Door Knobs – The Good And The Not-So-Good + Sources

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

Thank you so much for all of the advice you give out weekly on your blog. We’re in the middle of a new-house build.

I had NO idea. No idea what we were getting ourselves into. The decisions are overwhelming me and one of them is our door knobs.

Yes, door knobs.

 

Who da thunk that would be the thing that’s driving me to drink? (not that I need much of an excuse)

 

There are a billion choices (no exaggeration) and it’s not just the door knobs themselves; it’s what kind of knob and how thick the door is and on and on…

And then do I want a lever or a knob?

Should it be traditional or modern or something else?

I read what you said the other day about descriptions and it really made me laugh. I do get that.

 

My other burning question about door knobs is:

 

Do the door knobs all have to match each other?

What about the other door hardware, like the kitchen cabinet knobs? Do they have to be in the same finish?

Then, we run into the issues with the plumbing and light fixtures for the kitchen and adjacent rooms. Do they have to match? Or maybe they shouldn’t match?

ACK!!!

Laurel, I’m having a massive anxiety attack, just writing all of that out.

I don’t expect you to answer all of these questions. But, I imagine that I’m not the only knob-nut out there! I know exactly how a hamster in a cage going ’round and ’round on a wheel feels.

Gratefully,

Crystal Door-Handler

 

Oh, Crystal,

Just so y’all know, Crystal Door-Handler is a darling amalgam of readers and clients and sleepless renovation nights. I feel for her. I mean that with all sincerity. In fact, I feel anxious just writing this post. My shoulders are up by my eyeballs.

Why does Laurel feel anxious?

 

Well, this may come as a surprise to some of you. But, I don’t have all of the answers.

 

Despite what kind words LuAnne Nigara said on her podcast interview with me.;]

 

I mean. I’m not even certain if it’s doorknobs or door knobs? And believe me, I looked it up. But that didn’t help much.

Sure, after 30 years (counting design school) in this business, I do have a good many answers.

However, the door knobs are not high on the list of experience.

Our old home in Goldens Bridge, a builder’s townhouse had the cheapest, crappiest brass door-knobs that God had nothing to do with.

But, they worked okay and in those days of raising two children + working + clients, the door knobs were not a priority. Plus, we had no money for that sort of thing.

Music lessons, yes. Door knobs, no.

But, I remember, too that our exterior front door handle was so worn, that it looked quite antique after a while. Funny, because all of the other homeowners replaced theirs because of the “patina,” however, I rather liked it and felt that it made it look more authentically old.

 

And that’s because old door handles DO look like that; not those overly shiny lacquered door handles, handles and levers. And worse. The fake, brushed on antique brass.

 

However, for the last 20 years or so, there’s been a resurgence in authenticity in metal finishes.

For the most part, even if the antique finish is replicated, the manufacturers are doing a far better job of it as you’ll see shortly.

 

But, like everything in design, there are some things I’m not so fond of and then– the things I can’t stand.

 

Oh, please do dish Laurel!

 

Of course. :] Now, you may feel differently about my likes and dislikes and that is always fine. However, some of you may not have given much thought to doorknobs, but when you see and hear why I don’t like certain things, it might make sense.

 

There’s one word that I’ve used frequently on this blog. And it’s the one word that makes me melt into the ground faster than a wet-witch made of brown sugar.

ERSATZ

 

ersatz in the world of design is a word that makes me melt into the ground faster than a wet witch made of brown sugar

 

If you still don’t know what I’m talking about or would like to see some examples, here are some posts where I feature that which I detest.

 

real French door knobs vs fake French door knob

 

Exhibit A are real antique French Door Knobs vs. a bizarre fake French Door Knob.

 

Hmmmmm…. I’m having a déjà vu! haha

 

brushed nickel fake horrible door knob

In exhibit B of the fake and hideous, we have a brushed nickel abomination.

Brushed nickel, or anything brushed is CONTEMPORARY. ALWAYS. However, I do get the fingerprint issue with polished. But what is the most objectionable here are the curly cues. That is totally made up. Add to it the brushed nickel (that actually looks like plastic here) and the entire thing is just so wrong.

horrible antique brass finish door knobThis horrendously crafted “antique brass” lever handle is so bad, the dog is going to start humping it thinking it is his mate.

 

Well, you get it.

What if you already have something like this for whatever the reason?

Well, if funds are tight, you can paint it. You can paint anything.https://laurelberninteriors.com/2017/04/09/expensive-looking-decor-sources/

What finishes do you like for door knobs, Laurel?

 

It depends on the metal. I do love a shiny nickel finish but it’s not right for every home. However, my favorite is unlacquered brass. Or at least brass that has a believable, subtle antique finish.

 

George Saumarez Smith classic homes doors mouldings wainscotingRemember this beautiful door knob from this post last fall after my trip to England? You can’t get knobs like that here. Well, let’s just say that I haven’t seen any.

 

I’m also liking natural bronze. I like a good gun-metal finish and porcelain knobs can be lovely in an old home.  True pewter instead of the brushed nickel is also great for a timeless finish that will age over time. And black can be incredibly chic.

 

Here’s an interesting post on Remodelholic where they took a basic shiny brass door knob and “antiqued” it. I don’t think it’s terrible, and it’s far more interesting than it was, but if the rest of the house is new, it doesn’t make sense.

 

The question about mixing metals is not an easy one to answer because of the variables. But  whether we should use brass or not in bathrooms is explored in this post.

 

As you can see above, a beautiful natural brass door knob is wonderful in a classically inspired home. Actually, I can’t imagine this beauty not looking fabulous in ANY home.

But does that mean that you need to do brass everywhere?

It depends on the home.

Let’s say that it’s a rustic home out in arid California with heavy Mediterranean influences, like Steve and Brooke Giannetti’s gorgeous villa. In this case, I would stick with natural brass, iron and bronze.

Most of the time, I prefer the warmer tones in metal fixtures. But, not always.

 

In the Bronxville kitchen, we mixed polished nickel and gold

 

However, nickel costs about 30% more than chrome and for some people, that might be a factor when choosing a finish. I wouldn’t sweat it, if it’s not in the budget. The only thing that really looks bad is mixing chrome and nickel, in the same room if you can avoid it. Nickel is a warm silver and chrome is a cool silver.

Another material for door knobs to consider is porcelain. They might be a little trendy right now, but they are not new in historical terms.

 

Lauren-Liess-purestyle-home-a-navy-kitchen-Putman-style-doorknobs

This fabulous door and hardware is by Lauren Liess is a great example of a round black porcelain knob.

The back plate of the doorknob is called a rosette if you didn’t know that. I didn’t until I started researching this post. But, if there’s a keyhole it’s an escutcheon.

 

But, let’s not forget. In the olden days, almost all doorknobs (except for the inside door side of a bathroom) were errrr… brass-ish.

Weslock old door knob - via instructablesRemember these?

 

And in the days of my youth, shortly after the flood, you had a choice of three finishes for your doorknobs.

 

  • Plain overly lacquered brass
  • furry, fake gross looking antique brass which was then overly lacquered
  • chrome

It’s exactly like breakfast cereal. There was:

  • corn flakes
  • rice krispies
  • cheerios

Right? Okay, there were a few more, but nothing like today!

So, the answer to the common question about how to mix metals is that there’s no easy answer. There are too many factors to consider aside from the finishes. However, it’s safest to stick to two or three different metals.

 

Then there’s a question of whether one should do door knobs or levers or a combination of both.

 

I think that a beautiful lever can be very nice as an accent, especially on French doors or the main entrance door, but I’m not overly fond of them for everything. However, if you love them and want to put them everywhere, I’m not going to shoot you down. (I wouldn’t anyway)

 

Do, all of the doorknobs and levers have to be the same?

 

No, they don’t. But they do need to coordinate and look like they belong in the same house. And I wouldn’t do more than two or three different door knobs or handles, excluding the front egress door.

Just one important thing to consider about door levers. I can’t tell you how many times in my life, my jacket, purse handle, etc got caught up in one of those things. Very annoying. That’s something to consider.

As for style. Of course, we need to be careful with the word “traditional.”

 

We’ve already ascertained that when folks in the home furnishings industry use the word “traditional,” they mean something that’s anything but.

 

I prefer the word “classical” as a better descriptive of styles.

And while we’re at it. I think that a better word for transitional is classic-contemporary. And sometimes it’s new-traditional. I prefer to move away from the word “transitional.”

However, I also realize that I’m farting in a tornado. haha

In other words, nobody knows nor cares about my move to change the word transitional.

I guess I’ll have to live with it but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Let’s look at some door knobs on some doors I found from various sources that I think are beautiful and or interesting.

 

antique crystal and brass door knob from my 1920s apartmentAbove is one of five beautiful brass and crystal antique or almost antique door knobs from my 1920s apartment. I’m quite sure that these are the original door knobs. They are a little smaller in scale than ones I see today.

 

my antique brass door knob original 1920s apartment door knobsAnd this is definitely the original brass door knob to the entry door to my apartment. What looks like crud, is really paint that I couldn’t get off. haha

 

Baldwin antique brass lockset in the Heritage antique brass finish.This is Baldwin’s antique brass lockset in the Heritage antique brass finish. I think that they did a pretty darned good job with this.

 

Sun Valley Bronze-BHM-Hardware unlacquered brass egg knob with arched rosette is lovel

Sun Valley Bronze-BHM-Hardware unlacquered brass egg knob with arched rosette is lovely against the black door.

 

Emtek - doorknob powder room-Georgia Farmhouse by Athens Building Co. with Rebecca Lang, Photos by Rustic White Photography

Emtek – doorknob powder room-Georgia Farmhouse by Athens Building Co. with Rebecca Lang, Photos by Rustic White Photography

 

via @brandinobrass on instagram - design - @bethmcmillaninteriors - photo @jamesacomb

via @brandinobrass on instagram – design – @bethmcmillaninteriors – photo @jamesacomb

 

via @katelynndasilva on instagram new crystal knob to replace old broken knobs

via @katelynndasilva on instagram new crystal knob to replace old broken knobs

 

Cape Dutch Inspired by Bobby McAlpine and Associates

Fabulous door and lever handle

 

Rocky Mountain Hardware door lever in silicon bronze light

This one from Rocky Mountain Hardware door lever in silicon bronze light looks the same or similar.

 

 via-willowandstone1-on-instagram-stunning-Hampden-door-knobs
via @willowandstone1 on instagram

 

Great Farmhouse look with Rejuvenation door knobs

Great Farmhouse look with Rejuvenation door knobs

 

Vanessa Francis black door knobs with floral wallpaper guest-room

Vanessa Francis black door knobs with floral wallpaper guest-room

For more of Vanessa’s work, please click here.

 

bedroom door knob restored via manhattan-nest

bedroom door knob restored via manhattan-nest

By the way, if you like saucy language, then you will love his blog and if not, well… up to you. And of course, you also have to love old and imperfect.

crystal-brass- doorknobs - Emtek via Julie Blanner
This is very pretty and gives a modern look to the crystal knob

The brand is Emtek which is one of my favorites for doorknobs. via Julie Blanner

 

Fabulous new-trad interior design by Sarah Richardson. Love the unlacquered brass door knobs - Photography by Stacey Brandford

Fabulous new-trad interior design by Sarah Richardson. Love the unlacquered brass door knobs – Photography by Stacey Brandford

 

Below is a widget which includes some of my favorite door knobs.

Please click on the images for more information.

 

Well, that was intense! If you have some pearls of wisdom, please do share. Or even if you don’t have pearls of wisdom. You can share that too.

xo,

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2018

PS: Please don’t forget the Nordstrom Anniversary sale is on right now and also there are some other awesome sales in home furnishings on the hot sales page.

 

  • Rose - August 20, 2018 - 5:51 PM

    Got behind on reading your posts, but this one was worth the extra hour reading all the comment!. I searched your blog 2 years ago for this exact topic when we first moved into our house and I’d decided our first big task was doors. I was door obsessed, actually I’ve had a fascination with old doors and hardware for awhile. So much so that I started collecting door hardware for “projects” (which I haven’t tackled). In fact, I have 2 small boxes in my closet right now of old door knobs and plates and have even recruited my aunt, who frequents auctions, in my search. I always know when she calls that she’s somewhere knee deep in old door knobs thinking of me.

    Anyway, somehow I muddled through on my own and ended up with ones very similar to the Sun Valley ones ^^ on our black doors (in dark bronze finish, my husband is just starting to warm up to unlaquered brass…I may just have to strip them someday) We got the levers for the french doors to our bedroom, but I love the eggs on the other doors.

    For those of us with small children, those eggs in solid brass are hard (and heavy) to turn and served as nice child-proof handles for a long while, which was really handy. 😉 Unfortunately the levers to our room were much easier to outsmart. It reminded me of the velociraptors scene in Jurassic Park, a childhood favorite. 😉 Great read!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 20, 2018 - 9:56 PM

      Hi Rose,

      I still don’t get the issue with knobs. When I was away two weeks ago, there were levers on the bathroom door and I found it much more difficult than my knobs. I don’t have to turn the knob because it locks with the thingy underneath. How’s that for a technical term?ReplyCancel

      • Rose - August 21, 2018 - 12:47 AM

        “Thingy” is a word used in my daily vocabulary.:) At home, I’ve had too many conversations on this topic (who knew?). My husband, who has carpal tunnel, said this: “It’s the difference between using 1-2 fingers, rather than using your whole hand.”ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 21, 2018 - 11:54 AM

          Thingy, it is! I guess I don’t have my lever technique down. I grabbed it with my entire hand.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Lombardo - August 14, 2018 - 12:06 PM

    I always look forward to your posts and the common sense that seems so uncommon these days. I love unlaquered brass and am delighted it is on trend so more easily available and would love to add this to my home.

    We are planning a master bathroom update in the next year but I wasn’t really ready to think about it just yet. However, my husband recently broke the glass fitter shade for the vanity light. Since it is an odd size and we can’t find a replacement shade, we are going to upgrade the fixture now. I would love a brass light fixture but am concerned about mixing metal finishes. There is no budget to replace the faucets as they are perfectly good satin nickel and quite nice. We have a farmhouse un-bathroom and are planning to replace the light fixtures and towel bars when we update the floor and paint. I have a pine mirror over the white farmhouse sink and vanity and an antique pine armoire for storage.

    I would love to see a post on using unlaquered brass and mixing metal finishes.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - July 31, 2018 - 10:20 PM

    Lovely post – I’m really glad to hear that other people are also freaking out about knobs! We’ve lived in our house for three years now and haven’t changed anything. There’s a lot that bothers me but I like to think things through before doing anything.

    My hallway is the worst part of my house and everything must change. (Thanks for the hallway post by the way!) There are currently three colors of molding, there are two types of doors (and 4 doors) and three types of knobs.

    I’m either going to match the nicer two doors (which I’m not too fond of) and replace all the knobs or find some recovered doors that are all different but similar genre (I’m thinking the later but worried because I can’t find other people who have done that).

    Thanks again for the food for thought!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 1, 2018 - 12:33 AM

      HI Amy,

      Much better to think things through than just go in blindly.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - July 26, 2018 - 7:04 PM

    Hi Laurel!

    If you get unlacquered brass, do you need to do anything or just ignore it and let it patina over time? I keep hearing mentions of unlaquered brass requiring upkeep, although I have no idea what kind.
    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 26, 2018 - 10:53 PM

      Hi Emily,
      Well, all brass tarnishes just like silver does when exposed to the air. And the more it’s touched the more apt it will be to do so. So, if you want them to remain untarnished, it will require a little upkeep. I’ve heard that a polishing with butcher’s wax will stop the brass from oxidizing.

      I had some natural brass sconces and they never turned brown but got a lovely soft patina over time.
      ReplyCancel

  • Peg Mumbower - July 25, 2018 - 4:32 PM

    Hey Laurel ! Always love you sassy and interesting posts. This particular one on door knobs had me laughing because about 15 years ago I was refinishing a very old cabinet and needed some antique hardware. I came upon a store in Chamblee, Georgia called Eugenia’s Antique Hardware. The man that owns and runs the store knows his stuff and has thousands of pieces …. doorknobs especially. Stuff that would be almost impossible to find anywhere else, he has. No kidding ! Thanks again for always making me laugh, think and figure out a solution to my decorating problem !ReplyCancel

  • Caroline - July 25, 2018 - 1:16 AM

    Love this post! I have obsessed about doorknobs for years. Replaced the hideous & cheaply made brass-ish knobs in my 70’s “colonial” house right when we moved in. I was on a tight budget (still am, actually) and it was 2006, so I got modern looking brushed nickel levers, not bad quality & heavily discounted at Tuesday Morning. They were an improvement, but I really wanted egg handles, the ones I could find then were by Baldwin. Alas, the egg handles were not in the budget, not even close.

    More recently, as we’ve been remodeling, adding character to the house, and leaning into a less modern look, we replaced the handles with Emtek Lancaster Rosette in French Antique Brass levers I bought second hand off Craigslist. It was a lucky find b/c we bought them from a mansion, so have extras. They are not pristine, but I actually like that. The quality of Emtek seems to age well. I love the look, but I don’t think that style is still being made.

    For my front door I need to replace the brushed nickel one we installed back in 2006. It’s in amazingly good condition, but does not play well with the brass we now have inside the house. I found a nice…..classical…front door lock set from Baldwin for a great price. The only problem is it’s that not so attractive polished brass finish. I’ve googled delaquering many times and there are Youtube videos about how do delaquer (Martha Stewart even made a video about it), but I’m not sure if the process would work well with a deadbolt & the locking mechanism. Anyone reading have experience with this?

    We don’t have the budget for some of the gorgeous natural brass fittings pictured on your post. I guess I just need to bite the bullet and try delaquering what I own. I think the protective coats on the Baldwin would take decades to wear off and show patina on its own.

    Thanks for addressing knobs, Laurel. You always provide great content that I don’t see ANYWHERE else. You’ve really helped me realize what I truly like is the classical (dare I use the word “traditional?”) decorating style so much more than all the more contemporary trends out there. You are the bomb!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 25, 2018 - 1:42 AM

      Thank you so much Caroline! This particular post was more of a challenge for me so I can see why others don’t tackle it; or at least, not as often. Glad that you enjoyed it!ReplyCancel

  • Connie Fowler - July 24, 2018 - 8:35 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    I love these beautiful, authentic knobs and levers, and one can easily see the difference between those and the ( horrendous) ‘ersatz’ offerings. BTW, I didn’t know what ersatz meant until I began reading your posts.

    I am now discovering that I have some examples of ‘ersatz’ in my house, including some furniture and the brass levers that grace my doors. I’m working on getting my husband to agree to replace some things that wouldn’t cost too much (like the faux French coffee table that I loved 20 years ago.) His comment, when I told him I wanted to replace it, was, “There’s nothing wrong with it.” Yes, there is. I’m tired of it. That’s all the reason I need.

    Regarding the levers, I may try to convince him that we could remove the lacquer with a remover. I’d really love to replace them with that beauty from Rocky Mountain Hardware, but alas, I think that will be a no. We have to both agree on pricey purchases.

    BTW, you have a lovely speaking voice, as I discovered when I watched one of your videos recently. You know what’s really fun? Getting to know someone just a little bit through both her blog and little stories of life. I am having fun reading through old blog posts that I missed before I was a subscriber.

    Thanks for everything–I’m learning so much.

    ConnieReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 24, 2018 - 11:03 PM

      Thank you for such a kind comment Connie! Haha “There’s nothing wrong with it.” ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Alexander - July 23, 2018 - 2:53 PM

    Thanks for the awesome post! I have the horrible fake gold/brass knobs that I want to replace. My question is if I change them to real brass or even black, do I need to replace all the hinges? From the photos it looks like the knobs need to match the hinges on the door. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 24, 2018 - 1:46 AM

      Hi Rachel,

      Ideally, they should be pretty close. So, something you could experiment with is to take the lacquer off the brass and look at some other techniques others have done and see if it’s close to the natural brass. If anything, I think the hinges should either be the same or a little darker. So, they might be fine the way they are. I would experiment first.ReplyCancel

  • John Trosko - July 23, 2018 - 1:23 PM

    If you’re in Los Angeles, “Liz’s Antique Hardware” on La Brea (between 6th St. and Wilshire) is a hardware dream come true…doorknobs and much more….. they buy and sell. Even if you into neither, it’s a fun trip through hardware Heaven!

    JohnReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 24, 2018 - 1:43 AM

      Thanks so much John! Always into discovering new and fabulous sources.ReplyCancel

  • Freda - July 23, 2018 - 1:21 PM

    One way I have restored brass knobs is to use 4-O Steel Wool and colored wax – I am particularly fond of Dark Brown TLC wax. It will give it a wonderful warm hue and a nice satin finish. (steel wool with a dab of paint stripper can take off that pesky paint too!!) Over time the brass will continue to age. Naturally I realize you’d have to be nuts to do a house full of door knobs this way!! Another way to update a perfectly good 1980 era solid bright brass knob or fixture is to use Lacquer Remover and let the brass open to the air. Over time it will darken and look terrific.ReplyCancel

    • Kathleen - July 23, 2018 - 2:03 PM

      thanks Freda! I’ll try that wax on my hinges and knobs.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 23, 2018 - 1:55 PM

      Hi Freda,

      Now, we’re talking. Take off the lacquer! I am wondering how toxic that is, however. And does the knob have to come off? Probably.ReplyCancel

  • jill - July 23, 2018 - 12:06 PM

    Loved this article! Beautiful hardware really finishes off a space and many people neglect it (or don’t budget for it). We live in a 130 year old Victorian house that had nice enough heavy crystal knobs on cheap ugly backplates when we moved in 20 years ago. Our local “knob guy” took them all and dipped them to make the backplates a dark bronze-it was so much cheaper than new knobs and they look great. People assume they are original. Easy solution if you dislike the backplate but love the knob.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - July 23, 2018 - 10:40 AM

    I recently got unlacquered brass door knobs to replace my “brushed” “nickel” ones and patina-ed them and I LOVE how they turned out. Since they’re new they fit my newer doors. Process: rub with Brasso (to remove fingerprints, etc). Dip in vinegar (the more drips left, the more extreme the discoloration). Suspend with wire over ammonia (I used a big tupperware. I poked holes in the top, ran wire through, and taped down. Put 1/2″ or so of ammonia in bottom, hang hardware on wire above). Leave for about 20 minutes (until desired color is achieved). Remove, install. They look legit old, honestly. I wish I could attach a photo.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 23, 2018 - 1:52 PM

      Hi Catherine,

      Wow! Thanks for the recipe. I’ve always been told that rubbing lemon juice on untreated brass or in your case, nickel which by putting in quotes, not sure if that means that they are really something else. But your idea sounds great, albeit stinky. So, I’d do that on a day that one can open the windows. If you’re a subscriber, you can always reply to any email I send you to announce a blog post.

      If you aren’t a subscriber, (yet) ;] then you may send a photos (please no more than than six) to admin at laurel bern interiors dot com.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Lambert - July 23, 2018 - 10:24 AM

    My 1930 house in Hudson has the classic hexagonal glass knobs and brass hardware. Love them. And the kitchen will have chrome handles on the cabinets. Hardware is super important to complete the looks of a house. It can elevate inferior architecture if used properly. I always notice the accoutrements when I look at a house to see if it is “quality” or not.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 23, 2018 - 1:44 PM

      Hi Cynthia,

      The details definitely matter! Thanks for sharing that.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - July 22, 2018 - 11:33 PM

    We went for levers in our new build, because some days my hands just can’t do knobs, and I’m not even that old! Just do so much with my hands, that they are sore and stiff sometimes, and grabbing a knob, well, it’s too hard! We went with Emtek, but I couldn’t tell you what model. The thing that stood out when we were selecting them was a beautiful exterior handle that was on the salesperson’s desk. I said “I want that finish!” She said I could have it in 11 years – that’s how king it took to get the patina,ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 23, 2018 - 1:43 PM

      This isn’t addressed at you specifically Susie, but it seems that every other comment is stressing the need for levers. And, I feel like I must’ve slipped into a rabbit hole because in all of my years in this business, have never heard of this and I’ve had a lot of clients. I imagine that out of 300 or so, some of them must’ve had the disease.

      But, I must be missing something. I find it very easy to turn a door knob. In fact, mine barely need any turning, nor a grip more powerful than holding a glass of water. My front door’s dead bolt is a little harder to turn, but that’s a separate mechanism; the knob itself does not require turning once the bolt is released.

      However, I don’t want to minimize anyone who has arthritis and/or pain in their hands and suffers I imagine even when their hands are at rest. I have also read that people with arthritis should move their joints as much as possible because immobility can make it worse. And exercise can improve symptoms. The latter, I totally get. Exercise often makes me feel sick– at first. But, later, after my stomach calms down, I feel so much better.ReplyCancel

  • John - July 22, 2018 - 10:47 PM

    Thanks for another great post, Laurel! Like some of your other readers, I have a doorknob obsession. I have the same kind of octagonal crystal knobs in my 1910 Forest Hills Gardens house as you do. When I did a major renovation a few years ago (still ongoing) and added some new doors, I was able to get a pretty good match through House of Antique Hardware. I’ve gotten everything in “unfinished brass”, which acquires a natural patina over time.
    I do have a suggestion with respect to your doorknobs, though, which is that you should replace the existing philips-head screws with slotted oval- or flat-headed brass screws. They may be hard to find in the right size in the hardware stores, so your best bet may be to get them online from the Bolt Depot (www.boltdepot.com).
    Also, for those of your readers who are obsessed with authenticity, I would recommend Olde Good Things(www.ogtstore.com), which carries all kinds of salvaged architectural materials, including door hardware.
    Love your blog!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 11:11 PM

      Thanks so much John! and OMG! That source is the BEST YET! And they are in Manhattan too. In fact, I used to live not far from the one on the upper West Side. I saw one or two very much like the George Saumarez Smith house that is the lead photo. thank you again!ReplyCancel

  • Diane - July 22, 2018 - 9:49 PM

    A person can live most of a lifetime without thinking much about a door knob, until it doesn’t work or falls off onto the floor (as several of mine do with irritating regularity).

    I am happy with my old door knobs and deco-ish escutcheons (learned that term here). I need to choose knobs and pulls for my new kitchen and found the concepts you shared easily transferrable to my search for appropriate cabinet hardware.

    I was especially gratified to have my concerns about brushed on treatments clarified. I kept looking at the myriad of displays, liking the color of satin nickel but wondering why they all appear molded rather than fabricated like the chrome, pewter, and other uncoated selections. Now, if I can just find decent coordinating appliance pulls for the paneled refrigerator, I will have a functioning kitchen again.

    Thanks for another enlightening post.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 11:05 PM

      Thanks for the lovely comment Diane and good luck with your quest for the appliance pulls. Another great source is myknobs.comReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - July 22, 2018 - 9:06 PM

    Hey,
    The examples you’ve found are beautiful. I built a Federal-style house a year and a half ago, in Tennessee. I spent forever looking at hardware. I grew up with hexagonal crystal knobs, in a 100 year old house, but they wouldnt have been stylistically accurate for this house. I went with classical round glass knobs, paired with hefty, unlaquered solid brass rosettes (colonial rosette door set with empire knobs from House of Antique Hardware). They rosettes are starting to get a little patina on them. They are beautiful…i just hope I never get arthritis, because the hexagons or levers would help a lot with that. Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that though these doorknobs are beautiful on their own, my builder recommended that if I really wanted to make this look right I should also think about door hinges. He was right. Instead of the rounded-corner, laquered-brass hinges that come standard with the poplar doors (another brutal splurge), I got large, unlaquered solid brass, square-cornered ball top hinges, and it is amazing what a difference it makes. I could not afford them everywhere (upstairs closets – forget it), but I did put them in all the public areas of the house, and it makes a difference. Another note – it is almost impossible to see the differences in finishes on a computer monitor. Get a set of samples, or just order a couple of doorknobs to get them in hand and in front of your eyes. I did not have any trouble returning the options not selected.ReplyCancel

  • Toni - July 22, 2018 - 7:13 PM

    Lever door knobs are great for cats! I had one that would jump up to open closed doors. I LOVE the insanely large knobs the British use on the center of their front doors. Of course, their front doors can be insanely large also.ReplyCancel

    • Susie - July 22, 2018 - 11:26 PM

      Ha ha! I’ve seen big dogs open levered doors, as well. Very entertaining! I prefer levers as I get older and arthritis takes over my fingers.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 11:01 PM

      Hi Toni,

      Well two things. One is, what if you don’t want the cat to open the door?

      And two. Dang. Originally I was going to mention something about the big knobs on English front doors and what’s up with that? If any of our UK friends see this and want to weigh in, that would be awesome. I’m having a memory of our discussion on English kitchens– sculleries, pantries, Sheila Maids, etc!ReplyCancel

      • heidi - August 7, 2018 - 4:07 PM

        i was just in london and think i photographed every large brass doorknob i saw!
        because i’m reno’ing my house my eyeballs now pick up everything. i’m dreaming of a huge lacquered black front door like 10 downing 🙂ReplyCancel

  • sandra - July 22, 2018 - 6:55 PM

    doorknobs! levers! it’s what we use every day that should receive
    the most attention to form and function.
    love the research you do and how you present your findings.
    there are a lot of good choices out there …
    thank you.
    we’ve been lever people for years…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:56 PM

      Thank you Sandra. I had no idea that so many people are “lever people.” And now, I’m wondering if it’s regional because I don’t see them around here that much. Or at least not on all of the doors. And I wasn’t even aware that door knobs are a problem for some elderly people. Well, now, I know!ReplyCancel

  • Julie S - July 22, 2018 - 5:42 PM

    This is a timely post for me as we’ve lately put our eye on replacing the cheap 80’s brass knobs and mis-hung, featureless interior doors of our half-fixed fixer upper. We’re doing an airy light California modern mountain home so in terms of detail and fixtures that means simple but not too minimal.

    I remember reading in Lauren Liess’s wonderful book Habitat (she is my favorite designer!!) that she considers the door + doorknob an opportunity to be sort of a microcosm of a home’s style. A little pressure, no?! It definitely opened my eyes to the significant if subliminal impact that door style and hardware can have.
    I am only saved from overwhelm because my husband will only have Schlage or Falcon knobs (or levers) because they’re high quality and that is the only brand of lock he can’t easily pick and therefore considers it to be safe as well as lasting a long time without fiddling the adjustment of screws etc.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:52 PM

      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for sharing that bit of wisdom. I too, love Lauren’s work!ReplyCancel

  • Janet R - July 22, 2018 - 5:23 PM

    I have a door knob story to share. I had an artist friend paint over my (new-ish) pantry door. There is no way I could put the brass knob back on there, so we dug through a stack of old doors we had and came up with a perfect black porcelain knob BUT we needed a “rosette” to cover up the modern hole as the old door had a small rectangle plaque vs. a circle. We did some looking at resale shops but it was Restoration Hardware that came through in the end. It works beautifully!ReplyCancel

  • Becky - July 22, 2018 - 5:21 PM

    I grew up in a NYC prewar apartment, so I will always have a soft spot for the old glass knob door handles : ) .

    We just built a new house and I went with all matte black door levers, which I thought would be practical as we get older, and also because they are so incredibly easy to open with an elbow when your hands are full, as mine always seem to be. And I love the black hardware on the Cotton Balls doors with Nancy Lancaster yellow walls!ReplyCancel

  • Kiera - July 22, 2018 - 4:59 PM

    Our house had Victorian glass knobs on most, but not all, doors, and when my husband decided to replace the non-glass knobs with glass he found some great deals on eBay for antique glass knobs. I really love eBay for things like this but you have to be handy and willing to fix whatever may be wrong with the old stuff.

    The funny thing is that my favorite door handle of all is still the old fashioned New England door latch! I miss them even after living away from New England for over 20 years now.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:47 PM

      Hi Kiera,

      When I did the Bronxville white kitchen in the classic house, I’ve linked to, I got some of the hardware from Ebay. I believe it was the escutcheons on the white cabinet. And then I had them painted as I wanted a white on white look. I know the cabinet is pictured in this past Tuesday night’s post. (the previous one to this one)ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Collins - July 22, 2018 - 4:55 PM

    Recently, we purchased a teeny, tiny condo in Greenport, New York, a little bayfront place. I wanted to keep it light and airy without it looking “beachy”. So I painted all the walls creamy matte white and the builder grade panel doors black. My dilemma was to keep it simple without making it boring. With a mid century vibe and a white shaker kitchen that can be seen from any room, I went with black knobs on all doors and unlaquered brass kitchen hardware.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:45 PM

      Hi Cathy,

      Sounds fabulous! I just checked and yes, Greenport, NY in the North Fork of Long Island. Must be lovely with all of the water. And it’s not too far from Laurel, NY. haha.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - July 22, 2018 - 4:17 PM

    I’ve used Charleston Hardware Co. doorknobs on my interior doors, and they are really lovely. They blend seamlessly with the original (1920’s) crystal knobs already in the home.ReplyCancel

  • Anne Lynn Jarman - July 22, 2018 - 4:08 PM

    My house is a classic rancher, built in the sixties with the ugliest door knobs you can imagine and offset cabinet doors on the kitchen cabinets with copper countrified strap handles which make this strong woman weep, the grease embedded!!! Why you ask did I buy it? I have three dogs, little ones but never the less very loved and active. I have a walled yard. Yes, gasp, a real walled yard like in The Secret Garden, and I bought the house for my dogs.
    Back to the topic at hand, what on earth is appropriate hardware for my front door and my bedroom doors, there are a few arches between room it was the 1960s so the formal rooms don’t have doors except pocket doors to the kitchen and the private part of the house, the bedrooms and bathrooms. Anyone can weigh in because I need help and someone may have solved this problem. And yes the joy of my dogs makes everything worth it, to hear the beagle baying at night after little prey while on the last trip out for the night is a pleasure which never leaves me. The dachshunds remain unimpressed.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:17 PM

      Hi Anne,

      I’m so sorry, and I hope that you’ll understand, but would prefer not to get into the forum thing where people have a problem that they need help with. It’s just me here, writing, editing, moderating and answering, so I need to keep the comments related to the post or else it could get very out-of-hand.

      The other thing is, like I tell everyone who describes an issue. It is impossible to advise someone from a description.

      What I recommend is that you google your problem, or make a query on pinterest something like “door knobs for 60s ranch.” If you make the query on google, you might get lucky and find a real forum where this is discussed and/or if you hit images (in your google search) or look at images on pinterest, you might find some inspiration that way. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Tricia Heliker - July 22, 2018 - 3:54 PM

    I toured a for sale 3 story home in St. Louis today that had beautiful doorknobs throughout the house. Simple but gorgeous. I snapped a picture of one and will send it to you via email.ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen Monaghan - July 22, 2018 - 2:05 PM

    Oh, Laurel what a crazy coincidence. I just spent the last two days accidentally restoring the brass hinges and doorknobs on our front door – they’re probably from the 1870s or so – I was priming the front entrance to paint and decided last minute to strip the hinges – which had been painted – which I HATE! And then while I was cleaning them they started to shine, so I started scrubbing with lemon juice and salt and voila! What a joy to see that brass! They were SO dirty they were black, and it took many, many scrubs and then several applications of ketchup (which I read about on Bob Vila’s website) to get them perfect. THEN I thought to try the doorknobs, which I had believed to be black metal …. OMG they are brass as well. I am now very behind on painting, two days later, but the hinges and knobs are gorgeous! I am so excited. Our house also has lots of white porcelain knobs, black porcelain knobs, fancier carved brass hinges and knobs, rosettas and escutchons, and then some which I believe are just a dark metal – what would that be?

    I just wiped on some olive oil to stop my newfound brass from oxidizing again, but does anyone know of a sealant or something? Husband was not impressed with the oily doorknob this morning 🙂

    I’m going to send you some pictures because I am just so excited. Thank you for all of your wonderful, educational posts. I’ve been looking into rewaxing our floors, next. Your post on that is invaluable.
    And, I went and got some Benjamin Moore paint chips the other day because I am currently in the middle of a massive painting project here. I am thinking of using their “Grand Entrance” paint on the front door. And I see that they have a latex paint that they claim behaves like the old oil based paints?! I am very intrigued by that. Latex can be so…flimsy for lack of a better term. Any opinions on using those two paints? I haven’t looked at prices but I”m guessing they ain’t cheap. In the past I’ve used Valspar, PPG, and Sherwin-Williams. The fanciest I’ve ever gotten is a basic S-W paint.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:07 PM

      Hi Kathleen,

      Thank you for the photos. I’ve always heard that butcher’s wax stops the oxidation. But, that too, is stinky. Hey, maybe just polish them up with a little ketchup now and then.ReplyCancel

  • Elle - July 22, 2018 - 1:11 PM

    A thought—lever handles are so much easier than knobs for aging hands. And I don’t mean elderly! Sore fingers or hands or limited grip can make itself known too soon.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 1:43 PM

      Hi Elle,

      Thank you. Several people have mentioned this. (not that I expect you to read all of the comments.) So I definitely have learned some new things today! I commented earlier that it’s not just door knobs. In fact, I can think of many things that every time I have to open them, I think, how do people with impaired hand function deal with this?ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - July 22, 2018 - 12:35 PM

    Hi Laurel, we own an inherited weekend house in the Catskills built very cheaply in the 1970s which had those ugly Kwikset knobs as pictured. The budget for any non-essential improvements is tight. But the Rocky Mountain Hardware aesthetic has really trickled down. Believe it or not, Kwikset now offers a lovely knob called Hancock (among others) in a variety of finishes. We replaced all our knobs and we still cannot believe how this relatively modest expenditure has changed the look of the house. Every once in a while a popularly priced product can offer good design, but I still thank RMD!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 1:41 PM

      That’s terrific Naomi. I looked up the Kwickset Hancock and for a budget door knob it’s not bad! In fact, I added it to the widget. The link above takes one to all of the Kwickset options on Build.com.ReplyCancel

  • Gail Caryn - July 22, 2018 - 12:19 PM

    Hi Laurel. It’s been a bit since I checked in. Congrats on the podcast! Thanks as always for your wonderful posts.
    In my 1911 home I have lovely hardware, although it is brass plated over tin and some of the brass has worn off from 100 years of hands. I like it though. It’s part of the history. I did look at replacing them and decided not to. The tin has a lovely, dull patina and looks a bit like pewter. It’s right against the brass escutcheon and I love the mix. House of antique hardware dot com is a good source for new classic hardware.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 1:32 PM

      Hi Gail,

      Oh, I love that! Worn off or not. Yes, I love House of Antique Hardware. I can’t link them in the widget directly, but they sell on Amazon, so I have one or two products in there from them. That’s where most of the sources are. This post took longer than usual. And that’s partly because there is so much crap to wade through and also, I was trying to find good pics of door knobs ON the doors. That isn’t easy either. And then hours of research, blah, blah…;]ReplyCancel

  • Paula - July 22, 2018 - 12:17 PM

    If only I’d never worried about a knob! I was entirely obsessed with door knobs for a period renovating my 1880 home. We had the original brass on the first and second, and very plain, simplistic wood on the smaller, attic-like third floor – where the lady of the house would never venture back in the day (ahem).

    My concern with knobs first arose when I got trapped in the “playroom” on the third floor of my old house with my newborn and two-year old. My oldest closed the door and the aged wood knob fell off, leaving us no way to open the door. Try as I might, I could not spring us free. The play tool set simply would not do it. With no phone in the room, I hung out the front window, and was finally rescued by the mail carrier who had a neighbor break through my back door.

    At that point we swapped out the rough, largely non-working wood handles with glass ones that I’d salvaged from another home. As I learned latter, however, the lovely glass knobs would not have been in fashion, maybe not even manufactured when my home was built. So when we renovated years later, I went with antique brass Emtek round knobs – after a long and exhausting debate over lever, egg, classic round, unlacquered, square plate, send our kids to college versus buying beautiful door knobs, etc. in addition to a stand off with my contractor over the old doors.

    I tried like heck to save the solid wood doors, but given the hundred years of old paint, as in lead paint, I could not afford to strip them all in compliance with existing laws (and even if I could, they would not close properly to say nothing of lock). Nor could I ethically ask a painter to just “fix” them up, chipping off some of the old, and repaint them. As homeowners do due to the expense of dealing with them. Yet I knew this places the painter, as well as people in the home, especially young children, at potential risk for lead exposure. In the end, I saved some old doors, the ones that were never painted or had been well-preserved. Many of them simply did not close, given the movement of the foundation, the floors, old locks, etc. Changes in humidity and weather – “oh, it must be winter now, we can’t close the front door!”…yes, this happened..a lot.

    Many of the knobs did not properly function, few if any could be locked, so that was also a huge issue and intrinsically attached (pun intended) to the issue of the old doors. Fortunately most on the first floor doors had not been painted and could be saved more easily. People have asked if I saved or re-used the original knobs, but it was near impossible to get them off the doors without disturbing the lead paint. It was a real moral dilemma. I have more knobs and door stories, but I’ll save you all for today. Suffice it to say, I adore the old hardware still in my house, but I also appreciate a closed door and a well-placed working lock from time to time. Never a dull moment in design or life, eh?ReplyCancel

    • Gail Caryn - July 26, 2018 - 8:11 PM

      I hear you Paula. Our front door has gone through various stages of “closing” while we replaced the foundation. When it does close there is a 1″ gap under it and the wind whistles in. The trim on the exterior door was raked to shreds by a brute of a Maine Coon Cat. Sadly, it has to go if only for the sake of the heating bill.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 1:29 PM

      Hi Paula,

      You can say that again! I was going to say that you need your own TV show but then realized that they already have one. This Old House. hahaReplyCancel

  • Michele - July 22, 2018 - 11:05 AM

    Hi again from Norway, Laurel. We are currently having the warmest weather since they started recording the weather, 260 years ago… too warm to work outside, which gives me time to read your posts :).

    Actually we do not have door knobs at all here! I have lived in several european countries, and it seems that levers are the go-to option.
    I don’t even remember seeing any knobs when I was shopping for door hardware.

    Our newly built farm house has brushed nickel levers everywhere ;). Mostly we have children and I did not want anything shiny because of smears/fingerprints.

    The nice thing is that you can, if your hands are full, open them with your elbow. The bad thing is, as you mention, that sometimes one gets ‘hooked up’ (or is that a good thing? I know, bad joke!). It doesn’t seem to happen often in this house, but we tried to have plenty of moving space around door openings. So probably that prevents the getting hooked.

    Also, I can imagine that levers are easier to operate when you get older. Knobs can be harder to turn if your hands are aching/arthritic.

    But a lot of the hardware in your post is lovely, I must say. Those crystal knobs! Would love some of those. Not possible to get something like that in a lever :).ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 12:29 PM

      Hi Michele,

      Sorry about your heat-wave. Well, soon, it will be cool again! I’m wondering about door locks. When I leave my apartment, if I want to lock it, it’s an interlocking dead bolt and it does take some strength to get the old girl to turn with the key. And for that matter, locked from the inside. When my younger son was having issues, I realized that one has to pull the door into them with the knob as they are unlocking the door. What I’m trying to say is that there is no way that lock is aging-in-place compliant and what do they use instead?ReplyCancel

  • Beth - July 22, 2018 - 10:45 AM

    Amazing post! We renovated a lovely older home three years ago and I have been stuck replacing the interior door knobs. This is so helpful. Spot on as always. Thank you so much for your wonderful advice and great writing!ReplyCancel

  • Erin - July 22, 2018 - 10:22 AM

    Dear Laurel,

    My go to door knobs are Emtek in the French Antique finish. I especially like their Hampton Crystal knob. It works well in whatever setting I use it. The egg shape knob is just the right size and feels wonderful in your hand. There are coordinating wardrobe and cabinet knobs as well.

    I love your blog and can’t wait to read each new post!

    ErinReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 12:10 PM

      Hi Erin,

      Love Emtek too. That’s a link for anyone wanting to see more of the products on Build.com, a terrific source online for dozens of lines.

      Oh my, they are having a big sale right now. I should put them in my Friday hot sales page.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - July 22, 2018 - 10:15 AM

    Hi Laurel, After 3 renos I can appreciate the stress of designing a whole house; I swore that if I ever had the opportunity I’d hire a professional to help me through the process. As a mature person (hell, old and crabby) I prefer lever handles and found great ones at Emtek in an antique French finish I love. Arthritis makes round handles hell, so the lever handles are the answer. In fact, in British Columbia, Canada, one must use levers as they are disability compliant. Besides, if your arms are full you can open the door with your elbow. Every topic you touch should make anyone thinking of making their own design decisions just what a rabbit hole they are entering. Thanks for everything!! CathyReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 12:02 PM

      Hi Cathy,

      Old and crabby works for me! lol Love Emtek and did feature a bunch of their products on here, mostly in the widget. One thing. Don’t you catch purses, pockets, etc on your lever handles?

      And can you have knobs and then replace them with levers when you go to sell? Or do people not bother? And is it all doors?

      I mean, it seems that no matter what, there’s a problem. What confounds me are some products that are sealed so tightly in their plastic packages when you get them, you need a chain saw to get them open? Right? And of course, some jars are insanely difficult to get open. I shouldn’t have to pound the lid on the counter more than three times to break the seal!ReplyCancel

  • Pam Hastings - July 22, 2018 - 10:04 AM

    I agree – door levers can be a pain for catching straps, etc. But if you are replacing knobs in a home for aging in place, they should be seriously considered. My condo has levers everywhere. I long for knobs and don’t anticipate serious arthritis, but probably won’t change them since this building was built with accessibility in mind.

    The other oddity about this condo? All of the outlets are placed 18″ from the floor. I understand why, but it drove me so crazy I replaced all the plates with paintable/paperable ones. Ever do a post about ugly outlets/light switches?ReplyCancel

    • Heidi - August 7, 2018 - 4:37 PM

      ahhhhhh this explains it! My inlaws live in a 55+/senior community and their doors are ALL levers and I always wondered why… Makes total sense now!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 11:54 AM

      Hi Pam,

      I never considered that door knobs presented a problem for opening a door for the elderly. But, I guess my hands, while worked to the bone, haha, are pretty strong still at 62.ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - July 22, 2018 - 9:45 AM

    I absolutely adore you and love just about everything you show us.
    But my family already thinks I have gone over the edge. Now doorknobs!
    When we painted the living room I had poster sized paint samples up for months. My family’s opinion was “they look the same to me.”
    The same thing with the white trim. And the drapes. And on and on.
    Now doorknobs. Now I hate them all. I grew up in and old house with incredible elaborate detailed woodwork. The hardware was all original to the house. I now live in a not so old house and still after 20 years here bemoan that the house is so “new” that nothing is crooked or creaking or has character. So thanks Laurel, I am now going to be looking at the da*m doorknobs knowing I can’t replace them.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 11:49 AM

      Hi Carolyn,

      Oh, I’m so sorry. Maybe try painting little smiley faces on them? No, really. I don’t know how many you have. And actually painting is a pain because they must come off the doors. So, it really won’t work for a house unless you have them professionally done. And by the time you paid for that, you might as well just get some new ones. But yeah, for nice doorknobs for an entire home is several thousand dollars, installed.ReplyCancel

  • Jane Nierman - July 22, 2018 - 9:23 AM

    Oh Laurel, I just love you! I always LMAO at your biting banter and witticism. Wish I’d come across your blog about a year ago when we moved from an urban, wall ‘o windows loft into our new home, a mid century modern condo with minimal natural light (tempered by it’s location a block from the lake.) In our excitement to decorate, we rushed in like bulls in a china shop.

    Oh the costly mistakes we made! Don’t know what happened to my old rule of “live in the new digs awhile and then,slowly curate new furnishings,” but I broke it – big time. We wound up with furnishings completely out of scale and style with the architecture and hated it. I was in over my head, so after weeks of reviewing designer portfolios and stalking Pinterest and Instagram accounts, I found Phillip. I loved his every project. Each one was unique so I knew he could make things right. I just love him!

    We are progressing slowly – which includes selling and/or restyling (reupholstering) a few of our brand new acquisitions. For example, we bought two custom Sherrill sofas (and while they make quality products, their customer service STINKS. I would NEVER buy anything from Sherrill ever again!) The sofas overwhelmed the room and their traditional styling looked all wrong.

    We’re now selling one and reupholstered the other to create a lower, more modern profile. But the place is starting to looking hipper/cooler and warmer – all at the same time, and my husband & I are both relieved and grateful. we’re shooting for a modern French vibe. Anyway, I read your blog about mixing styles – which is my fav look (I’d call mine edgy-traditional) but I’d love if you’d delve into how best to honor mid century architecture. Thanks for the laughs and lessons, your fan, JaneReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 11:41 AM

      Hi Jane,

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment! Warning to vendors. Be careful, or you might end up on my blog and in not-such-a-great light. Thanks for the heads-up. That’s a brand that I generally put in the stylistically clunky category. Here is what I said about them in Laurel’s Rolodex:

      SHERRILL FURNITURE COMPANY – High end traditional retail
      furniture company but has trade showrooms as well. Represents Lillian
      August and Mr. and Mrs. Howard collections as well. R/T, PS, $4+

      (the code means retail/trade, physical showroom or shop and then a price code stating a range. This one is high-end. The very highest is $5+++)

      There it is. “traditional” is really code for largely not. Although I do like most of what Lillian August sells as well as Mr. and Mrs. Howard; beautiful but not inexpensive.

      I love the term “Modern French” and “Edgy Traditional” which evokes a chic, sophisticated quality to the furnishings. I think those terms apply to a lot of Barbara Barry’s furniture too. That’s part I which is rather short. Part II (which you can find from that page) delves further into her style. Geezzz, I wrote those posts four years ago! I was still using a PC then.ReplyCancel

  • Deb Rose - July 22, 2018 - 8:39 AM

    Loved the article on door knobs (or is it doorknobs, haha). Having two old houses, one I’m still restoring, I have had an obsession with hardware. I agree the reproductions just don’t cut it. I’ve scoured all kinds of venues and was fortunate to come across some beautiful bronze knobs and plates from a house that was being torn down that was the same age as my house. I always hate the thought of someone destroying such beautiful architecture and history in favor of modern homes and businesses, but it did provide me with enough hardware to the first floor of the Queen Anne Victorian (that is still in progress after 12 years). I love your choices of knobs. Perhaps because they also speak to me. There was one photo, the one with the dark smoke blue door and black porcelain knob that really caught my eye. First, love the whole overall combination, but second, that gorgeous wallpaper! I’m obsessed! It may very well no longer be in print, but have to ask if you know more about the maker and any other information you might have. Thank you so much for your reply. Enjoy reading your blog.

    Faithfull reader,

    DebReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 11:26 AM

      Hi Deb,

      Cool on the door knob find! There are stores that specialize in that sort of thing, but being able to source it yourself, you saved a bundle, for sure!

      Re: wallpaper. Well, you are in luck. I did not know of it off-hand, although I had a hunch as to the manufacturer which ended up being correct. But what I did was crop the image so that just a large piece of the wallpaper showed and then put that in google images – and pay dirt. It works about 75% of the time if something is available.

      But, if it’s an obscure source, then know. This one is by Cole & Son – called Royal Palaces. That is a link to purchase it. But, please be careful, with the amount that you’ll need as a lot of people get tripped up with the roll size. This is a Euro-roll size which is a little narrower, but double the length of an American roll.ReplyCancel

      • Deb Rose - July 26, 2018 - 9:22 PM

        Actually clicked the link, and it was for the blue wallpaper. I was looking at the one with the large white sunflowers. Any info on that one?ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - July 26, 2018 - 10:58 PM

          Oh, I don’t know. Sorry. Maybe google Lauren Liess Sunflower wallpaper. Maybe there’s a source somewhere. I believe she has talked about it on her blog as well. So, maybe she mentioned the source.ReplyCancel

      • Deb Rose - July 26, 2018 - 9:19 PM

        Thank you so much! I had done the same thing with google, but only match I found was your site.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - July 26, 2018 - 10:57 PM

          Hi Deb,

          Oh, that’s so funny! But I love it when I’m looking for something and google sends me one of my blog posts! ReplyCancel

  • Kathi - July 22, 2018 - 8:37 AM

    Thank you Laurel for another great post. It is something that I honestly never thought much about, but it is something that we all have to “handle” everyday and deserves more attention. We have just put our condo on the market today, because we are buying a larger one in the same complex and I need to renovate it into a new classic contemporary style ( I am on board with your new terms ) Transitional and Traditional terms are so over used that you truly have no idea what the house really looks like. Traditional can be a 30 year old dump of a house and they call it transitional because they stuck a sectional in the middle of the living room. That is why I adore homes in Europe, they know who and what they are.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:48 AM

      Hi Kathi,

      Hooray! A convert. Now, I just have to remember what I named them. haha!ReplyCancel

  • bobbie battista - July 22, 2018 - 8:30 AM

    Great post, Laurel! Here’a a really interesting architectural hardware site – all custom made. Something for everyone.

    The catch is I think one door knob would cost more than my car.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:45 AM

      Oh wow! Gorgeous! And yes, we’re talking four-year college tuition at an ivy-league college, without a scholarship! And, I used to live right around the corner from there at 22nd and Broadway.ReplyCancel

  • Margaret - July 22, 2018 - 8:28 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    Great blog post. Always so informative. I love your selection of knobs. I’m lucky enough to live in an older home with bronze knobs that have nice backplates; some of them painted, some not. Everytime I repaint a room , I discern whether I want to takethe paint off the back plate. As a painter, Iwould not recommend ever that people paint their door knobs.. You can paint the flange or back plate, but never the door knob. Our hands have natural oils, and then there are the additional creams we apply. All these end up on the door handles and they break down the paint such that it becomes tacky. Some people have oilier hands than others too. I have seen too many nasty looking painted door knobs.

    The picture that you posted of the door knobs of your youth – they also come in copper. I just worked on a 1970’s lumber baron’s split level house (talk about lots of panelling) and it had that exact style of knob. I was refinishing a couple of the doors and took the knobs off to clean them: I don’t know much about how metal is manufactured but these seemed to me to be pure copper. Once they got cleaned up and polished, they looked great inthat style of house.

    love your blog.ReplyCancel

    • margaret - July 22, 2018 - 1:43 PM

      You could probably remove the door knobs, sand them down with a finer grit sandpaper, clean them thoroughly and spray paint them with rustoleum paint that is intended for metal – use a paint primer in one. That would work best. But not wall paint. It simply does not dry hard enough to withstand the oils. Speaking of banisters, I have had to scrap down many a banister hand rail of paint that got tacky from handling. Sand it with 150 grit paper, then prime them with stix primer, followed by paint with semi-gloss and top coat with polyurethane for durability. Door knobs get even more handling.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:42 AM

      Hi Margaret,

      That is an excellent point about painting the knobs. I wonder if there’s a paint that’s impervious to that. Maybe if the knob is painted and then polyurethaned, it would hold up? Also, we paint banisters and those usually hold up, I’m surmising. I would only paint a really cheap door-knob and only if I couldn’t afford to replace it. But, since I’m naturally lazy, I’d probably just live with the cheap things like I did for 22 years. hahaReplyCancel

  • Anna - July 22, 2018 - 7:18 AM

    Another interesting blog post – thanks, Laurel.
    I live in an older (1937) home in Queens, NY, that has lots of original details.
    I wanted to share with you my favorite doorknob that’s on the inside of our entry foyer door. It’s antique brass with the face of the wind god embossed on it but I don’t see a way to share a photo in this comment. Oh well 🙁
    Anyway, thanks again for another informative post.
    Oh, and thanks for letting us know about the Manhattan-Nest blog – I’ve signed up to it.
    AnnaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:36 AM

      Hi Anna,

      We’re neighbors! You can send me a photo here: admin at laurel bern interiors dot com. I have to write it out because of spammers.ReplyCancel

      • Anna - July 22, 2018 - 11:01 AM

        Thanks, Laurel. Will do!ReplyCancel

  • Margot - July 22, 2018 - 6:48 AM

    It is worth noting that a lever handle needs a different latch mechanism from a knob or an egg. As a result you can usually replace a knob with a lever, but not a lever with a knob, without changing or altering that mechanism. Beware and ask specifically about this when you buy.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:34 AM

      Hi Margot,

      Thank you for pointing that out. I didn’t even get into the nuts and bolts of different TYPES of knobs and passage, dummy, mortise– but absolutely. I have always relied on expert advice from experienced building contractors and the people who manufacture any product.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine Evans - July 22, 2018 - 6:40 AM

    Hi Laurel, Love your posts. I am also in the middle of a total renovation and just had to do the door knob thing! I got levers as I find them easier for “older” hands and “young” hands!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:32 AM

      Thanks Catherine! That’s an interesting idea I hadn’t thought of.ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - July 22, 2018 - 6:38 AM

    Interesting article, Laurel. We just built a new house and I went with all matte black door knobs. It does look very chic (I think, anyways), on a white door. It never occurred to me to search out porcelain. I grew up in an old farmhouse with old white porcelain knobs on every door and never thought a thing about it. Too bad the house is gone now as that house had been built in 1922. I’m guessing the doorknobs likely went out in the rubble. I also remember as a little girl, the house where my aunt and uncle lived. Built in the late 1800’s, it had glass knobs on all the doors, and I was always fascinated by them. In our last house (which we had renovated) we put all levers on the doors and I cursed them everytime the pocket on my sweater would catch on them! Lots of details to think about when building. This is our retirement home, so hopefully will never have to go through this process again!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:31 AM

      Hi Colleen,

      It’s funny the associations we have with things when we are young, for the better and worse. I’m sure that my grandparents had glass knobs in their 1920s apartment in Chicago, the same as me. It’s no wonder that I live in a building built at the same time; I have the fondest memories of going to visit them. I can still see me my grandmother crying as we drove off. At the time, I couldn’t understand it, but now, I get it totally. I’m crying just thinking about it.ReplyCancel

  • Tinamarie - July 22, 2018 - 6:28 AM

    I went wth Baldwin crystal-privacy-door-knob-with-traditional-arch-rose in polished nickel on charcoal black doors. It’s a bit of a sticker shock when you’re doing a whole house, but I love them. My husband thought I was nuts and “who would notice” , I told him me that’s who! However, everyone even our movers commented.ReplyCancel

  • Korina Trew - July 22, 2018 - 4:09 AM

    Great post! Love love love the old hardware. I am currently reading through a stack of books on architecture and trying to find more info on what kind of hardware and doors and trim and windows my old farmhouse has. We got the yellow paint up, went with Hawthorne and wow does it look better! Once I finish the white picket fence (talk about a crash course in building) I should have some great before and after pics.

    Any chance you could do a post on millwork from specific time periods? Or doors? Or windows? Probably too specific but can’t hurt to ask!ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - July 22, 2018 - 2:31 AM

    Hello Laurel, Don’t forget my favorite, Puffed Wheat.

    I have been ridiculed for having entire books about doorknobs on my shelves, yet as you show here this is an important subject that will greatly affect the quality perception of a room. The danger is in starting to collect the knobs apart from any planned use. I especially like the miniature knobs used to pull doorbells, and the fist-shaped ones used on old safes.
    –JimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 22, 2018 - 10:03 AM

      No Fruit Loops Jim? Really, I almost put that one in, but I didn’t want to make anyone have to run for the bathroom. I think it’s cool that you have entire books about doorknobs on your shelves. As you already know, I barely scratched the surface of the topic.ReplyCancel

  • Gaye - July 22, 2018 - 1:04 AM

    “Saucy” you say? I love that word, so seldom used and yet so precise. I myself prefer classic saucy language. Because you’re right: you just don’t know what you might get in traditional saucy language.ReplyCancel