The answer to that childhood riddle was, “When it’s ajar.”
Now it’s so much more.
It seems that more and more, Sally and I are being asked by our clients to design little gems or architectural jewel boxes. The scale can vary from multiple rooms to highly customized projects within a room – such as the concealed/hidden doors I’ve been working on this fall. One is adding a new door in a way that it will blend seamlessly with an adjacent bar. The other we were asked to make two closet doors “disappear” in a living room.
Sally and I were fortunate enough to see several different interpretations/applications of hidden doors during our visit to France last fall. In certain instances, it seems the classical architects of the mid 18th Century did not want doors “messing up” their designs.
Here are two doors cut into the paneling at Petit Trianon. All you see are shadow lines and tiny door knobs. Note the scale and delicacy of the knobs, rosette and hinges. The integrity of the paneling and decorative onlay is preserved.
This door swings out of the room.
This door swings into the room.
At Fontainebleau – upholstered wall and wainscot.
And Vaux Le Vicomte. I could get lost in this photo…
let’s wind the tape forward to our contemporaries. My Belgian friends, Lefevre Interiors, are masters of their craft. look closely. The oh so tiny pulls give the concealed panels away.
A single pull… The person who hung this door is a true artist!
Axel Vervoordt hid a door in a book case, providing access to the office beyond.
Several years ago, Wilson Kelsey Design designed a small library in which the cherry paneling hid the all the plumbing shut off valves and electrical panels for a home. (photographer, Michael J Lee) The panel with the artwork on it swings out, providing access to the utilities behind. Those were interesting details to work though… Pretty cool pocket doors, too!
Back to this fall’s challenges… First the hidden closets in the living room. I had hoped to use the requirement to create a focal point for the room, pulling it all together, as the room currently lacks focus. The fireplace was existing, with “Gothic” overtones. The client likes French style… Another aspect of the overall project was to open up the wall to the right of the fireplace, connecting the small galley kitchen to the adjacent living/dining area. The new “L” is to the right of the proposed concealed doors and wood paneled mantel surround.
The client didn’t like all the wood trim around the fireplace, but did want to tweak the look of the “L” by adding large corbels from Enkeboll to support the countertop. We designed what looks like built in cabinetry with bookshelves above for the closet doors. Overall not as elegant, but I am content. The closet doors are about 2 ¾” thick.
We will be sourcing the book bindings from Original Book Works in England.
Looking at both elevations, if I could combine the mantel surround from the first elevation with the “L” and soffit bracket from the second elevation, I think we’d really be on t something! Save it for another job, John…
Moving on to the seconds hidden door challenge. I needed to design a door between the entrance to a wine cellar and a custom built in bar. There’s just over 36″ of available space. The client didn’t want anyone to know it was a door. I drew 4 options, starting with a simple wood panel solution and worked up to the base cabinet/shelving option. The wine cellar is on the left. The door will swing into the hall behind the bar, so no hardware will be visible. We started out using a standard 6′-8″ door.
The client loved Sketch #4. Working drawings are complete.
The job has been priced and the door is in fabrication.
Can’t wait for the Holiday Party in December!!!
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