Everything old becomes new again. Sometimes it just takes a hundred years and a couple of treasure seekers to make it happen. I’m guilty of being one of those treasure seekers. I love hunting for unique pieces (whether it be furniture, home decor, jewelry or clothing) that were once adored by someone else, and with a little TLC and a new perspective can be brought back to life. I can spend hours wandering antique shops and flea markets looking for these hidden treasures. Most of the time I’m wishing I had more space and time to rehab what I find. City living, in an apartment, can sometimes put a damper on that, but finding small items to refresh is always an option. It can be done! I’ve turned vintage jewelry into picture frames, tailored vintage coats to be fashionable now, restored a classic 1950’s dining set and polished vintage glassware (see that post here) to use for everyday. I could go on, but you get the picture.
I came across these beautiful vintage door knobs at the Kane County Flea Market (if you live in or near Chicago it is a MUST visit flea market – one of my all time favorites). The vendor had an entire booth of door knobs, door plates, keys, kick plates and mailboxes. Interesting upon first glance, but after hearing where they came from, I was in swept away. This vendor would go to demolition sites of old Chicago homes and ask for the hardware. Imagine these big, beautiful Chicago mansions being torn down just to be replaced by sleek, modern and often “cold” homes and apartment buildings. It’s a tragedy – but being able to save even the littlest pieces of these homes saves their character and charm and allows it to be shared for generations to come. I knew I had to have some of this Chicago history for myself, so 4 door knobs, 4 knob plates and a vintage hanging mailbox later I was headed home.
These knobs date back to the late 1800’s so you can imagine they needed a little bit of a makeover to get them ready to be brought back into a home. Initially I thought I would just paint all of them, but after doing a deep clean on the first pair, I fell in love with the original metal patina. They polished into a lovely rose gold that accents all their elegance and charm. The second pair needed more of a refresh, so got a nice new paint job – a mix of gold and silver. Since they wouldn’t look as regal on my apartment doors as they would in a large stately home, I decided to make them into wall hooks. They are now not just more beautiful, but more functional as well.
Steps for Refurbishing Old Door Knobs/Plates:
- Clean The Hardware: Use a little soap and water to get the outer layer of dirt and grime off the hardware.
- Boil The Hardware: Letting the hardware sit in boiling water for 10-15 minutes will help remove deep set grime and loosen layers of old paint.
- Brush Brush Brush: Use steel wool to start removing everything you just loosened during boiling, then use a wire brush to scrub even harder and to polish the metal. (It’s shocking the results you’ll see during this step!)
- Painting/Polishing: If you are just polishing the metal and not painting, you can move on to the next step. If you will be painting the hardware, be sure to shake the spray can well, hold the can about 2 feet away and spray lightly to get even coverage with no drips.
- Adding the Knobs: If your door plates and knobs weren’t originally a set, they may not fit together perfectly, but Gorilla Glue works wonders. Since I plan to hang these on the wall as hooks, I wanted to ensure they could hold the weight of items like coats and purses, so I used heavy duty glue on the silver and gold knobs and plates. The rose gold knobs have their original engraving (they are from Russel & Erwin Manufacturing, made in 1893) which I didn’t want to tamper with, so instead of glue, I used a tension screw and secured that screw from the side, then secured everything with a bolt.
- Enjoy your treasure in all it’s sparkling new glory!
The mirrors below were not as thrilling of a find, and likely hailed from a Hobby Lobby, not a charming Victorian style home. I found them when cleaning out an old box of stuff from college, as they used to hang on my Polynesian themed bedroom wall. (More info on that room here and here.) While that room was dark and moody with all the right tropical flair, it doesn’t quite suite my current aesthetic. I still thought these mirrors had potential to fit into my home now, they just needed a little paint. If you haven’t heard it before, you need to know – a good coat of paint can solve a lot of problems.
With a good eye for treasure, a little elbow grease, a few supplies from the hardware store and a lot of love you can make anything old new again!
Signed with Style,
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