This past weekend, they…

This past weekend, they stained the second floor. This is one of the places where we chose a less expensive option -- we'd loved the wide-plank floors at Carlisle, but they would have cost significantly more than the cheap red oak Pam found us. Kevin is still mourning those floors a bit, I think, and it's true that these don't look nearly as interesting. They may not wear as well either (as the Carlisle people warned us); we'll see. But I do think they look basically fine, and the overall look for the second floor is essentially what I'd imagined. Dark floors and trim, off-white walls and ceilings. Sort of an old colonial sort of feel -- you'll see homes in this color palette all over Sri Lanka. Very peaceful.

Here's one element I'm worried about -- doorknobs. This is the problem with buying things on the internet -- they often don't arrive quite as you'd envisioned them. I love the Eastlake-style pattern on these knobs (Emtek's solid brass Lancaster knob with Lancaster rosette), which we used throughout the second floor. And I love the darker, oil-rubbed bronze tone, but the rest of the knob is much more bright copper in color than I imagined. I like copper fine, but the functional bit of the door is brass, as you can see, and in retrospect, I sort of wish I'd chosen the French antique brass finish instead. (I can't find a picture online of the Lancaster knob in that finish, but it'd be like this, but more aged, darker and less shiny.)

I'm worried the copper tones in this won't coordinate with anything else, and will look garish and clash-y. Ugh. I asked Piotr if they might get darker with time, but he said that at least initially, the metal will only get brighter, as our hands keep polishing the knobs with use. They'll patina eventually -- in a hundred years or so.

I could have them all taken off, returned, and reordered in a different finish, but that would be expensive (labor, plus shipping and maybe a restocking fee), and I'm not even positive that the antique brass finish would be better. In retrospect, what I should have done was ordered one knob months ago, looked at it in person, and then placed the order once I was sure I liked it. But I think these will be okay. Maybe. Are they awful? I keep wondering if I could use some kind of finishing thing on it to accelerate the patina process and darken them, but am worried that I would just ruin them completely.

In other bad ordering news, the pretty cobalt blue hex tiles from LuxeTile arrived with many, many chips. Poor George had to spend a lot of effort swapping out chipped tiles to try to finish the floor, and in the end, as you can see, there was not quite enough despite all his work. So today I have to get on the phone with these people and yell at them and hopefully they will just send me 3 sq. ft. of replacement tiles so I can finish the floor. George estimates that close to 10 sq. ft. of tile was chipped badly. Argh. Yelling at people is one of my least favorite things -- I'm bad at it, and it's no fun.

At leas things are progressing well outside. This is sort of a terrible photo, sorry, but it's the guys holding up plastic (on a windy day), so Peter can spray grey primer on the porch spindles. At least half the house is scraped clean and primed grey now, and it looks much better than that horrible peeling off-white. Progress.

And spring is progressing too. The yard is covered in sprouting green bulbs now -- both the ones that were original to the house, and the ones I added last fall. Very promising. And the crocuses are actually blooming. So pretty and cheerful!

(Are those knobs awful? Tell me the truth.)

11 thoughts on “This past weekend, they…”

  1. The knobs are NOT awful. The problem with trying to patina them is that they are probably sealed with something, though….

    There are some easy patinas one can do with copper down the line, if you decide you really hate them.

  2. If they are unsealed copper, they will patina to bright green. If they are sealed copper, they will never patina until the sealant peels off, in which case they will look like crap, and tarnish partially green where the metal is exposed, and remain copper-colored where it is still sealed.

    If the color some kind of paint or finish, I am not sure what will happen to it. I agree that is not the color I would have chosen, but it’s probably not worth sending them back, with all of the extra expense. Many houses have those sort of out-of-place elements that become charming when you get used to them. They are beautiful, and I think once you get settled in you will not notice that they don’t match the other hardware.

  3. If there’s anything I know about, it’s patina-ing copper! If it’s uncoated, you can definitely patina it using Liver of Sulfur, which you can buy in a paintable liquid form. It smells TERRIBLE, but it will darken your surface to almost black via oxidation (it’s actually changing the metal, it’s not a coating). Then you can wash off the smelly LOS and polish the knob to lighten it to the degree that you want. You might then seal it with something to keep it from wearing back to brightness. You could experiment on a penny before going to the knobs themselves. Maybe this is too much work? But you do have options if you can’t get used to the bright copper.

  4. (Oh, and any patina that you made with Liver of Sulfur could be removed with ordinary silver polishing techniques if you decided it wasn’t working–you wouldn’t ruin it, because it would just be removing a teeny teeny tiny layer of oxidation. So assuming your knobs are actual copper and are not coated in any way, you can pretty much make them whatever level of patina you want.)

  5. > I like copper fine, but the functional bit of the door is brass

    You mean like the bolt part?

    This may be a dumb question, but how expensive is *that*? Can you replace it, or color it, or otherwise muck around so that it matches the doorknob, rather than vice versa?

    I don’t think the copper looks bad against the wood of the door at all, and I personally wouldn’t even notice that it wasn’t the same color as the brass bolt, but I may not be sufficiently picky about these things. :^) But I think that if the bolt were also a coppery color like the knob, it’d probably look good too.

  6. To clarify, the knob is made of solid brass, but the finish they put on it, that they call ‘oil-rubbed bronze’, looks like a combination of dark bronze (almost black) and copper color. I don’t know how they get that finish, or whether it’s sealed, or whether you can patinate it at all. And I’m a little worried about messing with it.

    It’s a good question, whether I could patinate the bolt part. I’m guessing that’s brass too, which I know you can patinate. Not sure how easy it is to do if I can’t soak the piece in something, though. And a normal patina on brass would just make it look less shiny, which might make the contrast less noticeable, but doesn’t really address the shiny copper color on the knobs.

  7. The knobs are not awful. I’m really surprised you can keep up this level of nit-pickery and keep your sanity. Is the sanity OK?

  8. Umm…I may have passed through sane and insane to the other side. I didn’t know I was quite so obsessive before this project, though.

  9. If you ordered “oil rubbed bronze” you got the wrong knobs, in which case the contractor should replace them for free and the supplier should exchange them for free. There is no way in heck that those knobs are bronze. They are copper. That is the sort of thing that would bother me more and more. Were you shown a picture of the finish when you ordered? Did it look bronze? Or were you given just a list of finishes and chose bronze? Either way, you didn’t get what you ordered and it shouldn’t be your expense to make it right.

  10. Catherine, I’m clearly not explaining this well. All their knobs are made of solid brass. And then you have a choice of finishes, such as:

    – oil-rubbed bronze
    – French antique brass
    – brushed nickel

    I don’t know what they do to get the brass to change colors like that, but they’re very clear that the knobs are made of brass. I just wasn’t realizing from the web photos that the oil-rubbed bronze knobs, which I knew were two-color, would look so copper-ish on the second part of the color. Web colors are deceiving, sadly, but I don’t think it’s the company’s fault.

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