Dudes, the deed has been done! After years (yes nearly two years!) of planning to upgrade every last old brass door knob in our entire house, we finally got ‘er done. Strike up the band! I can’t hear you. Can I at least get some cow bell?
Yup, we removed 19 knobs with the intent of oil-rubbed bronzing (aka: ORBing) those babies. First we tried this method with a few exterior knobs, handles, and even a doorknocker a while back, just to see how they would hold up before doing the whole shebang (and I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t really have energy for the whole shebang up front). Baby steps.
We figured that since those exterior knobs/handles/knockers still look great after a year and a half of being exposed to the elements (remember we did an update on them here?), that bodes well for all 18 (yes 18!) of the interior knobs that we finally got around to removing and ORBing. But we’re so happy with the results! Totally worth the trouble.
Here are the steps we followed:
- we removed all 18 knobs with a screwdriver, being careful to keep them paired up (we didn’t want to forget what went with what when we had to reinstall them)
- using super high grit paper (400) we sanded every last knob to rough them up so the paint would stick (if you see small scratches don’t worry, they’ll be covered with paint- but you definitely want to use high grit paper because low grit can leave deep/big scratches that show through)
- then I wiped down each knob with liquid deglosser (we like Crown’s Next Liquid Deglosser since it’s low-VOC) and laid them all out on a piece of cardboard (with them facing up, not lying on their sides – which sometimes meant piercing through the cardboard with their back parts to make them stand up).
- I used Universal All-Surface Spray Paint (by Rostoleum) in the oil-rubbed bronze finish. This has a built-in primer and sticks extremely well to things – especially metal – so if you’re contemplating using another brand, you might need to spring for a separate primer to apply first if it’s not already included.
- When it came to how I sprayed, I just misted everything from all angles. To avoid nasty drips and runny paint, doing several light coats with about 10 minutes of drying time between them was the charm. Mine were so thin it took five coats and I kept the can moving around the whole time – like you’d mist your mane with Aqua-Net. I also squatted on the ground from all sides to be sure I got all of the exposed parts of the knob completely covered.
- We let everything dry for a full 48 hours before reinstalling them (didn’t want to mark up the finish while wrestling them back into place). After 12 hours outside on a nice day (you don’t want to spray when it’s too cold – check the can for temperature guidelines) we brought them inside to the sunroom so they could continue curing for the rest of the time since it gets too cold outside at night for the paint to dry properly outside.
When it comes to a time breakdown, it took about thirty minutes to remove all the knobs, about two hours to sand and degloss them all, and about an hour to spray paint them. Then after 48 hours of drying time we reinstalled them in all in about half an hour. So the total time spent for what look like new ORB doors = 3 hours and 30 minutes (plus a few passive days of drying time).
And it only took one can of spray paint (actually less than that, since we were using an already-open leftover can). So that’s a lot cheaper than the $185 (!!!) we would have spent at Home Depot buying the exact same knobs in their oil-rubbed bronze finish. Our verdict: so happy with them. Wish we did this about two years sooner. Seriously it wasn’t even that big of a project (in our heads we kept putting it off because messing with every door in the house feels intimidating, but honestly you just remove a few screws, note which ones go together, and they’re all back in a few days later).
Oh and here’s an installation tip for ya: we found that using some painter’s tape while re-installng them kept us from scratching the newly applied finish (then just remove the tape when you’re done and it’s all good).
As for our door hinges, many of them already look ORBed (they’re old and darkened and not bright and shiny brass like the knobs were) or are painted over in white like the door from the previous owners, so we don’t have bright brass hinges clashing with the dark knobs or anything. But if you do you could probably switch them out for a few bucks per door. ORBed doorknobs are muuuch more expensive to buy than hinges or door plates, which is the good news (so I probably wouldn’t attempt to spray paint hinges like the doorknobs, since I’d worry all that grinding over time would make the paint peel and scrape off).
And as for the latch strike plates, a few of those already look ORBed like the hinges (just from darkening over time, which for some reason didn’t seem to happen to the shiiiiny brass knobs themselves) but a few were still brassy and bright, like this one:
…so we picked four of them up from Home Depot for $5 total (they’re a whole lot cheaper than knobs!). Our reasoning for buying new ones to replace any super brassy ones that stood out instead of spray painting them ORB as well, was because the latch bangs against them a lot, so we thought they might scratch over time (whereas the knobs themselves don’t grind against anything else that’s metal, which must by why they hold up so well – even when they’re outside).
So there it is. A “dude get on that already” project that has been in the making for a long arse time. Feels pretty good to check that off! And just as I suspected, every single room/closet that we put them back on looked a little posher and less “ew, eighties brass”-ish than it did before. Hooray for small upgrades that make your whole house feel a little more crisp, new, and loved. What have you guys been checking off your to-do list? Does it involve paint? Sandpaper? A whole lotta procrastination beforehand?
Quick update: Today we’ll be in Richmond at 7pm for “R*Home for the Holidays” at The Visual Arts Center, where we’ll be talking, signing books, and having a silent charity auction with some of our favorite finished projects from the book. Wine & hors d’hoeuvres will be served and there’s more ticket info here (it’s sold out but we have a free not-sold-out Richmond signing on the agenda for Dec 2nd). Hope to see some of you there!
We’re about to hop on a plane back from Boston (which is thankfully not canceled, despite the snowy weather), so this post is up a little early for ya but your comments might not pop up for a little while. Anyway, we’ve debated potential colors for the walls in this hall bathroom from almost the day that we moved in. For a while we were on the deep blue train, but after putting that in the adjacent guest bedroom, we’ve been going back and forth between several other options. Dark? Light? Colorful? Muted?
We finally found our focus when we put that bright fish painting on our whitewashed shelf. Suddenly we had a direction. Toned-down-but-not-completely-neutral walls with colorful accents (sort of like we’ve been doing throughout the rest of our house, but this time with a new undertone – plum). Yup, we went for it. Sherry flipped through our paint deck and plucked out Elephant Gray by Benjamin Moore (we went for a nice bathroom-friendly satin finish, and only needed a quart for the job). Like many of our walls, it was grayish – but unlike Moonshine, it had a warmer plummy undertone to it.
Just like we’ve done in our other bathrooms, we chose to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. We find that in small rooms like these it actually makes the room feel bigger because the ceiling isn’t some jarring white plane and it all feels seamless and lofty. The pic below is a bit grainy because I had to zoom way in. My painting outfit involved just boxers and while maybe I should be flattered that Sherry thought that was worth sharing, I decided we should maintain some mystery in my relationship with you guys…
It wasn’t until we finished that we both stepped back and said “oh yeah, this kind of reminds us of Granny’s bathroom.” We were both so happy with how her bathroom makeover turned out, perhaps it was a subconscious inspiration. They look more similar in these photos than they do in person, since Granny’s “Hint of Violet” was lighter and felt more purple than gray while ours is definitely darker and more plummy (less pinky and pastel than Granny’s).
But either way, the idea of having a Granny-inspired bathroom in our own house is kind of awesome.
See how it pulls from the painting a bit, while providing a nice backdrop for the brighter oranges and blues – which we’ll definitely be bringing out a lot more with some crazy bold fabric that Sherry wants to use for a roman shade.
Here’s the other side of the room too. It’s nice that the soft and moody tone of the paint looks nice with some of the metal accents – like our iron horse head towel hook and the ORB light – to fit right in. But looking at these photos, it makes it painfully obvious how much we need to frame out that builder-bland mirror. Soon I hope!
That’s probably next on our list. Well, that or making a roman shade. Sherry’s got fabric hanging around that she’s been dying to use so we’ll see who wins and gets ‘er done first. #maytheoddsbeeverinmyfavor
The best part about this latest update? That fact that we’re making the existing tile work. I was not excited at the idea of busting that stuff out and starting all over, and it’s in much better shape than the tile in our first house’s bathroom, for which we’re eternally grateful! You know we love to use what we’ve got. So thanks to just a quart of paint, the room definitely looks a lot more polished and welcoming than it did just a few days ago:
What are you guys painting? Are you psyched that we went with a plummy gray after dropping the word plum at least thirty times in the past two years since we moved in? I gotta say, I’m a dude and I love my plum bathroom. Just don’t call it purple. For some reason that’s not nearly as enticing…
Ok, so that title doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue the way it did in my head. Anyway, let’s talk about the buffet again. Remember the one that we got for a steal off craigslist and parked in our entryway? Here he is now to jog your memory (sidenote: I think everyone should always pronounce jog as yog and jogging as yogging – it’s just much funnier).
Dude was gorgeous, but he had a few little bumps and bruises that I wanted to heal. I wanted to play nurse with the buffet, ok?
So file this under super speedy quick fixes – heck the whole thing only took about half an hour and ran me under $3. As for my materials list, here it is:
Yup, all it took was a small craft brush that I already had and a $2.99 test pot of paint from Home Depot in the closest possible color to the buffet (I brought home a ton of swatches and held them up to see which ones melted right in and looked nearly identical). Oh and the winning color was Cricket by Behr for anyone who’s looking for a soft moody green tone).
As for my technique, first I prepped the entire buffet by:
- using Gorilla Glue to secure any loose trim pieces or small wood carvings to adhere them for the long haul (I noticed some wiggly things that I feared might chip or fall off with daily use, so I stuck it to them and gave everything a full day of curing time before moving on to the next step)
- giving it an awesomely cathartic scrub-down with a Magic Eraser (there were some dingy areas that were sort of smudgy and gray, like a lead pencil rubbing, and they came up with some scrubbing, so it looks a lot less muddled)
Then it was paintin’ time…
I just used that small brush to paint wherever I saw big chunks of bare wood. First I brushed it on and then I blended things with the swipe of a paper towel. I didn’t want things to be thick or perfect, so that paper towel swipe helped to sort of “distress” that area so it blended right in with the rest of it (which is definitely not pristine at all). We love all of the little imperfections and rough spots – so this process was really just about filling in those big gaping holes where something clearly broke off or was much more damaged than a little timeworn distressing.
Here’s a little side by side comparison to help you see what I mean. I didn’t fill in all the dark spots or scratches, just the big gaps. And once the paint dried (it always looks too light when it’s going on) it looked pretty darn seamless.
Here’s another detail to show you the difference. Before:
So now she still looks old and loved, but doesn’t put out that dinged-with-a-baseball-bat effect that she was subtly broadcasting before. Boom. Quick, easy, and cheap. Oh and you might notice that our snake-riddled pumpkins aren’t up on the console in this pic (they moved outside to the porch), but I have some plans to do a little fall-a-fying to this surface soon. Oh yeah, momma’s feeling a case of crafty comin’ on…
Anyway, after gluing, scrubbing, and painting this bad girl, all that was left of Operation Buffet-mou-flage was to apply three thin and even coats of SafeCoat Acrylacq (it’s my very favorite non-toxic sealer, which comes in a satin finish so it’s not all shiny and obvious).
We like to apply it with a small foam roller so it’s nice and thinly spread (thick = gloppy).
And as for the more detailed (aka: bumpy parts) a small brush works to get into those grooves. Thin and even is the key though. Otherwise you’re veering off into gloppy territory again.
Now this baby deserves a “lovingly restored” sticker. Except please don’t put a sticker on my buffet or $herdog will get feisty. Thankfully Clara just contains them to various body parts:
Anyone else out there showing some love to old pieces of furniture without straight up stripping them down and starting over? I gotta say, it’s a nice four-hour project instead of spending a full weekend on something. Those are always nice, right? It gives you more time to gorge on candy corn and then royally regret it about an hour later. Or is that just me?
Psst- Clara’s at it again with her hilariously random conversations here on Young House Life.