Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Edith Wharton Hinges

I wasn't looking to buy any hinges but I was surfing the internet for old house parts and I when I saw these, I immediately fell in love. Not only are they really cool but they have a connection to Edith Wharton, author of novels such as The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome.
Actually, they're from Pine Acre which was Edith Wharton's husband's family's home in the Berkshires, a place she visited often. The mansion was recently converted to condominiums and many of the home's original parts were salvaged. I was lucky enough to buy 50 hinges which should be more than enough for me.
I love them just the way the are but if I end up buying new doors for throughout the house, I'm not sure I'll want this "chippy" look on new doors. I did some research on internet on how to strip paint off old hinges and found a lot of people who swear by boiling them in water with some kind of soap. Not wanting to sacrifice my Le Creuset to the stripping project, I talked to the salvage company I purchased them from and they suggested just soaking them in water...maybe for a few days before it would soften.
So I took one hinge and soaked in water (in an old coffee can) and some Simple Green and, indeed, after a few days the paint looked "swollen." I used the tip of an old paring knife and in about a half hour, I had removed all of the old white paint. It revealed a lot of the fine detail but it also took off a lot of the original black paint. I'm sure with a little more buffing, they'll be ready for a new coat of enamel.

A little hinge may seem like such a minor detail but I think it's these little things that make an old house sing, or at least ring true. I'm not sure when I'll get to use them, but I'll be happy to have them in my old house.
There were also a few doorknobs that caught attention. I think these white porcelain knobs are great...
...but I'm really in love with these Bennington door knobs. I think I might get a few of these to install and try them on for size.

I'm thinking mahogany doors, with my glossy black Edith Wharton hinges maybe these Bennington knobs throughout the house. It would certainly be handsome!


  1. Hi Steve, I have a miracle method for getting paint of hardware - I used it for all of ours and it's so easy! Get Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (it's at the grocery store). Put hinges in can or pot and pour in about a half cup of soap. Add boiling hot water and let sit an hour or so (I usually put the pot outside). The paint will float off. Repeat if needed but you'll find that you won't need to do much more than that for paint-free hardware. We threw in screws and everything. The folks at Rejuvenation ( told us about this trick and we were thrilled at how easy it was. LOVE your beautiful Edith Wharton hinges! Trina

  2. I just found your blog, and I love it. I totally agree with you about "details". That's where the magic happens. Great house with huge potential. Have fun!

  3. I didn't follow you at the time of this post and those hinges are beautiful. Love the doorknobs also. I purchased old glass doorknobs for our home at a salvage place that's no longer around :-( they were 4.00 a pair! Love 'em!