How can I make my house into a home fit for a spy?
July 12, 2009 8:55 PM   Subscribe

I've always been interested in spies, secret passages, and gadgets. How can I transform my home to incorporate these things?

I'm interested in the practicalities of building my own passageways, but I'd like to hear more from those of you who may have already undertaken the task, along with ideas about unique ways of implementing them.

What are some interesting gadgets I could add to my home to achieve this effect (gadgets similar to those discussed here, but less portable).

Intricate puzzle designs and custom-designed passageways would be great, but I'd like to do as much of this on my own as possible, for as cheap as possible (but don't hesitate to share really cool ideas even if they are prohibitively expensive). Therefore, are there any unique carpentry projects you've undertaken to embed hidden drawers or compartments in furniture (or something similar)? Are there any unique transformations you've seen applied to everyday household items to turn them into more than meets the eye?
posted by kurmbox to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
Lifehacker had something on this not too long ago. . .
posted by dinty_moore at 9:12 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer:
Ooh, how fun! If you have a backyard, you could always install a storm shelter for your very own top secret underground lair.

Safe Rooms: a Design Primer

Low Cost EMP EMI/Tempest Shielding
How to Make a Faraday Cage

Secret Rooms, Secret Compartments
How to Hide Anything
The Big Book of Secret Hiding Places
posted by aquafortis at 9:17 PM on July 12, 2009

Assuming you're going to sell the house eventually, or that your descendants might not be all that interested in devoting space to secret passages just for the fun of it, make sure everything you build has a potential mundane daily function. That way, a secret room to you could be someone else's convenient hallway (between two otherwise disparate parts of the house) or pantry (off the kitchen) or bomb & tornado shelter (underground) or secret & fireproof box for valuables.

So how about starting with plans for the mundane ("This place sure could use a pantry") and then adding the Captain Avenger stuff to your plans without taking away from the utility of the basic plans (the pantry as pantry)?
posted by pracowity at 1:42 AM on July 13, 2009

Best answer: I always thought it would be neat to have a wireless deadbolt so you can unlock your front door from your key fob just like a car. They seem to be relatively inexpensive too (e.g. 1, 2, 3.)
posted by Rhomboid at 1:57 AM on July 13, 2009

This might give you some fun in the build-it-yourself department and the geek department: try to come up with a secret server not obviously connected to the rest of your home system. When "they" (black UN helicopters, etc.) raid your home, all of your data is on a machine not obviously connected to the rest of your data or power grid.

Maybe put it behind a real firewall. Standard radio data link? But they can listen. Maybe a line-of-sight optical link through a very natural-looking crack in the wall? Or a tiny thread of fiber that would just, I don't know, pull away and invisibly reel back into a tiny hole the wall if they moved the PC to which it was attached?

And you'd have to figure out how to get electricity to the hidden server without running telltale cables to it. Wires that seem to be going to feed a socket on a plain concrete basement wall but actually feed the server behind the wall? Solar panels that look like they very geekily feed into your home grid but actually branch off very slyly to your secret server?
posted by pracowity at 4:46 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Making a door appear to be a bookshelf is pretty easy, to give a "secret" room, and it's something my kids (and I) found very entertaining. Details depend on the door, of course, but it's a fairly simple do-it-yourself job if you can manage a saw. It's best to avoid putting too many books on it, so the hinges don't get too stressed, but shelves of tsotchkes look as good.
posted by anadem at 7:01 AM on July 13, 2009

Similar to pracowity's comment about a pantry, a root/wine cellar is a good excuse to make a room that's unobtrusive and out of the way, possibly under or outside the house due to temperature management requirements.
posted by madmethods at 9:22 AM on July 13, 2009

Lifehacker just had a post about making a secret room with a book shelf as 'anadem' described:

This is an older link:
Build your own secret bookshelf door

This is the recent one:
Turn a Bookshelf into a Secret Passage
posted by crenquis at 10:42 AM on July 13, 2009

This doesn't exactly have step-by-step instructions, but another interesting example of a diy secret bookshelf door at craftster.
posted by jda2 at 11:17 AM on July 25, 2009

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