For a while now, I’ve been nurturing a growing obsession with hardware: door knobs, hinges, door bells – even toilet paper holders: tangible and tarnished little objects that provide solace amidst the chaos of a hole-house restoration. (Fun fact: our house doesn’t have toilet paper holders in any of the 3 bathrooms). While it may seem absurd to spend time picking out doorknobs when the doors still need to be stripped, sanded and re-finished, I’m of the opinion that the right type of period appropriate (i.e. old and crusty) can provide a faint twinkle at the end of the tunnel of restoration madness.

Toilet Paper holder

I can absolutely see this toilet paper holder in our parlor bathroom (fun fact, the parlor bathroom is currently a storage closet, and best case scenario, we are at least a year away from making it functional – but no matter: this lovely thing will hold roll upon roll of the fanciest Target brand tissue, when the time comes).

The way I look at it, even the most meticulous restoration job can be ruined with the wrong hardware. It’s like wearing the wrong kind of shoes with an otherwise perfect outfit: why bother leaving the house at all (says the girl who only wears DocMartens, but you get my point).

We’ve been slowly collecting bits and pieces of hardware, and I’m quite proud of the restraint I’ve shown during our last salvage excursions. A wish list is here, and so onward we go.

(a few more items of inspiration for when the time comes: bathroom, kitchen and paint colors).



Boiling Hardware

Our world is covered in (undesirable) paint: woodwork, walls and hardware. Sometimes it seems that all we do is remove paint –  and yet, we haven’t made a dent!


Egg and Dart patterned door knob.

Back plates with tape residue

Back plates with tape residue

Intricate (and rusty) door set

Intricate (and rusty) door set

The door knobs and plates we picked up on our trip to the Historic Albany Foundation’s Parts Warehouse were no exception. Luckily, removing paint and grime from hardware is actually pretty easy. It just requires water, baking soda and a little time. Using a stainless steel pot (once you use it for this,  you can’t use it for food anymore, so make sure it’s marked accordingly).


Boil up water with  baking soda. How much baking soda, you ask? Uh… a bunch? Some? I’d say  pretend you’re boiling pasta and add about 4 or 5 times more baking soda than you’d add salt (you can also substitute the baking soda for dish soap, just be careful not to let it boil over, as things will get very sudsy). Once the water comes to a boil, toss in your hardware. You’ll see the gunk come off in the foam.


Let it boil for a little while, then check to see how your door knobs are doing.

IMG_9842Some of the items may need a bit of scrubbing. The paint will be soft and bubbly and will pretty much wipe off. It goes without saying that they will be very hot, so curb your wild enthusiasm as you grab the searing metal to admire your handy work.



Back plates free of paint, but still looking a little sad

Once your hardware is free of paint, you may find that it’s still looking a bit shabby. Sometimes items get rusty after their bicarbonate bath, but it’s all temporary – because you’ll buff the living daylights out of it.


If it’s good for rims and candle stick holders, it sure is good enough for our door knobs

Some metal polish, a little steel wool and an old T-shirt will get you this:

Before elbow grease and after

Before elbow grease and after

After it was all said and done, our door hardware looked like this: