Tag Archives: door hardware

Planning the Most Important Thing, Doors

The old plan was to do the best I could to spruce up my circa 1990 Victorianesque front door this winter. I gleefully abandoned that plan when I found a door that’s close to period correct that’s almost narrow enough. Almost. I’m a small bit nervous about trimming allowances.


Obviously the door needs to be stripped. I’m thinking I’ll pick out details on the outside of the door by painting it 2 colors. Nothing too high contrast though; that can get garish. Or if it winds up too nice to paint maybe I’ll stain it instead. I love the fancy little ledges below the glass that are so common on old doors, so I might add one to mine. I’m also hoping to get nice beveled glass, but if I have to choose between beveled and laminated (the best for burglar resistance) I’ll have no choice but to go with the latter.


Now that the door is going to be authentic, I’m going with clear glass, which makes me feel much better than hemming and hawing over textures that I wasn’t that thrilled about. For privacy I’ll get a sheer curtain panel hung on 2 rods. Basic, plain, traditional, and lets most of the light through.


(Speaking of light, have I said lately how excited I am to take down the awnings?)


Then there’s the hardware, my favorite thing. I’ve said before how excited I was to get the one and only old door that came with my house back up, along with its glass knob and Art Deco back plate. I also scored another matching back plate at Philadelphia Salvage. They’re a South Philly thing apparently.


Across the room, I put in a vestibule door that a neighbor gave me, salvaged from his house. It came with hardware in a different style but I’m guessing it would be from the 1930’s like mine.


At first I thought I’d make all the hardware match downstairs, install the Deco back plates on the vestibule door, and put something else on the back side of the basement stairway door. Then I thought maybe it was better to honor the history of the vestibule door and put its original hardware back on and hold the third Art Deco back plate. But now that I have an old front door with a mortise lock I prefer a third option. First off, I’m kicking myself a little bit for splurging on Baldwin hardware that I won’t be keeping.

But anyway, I’m putting a fauxriginal knob on the outside of the front door just like I have upstairs. The door came with cast iron roses attached and I have white porcelain knobs to spare. My parents have a pristine deadbolt that I’ll install. It’s conspicuously shiny, but it’s Schlage and I’d rather not carry an antique skeleton key in my pocket. Even though that would be cool.


Inside, I’m planning to install one of my 1930’s back plates on the inside of the folk Victorian front door. That will give some vague cohesiveness to the first floor, and it’s something people actually did to their Victorian doors at the time. My new plan is to use the vestibule door pattern in the vestibule and the Deco pattern in the living room. I think that gives me the best combination of cohesiveness and letting my neighbor see his hardware when he walks into the house.


The front door is now on hold until the other exterior work is in progress. Phew. But if I have the ambition and it stays warm enough to leave the vestibule door open, I just might restore it in January. The better everything else looks, the more I notice bits of nasty like this.

Baby’s First Christmas


This isn’t what I meant…


No, 2016 was my first time hosting holiday dinner, so I feel very grown up!


And I decided to pretend to be Italian because I live in South Philly (even though my part is more southeast Asian than Italian now). I went all out and served the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. What is this? Catholics believe that you should strengthen your faith through self-deprivation by not having meat on Fridays or the eves of religious holidays, and Italians made a tradition of following the letter of this rule by preparing the most over-the-top decadent seafood dinner humanly possible. I made baccala, salt dried cod with tomato sauce, and lobster bisque. There was a pack of stuffed clams in my freezer after I got them on sale at Aldi 2 months ago, so I finally used them up, and my dad made seafood pasta with a white wine broth, one of his signature dishes, with 4 more kinds of seafood. Some people said that’s cheating but we say close enough. I did follow the rule that Italians really care about and made about twice as much food as we needed.

Then there’s a little Crooked House inside the Crooked House now – my roommate made one out of gingerbread! I said she should have printed tiny little political statements for the rainbow candy in the windows but we’ll call it close enough. She wanted to build it to be broken open like a piñata but she forgot to bake a roof so she just


And because this post is a bit of a catchall, I’ll show you a renovation-related gift I gave my parents this year. Their house was built really nicely in 1951. Alth0ugh it’s kind of nice to have a newish house that was built for TV’s and not for a kitchen maid, theirs was sadly built with flush doors and ordinary looking hardware. Then around 1990 (I think) someone downgraded the doors to the flimsiest hollow paneled doors I’ve ever seen. But at least they don’t have a faux woodgrain embossed into them. My dad has been very slowly replacing them with solid (veneered, finger-jointed pine doors. And by slowly I mean about one door every 5 years on average. Remember, solid pine doors are $60 more than the cardboard ones, so if you have a large house with any upgrades at all and you have these doors… I won’t say what I’m thinking. I’m nice like that. (This is their hallway by the way.)


Back again to door hardware because it’s the most important thing… they still had the flimsy circa 1990 Kwikset knobs even though the house had nice doors for the first time. They can’t have awesome vintage hardware with skeleton keys like I have, so I sought out the best modern hardware I could find. I happen to know that my mom loved the circa 1930’s Georgian brass knobs in my back bedroom.


And so when I was deciding between plain enough to be appropriate for a postwar house and conspicuously fancy, I went with the Waverly handleset from Emtek.


I got them 3 so they can have good hardware in the downstairs hall. That covers what other people see at least. The tragedy of having to buy these new might preclude ever getting them throughout the house but that’s life.

A Grand(er) Entrance

I’m having a party today so of course I decided to paint the vestibule this week. It’s important to put off tidying up with as many messy projects as possible. This didn’t happen along with the rest of the house for a lot of reasons. Okay, mainly just one. I was sick of painting.

Anyways, the walls and ceiling are both gonna be painted navy, a color that my friend picked for a small accent in his house and then agreed to share with me. The trim is all to be the same off-white though I can’t paint the door jamb until it’s warm out. I decided just to first coat the paneling for now. High impact, easy job, right?

Just one problem. The Irishman built me beautiful paneling in here, but he made himself a sketch. On the wall. In red Sharpie. Arg. Well I’ll have to spot prime with Kilz Original, the oil based version. That’ll take care of it, just one extra step. Right. And then… AAAARGH!

Sharpie in Vestibule.jpg

Obviously I had to take this problem to the Google. Might I want to invest in shellac based primer? That’s supposed to be the best. My findings were that oil based is better than shellac because permanent marker inks are alcohol soluble so they will even more readily bleed through shellac. But I should have lightly sanded first and blotted the stains with rubbing alcohol, lacquer thinner, or acetone first. And really thin coats of paint are best. I guess that’s because they dry faster and give the marker stains less time to loosen up and bleed through.

So I invested in a spray can of Kilz. That’ll give me really thin coats and prevent brush marks from building up and changing the texture on the spot primed areas after I paint. And the spray can is a convenient shape to beat the Irishman with. Then I found a can of Zinsser 123 from a year ago when he was doing finish carpentry for me, put 3 coats on, and it was gone! This is interesting because water based paints aren’t supposed to work. I used it because I already owned it and the can said it works on felt tip markers.

And one more thing that’s, well, less unfinished than it was. The front door handle. There was a handleset when I bought the house. With a mismatched lock and missing stain around where the old one was. Then the handleset broke and I replaced it with a doorknob that had been on an interior door. Classy. Especially that hole in the door. (Also note that I’ve decided to ignore stripping residue that’s everywhere)


Now, I really wish I had an OLD front door. This door is not old, and it’s not an authentic reproduction of old. But it’s mahogany and it was expensive (which is odd considering the other workmanship on my street). And I put a Baldwin handleset on it, so now if I end up getting an old door I’m wasting my money. But hey, it feels good and solid. And although it’s not as nice as a mortised handle, it’s the nicest looking one I could find that works.


And here it all is – a slightly more finished vestibule!


Taking one for the team

It’s been a while since I’ve written. But I’m finally done with those doors! They’re now stacked up in a closet upstairs again. For new progress, I’ve moved on to getting ready to spray paint. It might seem like I’m jumping around for no good reason, but (and I’m not going to name names) someone went on a long trip to Ireland and messed up everything. Changing gears isn’t so bad though. It meant that I had to finish that God-forsaken job of stripping the doors and move on to the even worse job of stripping a radiator. But now all that is done! In the end I gave up on the radiator and decided to turn it around and leave the residue of partially stripped paint facing the wall. And just like magic, look how clean it is!


Totally paint grade at least. And. I got 80 bucks for those bricks! Sold them to a guy up in the Northeast who wants to cut them down and use the faces to veneer a wall, and then mix up special mortar with horse hair in it and figure out a technique to make it look like mine. And of course mine looks the way it does just because I didn’t work to hard to get my bricks clean.


I’d love to see how that turns out. Sounds like a fun project So then, I power washed the living daylights out of my back yard and went to a yard sale and bought a whole bunch of flower pots.


This sounds crazy, but it’s not as bad as it sounds because I needed to make it nice before I bring in my grandmother’s wrought iron patio furniture. It’s supposed to go to my sister, but she’s going to have trouble getting it up to Boston. And I love her so much that I said I’ll keep it as long as she needs me to. So tomorrow into the city it comes. Sigh, I guess I can handle it.


And that means that for the time being, that cute oak bench is going back to the attic from whence it came. Much like my house, it needs way more work than I thought it did at first glance. So good riddance. I’ll pull it out in a year or two when I can stand to think about extra projects.

And… my neighbor gave me his vestibule door! I had a kinda decent one, but this one is acutally old, drilled for a mortise lock, and fitted with beveled glass!


But it gives me a dilemma. I have a set of cool art deco hardware that came with my house.


And I have 3 of these, enough for my entire first floor if I use something else in the basement stairwell. But… I could also keep this other knob that came from the house across the street if I want. And I think it’s even nicer. At least quality wise. But I only have 2 of these back plates.


So I should be back with talk of things I can stand soon. Plus some more jobs I can’t. In the meantime, what do you say about my hardware dilemma?

Hook, Line, Sinker, and Burnout

Yep, that last post was fake, and a lot of people fell for it. Even people I know in real life! I got a nice lady who was pushing a stroller up Pelham road to take the photo, and I stopped traffic when I was putting up the sold sign… with Scotch tape. So to review, I don’t have a trust fund, I don’t want a lawn, I don’t have enough clothes to fill a dressing room, and while my disdain for those vinyl windows was real, I would take care of the water damage and the broken panes in the original windows (which should stay!) first. Unless I was loaded. Then maybe I’d do everything at once. The only part of that post that was true is that I would live very much to see 349 Pelham Road restored. If you want to do it, I can promise you all my love and lots of free beer. And… West Mount Airy is pretty great. You’ll like it there.

But the fakest part of that post was all that ambition. The truth is I got fed up and decided that my sanity was more important than my (already blown) schedule. Last weekend I went to a potluck on Sunday and for a change of pace on Saturday… I helped a friend patch cracks in his plaster. I also got one halfassed coat on my own holes. So yes, this means that I don’t have any mold or other damage! And it’s only the one patch next to the recessed light that will even show. The one where the tape started to peel off in one corner, of course. Arg.

I’m putting a second coat on the other two anyway.


The plan was to paint the kitchen Easter Sunday. But since I didn’t do anything to the house since that quick patch job Saturday morning, that’s not happening. One other thing I did was retail therapy. Philadelphia Salvage was also in Mount Airy so after posing for the fake photos, I bought a window sash lift for the pocket door to my upstairs hall coat closet. The plan was to use one that’s left over from my parents’ house (also pictured) but this one is so much better.


So there we are, I was upset with a lot of things, including my disappearing money. And my solution was retail therapy. But it was kinda cheap!

Outside the Crooked House, the Christmas Theme Is Hoarders

Apparently having Christmas decoration themes that change every year (and require you to buy new decorations) is a thing for some people. But nothing so absurd and wasteful will ever be a thing for me. This has nothing to do with decorations, really. My grandmother moved to assisted living on Tuesday. Yes, on Christmas Eve Eve. So this year the holidays were a weensy bit hectic.

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My Happy Place

I’m getting fed up with how little is getting done. Somehow, this frustration is leading me to do less. At this point, I’m trying to decide exactly how I should detail the insulation on the front bedroom wall. If you want to help give me ponder over bringing together modern insulation and old fashioned masonry, please read the next paragraph. If not, you may be bored and prefer to skip to the following one.
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