Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking for Direction in 2010

For me, the line “How would he know where we are going?” is one of the most memorable comedic lines in cinematic history. It comes from the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”. The question is posed by John Candy’s character, Del Griffith, after another driver frantically attempts to warn he and Neal (Steve Martin) that they are driving on the wrong side of a divided highway (e.g. south in a northbound lane). The other driver screams at the pair, “You’re going the wrong way!” Del, who like ourselves sells shower curtain rings, looks at Neal and quizzically asks, “How would he know where we are going?”

If you find yourself lost on a home remodeling project in 2010, you can look to Shop 4 Classics to steer you in the right direction. You’ll find help selecting claw foot tubs, faucets, door hardware, vent covers, and other hardware on the Help page. Links to these resources are also provided on each related product page. While we may not always know exactly where you are going with your project, the Shop 4 Classics tips and guides will steer you in the right direction.

Happy New Year from Shop 4 Classics!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Living with Living Finishes

A living finish is a finish that evolves with time and use. It most frequently refers to the patina that is applied to bronze or copper products such as sinks, heat registers, and door hardware. Patina is usually a dark, earthy color but the patina is said to be living because it can change. Some areas may darken with age while a polishing effect may occur in areas that are handled frequently. The patina may rub off to expose the natural shades of the alloy in areas that are often touched (e.g. a door knob). The variance in color adds character and makes each living finish unique.

Bronze and copper hardware with a living finish intentionally lacks a protective coating. Any item or liquid that comes into contact with a living finish can affect its color. You can preserve a living finish with a temporary protective coating. Soft non-abrasive waxes such as Johnson Paste Wax can be applied with a soft cloth to help maintain the patina. Never use abrasive detergents, rubbing compounds, or polishes as these chemicals will damage the patina and may ruin your living finish.

While waxes add a temporary protective coating, they also defeat the purpose of a living finish. The changes that occur in living finishes should be a desired effect. If a living finish appeals to you, Shop 4 Classics offers a wide selection of fixtures and home hardware in living finishes. We offer copper kitchen, bathroom, and bar sinks in oil rubbed and weathered copper patinas from Belle Foret and Brass Elegans. We offer copper door hardware from Craftsmen Hardware with an Arts & Crafts patina or bronze door hardware from Hamilton Sinkler with a dark brown patina. We offer bronze floor registers and bronze air return grilles with a variety of living oil rubbed finishes from Classic Grills and Hamilton Sinkler. And there is more. Copper and bronze hardware featuring living finishes is available for most every area of your home.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Gravity Style Furnace: Old Man Parker’s Antagonist in A Christmas Story

My all-time favorite Christmas movie is not surprisingly the classic A Christmas Story. I am a big fan of the hard working and very human character of Mr. Parker, Ralphie’s “old man”. According to Ralphie, his dad “was one of the most feared furnace fighters in Northern Indiana”. The Parker’s constant clinking gravity style basement furnace actually was a key character in the movie. On more than one occasion problems with the old furnace sent Mr. Parker to the basement which he soon filled with expletives.

Although beyond enamored with his fanciful leg lamp, Mr. Parker wanted something far more practical for Christmas. His Christmas wish was for a new furnace. Unfortunately, the unwrapping of gifts Christmas morning revealed that only a can of Simonize awaited Mr. Parker. In the end, the old furnace survived to torment poor Mr. Parker for at least another year.

Although we are not in the antique furnace business, Shop 4 Classics does offer reproduction gravity style heat registers similar to the one shown billowing smoke into the Parker’s kitchen. These vintage baseboard heat registers are authentic reproductions of gravity baseboard registers that are common in old homes like the Parker’s residence. They are available in a Cathedral Style Baseboard Register and a Grid Style Baseboard Register. While the old basement furnace may be replaced for something far more reliable, the original charm can be maintained upstairs with reproduction registers. Therefore, if you have resolved to renovate your old home this coming year, consider maintaining its period look with high quality reproductions like the single damper baseboard register.

From all of us at Shop 4 Classics, may all of your Christmas wishes come true.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Shop 4 Classics' Nine Year Anniversary

Friday, December 18, is's nine year anniversary. Yes, Shop 4 Classics has been serving restorers of old homes as well as builders of new vintage-inspired homes online since 2000. When we launched our website in 2000, we offered a wide selection of antique reproduction plumbing and door hardware at discount prices from a single source; Sign of the Crab. Sign of the Crab had already been in business for over 20 years and had established its reputation of offering the finest quality and selection of clawfoot tub faucets, reproduction plumbing, and vintage door hardware. Their extensive catalog was a perfect fit for our strategy to offer a broad selection of classic products that were previously only available to most old home enthusiast through mail order.

Nine years later, we still offer the complete Sign of the Crab catalog. In addition to Sign of the Crab, we now offer over 20 of the most reputable brands of antique reproduction hardware and plumbing. We have expanded our online catalog to include:

On December 18, 2000, Shop 4 Classics was hoping for its first online order. An order for eleven vintage outlet covers arrived soon thereafter. Those brass outlet covers were discontinued many years ago but Shop 4 Classics still offers the best selection and prices on products for classic homes. Nine years could not have happened without our dedicated staff, reputable manufacturers, and most importantly, thousands of great customers. Thank you. We look forward to working with you on your next project in our tenth year and beyond.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Biscuit and Black Clawfoot Tubs From Sunrise Specialty

Sunrise Specialty is one of the oldest and most respected brands of clawfoot tubs and antique reproduction plumbing. Unsurpassed quality and traditional designs have been the hallmarks of Sunrise Specialty’s products for decades. Sunrise Specialty adds more color options with its 2010 lineup of cast iron clawfoot tubs. Specifically, these new tubs are available in your choice of traditional white, black, and biscuit. Like traditional white clawfoot tubs, Sunrise Specialty’s biscuit clawfoot tubs and black clawfoot tubs have not only biscuit and black painted exteriors but also matching biscuit and black porcelain interiors. Below are examples of new Sunrise Specialty clawfoot tubs that are available in all three color options.

Five Foot Double Slipper Tub
Additonal color options are not the only feature that makes this cast iron tub unique. The elegant style and comfort of the traditionally larger double slipper tub is ingeniously maintained in the clever design of this charmingly petite clawfoot tub. As with many of Sunrise Specialty’s other cast iron tubs, this tub is offered with two distinct feet options, traditional and contemporary, in six different finishes.

Six Foot Double Slipper Tub
If your vintage bathroom design calls for a larger clawfoot tub, look no further than Sunrise Specialty’s six foot double slipper tub. This spacious and extra deep soaking cast iron tub features the desired nostalgic look of original clawfoot tubs but is available with many of today’s most popular options. This tub is offered with your choice of their ornate Victorian ball and claw feet or their much more stylized Nouveau ball and claw feet. Similar to Sunrise Specialty’s new small double slipper tub, both feet options for this tub are offered in six different finishes.

Whether biscuit, black, or white, large or small Sunrise Specialty has a cast iron clawfoot tub that will meet your design requirements and exceed your expectations.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Giving Scuffs and Scratches the Boot with Kickplates

Replacing or refurbishing the front entry door to your home can be quite an investment in dollars and time. Shopping for new door hardware is typically not only a necessity but also an enjoyable exercise. Once caught up browsing the many styles of doors and entry hardware, it is easy to forget the reason why you began the process of replacing the front door in the first place. If the reason is that your front door has gotten beat up over years of constant use, you may also want to consider adding a kickplate to your new door. Relative to replacing the door, kickplates are inexpensive and easy to install. Shop 4 Classics offers solid brass kickplates from Brass Accents. Their kickplates are available in three different mounting styles:

Screw Mount
Screw mount kickplates have predrilled screw holes for mounting to any style of door. The screw holes are evenly spaced approximately 6"-8" across the top and bottom of the kickplate. Matching screws are included. Screw mounted kickplates can be removed for door painting.

Magnetic Mount
Magnetic mount kickplates are secured to the door with a magnet. The entire back surface of the kickplate is covered with a magnet to insure adhesion. A magnetic mount kickplate requires a steel door. Magnetic mount kickplates are easy to remove for door cleaning or painting.

Adhesive Mount
Adhesive mount kickplates have an adhesive backing to stick to any type of door. There are multiple strips of adhesive across the back of adhesive mount kickplates. Adhesive mount kickplates are designed to be permanently attached.

Brass Accent kickplates are also offered in a wide variety of sizes and finish options. You can find our kickplates in the Door Hardware section of our website.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Soap Baskets: Solving Clawfoot Tub Clutter

You love your clawfoot tub but wish it had more space for storage. You are not alone. The narrow rolled rim of most clawfoot bathtubs does not facilitate storage for soaps, shampoos, conditioners, Mr. Bubble, or any of the other bathing necessities that accumulate along the ledge around built-in tubs. We share your pain. Unfortunately, there is no ShamWow, one-size-fits-all, solution to this predicament but there are a few clawfoot tub accessories worth consideration.

If you've ever dropped a bar of soap in a clawfoot tub, you've experienced the Keystone Kop sensation of chasing an outlaw bar of soap around the bottom of your tub. Over-the-rim soap baskets provide a home for the bar of soap when it is not in use. Over-the-rim soap dishes have an arm that arches over the tub rim to hang the soap basket on the side of the bathtub. Larger over-the-rim soap baskets feature a separate compartment for a loofah or sponge.

There are also riser mounted versions of the soap basket for those of you fortunate enough to have a clawfoot tub shower enclosure. Riser mounted soap dishes are similar in size and design to over-the-rim soap baskets. Many Sign of the Crab riser mounted soap baskets have a split ringlet that allows them to be installed without unassembling the shower riser. Sunrise Specialty offers a riser-mounted soap basket for their shower risers that include a deep compartment for shampoo bottles in addition to the traditional soap dish.

A tub shelf, or bath caddy, is another option that provides even greater storage capacity. Tub shelves stretch from side-to-side to bridge the tub walls. They have adjustable arms to fit most clawfoot tubs. Tub shelves usually feature three side-by-side storage compartments. Cheviot Products even offers a bath caddy with a reading rack so you can expand your horizons with a little light reading from Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" while you soak in your clawfoot tub.

Related by purpose, Sign of the Crab offers replacement overflow plates with an integrated stopper keeper. The stopper keeper provides storage for the clawfoot tub drain's rubber stopper when it is not in use. The stopper keeper eliminates the clutter created by a renegade rubber stopper resting on the bottom of the tub or hanging over the tub rim.

While none of these clawfoot tub accessories provide the storage space of the ledge around a built-in bathtub, they all contribute to better clawfoot tub organization. As you organize for the holiday season and prepare for the parade of guests, consider adding a soap basket or tub shelf to your Christmas wish list.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Enduring Copper and Bronze Craftsman Style House Number Tiles

The Craftsman bungalow is unquestionably one of the most enduring styles of houses in America. The American Craftsman bungalow was first introduced in the early 1900’s and countless versions of the bungalow were built throughout the United States over the next twenty or so years. These old homes are still highly sought after by a loyal following of those that appreciate the home’s simple style. In fact, the style remains so popular that Craftsman style bungalows have recently enjoyed a revival in new home construction.

Mission Metalworks has just introduced Craftsman house number tiles. In keeping with the Craftsman style, these tiles are manufactured to last. The tiles are ¼” thick solid copper and bronze and therefore will not bend, crack or break. The tiles are sand cast, tumbled to provide a burnished appearance, and then finished by hand. They are available in darkened bronze and weathered and natural copper. They also make great holiday gifts so check them out today!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Vintage Home

This weekend I will officially begin my hunt for the ideal holiday gifts for family and friends. I for one am not a big fan of the gift card. Rather, I try to find unique gifts that match the specific interests or special needs of the receiver. For those shopping for someone that is really into their home, Shop 4 Classics offers a variety of products from the John Wright Company that make thoughtful holiday gifts.

On those cold winter nights, nothing is more comforting than the sight and sounds of a natural wood burning fireplace. However, a drawback to wood burning fireplaces is that they tend to remove moisture from the air as they heat the home. A charming way to return moisture to the air is with a stovetop steamer. Fill your home with the fragrances of the season by including holiday scented potpourri to the steamer’s water.

Speaking of wood burning fireplaces, the hearth is often transformed into the centerpiece of the holiday decorated home. During this time, the cardboard box containing matches is either tucked away out of sight or becomes an unwanted feature of your holiday d├ęcor. John Wright Company’s selection of cast iron match stick holders provides a decorative way to keep matches conveniently close at hand.

Large multicourse meals are a hallmark of the holiday season. Ham, turkey, casseroles of every sort and pies await in the kitchen and dining room as guests find their place at the table. At no other time of the year is the simple trivet more valued. The classic designs, high gloss porcelain coating and durable cast iron construction of John Wright’s trivets make them a useful gift for many years to come.

At least in the Midwest, dragging indoors the mud and salt from the bottom and sides of one’s shoes is a common problem during the winter months. Additional guest traffic and your desire to keep your home presentable keeps you busy cleaning the floors when you would rather be enjoying the season. Placing a novelty shoe brush on your front porch is a charming way to clean shoes prior to entering your spotless holiday home.