Decorating with Antiques: Door Plates and Fashion Plates

Collage of antique door hardware and vintage fashion plates

Corbin rim lock and vintage door plate

A 19th-Century Corbin rim lock with a 1930s door plate. Each is supported by small nails.

Here’s a fun way to integrate a variety of small decor items — my friend Erin did this for me shortly after I moved into this house.  We have here some Eastlake hinges from the 1880s, antique monogrammed doorknobs, an 1880s Corbin rim lock, an Art Nouveau doorplate, and a 1930s doorplate, interspersed with a variety of antique and vintage fashion plates and two gorgeous oil paintings that a friend back home painted for me.

Decorating with antique doorknobs

Antique doorknobs (top) can be mounted by hanging each knob on a long nail through the opening in the back.

Everything was quite simple to hang — antique doorknobs have a square opening in their stems and were hung from long nails; the hinges took a nail through one hole in each leaf; and the plates are hanging by their doorknob openings.

To maintain a balanced look within an asymmetrical arrangement, Erin composed five columns.  As you can see, the greatest visual weight is in the center, with the smallest items farthest from center.  The pair of matching oil paintings was split up with one in the lower left and one in the upper right corner; a pair of oval fashion plates (1960s reprints of 19th Century plates) was split and placed in the other two corners of the group.  This helps to pull the entire composition together.IMG_1062 Reading Hardware "Nouvelle" door plate

Far left: A cast iron hinge with a small oil painting.

Near left: “Nouvelle” door plate by Reading Hardware, circa 1910.



When hanging mismatched items, here are some helpful tips to remember:

  • Make sure the composition is balanced.  You don’t want it to feel heavier on one side than the other.
  • Repeat elements of the composition (pairs of hinges, pairs of matched frames, et cetera) for a unified look.
  • Make sure your pieces harmonize with each other.  I had a couple other fashion plates that I wanted to use, but they were in very plain, light wood frames and didn’t work with this particular grouping.  Likewise, we stuck with all dark-colored door hardware in cast iron and a dark japanned finish, and omitted my glass doorknobs and brass plates.
  • Work in units.  It was easier to create this grouping by breaking it down into manageable sections, rather than trying to put everything together all at once.

If you’re looking for antique hardware, try Preservation Station. They’re fabulous people (I worked for them until I moved away to grad school), and they’ve got a great selection.

About Charity

I have an inexcusable number of cookbooks (and like to experiment with them), have worked in architectural antiques, and have been sewing most of my life. I recently graduated with a Ph.D. in Apparel, Merchandising, & Design from Iowa State University. Doing household things (except for cleaning!) and hunting for antiques are my favorite pastimes.
This entry was posted in Antiquing Adventures, Decorating, Mrs. Armstead's Household Guide. Bookmark the permalink.

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