“I had always wanted to have some secret doors in my own home, but never imagined that I’d be building them professionally,” Steve Humble, president of Arizona-based Creative Home Engineering tells CE Pro Eu.
“Then I became a mechanical engineer and moved into a large home with some extra rooms that I wasn’t using. Then I thought: ‘why don’t I build a secret door just like in the movies to hide this room?’ When I learned that there were – at the time – no companies that specialised in making secret doors, I decided to quit my job in the medical device industry and begin making secret doors for clients full-time.”
Fast forward 12 years and Steve’s idea became a reality, with Creative Home Engineering designing and manufacturing motorised, high-security secret passageways around the world, boasting a client list that reads like a veritable who’s who of business executives, celebrities, professional athletes, government officials and even heads of state.
Steve’s initial one-man operation has grown into a thriving international business with approximately 500 secret passageway systems installed in homes and businesses around the world.
“We have built many, many secret doors that access home theatre rooms and I have built secret doors for many famous people and for elite homes all over the world,” says Steve. “Although I am not at liberty to mention names, I can tell you that our secret doors can be found in at least one Middle Eastern royal palace, as well as many of the homes of many of the people on the list of the world’s wealthiest people. Additionally, we’ve built secret doors for high-ranking state officials for numerous countries, lots of celebrities including professional athletes, race car drivers, Hollywood actors and directors, musicians, famous artists and founders and CEOs of some of the world’s most recognisable companies.”
After reading about what the company can do in a high-end architecture magazine, a client based in Russia recently enlisted the expertise of Creative Home Engineering.
“The client had experienced a break-in the year before, so security was paramount,” Steve points out. “His wife has an extensive and extremely valuable jewellery collection that she wanted to keep protected in the event of a break in. She wanted a jewellery vault to be located of the main floor of her master closet, which had an extremely high level of finish and she wanted the secret entrance to the jewellery vault to be the architectural centrepiece of the closet.”
The team designed and built an armoured armoire in an old-world Baroque French style of architecture, inspired by the wardrobe from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
To access the secret jewellery vault the homeowner opens a secret compartment to expose the presence of an iris scanner that biometrically authenticates her identity. At that point, a purse hook at the back of the armoire can be turned to retract the hardened steel locking pins spaced around the doors perimeter, allowing access to the jewellery vault.
“The activation method can be anything the client wishes; iPad control, hidden button, remote control, twisting a candlestick, hidden fingerprint scanner, pulling a book – you name it!” he says.
Although it looks as if it was built from wood, this secret door was built like a bank vault with features including multiple layers of ballistic steel and Kevlar armour plating, blast protection, triple redundant locking mechanisms, backup power, biometric access control and an extremely heavy-duty construction.
“All the ornate mouldings had to be hand-carved which was a challenge, as was getting the gold-leaf finish just right,” Steve admits. “It was also challenging to design a locking configuration that provided the required security features with complete secrecy, while also giving the user the mechanical advantage that she would need to operate the heavy-duty locking system. The door was extremely heavy too, so access to the space was a challenge.
“However, I just love the way it looks,” he enthuses. “It really turned out to be amazing. I also love the multi-step access procedure: (1. find the secret panel and open it; 2. scan your iris; 3. find the secret purse hook and turn it; 4. open the door and access the vault room).
“The ornate, old-world design style really made it a beautiful piece,” Steve reflects. “We also finished it with real gold-leaf paint so the finished appearance of the piece was incredible. Add to that the perfect concealment and the extreme forced entry protection and this piece became an absolute show-stopper on par with anything we’ve ever built, including projects we’ve done for royalty and heads of state.”
The client had extremely high expectations for the project. “But when she saw the finished product she was blown away by the quality. I love to see the expression on the client’s face when they realise just how incredible our work is,” he says.
“Clients often tell me that our contribution to their project is their favourite feature in their entire home, and that kind of praise from a highly discriminating client makes all the hard work and attention to detail worthwhile.”
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