Steven Humble went into engineering for an exciting career, but found himself bored at a desk job. So he decided to give himself a fun project and take the spare room in his home in Phoenix, Arizona, and transform it into a hidden space with a secret door.
That's where the idea for his business was born.
"I thought to myself when I was putting a secret door in my own house, 'I’m sure that other people have seen the same movies that I’ve seen and think this would be cool,'" Humble, told TODAY Home. "And there was nobody out there doing that."
Now, at age 40, Humble owns and runs Creative Home Engineering — a company that boasts the "world's finest hidden passageways." And movies certainly inspire a lot of his designs.
"My favorite secret door in a movie is probably the rotating fireplace in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,' said Humble. "The one in my own house — you have to play a certain sequence of notes on the piano and it happens to be from the 'James Bond' soundtrack."
While he and his company are still based near Phoenix, Humble has traveled the globe installing secret doors and says they ship out an average of one door per day to places all over the world.
It may not come as a surprise that the man who specializes in hidden doors like to keep certain things secretive.
"I’ve done some work for royal palaces — I can’t disclose locations, but I can tell you (they're located in) the Middle East," said Humble. "We’ve also built some very high-security secret doors for what is recognized as the finest residential bomb shelter in the world ... (it's) about 20,000 square feet underground."
Humble's designs start at $1,500 in his affordable line and can be as much as $190,000, which was the case with the most expensive door he's ever built.
So, why did it cost so much money?
"From a technical engineering stand point, secret doors are a lot more complex than people think," said Humble. "These are machines — even though they might look like wood work or brick work — and so (with) most machines, the manufacturer designs it, builds a prototype and goes back and rebuilds it. But we’re building a product where the prototype is the product itself so we have to get it right the first time. That takes a lot of engineering — and good engineering."
Even with the difficulties the job presents, it's easy to see that Humble appreciates his craft.
"Personally, I love to go to Europe because I get to see a lot of the old world secret doors that have existed for centuries," said Humble. "I’m currently working on a bid for a client that’s got a French chateau that’s hundreds of years old."
To try to win this bid, Humble is creating a design that would blend perfectly into that unique, individual home. And tailoring entryways to perfectly match individual spaces has become his specialty.
"Sometimes people come to us with unique projects that no one really does," said Humble. "Like, this year, someone needed a secret drawbridge."
In addition to living his own dream, Humble most enjoys bringing other people's dreams to life.
"I guarantee if you’ve seen it in a movie, I’ve built it," said Humble. "We’ve really had the good fortune of being involved in some really just amazing projects."