This article is part of our Design special section about innovative surfaces in architecture, interiors and products.


Tabitha Kane is a co-host of a true crime podcast so it might not come as a complete surprise to learn that when she and her husband were planning a new house for their family in Dallas, she cooked up the idea of adding a secret room.

At first, the couple thought they’d get their contractor to make the door to it look like a wall cabinet. But then they found an Arizona firm named Creative Home Engineering that rigged up a faux fireplace for Mrs. Kane’s home office that rotates to provide entry to the room when a member of the family places a hand on a biometric touch pad that recognizes their fingerprints.

Tabitha Kane, a co-host of the podcast “Housewives of True Crime,” in her home office, where a faux fireplace leads to a secret room.JerSean Golatt for The New York Times

“It makes the house more fun,” Mrs. Kane said.

Armchair sleuths aren’t the only devotees of the open-sesame game these days. Hidden doors and secret rooms have become an increasingly popular feature in American homes, whether the goal is foiling burglars, eking out extra storage or creating so-called safe, or panic, rooms for doomsday scenarios.

And then there are the D.I.Y.ers who just like geeking out on things like pivot hinges. Or those who are still in thrall of beloved childhood books and shows, like “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” with its portal to Narnia, or Scooby-Doo cartoons, in which characters are always dropping through trap doors or stumbling on secret passageways. And that’s not to mention those who are enamored of the mechanical marvels of Indiana Jones or James Bond movies.

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