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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Should I order a split finish on bathroom doorknobs or just go same throughout house?

akcorcoranNovember 23, 2012
We have a 1917 Georgian Revival Colonial that we're pretty extensively remodeling. Between the renovation and then replacing old doorknobs, I have to order about 16 sets of doorknobs. We decided to go with a Crystal handle doorknob with a plain rosette finish in a French Antique finish (aged brass) but my question is on the bathrooms.

Our guest bath has Oil-Rubbed Bronze fixtures throughout - should I order a split finish for the doorknob and get French Antique outside but Oil-Rubbed Bronze inside (the locking side)? It's a pass through bathroom so we'd actually need two like that.

And, my daughters' new bathroom is brushed nickel fixtures. Should I get brushed nickel inside and the French antique outside?

OR, should I just get the same handles throughout the house regardless of the bathroom fixtures? The house would have likely been built that way, obviously (we're mostly replacing all brass small knobs.)

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Hi akcorcoran,

I would use the split finish, because when the door is closed in the bathroom all the hardware will match. Nice choice of knobs btw!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 9:43AM
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Oh, dear, I just realized that all of our new doors have brushed nickel hinges (an antique brass option wasn't available - just a polished brass. they had to be custom milled b/c they are 5 panel doors to match our historical doors) Do you think that ordering the rosettes in an antique brass is OK or do they need to be the same brushed nickel as the hinges?

I just thought that the antique brass would be better for our 1917 colonial. It's the finish below (the oil-rubbed bronze above was for the bathroom that had ORB bath fixtures.)

Oh, dear -
    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 12:22AM
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Can you get the hinges in oil-rubbed bonze, or just reuse the old hinges? I think that would look best with the antique brass and I personally prefer the darker finihs for the knobs Is it too late to change the hinge option?

I have never seen brushed nickle hinges on a historic door before WWII. Maybe for an Art Deco or Moderne house, but not a Colonial Revival. . Going brushed nickle is going to look quite contemporary for the hinges and the knobs. Is there sort of pewter option that is less bright? I have seen that on some old doors and could at least be an compromise with the hinges..

A rectangular plate for the knob would be more traditional than the round. I looked it up and apparently glass knobs came in style after the US entered WWI (1917) and metal was needed for armaments. I once lived in a house from the 20's with them.

Too bad they didn't have 5-panel doors in stock--they are so common in older houses, you'd think it would be worth their while. If you get slab doors, you can fit them with the old hinges, or at least old-style hinges with the little knobs on the top and fit them to the original.

Doorknobs traditionally don't match plumbing fixtures, but I think it would be OK if you did. Of course if they are all the same, it would be more consistent and it wouldn't matter if you changed the plumbing later.
    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 1:05AM
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Yes, I think I goofed there. Just talked to contractor and we can switch out the hinges (on my dime, of course!) We had the five-panel doors in some of the originally remodeled spaces but they were in such bad shape that they really needed to be replaced. Also, people had cut them to accommodate rugs (and the house settling!) over the years. But, then we're adding enough space that we needed more. Fortunately, some are still yet to come so I just had him order them WITHOUT hinges this time and will get the antique brass elsewhere.

Our house originally had round plates on the doors and round brass knobs. And, the knobs were very small in your hand - they drove me crazy! We also have a LOT of doors on our second floor (typical colonial that has a lot of rooms on a main hallway), so I think the glass will be a bit more subtle. Thanks for letting me know that they came in favor in 1917 - that's perfect then! :-)

I really appreciate your thoughts - helped me solidify my own instincts. Thanks!
    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 5:48AM
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Details do count and it is worth doing research to figure them out. Kind of like reading a good detective story and it was interesting to find out the history of the glass doorknob. At least hinges are fairly inexpensive, although it does add up for so many doors. They still make the old-fashioned kind of hinges by the way--I got some at a big box store a few years back.

I like a good hefty doorknob too. My house was remodeled in 1925 and 1962, both just about tearing out everything that was there before. Just have a few of the orignial hefty (bronze) knobs and five panel doors left (sob), mostly on closets. Why they ripped out almost all the baseboards and those nice heavy doors is beyond me, except that they really wanted a ranch house and bought a bungalow because it was near the school. It is not the worst thing I've ever seen, but a good lesson on how tastes change and change houses, not always for the best.

I also have a 1903 venacular Victorian with a few Craftsman touches rental, and it is a real crazy quilt of door and doorknob styles. I would love to be able to afford to bring both back to something closer to what they were circa 1925 or so.

Even though the old doors had been cut down, were you able to salvage any?--would be pretty cool for headboards, blanket chests, tables, paneling and other DIY projects.
    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:01AM
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