Wednesday, 26 June 2013

handles and headaches

When I was renting this house out, I once did a painting job in an amazing apartment in Brighton. It was in a beautiful Regency building in a posh part of town called Lewes Crescent. It has views over gardens and the sea.
Lewes Crescent
The owner was restoring the original features, so I did faux woodgrain and marbling, and gilded some decorative cornice (sorry, no pics). Anyway, he was taking all the handles off and replacing them. He was mixing all the original features with completely contemporary fixtures, fittings and furniture. It looked beautiful, very eclectic.
I did some scrounging, not something I like doing, but he was throwing out MY perfect choice for a handle.
My perfect choice has always been glass knobs, with stars etched into the back end.

He was literally throwing them out, I couldn't believe it. I don't know if they were original or 20th century replacements but when he said yes, I just ran for the hills back to my place !
They sat in a basket for over six years, waiting for the right doors and when I knew I was returning to this house, I went to count them (because I knew my house had handles that I'd never liked) - and there they were, 12 old and slightly shabby identical crystal door knobs with brass back plates.
12 knobs equals 6 sets -
I have 6 internal doors -
Now for the headaches. I asked my brother to fit them.
Doors one and two went well.

I love them on my old pine doors.
The doors downstairs only have ball catches, so there are no spindles, it was just a case of screwing them on.
Upstairs, there are four doors, that didn't go so well.

The spindles I had didn't fit, they were too short and tapered.
My dear brother decided that door No1 upstairs (the bathroom) didn't need the spindle, because the catch didn't fit anyway, and it had a little hook, as a lock.
That worked, till the warmer weather came and the door slightly swelled, and I got stuck in the bathroom after a shower, unable to turn the handle, because it was spindleless !
I shouted for him to come help me, but he always has his tv too loud, so I looked around and found the bottle soap and managed to push the spout into the gap and release the catch.

I pushed the spout in here to unlock the catch
There might have been a rather loud conversation that day !
I came home another day, to find doors No. 2 (the toilet in a cupboard) and No. 3 (the guest room) all done.
So I did something quite normal, I used all the handles and closed the doors !
It's a natural thing to do because I just love them, especially on all the chippy, shabby doors upstairs.


Ah, big mistake, the toilet door opened ok, but I couldn't open the guest room door. It was shut tight !
I called my brother, who started talking about kicking the door down !!
In the time it took him to repeat this, I rushed down stairs, got a screwdriver and a pair of pliers and took the handle off, and used the pliers on the spindle and the door opened !
What a headache, my brother had decided that if he pushed the short spindle into the inside door handle, then at least whomever was in the room could get out, we just couldn't get in !
Have you got a headache now too !
The doors remained handleless for a while
Eventually, my dear brother went and bought new spindles, and cut them to size.
Slight headache - I normally do the measuring, but at least I have 6 doors, with 12 old crystal and brass knobs,
looking pretty perfect to me.
Answer, I never shut any doors if I'm on my own in the house, (especially not the 'toilet in a cupboard' door as
I'm claustrophobic too !).
Better answer, buy a little kit for every room - a screwdriver and some pliers.
And if you ever want to stay (and you're all welcome !) i'll provide you with a little bucket,
 just incase you get cut short in the night and you can't get out ! 
And if you need to use the 'toilet in a cupboard', don't turn the knob on the inside, as you may squish your fingers,
because it is very close to the door frame.
And it's probably why all the handles were lever handles, like this -
And the moral of this story, if you want something doing, probably best to do it yourself !


  1. First of all...I LOVE your new header! It's perfect! Second, we have all kinds of old doorknobs and hardware. I love old stuff like this--I don't blame you for wanting to switch out.

  2. Oh, my! It sounds exactly how things go in our house. Nothing ever seems to fit quite right.

    In the end, you have beautiful doorknobs. Even if each room needs a fix-it kit and an instruction sheet mounted on the back of the door. :)

  3. Oh no...what an ordeal..but your handles look lovely. I love the detail of the etched star too.

  4. I hoped you don't get locked in a room.

    We have some of our doors with the original glass handles, but some have been replaced. My favorites are the glass.

  5. love the glass knobs against your very cool doors, fiona! (getting locked in would freak me out, too). hope you have a great weekend:)

  6. Love the handles Fiona, I would want them on the doors too, Lewes Crescent looks amazing. Love your new header. CJ

  7. If I should ever go to Brighton, I would be much better behaved than Lydia. I would, however, swipe those doorknobs from the garbage. Love them. I'll be fine when I come to visit. I'm used to wonky doors. My bedroom door is the original pine, plank door and too bowed to close and latch. None of my bedroom doors latch. You will not have any privacy when you come here and I will have too much privacy at your place!

  8. Well this seems like a good time to tell you how awesome the new handles are. Whether they work or not.


  9. Great post Fiona! These are the type of issues we all go through and after reading your story, I'm glad all the craziness ended up with fantastic looking door knobs!

  10. I love your "new" handles. I chose porcelain knobs that are typically French for my dining-room door and everybody complains that they are not easy. But I don't care I love them! I'm now following you.

  11. This sounds like a typical project around my house. Your new knobs are beautiful. And they DO look wonderful on your amazing doors. You could use your painting skills to paint directions for each handle...

  12. Hi Fiona,

    First of all, I LOVE your glassy treasures; you scored big time!! Secondly, trial and error is the best, (but sometimes, dangerous!), way to go. You did good in the end and your brassy handles are perfect in your home!



It's always a pleasure to receive your comments. I really enjoy reading them, and a huge thank you if you are following as well !