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:

  1. Four matching hinges
  2. Rim lock
  3. Door knob and spindle
  4. Lock catch
  5. Escutcheon
  6. Rosette
  7. Mail Slot
  8. Old Timey Key
  9. 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.

Rim Lock

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.

Lock Catch

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.

Mail Slot

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.

Everything Installed

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.

Comments 16


11/22/2011 at 1:25 PM
Personally...I think I would switch the white knob out to a black one. I like the idea of the black shiny porcelin blending in with the black shiny door!

I'd definitely try that before considering lowering the knob, at least!
Good suggestion, thanks Ashley. I'm leaning toward changing the color of the knob first to see if that makes me feel better about it.

We're also talking about changing the color and height in photoshop first before we start drilling any new holes. Probably a good idea. ;-)
12/7/2014 at 6:52 PM

I am a professional interior designer and I own/operate a design/build centre.
Here's my professional opinion: I would have done the door hardware in an antique brass. It would have been period AND stunning with the black French doors. We are in the midst of our own renovation project; except ours involves making a circa 1990's house look like a traditional elegant farmhouse (check it out on my fb page). Very expensive to essentially replace or add all architectural details to a space that is devoid of them...also, nothing was plum, level or straight so we had to fake a lot of it:) Hope my comment helps...if not, use it on your 2nd home;)

11/22/2011 at 1:28 PM
How it looks is less important than how it feels. Looks can be fixed with a black knob or something not white. But how does the geometry feel when you go to open it. Does it feel high or just right. You two will open the door the most. Put the knob where the two of you will feel it fits best. If you want to get nerdy, I've always felt that authentic pulls and knobs were lower than today's doors, so maybe you want to be hard core old school and shoot for "a whisker lower than perfect comfort."
Thanks for your comment Alsatian. This is part of the tricky part of our door, because you're a step lower when you enter from the outside. As a result exiting the house it feels just right, if not a touch low in that great old house sort of way. But coming in it feels a bit high.

We'll probably start with changing the knob color first to see if that improves our outlook on it. Thanks again for your two cents!
11/22/2011 at 1:31 PM
I don't think the knob looks high, though the white does look a bit out of place, especially since you typically see the porcelain knobs on modest interior doors (e.g., our basement doors have the white knobs, while our above-ground interior doors have glass knobs). I noticed you had some sort of a metal knob in your mix--that would probably look pretty good (especially if it was installed with a complimentary back plate).
Thanks Veronica! I have to agree with you on the color. It just seems to stand out a little too much and the porcelain is what we're using on the interior doors. I'm a huge fan of egg shaped doorknobs and we have quite a colletion. I'll have to see if I can convince Alex to stray from the porcelain and to add a backplate. :-) He's hesitant because it won't match the rest of the house, but I really love that look.
11/22/2011 at 8:37 PM
The previous comments hit both points I was going to make:
- black knob will look better against the black door color especially with the darker hardware you're using.
- see how the knob height actually works for you as you enter (with a bag or two in-hand) and as you leave and have to look the door with a wind blowing at you.
11/22/2011 at 9:09 PM
Alright, I've shared my brutally honest thoughts before and never got flack for it, so here goes: I don't like the height or the white knob. I think the height should be either the same as the front door knob, or a standard height (never usually over 36", and my original interior doors were at 33", so somewhere between 32-36").

As for the knob, I like the white on the inside (assuming the interior doors are staying white???) on the outside I'd either go with black, or antique brass.

If you need a "flared base" black knob, I could donate one, but I am keeping the straight shaft ones for all my interior doors (I've been buying mixed eBay lots to assemble sets).
Trust me, your brutally honest opinion is both welcome and appreciated. We just reserve the right to ignore them ;-) But in this case, you are exactly spot on. I measured the knob and it was at a solid 39". This is obviously way too high. I put the photos of the moved knob on our next post and it looks far better at about 32" or 33". I also walked around the measured the rest of the interior knobs and they are all between 32" and 34". So I've slowly convinced myself that the only option is to move the knob lower. I think I know one thing I'll be doing this weekend :-/ I still can't believe I did this without really checking actual measurements... so frustrating.

Thanks for the offer on the knob, but I think we've got it covered. I found a pretty good looking set of black with the correct bases.
11/23/2011 at 12:19 PM
The doors are beautiful. Before you move the knob, consider whether your neighbor's brass kickplate is throwing off your perspective from the street.
This is excellent advice, and what I think we will go with. We're going to replace the knob to an all black one then see how it all looks. In retrospect it probably should be a little lower, but it is one of those little things we may just live with.
11/23/2011 at 1:25 PM
Wow, love the old hardware and the old key! We're in the midst of hardware selections on our second floor right now and are still on the lookout for a single key escutcheon. If you're ever in Scranton, PA, there's an amazing place called Olde Good Things that has a whole room of hardware (some organized & some mismatched)- some really amazing stuff. You could spend a few hours in there just poking around. Also, thanks for the hint to spray poly the hinges... I think we may do that in our bathroom.
Sounds like a cool place, thanks Kelly. Our good friend and neighbor is from Scranton. Maybe we'll have to send her on a scouting mission for us next time she's visiting family. :-)

And glad the poly tip can help!
11/30/2011 at 3:31 PM
A bit late to the party, but no matter where you mount it, that white knob is going to attract attention. Your eye is just drawn immediately to it due to the high color contrast. I'd switch it out for a black knob before I messed with the location.

Live with it for a few trips in and out and it will become very apparent if it's too high.
11/9/2014 at 3:02 AM

I have just had fitted 11 solid oak beautiful doors but the solid brass knobs have been positioned too high is there anything l can do to lower them please help!


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