The Cool House: Knobs

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Ah, door knobs. Functional and decorative and the quickest and easiest way to give your interior a whole new look. Ha, that piece of advice comes from some design show or HGTV website. That's cyber reality.
In the real world, where I live, changing a door knob is frustrating, time-consuming and very, very expensive.
In this house all the public spaces have Schlage teak trimmed knobs, very 70s but also tasteful and they match the doors. They are staying. The closets and the front door have pewter handles from Arrow. Also gorgeous, and we will not be replacing these either. But the private spaces, bedroom and some bathroom doors have porcelain or granite knobs and these have to go.
In bizarro universe I'd just pull/unscrew the offending part off the door, trot down to the local hardware store and buy some sexy replacements. In my world, I discover that no one makes decorative trims for Schlage knobs so I have to buy a whole new knob. As a temporary solution I settle on pulling the offending pink granite trim off the bathroom door and swapping it with the trim from the basement door. The basement is now looking a little funky but who's going to notice?
Then I try to replace the above knob in matching pink granite but it requires an allen key in a size I don't possess. A quick trip to the local hardware store and $1.29+tax buys me a set of allen keys, one of which is the correct size. (This turns out to be the bargain of the week).
Armed with the offending door knob and original manufacturer's name (Arrow) I head off, at the hardware store owner's suggestion, to the local locksmith. He looks at it, declares he doesn't understand how it works, but can sell me an absolutely hideous shiny brass and glass knob in a vaguely Victorian look at a reasonable price that may work. I decline and he suggests I visit the local fancy decorative hardware store where he assures me I'll find something more my taste but "it's going to cost you".
And the local expensive store? I show the guy all the bits and he finds a manufacturer he swears is going to have a knob to fit, even though he doesn't understand how it works either. I pick out one small knob to replace the above monstrosity and two larger ones to take the place of the flowery porcelain powder room handle. Then he totals it all up for me, three knobs plus plates = $257. These had better work, I have my doubts as the knobs screw onto the spindles and I don't see how the replacements are going to do that but I'll bow to the salesman's superior knowledge.
But good grief, $257 just to get rid of a little hideous. Imagine if I had to replace every door knob in the house. Especially when I really want these beauties from
Turnstyle Designs which I believe run about $450 each.

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