Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘entryway’

So when I left things at the end of part one, we had a dark blue painted front door (no more flower mural), which was a step in the right direction.

But although I was glad to be done with the flower painting, and liked the color (Sherwin Williams Naval) it was still a little unfinished feeling, with sort of a “blank” look to me because of that big wood panel in the middle:

Image

Whenever I’m lucky enough to travel someplace with pretty architecture, I like to take photos of my favorite doors and doorways. One of the loveliest cities in the world for pretty doorways is Bath, near where my husband grew up in England. There are so many gorgeous doors there in all that beautiful Georgian architecture.

Here’s are a few I fell in love with this summer in Bath and Oxford:

Bath Door 1

Bath Door 2

Oxford Door 1

Oxford Door 2

Look at the history! The glassy paint! The great mail-slots and knockers and hand-crank doorbells. In fact, when I couldn’t find anything particularly inspiring in our local hardware stores, my sister in law mentioned a place in Bath called The Knob Connection which specializes in “door furniture” which sounded like a place that took things seriously. And they even have a website! I was thrilled.

Since our house had many years of ownership by a prominent medical family in town, and I think the style is really beautiful and timeless, I was very interested in a “doctor’s knocker” – like on the white door above – these were used to mark the doors of physicians long ago so that in an emergency you could tell where a doctor lived even in a strange town. I love historical quirky things like that, so when my sister-in-law offered to visit the shop for me, I asked her to check out this one in person.

Another one caught my eye too, though, and it’s the one she said was much nicer in person: this “English rose” round knocker. The provided photo really isn’t doing it any favors there, which is why I had initially been looking at the other one more seriously. But my sister-in-law visited the shop and decided to buy it then and there and send it over as my Christmas present, since my husband’s parents were coming over for Christmas, she asked them to pack it and bring it over – it definitely weighed down their luggage, but I’m so glad they brought it!

Although the bolts to mount it are too long for our door, so I really need to shorten them (or buy shorter ones) I went ahead and mounted it right after Christmas. I just laid a piece of paper against the back of it and used a pencil to mark the two places I would need to drill for bolts. Since I really REALLY did not want to mess up the placement of the knocker, I made a color copy of it (just laid it on the scanner bed of our printer/scanner/copier and hit “Color Copy”) for a 1:1 model of it I could reposition lots of times on the front door with tape.

When we got it where we wanted it, and had the holes marked well, it was just a matter of drilling through the door. Again, since this door has a dumb plywood panel as its middle, rather than some gorgeous piece of antique wood, I wasn’t too worried about going through the door.

And drill I did! I really need to get some larger drill bits for our drill, because as it was our largest wasn’t quite large enough and I had to keep wiggling it around to make the hole bigger, which took forever and seemed like a pretty inexact way of doing it.

Nonetheless, I was happy with the results!

knocker installed

When my sister in law bought it the knob-store owner told her that it was cast from a mold of an old Tudor-era door knocker, and that’s why the bottom rose looks worn, because the original one was worn down from years of use. Who knows, but I liked the story. Best Christmas present ever!

The door almost felt done, but when we removed our storm door our mail carrier became concerned because our old mail-slot was very small – about a 4.5″ opening – and he was worried about leaving larger mail outside without the storm door to hold it in. So, because I didn’t want to reattach the ratty storm door, or buy and hang another one, I decided to look for what our options might be for ordering a larger mail slot.

After a little internet research and Pinterest window shopping, I ended up looking at the selection from Signature Hardware. They had at least a few options in various styles for old houses, and the prices were fairly reasonable for solid brass door “furniture.” Since our goal was to have a LARGER opening, the styles were a bit more limited, but we ended up liking this one quite a bit:

post slot from Signature Hardware

It had the larger dimensions we needed and the color seemed somewhat close to the knocker we already had. I noticed in the comments that it was somewhat confusing to install but thought I could probably handle it.

Ha, ha, ha.

While this is a very PRETTY mail slot, and there were instructions available to print from the website, the installation process was incredibly difficult.

You have to cut a hole for the mail to go through, so using our jigsaw I enlarged the current hole. This part was pretty nerve-wracking because it was in the thick, old, wood part of the door rather than the thin plywood part. However, what REALLY made it hard was that the hole had to be WIDER at the top so that the post-flap had clearance to fold in, but narrower in the middle so that the mounting bolts could grab into it. It was NOT well or simply designed at all. Because I was worried about accidentally making the hole too LARGE, I ended up slowly, slowly chipping away at it, holding up the mail slot, chipping away a bit more, holding up the slot again, etc. I ended up hand chiseling quite a bit of the part around the top, which took SO much longer than I had imagined. But finally it was up, albeit in the middle of a big mess of 103-year-old sawdust everywhere.

mail slot installed

I still feel like it could be a slightly better fit, and would like to get a larger drill bit to counter sink the spots where the plate screws in just a bit better, but it’s very stable as is and sometimes good enough is good enough for now. Additionally, the big inner flap is a nice bonus over our old one, which only had a flap inside the front door. This one is large enough for even wide manila envelopes and slim packages to go through. A big change, and we haven’t had any complaints from the mail carrier yet. (Phew.)

post holding mail

The added weight of the brass mail slot even holds outgoing mail, which was never an option before. Kind of neat.

So here’s the door now, knocker and mail slot in place:

front-door-after

Note that strong afternoon sun, the reason the original wood frame was so damaged. Hopefully this new look will last us a long time.

Read Full Post »

This is the story of a door. Part One.

So here’s my confession. During our recent house exterior repainting, we painted over an old wood door. We painted over wood sidelights, and a wood transom.

That’s right, we painted wood. Old wood. Some of it was even pretty wood.

You see, our front door is objectively not great. At one point, we think it must have had a glass panel inset into it. It might have matched the flower pattern in the sidelights and transom. That would have been pretty awesome. But by the time we got this house, the panel of glass – or whatever it was – had been replaced with a big piece of plywood. And the plywood had been painted with a mural of flowers.

Like most people who buy old houses, I love the look of gorgeous old wood. And believe me when I say that I love how our house is full of old wood – the floors, the furniture, the piano. If it were a door like this, you can bet we wouldn’t have been painting over it. I think there’s very little that beats the look of a gorgeous wood door surrounded by painted sidelights and a painted transom. I also really like the look of a painted door with painted sidelights and a painted transom. But the one look I’m not a big fan of is the missing combination above: a painted door with wooden sidelights and a wooden transom.

And that’s what we inherited.

front door before

Here are the issues above, as I saw them:

1) Sun damage to the wood sidelights and door, getting progressively worse from top to bottom. The top third was pretty okay – if it had all been like that we would not have painted it. But compare the wood from the top to bottom:

Image

2) Mural on front door. Again, this is a matter of personal preference, and I’m sure it probably looked nicer 20 years ago when it was first painted, but the sun fading had not been kind to it, and to be honest we just ended up hanging a wreath over it as a cunning disguise 99% of the time.

Image

Mural? What mural?

3) Ugly old storm door missing paint in areas due to bird poo from many years ago, also causing uneven amounts of sun damage to the door (see above image). Closed at a slight angle which caused scratching to the frame, and was not securely lockable against toddler escape.

4) Lack of interesting brass door knocker.

5) Very small mail slot that caused our mail carrier significant amounts of annoyance.

So our options were:

1) Replace the front door with one that was wholly wood and the right era/design for the house. Strip and refinish the wood sidelights and transom, and commit to an annual re-coat with UV protectant to protect them from damage from the strong sunlight on our south-facing porch.

2) Paint it all.

Guess which one won in the budgeting department?

But.

Let’s talk about wood purists for a second. There are people – and I mean a LOT of people – who think that under no circumstances should anyone paint over wood, ever. We even heard cautionary tales from neighbors about that one house where they painted over a wood front door and people are still talking about it fifteen years later. And we were both raised by wood purists. So even though it was a pretty obvious decision from a budgeting perspective, and there are TONS of beautiful painted doors we love and have photographed on our travels, we actually took FOREVER making up our minds about it. It was by far the longest part of the decision making for the entire house, and the thing the two of us went back and forth about the most. We even had the painter paint it halfway and then made him stop so we could be sure that we were sure that we were sure. One of us may have been 39 weeks pregnant at this point – I won’t say who – and perhaps used that as a slight leverage for her (or his) perspective. But it’s all done now.

We decided to paint it.

Based on the popular photo we saw from this post at On Sutton Place, our first color choice was pretty easy: Sherwin Williams Naval. And just four coats later (next time I would definitely go with a TINTED primer to help reduce that number)… here we were:

Image

Coming soon in Part Two (who would ever have guessed the front door would need 2 posts?): the storm door dilemma, the search for an interesting door knocker, and the soul-trying saga of installing the new mail slot.

Read Full Post »

First off, I must say it’s good to know we’re not the only ones with paint under our nails. 🙂

Of course this was for a worthier cause, a 9/11 Habitat service project in DC. But it made me smile.

As for what we’ve been doing lately on the house, well, school has begun once more and with both of us teaching like crazy we’ve slowed down as anticipated. If you recall my own embarrassing admission, it’s still true that I can’t stay focused on things if we have only one room we’re working on. I start to feel like I “have” to work on it and have no choice, and the levels of procrastinatory justification I immediately begin? They ain’t pretty. So we currenty have TWO count em TWO projects in the works:

Upstairs bedroom: While the summer was the big push, scraping the popcorn ceiling, mudding, sanding, priming, REpriming, painting and REpainting that room, we’re now trying to turn it into a reasonably comfortable second guest room by the time our holiday guests arrive. We purchased two twin beds (our other guest room has a queen) and are going to be piecing together the rest of what the room needs over the next few months. Considering all that is in there right now is two twin mattress sets on metal frames? It still needs a lot. Our cats, however, are pleased with the progress so far:

The second project — because there always needs to be a second project — is the foyer. As a reminder this is a smallish room but a biggish entryway, with wide doors on either side leading into the piano room on the left and the regular living room (TV, couches, etc) on the right.

Please note the partially-scraped popcorn ceiling. 🙂 For this picture, I am standing in the piano room (where the piano will someday be) looking across the foyer.

The foyer is definitely your first impression of the house — especially at night when we, like many people on this street, keep our door open and just the (locked) glass door closed. It’s wallpapered with an Asian-themed toile print in pink, and while it isn’t the paper I’d choose, it’s not bad enough to make me want to change it right now considering our other (uglier) priorities.

Since this is a matter of first impressions, I think it’s going to be a good room to have done. So we’ve been beginning to paint over the burgundy trim with first primer, then off-white trim paint. Here’s a before and after — or really, since it’s only primer on the trim in the second picture, a before-and-during:

Painting all the trim is suprisingly slow going — it turns out it’s harder when you have large areas you DON’T want to paint as well as large oddly-shaped areas you do. Also I learned VERY QUICKLY that putting masking tape, even very lightly pressed, onto the wallpaper was a bad idea (there is now a little mauve-tone gondolier man with half a head to back me up on this) but I think it’s going to look good someday. As for those pink radiators? I’m not even sure how to start.

Read Full Post »

Here are a few photos of our recent baby steps on home improvement!

Here you can see one side of the dining room window alcove — as previously mentioned it took us two hours to get just these small side panels of wallpaper off. Very frustrating! And of course what lay beneath (salmon-colored paint!) significantly reduced any small feeling of accomplishment we may have felt. As previously noted, this wallpaper is about 40 times harder to remove than the kitchen/hall paper was. But since the walls are old and delicate plaster, we’re taking our time and using non-aggressive products. It’ll be okay eventually.
Photobucket
Sad, isn’t it? 🙂

Here you can see a little entryway project I had in mind from the moment we signed our papers. Since the house was built in 1910, I really wanted a nice picture of President Taft for the entry way. He was a jolly guy with a cute mustache and eventually became a Supreme Court Justice as well. Finally found one and a frame with the right sort of angles for the entryway. Photobucket

And since the photo was a reproduction print, I decided to get a real campaign button to lend a little authenticity to things. It’s the little frame in the photo above; here’s a close-up. 🙂
Photobucket

So that’s really all for now… hopefully we’ll get some more done soon… and our dining room table arrives in a few days, so that’s one less empty room! 🙂

Read Full Post »