By Heather Larson
HAVING SECRET chambers, hidden passageways, disappearing vaults and revolving bookcases in your home à la James
Bond, Harry Potter or Indiana Jones has
always seemed out of reach. Now, thanks to
the ingenuity of Costco member Steve
Humble, you can have these features and others installed in any room in your house.
Humble, who runs Creative Home
Engineering in Gilbert, Arizona, says his
company was the first to build covert spaces
for homeowners. When he was considering
starting his business, an internet search for
“secret doors” didn’t get any results.
“I was always fascinated by hidden passages and wanted at least one in my home
someday,” says Humble. “Working in a cubicle all day as a mechanical engineer made me
restless, and my thoughts turned to the possibility of building secret spaces myself like
[the ones] I’d seen in spy movies.”
To determine if he could make a living
creating one-of-a-kind secret doors and
rooms, Humble interviewed several builders.
They all gave him positive feedback, so he
found a “guinea pig” who let him test his skills.
Humble built two secret doors in this
home: a classic bookcase where you pull on a
book and the door opens, and a recessed wall
niche that retracts when you twist a statue,
which in this setting housed a gun safe.
Since that first success, in 2004, Humble
and his staff of nine have created almost 600
hidden spaces. His favorites are the visually
impressive builds, like a secret door disguised
in a brick wall. When you push on a certain
brick, the door pops out, you scan your fingerprint and then the entire wall opens up.
“Once we did a wall of bookcases big
enough to drive a truck through,” he says.
A satisfied customer
When retired CIA officer John Gonzalez
designed his new home, his son suggested he
add a secret door in his office bookcase.
Gonzalez, a Costco member in Salt Lake City,
wholeheartedly endorsed the plan and hired
Creative Home Engineering.
“The trigger to open the secret passage-
way just happens to be a book about the CIA,”
says Gonzalez. “When you tilt that book, the
Nobody would ever guess that there’s a
hidden door in the bookcase that leads to the
master bedroom closet, Gonzalez says. At
Humble’s suggestion, all of the furniture—
from the Frank Lloyd Wright–style wooden
desk to the cabinets to the wall of book-
shelves—looks the same. The wood and the
styles match perfectly.
Company: Creative Home Engineering
Owner: Steve Humble
560 E. Germann Road, Suite 107
Gilbert, Arizona 85297
Quote about Costco: “Costco has
been an invaluable resource, for my
business and my home. I can count on
them to have the highest-quality product you can get, and they stand behind
it 100 percent.”—Steve Humble
Humble and company designed the
entry in their Arizona shop, then took it to
Gonzalez’s home and installed it.
Creative Home Engineering completes
requests for homeowners and others from
anyplace. “We have customers in practically
every country in Europe, in China, Australia,
Russia, Canada and even a royal palace in the
Middle East,” says Humble. “When we don’t
do the installation ourselves, we supply
instructions to the local builder, who does the
work, but sometimes the passageways are so
secret [we have to be the builder because] the
homeowner doesn’t want a local contractor to
know about it.”
Until now, most of Humble’s clients have
been celebrities, CEOs and royalty with
wealth and security concerns.
Making his clandestine doors, rotating
walls, drawbridges and other clever home
additions more affordable is one of Humble’s
goals. He says, “I anticipate being able to put
secret doors in homes everywhere for a tenth
of the cost of what we’ve been charging.” C
Costco member Heather Larson writes about
health, business and lifestyle.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch a short demonstration of Steve Humble’s secret rooms.
(See page 13 for details.)
PHOTOS COURTES Y HIDDENPASSAGEWAYS. COM
Steve Humble has created a
business niche of designing
hidden rooms and passageways behind armoires,
bookcases (right) and more.