Doorknobs and Broom Closets

Better than gold or jewels–antique doorknobs!

Steve’s little treasure chest

Why settle for one medicine chest when you could have six?

Vintage fan, antique pharmaceuticals add that aged look at Steve & Polly’s.

The Breeze Inn is beginning to look mighty like a house. While I’ve been on Tybee writing, I’ve stopped by at least once a day to check in on the progress, and to work on those pesky little details that make the difference between a house and a home. Like those doorknobs I wrote about the other day. After I got them over to the house, my contractor reminded me that we’d still need mortise sets and backplates for those old doors of mine. The dollars started adding up in my head. It looked like I’d be spending around a hundred bucks outfitting each of those nine or ten doors in proper vintage style. In this economy, that’s a lot of money. Reluctantly, I took the knobs back.

Thankfully, my friends Polly and Steve had a better option. Their house on Tybee is only ten or twelve years old, but in the years since they built it, Steve has been slowly retro-fitting their new house with vintage style. One by one, he replaced the builder-grade hollow-core doors with antique solid wood doors he scrounged at salvage yards and antique shops around Savannah. After he had the old doors up, they looked so good he started fitting them with proper hardware, meaning glass or brass knobs and backplates. Old stuff is particularly easy to find in Savannah, because of the huge stock of old homes here. Then he started working on the light fixtures, scouting out fixtures from the 1920s thru 1940s to give their house that aged beachy look. He and Polly have filled the house with old wicker, funky painted furniture, and Steve’s collection of vintage fans, radios, toasters and phones, some of which he finds on eBay. Last year, they pulled up the wall to wall carpet in the house and had beautiful reclaimed heart-pine floors put down. They ripped out the formica bath and kitchen countertops and substituted antique cupboards and boards for the new stuff. Those cheap-o builder towel bars and toilet tissue holders were replaced by vintage glass towel rods and tissue holders. Steve started buying old wooden medicine cabinets with mirrors, and those got added into the mix.

When I asked Polly where Steve buys his antique hardware, he volunteered that he had a box full of old doorknobs that he didn’t need–and that I could have as many as I wanted. Score!

This morning I took myself over to their house to dig for buried treasure. Appropriately, the hardware was in a crusty green carpenter’s chest in their bedroom. As I sat on the floor sifting through Steve’s finds, I felt like I’d found the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I’ll still have to buy some missing pieces, like escutcheons and some more mortise sets and backplates, but the major piece of the doorknob puzzle seems to be solved.

Now to figure out where to put the broom and dustpan and other cleaning supplies. The hall closet I’d planned to stash those necessities somehow came out shallow–by 18 inches. Towels and sheets may fit there, but nothing bigger will. Because this is a beach house, every inch of real estate inside is precious, so we only planned to have two closets downstairs, and one, upstairs, in the master bedroom. Today Mr. Mary Kay and I walked around the utility room, measuring to see if we can have a large free-standing cupboard built there to hold all those pesky things like a vacuum cleaner, light bulbs and paper towels. Hopefully, we’ve found a solution to this decidedly un-sexy storage issue.

So the week was a somewhat qualified success. I did start the new book, and it’s going nicely, thank you. But I didn’t meet my 30-page quota. On the house front, we have shiplap siding up in all the downstairs rooms, and beadboard siding in the downstairs bath and master bath. I’d hoped we might even have tile laid in the bathrooms this week, but that won’t happen until after Thanksgiving. Still, progress is progress. And for that, I’m thankful.

1 thought on “Doorknobs and Broom Closets”

  1. Those doorknobs are beautiful! I have this longing to place just such items on my wall in the bathroom. How grand of towel hooks that would be!

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