Helloooo? I’m cold and there are wolves after me.
– Abe Simpson
Given our unexpectedly lengthy search for a way to strip the porch floor AND the suddenly-very-impending winter, the Kev and I agreed that replacing the porch door was our most pressing mission. Enclosing the living space is important up here in the tundra. (We are, though, still looking for floor-stripping hints, particularly if you know what to use on battleship paint.)
The front door that actually leads into the house proper is inside the porch. The original door was gone when we got here, but we replaced an inappropriate mid-century door with this reproduction a few years back. (And quite a job that was! I’ll say more about that another time.)
A screened porch runs along the whole front of the house, and it currently sports a vinyl combination storm door that has seen better days. This is a rock-bottom, super-cheapo model with rusty screws, bent hardware, and a shredded screen. It was here when we got here! It’s been so long now, though, that that’s not much of an excuse.
We could have bought another vinyl or PVC door, but I was looking for a wooden (or wood-look fiberglass) door. Why?
- Well, just look at the tatty vinyl door we have! Yikes.
- Wood looks more appropriate for this house.
- I want a paintable door (it’s going to be bright yellow to start).
- We want an in-swinging door, and most storm doors here are designed to swing out. This always ends up sweeping people off the top step, which is particularly unfortunate at Halloween. Costumed toddlers seeking candy have No Interest Whatsoever in backing up slightly so you can open the door for them.
- We want to fit a keyed lock to the door so we can come in through the front of the house! The current door has a thumb lock that can’t be opened from the outside. We keep it locked so it doesn’t end up accidentally unlatched, which could lead to a Great Cat Escape.
I bought a vintage storm door to use as a replacement, then found a better one on Craigslist. Here it is in a test fit on the porch.
The Kev is mortising the hinges as I type. Once it’s fitted properly, we’ll finish it (bright yellow!), and then install. But painting isn’t all there is to it — I’ve also been shopping for hardware to finish it off.
So what have we got here?
1. POST mail slot and back plate (Signature Hardware)
Vintage slots are very small, so we went with a sized-up reproduction so our post-person can put magazines and small packages through to us. I really loved this one when I first saw it, but I still wonder if I have no sense of proportion regarding mail flaps. Maybe it’s too preciously precious? But since we don’t have scads of super-twee stuff, I figured it would be ok.
I like vintage mail flaps, and especially those bearing words. When I started this quest, I showed the Kev about six reproduction mail slots. He said they were all “fine” and looked alike to him. I chose this one because I like that it says “POST” instead of “MAIL” — in England, the Royal Mail delivers the post, while here, the Postal Service delivers the mail. In the absence of Kevin-input (Kevinput? Kevput?), Mom ratified my decision to go POSTal (thanks, Mom!).
2. Salvaged brass door knobs (ebay)
I picked up these salvaged knobs from an ebay seller. I was looking for small knobs to accommodate our lock set-up, and these are only 1.5 inches across. We took them with us to Guilded Salvage the other day to find a rosette and a keyhole escutcheon. “Your house is from the early 1930s,” the owner said when he saw the knob. So it’s a little out of the original zone, but that’s pretty dang close. And I really like these patina-ed knobs.
The knobs came with a spindle, which we can cut down if it’s too long. And we did find a rosette and escutcheon, by the way — they were still in the slow cooker when I took these pictures. They are very simple brass pieces.
3. Rim lock (Yale)
A rim lock mounts on the back of the door and the bolt goes into a housing on the back of the door frame. This is an alternative to mortised locks (mounted inside the door to go into a hole in the frame) that made sense with a one-inch-deep door. I don’t even know if you can mortise something that skinny!
This Yale rim lock was produced for the British market and has a big ol’ round skeleton key (shown in the photo) that makes my day. I had this kind of key almost everywhere I lived in England, so it will be nice to have one in my pocket again.
If you are thinking, “OMG, SKELETON KEY!! How NOT secure is THAT!?”, keep in mind that we’re just looking to keep the door locked enough to keep cats on the porch. This isn’t a high-security endeavor. They aren’t Super-Ninja-Opposable-Thumb-Lock-Picking Cats of Advanced Intelligence. They haven’t even figured out that the latch to the the dry food hopper has been broken since spring. They could just nudge it off! But they are oblivious to their power to have a dry-food orgy on their own timetable. In terms of exterior criminals, did I mention this is a screened porch? The door isn’t even an issue.
ANYHOO, back to the lock — the knob and the lock are next to each other in this particular set-up, which is why the small knobs come in handy. On the front of the door, there will be a knob next to a skeleton keyhole, and the brass rim lock body will be on the back.
Door fitting underway…door jewelry purchased…we might have this wood in the hole before trick-or-treaters arrive!