PM
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hparks74
You know "AJA" I wish you could seriously hear yourself sometime...I have followed your posting on this blog for awhile... Here is this couple who spent 10 years of saving on a dream home that is a complete train wreck. Yet, you seem to want to have this in your face attitude on what the definition of a custom build home is. Are you seriously delusional to not only someone else's feeling but to reality? Your often snide commentary of design is really exhausting and frankly I find your complete lack of empathy towards others on this blog a creative buzz kill. Your comment earlier towards another "should we notify the authorities" was juvenile, unnecessary and completely disrespectful considering the content of comments.
This website is to pass along creativeness without cruel criticism. If you have the experience and knowledge then share it with compassion and humble enthusiasm.
13 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 11:42PM
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Loretta Callejas
I WOULD MAKE IT A FAKE WINDOW EXIT SHELVES. PUT A MURAL OR HAVE IT PAINTED ON CANVAS AN INCERTED SO YOU CAN KEEP IT IF YOU WANT TO OR REMOVE IT . THEN PUT SHEER CURTAINS THE COLOR OF YOUR PILLOWS ON BOTH SIDES. INSIDE WINDOW ON A SPRING ROD.
0 Likes   February 12, 2013 at 11:56PM
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zenhome
I couldn't have said it better myself hparks74, kudos to you!
1 Like   February 14, 2013 at 1:53PM
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Eagledzines
Here is a step by step guide to making a hiding door/bookcase http://www.garymkatz.com/trimtechniques/hidden_pivot_bookcase_install.htm
2 Likes   February 14, 2013 at 2:53PM
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Aja Mazin
This is strangely reminiscent of "Flowers in the Attic"

Has anyone checked on the children?
0 Likes   February 14, 2013 at 3:28PM
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aclark900
Hparks74---thank you!!!! Can you block people on here like "AJA"? I'm thinking "she" is not real.
3 Likes   February 15, 2013 at 8:33PM
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aclark900
At AJA: yes, this is a "custom" home. We met with an architect and designed our home and a builder built it. There is NO house on the planet like mine. I would say that is as custom as you can get.
3 Likes   February 15, 2013 at 8:41PM
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S. Thomas Kutch
Aclark, i would suggest that maybe your carpenter took on a task that he wasn't really qualified to do.... the first give away was the piano hinge........not only is it the wrong hinge, it screams hidden space behind this... .how "secret" is that?. The hidden door to a secret room is pulled off by being inconspicuous .........this just screams here, here, here..

There is an art to creating hidden doors in walls and book cases and making them look like a part of the overall cabinetry.......the certainly don't look like something just plugged into a wall....."oh, look a lone recessed bookcase that doesn't make sense in the overall room scheme.... I wonder if it could be a hidden door to a secret room"

I'm sorry but it's not just the quality of works that makes this a failure, it's the whole design ...... from placement to trim, to substance to awkwardness. If you want a hidden door that is inconspicuous to a hidden room, in my opinion you need to start from scratch and research some examples done by the pros and all the elements that go into them.

Don't mean to be overly blunt, but a safe room is for safety and this fall so short of the concept that there is nothing safe about it.
1 Like   February 15, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Aja Mazin
hparks74,

Do not misquote me or take a comment out of context.


aclark900,

Fortunately, the painters dis a better job on the trim.
Let me repeat, I wish you the best of luck.
0 Likes   February 15, 2013 at 10:03PM
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Keitha
Aclark900, I think you are on to something! I'm sure if there really is an Aja, she looks nothing like the photo but , Aja..."whoever you are"....you keep it interesting!!!
0 Likes   February 15, 2013 at 10:32PM
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suburbandecorista
You have such a fantastic idea here and I admire how you followed through with this dream of always wanting a secret closet! (I always wanted a secret staircase, but that'll never happen!) I think you should stop thinking of this as a 'fail' and instead see it as an opportunity to make it better than you dreamed! I think you should go great guns on the trim and shelving- beef it up and make it spectacular. Do you have an architectural salvage place near by? Go there and look for some interesting pieces of wood trim and moldings you could use to make this 'shelving unit' a real standout! Talk to the people who work there - they are usually passionate about their work and ask them for ideas!
How about adhering mirror to the back of the unit for a bit of a glam look and could you add lighting? Another option to make it feel more special would be to replace wood shelves with glass....
I would love to see a follow up picture once you get it exactly right in your eyes!! Best of wishes!!
3 Likes   February 15, 2013 at 10:38PM
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coffeeplease
I think its the baseboard thats throwing it off. I would have put it on hidden rollers and had the bottom matching with the baseboard
2 Likes   February 23, 2013 at 12:36AM
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chrisrobin
The position of your bed, the secret closet & the door to the master bathroom is similar to my floor plan. I suggest using a big vanity mirror as the secret closet door.
1 Like   February 23, 2013 at 12:47AM
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chrisrobin
Large sturdy vanity mirror:
1 Like   February 23, 2013 at 1:05AM
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wendyjeanscott
I would have a sliding mirror with hidden hardware installed
Wendy Scott
0 Likes   February 23, 2013 at 1:18AM
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Eagledzines
RE: Scott Design Inc. post. The SOSS hinge would have to sit on the backside (hidden room side) of the jamb to work properly.
0 Likes   February 23, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Scott Design, Inc.
eagledzines: I have attached an enlarged detail of the SOSS application and the mfr's schematic. The open out bookcase should work. Admittedly the full 180 degree opening will not be available due to clearing the casing and the depth of the bookcase which reduces the access width by approx 2"-6" (depending on the angle of your approach). The carpenter and owner will have to determine how much is needed to get in and out of the space. If you still feel that I am incorrect, I would appreciate your comments so I can retrace my steps.
0 Likes   February 23, 2013 at 5:48PM
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Eagledzines
@Scott Designs, Inc.--not at all, you are quite correct according to the drawing.

I was looking at the bookcase opening into the hidden room--that is how I would have built it. The door trim would have been stationary and unaffected by the swing and the actual cabinet would have opened in.
0 Likes   February 23, 2013 at 6:08PM
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noseynana
Wow. So I was reading about your nightmare, then went to check your profile & saw your tile problem & also noted that there is more than this going on with the building of your custom home. I can only send you the best of wishes.

As it regards this problem, I wanted to suggest you make an account on Pinterest and then search (top left side) for 1)Hidden closet & 2)Hidden room. You'll find a ton of examples, more than enough to make you knowledgeable to argue with the installer and GC. I think you can also find some tutorials on Youtube.

As for the rest of your problems, I think it would benefit you to consult with an attorney or two...soon. With the amount of shoddy workmanship you've been subjected to, the worse thing that could happen is the GC could suddenly disappear & then you have the subcontractors filing liens because he's not around to pay them. A good attorney can inform you of your rights ahead of time & also do a quick background check in case it's needed. Knowledge is power.

In the meantime, when you're not wrestling with everything else, try to read or watch everything on HGTV about "Holmes on Homes" The show is about nightmares like yours that he comes back and fixes. He's in Canada & if you live there too, you may be in luck. But if not, if you could find business contact information for him, maybe they have referrals for other like professionals in your locale.

Again, best of luck..stay strong and don't back down.
2 Likes   February 23, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Eagledzines
The posts between Scott Design, Inc and myself are an example of how important communication is between the builder and the homeowner. Part of that communication lies in detailed drawings that dismiss any misunderstanding (and also help to brainstorm ideas). Those detailed drawings costs money which many may be hesitant to spend on an architect or designer. Even if they are downloaded from another site, that takes time, which Scott Design, Inc has graciously shared, but also, someone had to pay a draftsman to make this detail. It cost money to provide those drawings, finding manufacturer details, downloading and incorporating them into the drawings, specifications, review and the estimating process whether they are predrawn or drawn specifically for a project, but are well worth it terms of saving aggravation, frustration, and attorney fees down the line.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 5:45AM
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Eagledzines
This is what I had in mind. As you can see, both ideas are effective.
Without detailed drawings, but both parties may have a different idea in mind.
And another scenario, is that even with a detailed instructions, a builder may really not know how to interpret something into the workable design, in which case he should ask the architect or designer or pay someone to do the job that does know how to do.

0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 6:00AM
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Vivian Rase
oh my....I'm so sorry your idea failed. Honestly, the way it is it isn't secret since you can see the hinge. Not to ruin your dream but I'd have them dry wall it and if you still want something secret I'd add a small hidden space inside my master closet.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 6:01AM
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Jefferson Park Collection
eagle: That's exactly what I was talking about (only you have photos!). Most of the homes I work on won't let the subs take photos. That design works perfectly. Heavy duty Rixson pivots top and bottom with a roller opening in! When you pull the case closed the seam is hidden behind the face frame.
The only trick is to install a hidden lock so the case does not move when touched.
1 Like   February 24, 2013 at 7:42AM
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Eagledzines
Jefferson Park Collection. I got the picture from Houzz 'Browse rooms" button on the black bar at the top of the page here. The hidden lock is a good idea and really important so that when the shelves are used the cabinet isn't pushed on the roller.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 11:06AM
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meg_b
Maybe something like this ? A floor mirror for the door?

0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 11:28AM
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noseynana
Here you go, the company is called hidden passages: hiddenpassages.com. Under the "Builder Doors" tab is what it appears your sub was trying to pull off on his own...the exception being theirs includes a "hidden hinge system". Maybe it could be as easy as your sub or GC ordering one of these to fix the problem for you. (Lots of other great examples on that site, including custom solutions) Good luck!
0 Likes   February 25, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Brenda Fisher



This is a successful recessed bookshelf with an outward swing to show your carpenter. Notice how the hinge is inset in the door so that part of the door opens into the cavity. This solves the geometry problem that Ironwood Builders was talking about - nice explanation there. As you can see matching the visual weight is key in integrating the bookcase. As for the proportion of the room, simply add furniture to the other side of the bed to balance it. Or go all the way across the room over the bed with bump out bookcases and install a recessed bookcase on the other side to balance this one, just not another "hidden room". Neat idea, unfortunately thrives look for this type of room anyway. Add a hidden lock to the bookshelf. Good luck and remember when building or remodelling all you have to do is "breathe"!
1 Like   February 25, 2013 at 9:39PM
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Vivian Rase
I think the main problem is: even if you fix the bookcase to your liking, you are still left with an oddly placed bookcase that not only throws off symmetry on the wall, but it looks like an afterthought and will also make other furniture arrangements difficult to accomplish. I would still suggest eliminating it entirely and putting a secure, secret space in a closet or in a room other than the master bedroom
1 Like   February 26, 2013 at 5:05AM
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Amy Stanley
I have to agree that the hinge is too obvious and leaves it not secret at all, and the shelves are very thin. Is the room big enough to mimic the shelves on the other side so it looks less oddly placed? If not I really like the idea of hiding this door behind a full length mirror framed in the wood of your furniture so it doesn't stand out.
0 Likes   February 26, 2013 at 5:25AM
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