From the initial concept of restoring the entry vestibule back to its original configuration, to purchasing salvaged antique side lites and attempting to restore them and make them work as french doors, our vestibule project has come a long way. It has taken longer than we had ever anticipated, and it has been much harder and more tedious than we ever thought it could be, but we are finally approaching the final steps. As with most projects, the final steps typically turn to hardware. We've got a bit of a dilemma and we need your opinion. But before we get to our question, let me bring you up to speed.
While we were giving the 1 Shot paint a bit of time to dry we focused on getting the various hardware elements ready for install. Similar to the main entry door, the french doors required a fair number of hardware items to make them complete.
Most notably we needed:
- Four matching hinges
- Rim lock
- Door knob and spindle
- Lock catch
- Mail Slot
- Old Timey Key
- Slide Bolt (we'll get to this one later)
Many aspects of the hardware search were very straight forward due to the effort we've put forth to collecting items over the years. We always know we'll have a need for door knobs and other miscellaneous hardware, so we always pick them up when we find a good deal or two.
Four Matching Hinges
I found a few sets of cast iron steeple tipped hinges back in 2003 and have been building a good collection of them since. We made a decision back when we found the original sets that all of the hinges on the first floor of the house would be the same decorative steeple tipped Victorian hinges, while the second floor would be a more simplified lift off hinge without any real decoration. We continued the search have now built up to eleven sets of these hinges that we've been using downstairs.
Since these hinges will be exposed to the elements when the doors are left open, including the occasional rain storms and high humidity, they have the potential to develop some rust. I noticed this on the lower hinges in the last couple of weeks, so I decided to clean them up and then apply some oil based low luster polyurethane to act as a first line of defense against the elements.
We applied the poly and hung them on my makeshift drying line. After a little dry time, they were ready to go.
As with the hinges, we had a rim lock that we had restored years ago, but it wasn’t a match for the rest of the locks in the house. Being anal about details, I couldn't use a non-matching lock on an interior door, but I had always kept it off to the side just in case we had a use for it. It is a much narrower rim lock than most, and given the narrow width of the area where it was going to be mounted on the french door, it worked perfectly! This was a really lucky break and a great way to check another item off of the list.
Though anything like this would have been covered in black paint when it was originally purchased, we prefer the look of the raw cast iron so much that we keep it, and the other items, with this look.
Door Knob and Spindle
A while ago I started to stockpile various antique hardware, including white porcelain door knobs. This is my modest collection several years ago, and it has grown three fold since then. I have a sickness.
I was able to go to my stash and pick out a good set of knobs and spindles. It's important to note that rim lock knobs have to be selected properly. The interior side that mounts against the rim lock needs to have a flared bottom, while the external knob needs a straight shaft. Here's a photo of the rim lock knob set with the different bases.
The only piece of lock set hardware we were missing was the rim lock’s matching catch, so we decided to go to The Brass Knob in DC to find one. We dug through their box of catches until we found one that was roughly the right size. Sometimes being super anal and detail oriented ends up being a bit of a dirty job. I'm a little disappointed I couldn't find an exact match, but this one is about as close as I could get without exact.
Because of the warp of the door, we had to mount the catch on a small piece of wood to boost its height just a bit. I'll ultimately sand the edges to make it look like its been there forever. Warp is one of the issues we've repeatedly run into with the use of salvaged doors.
While we were at The Brass Knob we also tried to find a surface mount slide bolt that would let us lock the right door in place when the doors are shut. But there were none to be found, so we'd have to look elsewhere for that piece.
Escutcheon and Rosette
We headed down to "Alex & Wendy's basement salvage bin" one more time for both of these items.
Standard sized rosette? Check.
One key escutcheon in the same size we've used throughout the rest of the house? Check.
Nothing too horribly exciting about these, but we're glad we already had them on hand.
Again, since these would be on the outside of the house, we gave them a good coat of poly before installing them.
For the mail slot on the french doors, we decided to reuse the old mail slot from our old front door. It isn't nearly as pretty as the "new" antique one in our front door, but it is large enough to fit actual mail through it.
The one in our new front door is too tiny and all of our mail keeps getting folded, ripped, or left in front of the door. I saw our mailman last week and apologized for the tiny slot and assured him a properly sized one was on its way back. I think he was excited. Or maybe I was reading too much into the conversation.
With all of the hardware in hand, we excitedly installed everything. We'll still need to paint the interior of the doors, but we wanted to make sure everything was how it should be. We measured where the knob should be on the interior, then adjusted for aesthetics to center it on a pane of glass. Then we took a moment to stand back and admired our "completed" project. (Hey, it looks completed for everyone outside of the house!)
Now We Need Your Opinion!
Based on the photo above, we're just not sure. Both Wendy and I feel like the knob seems a bit high on the door. We don't know if it is the color of the bright white knob, the fact there is no back plate and just the simple rosette, or the fact we mounted it WAY too high. What are your thoughts?
Would it help to change the knob out with a black porcelain knob? We just aren't sure.
We've walked all over Old Town looking at other double door knobs, knob locations, back plates, etc. What we've found is that pretty much no two are alike. Many are similar to our configuration, many aren't. There doesn't seem to be a clear correct way, but we're worried it just looks a little off.
Care to share your opinion? Do you like the way it looks with the white knob, or should we go with black (or even something else)? Too high, too low, just right? I feel like Goldilocks here. Are we just being horribly anal and morons? Don't pull punches.
If we need to move the knob lower, we'll need to fill the old hole and do another coat of paint on the outside, but that's not the end of the world. If we just need to put on a darker knob, that's an easy fix, we just need to find another knob. What an ordeal!
We would love your input on this matter of absolute and great importance.
Well, regardless of what lies ahead on this project, we still feel a great sense of accomplishment. The project is nearly complete. Better yet, within only a few minutes of the front door being open with the french doors closed, Lulu and Mel anxiously tried out their new "televisions."
They both seemed to enjoy it, and it is ultimately the reason why we started this whole endeavor in the first place.
Oh, I almost forgot the final piece of hardware for the lock set...the key! Yes, we have an actual functional key for this lock.
I love the old utilitarian stuff like this, and it's great that it actually works in our door. Though, with the simple configuration, it's no wonder it was so much easier to pick locks during the times of Sherlock Holmes.
Stay tuned as we cover the final hardware piece of the french doors -- the elusive and surprising slide bolt.