Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reproduction Door Hardware Basics: An Overview of Privacy, Passage and Dummy Functions

Antique reproduction door hardware is a great way to add decorative accents and nostalgic style throughout your home. There are several general criteria that should be considered before you begin your door hardware search.

I consider the style of door hardware to encompass all appearance aspects of the hardware. Although the style of door hardware is typically desired to be in keeping with the style and period of the home, the home owner’s personal taste often is the key determinate in the final selection decision. Today’s reproduction door hardware is offered with so many knob and finishes options that the home owner can select hardware with designs that are true to the home’s original period style while allowing them to exercise their creative flair. Home owners now can create unique looks by choosing from an assortment of decorative solid brass, brilliant crystal and unique porcelain knobs options. Reproduction door hardware is available in oil rubbed bronze, chrome, brushed and polished nickel and pewter finishes in addition to traditional polished brass.

The desired function of each door knob set must be determined. Will the interior door need to be locked? If so, a privacy door knob set will be required. Privacy reproduction door hardware sets have modern locking mechanics complete with emergency release mechanism that allows the privacy set to be unlocked from the outside. There are two options for doors that do not require a locking mechanism. Passage door knob sets have latches that do not lock but keep require the set’s knob to be turned in order to open the door. Passage sets are commonly used for closet doors. If a latch is also not important, the dummy set is your least expensive option. Dummy set knobs do not turn and therefore function only as a grip to open and close doors. Dummy sets are often found on pantry doors and closet doors.

Shop 4 Classics offers door hardware from some of the most respected specialty manufacturers. All offer their interior sets in the three basic functions. Each manufacturer, however, specializes in a particular style of door hardware. Below is an overview of the styles offered by each manufacturer:

Nostalgic Warehouse door hardware represents reproductions of classic designs from the Victorian, Craftsman, and Art Deco periods. Their solid brass hardware is available in all of today’s popular finishes including satin nickel and oil rubbed bronze.

Brass Accents door hardware includes faithful reproductions of original designs that reflected the many architectural style movements in vogue within the Victorian period. Brass Accents door hardware is also made of solid brass and available in a variety of popular finishes.

The Craftsmen Hardware Company specializes in handcrafted door hardware designed in the Arts and Craft tradition. Craftsmen Hardware door knobs and back plates are made of genuine copper finished with a rich brown patina.

Hamilton Sinkler’s door hardware made from solid cast bronze with a rich brown patina. Hamilton Sinkler’s door hardware appeals to those seeking a traditional or even rustic appearance.

Check out Shop 4 Classics' Door Hardware Tips for more useful door hardware information.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New EPA Lead Paint Laws Mark 2010 Earth Day

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has new lead paint laws going into effect on Earth Day, April 22, 2010. With only a few exceptions, the new lead paint laws require any renovation work performed on houses built before 1978 to be performed by a contractor who has received training and certification as outlined by the new law. The EPA penalties of $37,500 per day of noncompliance for remodelers that violate the law are so significant that many contractors are considering avoiding work on older homes all together. The cost to contractors to maintain certification and implement the EPA's new rules will lead to higher fees. With fewer qualified contractors and increased remodelling costs, some in the remodeling industry speculating that the cost of older home remodels may double.

Check out the EPA’s easy to read
Renovate Right brochure for more information on the EPA’s new law.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What is Old is New Again at the 2010 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show

I attend the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) each year to see what is new and to identify trends in the plumbing and hardware business. One thing that I have learned over the years is that vintage-themed plumbing and home hardware products are always in style.

Design elements common to hardware at the turn of the 20th century can still be found in today’s door and cabinet hardware. Classic Ribbon & Reed designs and even Eastlake-inspired geometric nature motifs could be found on the latest designs from many hardware exhibitors. Although polished brass is typically still a finish option, most of the exhibitors displayed their hardware in a variety of other finishes. Bronze continues to be popular with bronze cabinet and door hardware appearing in shades of bronze that range from reddish brown to charcoal black. Spectacularly brilliant chrome finishes seems to be one of the new trends this year. For example, there were such highly finished chrome door knobs that they exhibited extremely reflective and even jewelry-like qualities.

Vintage kitchen and bath faucets and clawfoot tubs were also very popular at this year’s show. Judging from the displays that I visited, the clean lines and distinctive geometric shapes of the Art Deco period are in vogue once again for bath and kitchen faucets. Similarly, Victorian clawfoot tubs and Art Deco style pedestal tubs were also popular items from most bath exhibitors. However, unlike cast iron originals, most of the tubs exhibited at the show were made of lighter weight acrylic materials.

I visited Hamilton Sinkler’s large display. They displayed their solid bronze door hardware, bronze vent covers, and a wide range of decorative cabinet pulls and knobs. Hamilton Sinkler’s hardware is available in their popular bronze patina as well as their more contemporary brushed nickel finish.



Strom Plumbing displayed some of their new acrylic clawfoot bath tubs including their unique framed Hula bath tub. Their exhibit also included many of their new thermostatic clawfoot tub faucets and their antique reproduction bathroom faucets and kitchen sink faucets.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Shop 4 Classics Reviews Federal Era Hardware

It is April 15 and we at Shop 4 Classics hope that you recognize the significance of that date. It is the date that federal income taxes are due. It also provides a fitting time to discuss Federal style architectural hardware.

Following the Revolutionary War, the Federal era was a time of great patriotism and the revolutionary pride was reflected in the hardware of the period. Patriotic symbols such as eagles and stars were employed on all types of home hardware.

Federal age homes tended to be imposing, balanced, and symmetric structures similar to the civil and government buildings of the time. Federal era homes were built from brick or stone and featured columns and pilasters.

Spanning from the late 18th century (1780) to the mid 19th century (1830), the Federal period marked a time of transition in hardware. The cast iron hardware of colonial America was still prominent in the early part of the Federal period but advances in machinery during the later stages of the Federal era introduced a progression toward decorative brass hardware. Cast iron was used for exterior door hardware, window hardware, shutter hardware as well as utilitarian interior hardware such as cast iron vent covers but manufacturing advances near the end of the Federal era produced decorative interior brass hardware with greater detail than previously possible with bronze and cast iron.

Federal era door hardware and cabinet hardware tended to be basic and graceful. Common architectural motifs for brass door hardware from the period include rope, reed, and bead designs. Round and ovals shapes with raised concentric circles on curved surfaces were popular in cabinet hardware.

Federal era designs and themes continue to be popular today. The classic styles of the Federal age lend traditional elegance to contemporary interior design while bold patriotic décor defines the appeal of Americana. The influences of the Federal period are as noticeable in modern homes as the IRS auditor who will appear on your stoop if you fail to pay your taxes by April 15.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Visit to the Queen Anne Style Victorian Mansion on Kansas City’s Strawberry Hill

This weekend I had an opportunity to visit a fine example of the Queen Anne style Victorian mansion in nearby Kansas City, Kansas. The mansion was built in 1887 for a prominent attorney name John B. Scroggs and his wife Mary. In 1919 the home was sold to become the St. John’s Orphanage which took in children who had lost their parents to the influenza epidemic that was ravaging the country at the time. For almost 70 years the mansion and later additions was home to thousands of orphaned children and a group of Catholic Sisters who cared for them. In 1988 the orphanage closed and efforts quickly got underway to save the building by converting it into the Strawberry Hill Museum.

Upon arriving at the mansion, I was immediately impressed by the home’s amazing Queen Anne style architectural hallmarks. A spacious veranda wrapped around the entire front of the original house and ornate brick, stone, and wood work enriched its façade. A large stone addition extended from the mansion's northern side was evidence of the more utilitarian purposes that the home would later serve. I was disappointed to learn that a large turret, which is one of the most identifiable trademarks of Queen Anne mansions, had been removed when this addition was added.

I was greeted by a delightful volunteer tour guide who welcomed me as if into her own home. She guided me through the home pointing out the home’s unique features and history. Each first floor room of the original house featured incredibly ornate handcrafted wood work in the form of built in cabinetry, fireplace mantels and paneling. Above every window was a second decorative window featuring Eastlake-style stained glass designs. One of the features that I found most impressive was the massive pocket doors that separated the men’s parlor room from the lady's tea room. These thick solid oak doors had to have been extremely heavy but they slid open and closed with little effort. The tour continued for over an hour. At one of the tour's last stops I learned that this Queen Anne mansion is also consider to be one of Kansas City’s most haunted places.

Speaking of the super natural, Shop 4 Classics sells many antique reproduction hardware items that are eerily similar to the original hardware found in this great house. The ornate Victorian & Waldorf doorplate set from Nostalgic Warehouse would look right at place adorning any of the doors on the elaborately styled first floor where as Nostalgic's simpler New York & Waldorf doorplate set closely resembled the door hardware found on the second floor. Because closets where considered rooms and were therefore taxed, built-in cabinetry was used instead of closets throughout the home. John Wright Company’s Eastlake bin pull is nearly identical to pulls found on some of the second floor built-in cabinetry. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a good look at the window hardware but my guess is that that it would resemble John Wright’s Eastlake sash catch and the Sunburst sash lift from IDH.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Cleaning Your Clawfoot Tub


One of the miracles of spring is that cleaning transforms from a chore to a tradition. The tradition of spring cleaning originated in the Middle Ages when straw that covered the kitchen floor was swept outside as soon as warm weather permitted. Unless you live in a barn, and as a boy my father frequently reminded me that I did not, you probably aren't sweeping hay off your kitchen floor but the tradition of spring cleaning continues to be celebrated as an opportunity to clean and organize our homes.

This spring, make cleaning and organizing your cast iron clawfoot tub part of this seasonal ritual. You probably use common household cleaners (e.g. Formula 409, Windex, Dow Tub & Tile Cleaner) for routine cleaning. These products are adequate for normal maintenance but occasionally a more rigorous cleaning is required to remove tougher stains and built up soap film. Powder cleaners (e.g. Zud, Barkeepers Friend, Bon Ami) mix with water to form a soft paste that removes tough stains and polishes to restore shine. Never use an abrasive cleaner (e.g. Ajax, Comet) on the interior of a cast iron bathtub. The grit in abrasive cleaners can scratch the porcelain. Also avoid acidic cleaners (e.g. chlorine bleach, C.L.R.) that may remove the original stain but leave a permanent discoloration. Always test the surface in an inconspicuous area before applying to the entire surface and, most importantly, follow the instructions and read the warning label before you begin.

A clean cast iron tub will only sparkle if it is not overshadowed by clutter. Shampoos, conditioners, razors, soaps, sponges, loofahs, and more seem to gather around the bathtub. Clawfoot tubs aren't especially accommodating to storage but tub shelves, over-the-rim soap baskets, and riser mounted soap dishes are economical options for organizing bathing products. An overflow plate with stopper keeper provides a solution to neatly storing the clawfoot tub drain's rubber stopper that normally lies aimlessly at the end of a chain on the bottom of the tub.

Speaking of aimlessness and rites of spring, I spotted a possum ambling pointlessly in the backyard of my suburban Kansas City home this morning. While I was not raised in a barn or farm, I do recognize a possum and this shifty fellow appeared to be in need of some spring cleaning. Perhaps someone could lend him a loofah.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Green Hardware and Plumbing Products: Going Green this Spring

After a very long and snow filled winter, signs of spring are finally here in Kansas City. One of the most notably signs of spring is the return of the color green to the city’s landscape. Trees are budding and the once brown grass transformed to a brilliant shade of green seemingly overnight.
Speaking of green, Shop 4 Classics offers a number of products that can be consider Green products. Green products can include products that conserve or reuse the planet’s natural resources. Below are examples of some of the Green products that can be found on the Shop 4 Classics website:


Mission Metalworks sand cast products are made from 95% recycled US domestically produce copper and bronze. Their line of copper and bronze hardware items include: house numbers and house number tiles, cabinet hardware and switch plate and outlet covers.

An example of a product that conserves the planet’s resources is Cheviot Products’ dual flush toilet. This innovative toilet can be flushed with a water conserving 0.8 gallons of water or the standard 1.6 gallons of water.