Sunday, August 10, 2008

This is our front door

Or rather, this was our front door ... before I took Friday off and spent most of the weekend making it look less like something out of the Martha Stewart Tenement™ Collection. Notice the 27 shades and finishes of brown that various condo association handypersons have used to touch it up over the last 80 years. Notice the three colors of metal on it. Notice how that sad little door knocker looks vulgar in a dog-penis kind of way.

Here is a closeup of our cool art-deco-meets-prairie-style escutcheon plate, which had been painted and varnished and horribly disrespected over the years. Notice how well it goes with the shiny gold lock, doorknob (which photographed kind of silver on my Verizon® Technology For The Colorblind™ camera phone) and deadbolt. And seriously, who actually likes shiny gold hardware? Besides Donald Trump, I mean.

This is what we've been looking at from the inside for a year and a half. I especially love how nobody in the last 80 years has made any attempt to hide the mounting hardware for the dog-penis door knocker. If you have lots of time on your hands, you can study the picture and choose your favorite paint sample color for the door. And then you can notice in the bottom left of the picture the tiny John Hancock Center statue I bought myself to celebrate moving to Chicago eight years ago. Also, take a moment to express your jealousy over the creepy reproduction graveyard angel that hangs menacingly over our door as though to smite you for thinking "dog penis" every time you cross our threshold.

The escutcheon plate on the inside was so caked in paint that it required lots of swearing before I could even pry it from the door. But when it's offset by the shiny gold doorknob, it looks extra-fancy, as though it came from the Donald Trump Country Farmhouse™ Collection.

As I fixed up our door this weekend I also wanted to restore our cool old escutcheon plates, but I had no idea how to strip them. I googled around and found out that it's easiest to boil them like a bunny on your married lover's stove. I found about 10 sites that recommend dumping all your crapped-up door hardware in an old pan or crock pot with a bunch of water, a bit of baking soda and a dash of dish soap and letting them cook all day on low heat. (The sites I read actually recommended simmering instead of boiling but boiling gave me a bigger wow factor in that earlier sentence. So I followed my journalistic instincts and went for the high-impact lead.)

If you wonder what kind of society would paint over totally cool art-deco-meets-prairie-style escutcheon plates, look no further than this ’70s-era orangy-brown wheat-themed fancy-fonted crock pot. Seriously, what were you people thinking back then? (In all seriousness, if you try this at home, the sites I read all stressed that once you use your cookware to strip paint you should never use it to prepare food again. Especially if it's ugly.)

After a day of simmering, you still have to do some scrubbing, but the majority of the paint pulls off like a facelift. To help the process along, I also used some Bar Keepers Friend® (which keeps our stainless steel sink looking shiny and fabulous) and some Brasso® metal polish. And the cheapo store-brand toothbrush I originally bought to help us scrub the grout in our shower.

The results are pretty cool, though 12 hours of simmering and scrubbing still didn't remove all the old paint. Unfortunately, I failed in my quest to find locks and doorknobs that match the gracefully aged (or, technically, recently boiled) patina of the escutcheon plates. Apparently they have to be special ordered from the same place that supplies John Edwards and John McCain with their respect for the institution of marriage. So for now our doors are still barricaded in Trumpian Gold®, which you can see here also comes with splashes of brown from clumsy condo association handypersons. But notice how the alligatory outside of the door is now all one uniform color and sheen. I pried loose an already-loose piece of quarter round and had the color expertly matched at my friendly neighborhood paint store (who, unfortunately, was actually not so friendly—my journalistic instincts here told me to forgo facts in favor of the easiest cliché for my lead—so even though they did a fabulous job using their spectrophotometer, the bitches don't get a shout-out by name).

The Trumpian Gold® knob on the inside of the door is so shiny you can kind of see I wore a black tank top when I took this picture. And while the trim is all now one uniform shade of white (which photographed pink on my Verizon® Technology For The Colorblind™ camera phone), it emphasizes how chewed up the door frame is. As though a dog exacted some kind of vengeance on the door in bitter retribution for an unnamed indignity.

Remember all those color samples that had been taped to our door? Did you pick a favorite? Too bad! I decided just to use the outside door color on the inside. Which is not only cheaper but it requires less thinking. But I didn't put the high-gloss polyurethane coating on the inside in an effort to mix things up and keep everything phresh, as the kids say. You can't see them here, but I also added quarter-inch rubber gaskets to the top and bottom of the door since it was way too freakin' small for the door frame. We also intend to find a way to upholster the recessed part of the door in tufted chocolate leather. Which we hope (along with the gaskets) will drown out the alarmingly loud noises in our hallway. And also hide the dog-penis mounting hardware. Which will soon be something-other-than-dog-penis mounting hardware; we just haven't found a replacement door knocker we like yet.

I also ran 18 miles on Saturday. For once, the weather was perfect, and I had a kick-ass run. Unfortunately, Matthew and his camera didn't run with us because they ran the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon instead this morning. So there are no pictures. Of me, at least.

While I was already sweaty and my nails were already caked with paint, I also installed a funky new ceiling fan in our living room on Sunday. The old fan was one of those all-white cheapies you can get by saving box tops, and it had all the style and elegance of a ’70s-era orangy-brown wheat-themed fancy-fonted crock pot. Plus, it had a horrible light fixture attachment that did little to elevate itself above being three bare lightbulbs. But that's all behind us! We now have a visually interesting ceiling fan with hidden light bulbs! And paint-free art-deco-meets-prairie-style escutcheon plates! And a one-shade-of-brown door! With a temporary gold-plated dog penis!

No comments: