Thursday, May 2, 2013

In an Antique State-of-Mind

Antique!  What makes an antique exactly?   According to the web, it's anything that is 100 years old or more.

I always marvel at the items my sister gives to us.  They are almost always gorgeous and have a level of detail that I find mesmerizing.  I usually don't get that same feeling when I'm forced to go shopping at Ikea or some other contemporary store.  But stepping into an antique is a journey back in time where craftsmanship and art were valued differently than today.

So let's play a quick game.  Can you spot the antiques in this picture?
Clock on the left?  Nope. Looks antique-ish but it's a Cost Plus item we found for $6 at a thrift Store.  What about the beautiful painting?  Nope. Not an antique but it is hand painted and a wonderful gift from my sister and her husband. The Rug?  Nope. Handwoven but it isn't that old.  If you said the walls, wainscot and floor, you would have guessed right.  They are 115 years old as is the entire front half of the house.  Most likely the house was built around May to take advantage of the warm dry weather.  And it was constructed without the benefit of power tools.  Imagine that!

This beautiful vase (another gift from my sister) is an antique created around 1890 in Europe.  The pink roses from the yard work perfectly together with it.  You don't often see fresh flowers in vases inside people's homes too often.  But in the old days, it was a very common thing to do. Nature's art merged with human art.

We also recently attended a very big antique show.  It's pretty easy to see what generation of people you might see at a show like this. To make a long story short, I think we were some of the youngest people there and it made me question how much the younger generations find value in old, beautifully hand crafted things.

I recently salvaged an antique Victorian entry door that some young man was giving away on craigslist.  The picture showed a big door with mounds of paint on it but you could still see that it had all the original knobs, mailbox and door pull cover.   I didn't know the condition but emailed him anyway and out of 50 emails, he responded to mine.

I went over to take a look at it and my tongue nearly fell out.  I could tell that this was a very well crafted Victorian door that was worth something. 

So I took it home and started cleaning the paint off.
Exterior side had about 6 layers of paint but the entire door was in great shape. Nothing broken.
During that time I wondered if I should try and sell it or just keep it. What is the value I'm looking for here?  Is the value in the money I might get for it so I could do more things to fix up the house?  Or is the value in the beauty my hard work will bring out of the door once cleaned and refinished?  Maybe the value is just in looking and pondering the exquisite craftsmanship somebody had put into it 100 years ago??

Scraped off about 3 layers of white paint on the interior side

So I took it home and started cleaning the paint off.

Restained and a coat of poly.

Same on the interior, Put back the oval, beveled window and reglazed.


  1. Wow. That door is amazing. You don't see things like that too often. It was obviously a lot of work, but that is a great salvage piece. Glad it didn't end up going to a dump or something equally sad. Water damage Cicero

  2. Did you find a use for it in your home? Great job!

  3. Hi Mac,

    Thanks for the very nice comment. I too am very happy that it was rescued. Just an incredible door.

    Hi Dorothy!

    Well, it's still leaning against a wall in my basement. Because of its unusual size, it won't go in any current doorways. I'm thinking I might use it as the entry door to the garden house in the back? Or perhaps as a door for a soon-to-be-constructed bathroom?

    Thanks for checking out the blog. Just returned from vacation and we're ready to get into new home adventures.