The History of Secret Drawers and Hidden Compartments

    Secret drawers and hidden compartments have long fascinated us. They're featured in movies, historical documentaries, ancient buildings and even discovered during renovations. But where did the idea for these secretive spaces originally come from? In this guide, we'll explore the origins.

    The History of Hidden Compartment Furniture


    man placing wallet in a safe
    Credit: Envato Elements/ guyswhoshoot

    Throughout history, people have been using secret hidden compartments to hide jewelry, money, and other valuables. It all started in ancient Egypt when architects built hidden rooms and secret passages within pyramids and tombs to protect the pharaohs' treasures. This inspired the builders of medieval castles to do the same.

    During the Renaissance, the popularity of these compartments grew especially among the wealthy merchants in Europe. Secret compartments were often built into furniture pieces like desks, bookshelves, and cabinets. This was a time when people were changing alliances, so hidden drawers and compartments were handy to have.

    In Japan, hidden compartments reached a whole new level with the traditional 'shikiri', a term that refers to various types of hidden doors and compartments used in Japanese architecture and furniture.

    In the 17th and 18th centuries, as travel became more common, craftsmen began building traveling chests and coaches with secret compartments to hide belongings from highwaymen and pirates.

    Today, the hidden storage compartments are still popular because of spy films. People even build them into their homes for security or just for fun.

    Modern Types of Secret Compartments to Hide Valuables


    small jewelry with necklace inside
    Credit: Envato Elements/ NomadSoul1

    Here are some of the popular types of secret compartments that exist today:

    1) Furniture with a Sliding Top

    Desks, bookshelves, bed frames, and other home decor can feature secret drawers, hidden compartments, or sliding tops that are almost invisible. These compartments are useful for storing valuables, confidential documents, or personal items you prefer to keep out of sight.

    2) Home Construction Features

    Secret rooms and hidden spaces are incredibly popular in modern home construction These might be behind a movable bookcase, a secret panel in a wall, or even a hidden door in the floor. Most people use these spaces as safe rooms, private offices, or simply as a unique feature to store valuables.

    4) Personal Gadgets

    Many everyday gadgets include small secret compartments as well. For instance, pens, watches, and even phones can come with hidden spaces that are ideal for storing small notes, emergency cash, or miniature storage drives.

    5) Diversion Safes

    More and more people are into diversion safes. These look just like everyday objects you'd find around the house, like books, soda cans, or cleaning products but they've got a secret compartment that only you can find.

    6) Jewelry with Secret Compartments

    Jewelry makers often design pieces with small hidden compartments. These can be used to hold small photographs, notes, or even ashes in memorial jewelry. Rings, bracelets, and pendants with these features are particularly popular for their sentimental value.


    What were the primary reasons for including secret drawers and hidden compartments in furniture throughout history?

    Secret drawers and hidden compartments were used for multiple reasons such as hiding jewelry, money, and important documents from theft, espionage, and unauthorized access. They were also useful for concealing sensitive or confidential items during times of political unrest or personal privacy concerns.


    Are there any legal considerations to keep in mind when including secret drawers and hidden compartments in furniture?

    While secret drawers and hidden compartments can be used for legitimate purposes such as home security and privacy, there may be legal restrictions depending on the jurisdiction. It's important to ensure compliance with relevant laws and to use caution when designing and using such features.


    Throughout history, hidden compartments have fascinated us, from ancient times to today's innovations. Are you looking to keep your valuables safe? Check out Travah. We have a range of diversion safes from bottle diversion safes and brush diversion safes to hide your valuables in plain sight. Shop with us today.