Black Doors!

There are moments in a relationship when you realize you’ve gone and found yourself a good thing. Max came home from work one day back in August to a sweltering apartment and my small, crouched figure slumped on the floor. The trouble was that somebody had stuffed wads of newsprint inside the walls that conceal our pocket doors, thereby blocking their ability to open all the way. Because this was during my it’s-hotter-than-hell-outside-fuck-it-I’m-a-nudist phase, I was unshowered and wearing only underwear. And maybe socks, for modesty’s sake. Strewn about on the floor surrounding me was a collection of our household items—a set of tongs, a broom handle, an umbrella I’d broken—and the pile of old newspapers I had slowly persuaded out of the walls over the course of what was, realistically, a several hour long effort. This is behavior that I have come to recognize as the norm for Single-Daniel, but is probably better avoided during the fragile first six months of a relationship. Yet there I sat, dirty and frustrated, reappropriating our spatula as a sort of primitive tool, much like an ape.

While alone it’s easier to focus exclusively on the task at hand, but the presence of another person inspires a sort of quick self-inspection, followed by an assessment, followed by shame. Alright, you might think, he’s seen me. Play it cool. Do you look ridiculous? Yes. Do you have a compelling reason? Certainly. And when he opens his mouth to say something like “What in the fuck are you doing down there?” you need to explain yourself. Hurriedly, you try to come up with a reason why the doors sticking out a couple of inches instead of receding nicely into the walls is a pressing problem riddled with threatening functional implications. Further, one that can only be addressed while sweaty, dirty, and mostly naked. You decide to bypass the accusatorial interrogation and just skip to the explanation.

“Some asshole past tenant stuffed about a million newspapers into our walls, and that’s why the pocket doors won’t open all the way, which looks all weird and is probably why they keep skipping off their tracks and I’ve been trying to fish them out but they’re really stuck and I lost track of time and I’m really sorry but I broke your umbrella.”

“Which newspaper?” he replied. And there it was. Not angered, nor shocked and appalled, nor even slightly surprised that he might come home to find me in such a state, there was something immensely comforting about his apathy.

“Oh, just a bunch of horse racing schedules and statistics and stuff, from the mid-70s. Nothing interesting.”

“Oh, bummer.”

And then I went back to sticking my arms into the wall and he told me about his day at work. And it was good.

Aside from what is now obvious (that Eugene Tombs was nesting in our apartment), all of our doors had an exciting laundry list of things wrong with them. The paint was chipping off the pocket doors. The bedroom and bathroom doors didn’t close. All the hardware had been painted over by careless landlords and tenants for years, and was not only ugly but also didn’t work. Poor doors. So abused.

When I first moved into this apartment, during the brief period that it was still technically just my apartment and I could be as big of an asswipe as I wanted to be, I told Max that I was going to paint all the doors black. I told other people this, too, all of whom expressed deep concern. “Really? Black? Like, black-black?” FUCK YES, BLACK. But let me just say:

Before:

After:

Yeah. They’re rad. I love my black doors. The color is Onyx by Benjamin Moore, in Pearl finish. It’s basically the perfect, perfect black. I want to live in a world of Benjamin Moore Onyx.

All the doors in the apartment (there are only three other ones, including the front door) are getting the Onyx treatment too, and I love it. Bedroom door before:

And AFTER!

I love them. Love them. You can tell me anything. Tell me they’re ugly. See if I care. I do not care. You know why? Because I love them.

LOVE.

My affection isn’t just a paint fetish thing, though. It’s also the hardware. I’m so happy with how the hardware turned out. Because it had been painted over so many, many times, it all had to be carefully cut and scraped and stripped away from the doors. Here’s a fancy close-up image I made by cropping a much wider image I had, because I took no proper before pictures. My blogging fanciness knows no bounds.

Stripping paint off stuff is one of those intensely tedious, endlessly satisfying tasks that just keeps you coming back for more. Once I got it all detached from the doors, I stuck it in a pot of boiling water (and a little dish soap), and let it simmer like a delicious hardware stew for a while. Like so:

No, I do not still cook food in that pot. Luckily, it was from a thrift store and I don’t feel too bad about it.

After a bunch of the paint has boiled off, it’s time to move this party to the sink, where you’ll scrub and pick at the stragglers while burning your hands through latex gloves beneath scalding running water. It’s fun! Let your kid do it, he/she will have a phenomenal time.

All kidding aside, it’s really kind of amazing to restore something like this—probably well over a century old—to an original, functioning condition. Hearing that door click! closed for the first time was super rewarding, and using the doorknob everyday feels like such an awesome privilege that I totally fucking deserve. 

Aside from that, I think we can all agree that the mix of the black door, the white trim, and the brass/pewter-y hardware is pretty dope. It’s all J.Crew-Men’s-Shop-Yale-Club-Old-New-England-Classic-Fancy up in here. All of those associations make perfect sense to me.

The pocket door hardware was slightly more challenging because it’s not actually very old, so the brass was super shiny and new and weird looking when I stripped the paint off them. I found something online that told me to wet them with vinegar and stick them in a hot oven for a few minutes, which would help age the brass. Usually I’m not a fan of trying to obtain faux-old finishes, but this was tiny and subtle and totally worked and I love them now.

Best for last? Okay. Best for last.

The bathroom door was a whole crazy mess of gloppy old paint and filthy and sadness.

Like, gag me with a spoon, as my father would say. But you know I’m all about that black porcelain knob.

Insert some boiling water, some taking the door off its hinges, sanding and sanding and sanding down the bottom so it would close, a few coats of paint later, and…

Here’s the outside. The wood handle makes my heart sing. I just rubbed on a couple coats of Danish oil after it dried out from the boiling and it’s so pretty.

On the inside of the door, under all the paint was this super cool lock. In case you can’t make it out, it reads: “New York City 1883 Make.” EIGHTEEN FUCKING EIGHTY THREE. That shit is old, and awesome. It had a petrified cockroach carcass inside of it. That’s history. I think it was painted black originally but the boiling took off all the paint and I ended up liking the raw metal, so I spray painted it with a matte clear coat protection so it wouldn’t rust in a steamy bathroom.

Wider angles to come, when I get my act together and photograph the bathroom. Things are looking a little different in there! (See what I did there? I love to play the tease.)


140 Comments

  1. wowza! i love them too. i cannot lie. i LOVE them.

  2. HOW DARE YOU BRING UP EUGENE TOMBS! I think I cry about him daily. That’s how much he still frightens me.

  3. Love love love. Your black doors are just perfect – and the hardware? Fuck yeah. That wood knob is killing me.

  4. What an a m a z i n g result! And I love how the black doors pick up the dark stripes on the floors which are also bloody amazing.

    • That is exactly what I noticed, too. very pretty. You could spend a small fortune on removing the paint from the doors….I know this from experience.

  5. AMAZING!!! It’s all so beautiful and inspiring! PS, who thinks black is a bad idea?? That looks so awesome!

    And you are probably my favorite person right now for The X-Files reference.

  6. I’m in this strange phase where I see Edward Gorey in everything (well, I guess it’s a phase, but you know), so I must say your doors – very Edward Gorey. One should lead into a musky old library and another one into a dark garden with bushes in the shape of peacocks and hedgehogs and beasts. “Bathroom” is “garden”, right? Loves it.

  7. I never ever thought I would get this excited about a post featuring doors and boiled hardware. Leave it to you though. The black is perfection and Max is a definite keeper.

  8. Wow… You have inspired me to paint my gross doors. I was thinking grey but I’m totally digging the black. It looks amazing with the hardware.

  9. Oh yes. Oh how I want me some black doors. And yet, mere minutes ago, I had never considered them.

  10. LOVE LOVE LOVE. And now I want to paint every door in my house black, so thanks for that.

  11. WHOA. J.Crew-Men’s-Shop-Yale-Club-Old-New-England-Classic-Fancy indeed.

  12. What a brilliant job! I’m half-annoyed that since you rent your landlord gets all the benefits of your hard work, and I’m half-pleased because it means you’re more likely to move and do it all again, and I so love watching your progress!

    Just so you know, the world applauds your love and restoration of that apartment.

    • Oh god, don’t even TALK that way! Moving?! Pshhh. NEVER.

      • At least, if you ever do move, with this place you know you won’t have your hard work painted over with gloppy cigarette-stained color before a new tenant gets to see it and enjoy it.

  13. Well worth the wait. I was getting worried because no new adventures had been posted, but now I have enlightenment. Well worth wait.

  14. Well, I *could* say it’s ugly but that’d be a lie. Those doors look absolutely gorgeous now. You are amazing. You are also very lucky with your boyfriend ;)

  15. You are amazing. I almost can’t even imagine those doors looking like anything but brass on black. Nice. But I did have a mental picture of you sitting on the floor opening and closing the doors repeatedly, while in your underwear, laughing and praising in some sort of mentally insane way. :)

  16. Gorgeous. What a difference. I certainly hope your new landlord appreciates your efforts more than the last one did! I know I’d give you a discount if you lived in my property!

  17. Absolutely gorgeous! I wish I would sit down and put effort into my rental like that. I can never get motivation because I just think to myself “Well, they’re going to paint over it anyway..” You’ve done an awesome thing restoring the hardware!

  18. I painted my doors and all of my baseboard trim in Onyx–it is indeed fantastic. Looks great!

  19. That looks amazing! You just answered the riddle of what to do with my doors! Now if you could just come over and answer what to do with the rest of the joint, I’d be much obliged. (BTW, I commented once a while back that we were neighbors, but I’ve fled Brooklyn back to Washington Heights…you should check it out, you’d love the spaces!)

    Also, I’m really glad that Max asked about the newspapers, because that was the first thing I wondered. Thanks Max!

  20. I LOVE them! They are beautiful and that hardware is beyond. I actualy just painted the windows and doors in my bedroom black and can’t get enough.

  21. First time poster, but I wanted to say I enjoy your blogging style and how you write it. It’s my line of thoughts as well and I giggle inside every time I read it since I would react the same way. Regardless, very jealous of your apartment and the improvements you make.

    Best,
    Lianne

  22. One last thing: How did you get the paint off the hinges?

  23. 1883. unbelievable.

  24. Great writing and the doors look fantastic too! I know how you feel about uncovering the amazing hardware, I did the same thing in our apartment – huge improvement. I love the old brass hardware.

  25. LOVE the black doors!

    Also, you’ve totally inspired me to try stripping 100 years of paint off the hardware on the doors in my apartment! Now I just need to find a pot that I don’t need for real cooking to boil up some yummy lead paint stew ;-)

  26. Ahhh, Daniel…you never disappoint! I am mentally going over the doors in our house at work after reading this, trying to remember if we have any old hardware I can strip! I should only be so lucky. Yours look FAB. Nice job.

  27. Those doors kick ass. I want black doors. Now. Yes, yes. Right. NOW!

    Oh, and the hardware! I’m drooling over that wooden doorknob. You are awesome. I love you.

  28. I must agree with you that those black doors are freaking fab. The brass hardware and handles definitely class it up. Haters be DAMNED.

    I would have never thought of boiling the paint off yet it makes perfect sense. No chemical damage to those gorgeous fixtures!

    Glad you found a keeper too! With the hardware and the man.

  29. We live in a 1929 Storybook Tudor cottage. I have a crockpot full of hardware as we speak. So satisfying to clean it all up!

  30. That black porcelain knob = fucking beautiful. I envy you that doorknob (not to mention all the beautiful work you’re doing in that apartment). You really found a diamond in the rough.

  31. wow, i love love LOVE the black doors! seriously, i can’t believe anyone thought they wouldn’t look good. and way to go on the hardware. i’m so glad you restored that beauty from 1883 to its original glory. i don’t have hardware that old (my house was built in 1953), but you have inspired me to take a look at all the neglected doors in my house and their sad brass handles and boring white color.

  32. The uncovered hardware is awesomeness in a box! I would never have picked black and it is perfect there! Don’t be a stranger!

  33. When I first saw those black doors with the new hardware, I went “mmmm…” involuntarily. They look great! Also, I think they really play up the inlaid detail in the wood floors. Good job!

  34. The black doors are just pure perfection. I always love to see how your hard work pays off. And I don’t think anyone but you can make a blog-post about painting doors to something so entertaining – I bow to your genius!

  35. The black doors are beautiful; a very great decision!

  36. Totally. Worth. The. Wait. *salivating*

  37. Gorgeous!!! Black is BIG right now. Just wondering though, it’s a pity the black makes the beautiful doorframes recede, should you have painted them also?…hmmm

    • I’ve toyed back and forth with painting all the moldings black… Maybe someday, but for now I really like the white!

  38. Oh, my gosh, it’s so beautiful. I’m weirdly emotional over how badly that apartment needed you and how lucky it is that you’re putting all this work and love into it. Bless you.

  39. Black pocket doors totally make me do airhumps. TOTALLY.

  40. Love the black doors. Wishing you had kept the blue walls though. Would have been a great look…

    • I can’t tell if you’re serious… But the blue paint was really, really bad in real life. I swear!

  41. I’m in love with the hardware on the pocket doors. Amazing job.

    In my apartment there’s a pocket door that’s been painted over. I’m almost sure it’s there and it takes every ounce of will power for me not to start chipping away at the layers of paint to uncover it.

    • What are you waiting for?! Do it!

      • Well I suspect they may not be there anymore. One side has the gas line from the stove going through it. So I think the door was removed to put the gas line in.

        But that doesn’t stop me from knocking the walls incessantly to hear if it was hollow or not. I really should ask my landlady if my hunch is right.

  42. Sooooooo beautiful! All your hard work is paying off! I can’t wait to see further progress.

  43. Everything’s better in Onyx, maybe even that drawing room.

    Or not.:)

  44. First and foremost, I love that your dad uses the phrase “gag me with a spoon.” I hope he says it with a valley girl accent like I imagine he does.

    Next, HOLY SHITBALLS. That hardware is bling. Then again, I was that guy at the Halloween party on Saturday who was telling everyone “look at how amazing these original door handles are.” I was mostly met with empty “uh-huhs.” Idiots.

    I only have one original door left in my apartment; I think I’m now inspired enough to take the plunge this weekend. Does BM Onyx come in a glossier finish?

    • Oh, of course the Valley Girl accent. Is there any other way?

      Onyx is just a mixed color, so it can be whatever finish you want! Pearl is basically one step down on the glossiness scale from semi-gloss.

  45. I have a serious love of old doors and old hardware! Unfortunately, my old home had been updated by a previous owner. (For most people this is not unfortunate, but for me it was.)

    I’ve spent the last year scouring curbs for old doors and buying up old glass knobs and brass backers, stripping paint and sanding down. I literally threw in the towel (or threw down my power sander) last weekend — and gave up. I just couldn’t get that damn paint off.

    Your post couldn’t have been better timed! I’m giving this another go on Sunday. My old house will have old doors again!

  46. now i know i will have dreams about that wood knob
    love these doors! LOVE!

  47. I’m obsessed with these doors! And that hardware! I’m dying…it’s too good.
    SOO JEALOUS!

    <3

  48. OMG I love your black doors!! Clearly you need new friends, I would never have tried to talk you out of them. And that brass hardware…beautiful. I have an old Crock Pot that I use exclusively for getting shitty old paint off non-shitty old hardware.

  49. When I read that you were removing newspapers, I immediately wondered how old they were. The doors look incredible. You’ve done an amazing job.

  50. They look FABULOUS! I love that color and have painted the doors in my own house the same color and had the same “FU if you don’t like my doors” imaginary conversation. Pray that you never get bitten by the “I wonder what would happen if I tried to strip all that paint off and refinish the wood?” bug.

  51. The doors are stunning. One thing though: I can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would stuff paper into the pocket of a pocket door…

    • My guess it that it was done before the hardware was added to the doors, and they were getting stuck in the walls when they were pushed back all the way because nothing stopped them in the threshold. It’s a pretty hilariously bad solution… But I guess it worked? People be weird.

  52. Perfect.
    I recently went through a black phase and can honestly say, I won’t be going back. First, lower kitchen cabinets, then the window mullions, the dining room corner cabinet that I’ve always hated and was ready to sledge hammer. The living room fireplace surround. The front door. The back door.The bathroom fugly sink cabinet and medicine chest. The lattice on the deck. I walked the floors with a can of black paint and a paintbursh. Color of choice, Onyx. Every room benefits from a touch of black.
    I adore your blog.

  53. A fellow after my own heart you are. First thing I painted in our new rental, was the back door black. Not the smokers yellow walls, oh no. Then I took the plunge and painted the living/dinning room charcoal last week. My landlord would freak.. good thing he lives three hours away and eludes us on average. Ha. Anyway, nice job! Oh and I will bake you cookies if you post more often. I am not above bribery..

  54. You trendsetter ! Look at all the love here, and well deserved. Cans of Ben’s Onyx will be flying off the shelves. I plan to buy some tomorrow. I get the best ideas here. Thanks.

  55. Noticed another Dennis has commented earlier — that’s me above, I’m not the wishing blue walls Dennis.

    I’ve added my middle name.

  56. Well you could have stopped after the story about Max and the Nudist. That was great. What a kindhearted man you have found yourself. Keep him.

  57. P.S. I would replace the doorknob from the 1800’s with a new one if you ever plan to move out and take it with me. I don’t think your landlord would ever notice.

  58. YOU are perfect!

  59. Absolutely beautiful. The black doors look amazing, and getting to enjoy the restored bathroom door hardware is such a great reward.

  60. You’ve convinced me to do the same. I live in an old house w/white painted doors and have been thinking about going black. They look incredible. A hugh improvement.

  61. amazing. i vow to never question your design decisions. ever. and that hardware is the sexiest hardware i have ever seen.

  62. I love love love your design aesthetic!
    And as a former apartment manager in Seattle (one who leases and turns over units) I’m appalled at the condition of the places rented out in NY. That bathroom door was nasty!

  63. You are so hilarious!! I am sitting in the library on my campus reading your posts and can’t help laughing out loud (yep that weirdo)

    I only wish you would post more often, I can’t tell you the joy I felt when I noticed you had made a new post… sad I know but as I am currently stuck living in a horrible cheap 90’s built suburban home in Australia your blog gives me eye candy and plenty to laugh at KEEP THEM COMING :)

  64. It seems like your boyfriend is influencing your style. Afterall, who’s more J. Crew men’s store-looking than him?

  65. You DO totally deserve working door knobs. They look awesome black. I have some similar horribleness with my doors. But, I am not so bold a renter as you!

  66. I love those doors ^^

  67. Okay, I totally agree with Simone, except you should steal all the hardware and just replace it with brass or whatever.

  68. You are so right for doing this to your doors & hardware. So. Very. Right. Looks amazing.

  69. Daniel,

    I just wanted to say that most importantly, the doors look stunning, and also that I appreciate our shared love of historical detail. I can’t imagine living somewhere post-war, and I think the 1880s bathroom doorknob is beyond cool. Seems it was totally worth the effort to restore all that original hardware.

    Keep up the good work so I can read about it on the blog!

  70. I totally have plans of painting my doors black or close to it too!!!!! My closet doors – I’m thinking a really dark lacquered purple, almost black! Can’t wait until I get some energy.

  71. i love that you are a renter and IMPROVE the places that you live in instead of destroying them! You are a landlords dream.

  72. Super excited to read this new post. LOVE LOVE LOVE those doors!

  73. LOVE the black doors & restored hardware! I really enjoy reading your blog & always get super excited when you have a new post! Makes me wish my apartment was about 60 years older, haha! :)

  74. Daniel! I am not worthy! So classy and looks so expensive. Love it. Looove it.

    (I agree with Simone about taking the old knob with you! They’ll never know.)

    • Might be true, but I kind of feel like I need to respect that the hardware and stuff belongs to the apartment, not me! None of this stuff is particularly rare, so if I REALLY wanted to put cooler hardware in some future apartment, I could just as easily get it off ebay or an architectural salvage place or vintage store… no reason for me to take something that’s been here for a century!

      • Totally see what you mean. I just fear the no one would appreciate it as much as you…especially if they get painted over again! The thought has me crying inside!

        I respect what you create in your spaces so much more since they are temporary. It’s great that you understand that but put amazing work into it! You’re inspiring!

  75. It makes me so happy to see such an excellent restoration. Just beautiful. I love the onyx.

  76. Holy wow – let me just scroll down past the HUNDREDS OF COMMENTS so I can add my two cents in that YOUR DOORS ARE GORGEOUS!!! That black is amazing – I’d have never doubted it. And that black porcelain knob (oh, dear.) is so clean and shiny, we can see you in it!! Good work!!!

  77. That post was well worth the wait. I think you did the right thing with those doors for sure. If your landlord comes in and actually finds a way to complain about the paint color after you removed decades of crusty paint and restored all the hardware and doors to working function then… well I don’t know. He’s an ass.
    I just love landlords in Brooklyn. My boyfriend and I just moved into an apartment with a hasidic landlord. The apartment is a great size for us and has a backyard so we jumped at it- then after clearing a jungle of weeds we found out that someone used to use the yard as their personal garbage dump instead of walking out the front door and depositing their trash in the cans outside.
    After 6 months in the apartment the yard is looking gorgeous and so is the interior. We had to paint every surface of that place but the floors, which we had to scrub on our hands and knees. When we told the landlord that we wanted to paint he told us the place had been freshly painted, which was true, but I could have done a better job blindfolded.
    I guess they don’t really care what it looks like or how well the doors close (that’s an issue in our place too) as long as they get the rent check every month.

  78. Still totally living vicariously through you and your projects. LOVE the black doors, LOVE the FAB hardware, sighing over my own current dorm room. One day. One day.

  79. Wow, these are some seriously sexy black doors. Totally inspiring! Great job!

  80. Max is amazing! So is your Mom. I love how she comments on your last post and magically, you reveal the black doors the next day. Hmmmmm. Love, love the post. Thanks for making my weekend!

    Btw, Max telling you about his day, you in your underwear working on all that newspaper, that is LOVE. So happy for you!

  81. I love the black doors, they look sturdy and much more door-like than the white ones! The make the molding an walls shine.

    Great work, you are a bundle of energy, amazing ideas and homemaking skills!

  82. Your doors now rock. Love how they look!

  83. Yes! Yes! Yes! Your blog post hit it right on the head. I had to show it to my husband. I don’t know how many times he has complained about the asshole painters that have painted so many layers over the hardware on the doors. We live close to you (I think? we’re near Sahadi’s). And maybe you’ve inspired us to take off the hardware and restore it one day. We’ll see. Keep on blogging, love it!

  84. Dude! That shit is fucking awesome. You’re a fucking superhero.

  85. Wish the apartments around here at some history to them (Dallas, TX), the hardware, the intricate floors, the pocket doors… amazing character.

    CURIOUS: is there some policy against washing lead paint down your kitchen sink? I’m a little afraid for the fishies/my next tuna fish sandwich/my future kid that ends up with 3 eyes and 1 ear….

  86. I love black doors and trim, I have an entire pinterest board devoted to them. Yours look fabulous. I especially love the black porcelain knob in the bathroom.

  87. Oh, please, can’t you be my friend? LOVE what you’ve done, and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your sense of humor.

  88. Old doors and windows that actually work properly are Teh Awesome. It made my own heart sing when we moved into our 1937 house and the door hardware actually worked. Your stripping and painting are gorgeous.

    “My blogging fanciness knows no bounds.” I may steal that line.

  89. Daniel –
    Glad to see your blog is back in business – I was getting impatient. Your black doors rock. BUT. Are you working lead safe? You have a beautiful brain – take care of it.
    Lots of info on line on how it should be done …

  90. Because of you I am in the midst of restoring all of the door knobs/rosettes in my 1920’s apartment. [thanks a lot.] I just had a quick question – Do you even boil the inside mechanism? I really wanted to get the lock and plate clean but I wasn’t sure if I should chuck that big hunk of metal in the pot.

    • I think I did, actually… might not be the best idea if you’re worried about the parts inside rusting, though, so paint stripper might be safer?

  91. wow! love them. I have so much painted over hardware in my house that I’m afraid to even begin stripping it, I’ll be boiling for weeks! I’ve been wanting to paint my bathroom vanity and window sashes black for a while and now I know what shade to use. thanks!

  92. My black bathroom congratulates you on your black doors. They look SO GOOD.

  93. Love. Everything. Black doors, white walls, awesome wood floor, amazing knobs.

  94. This post brings me intense joy, no kidding.

  95. LOVE. OBSESSED. I just moved into a place and plan on doing the same thing…but how the hell did you get those over-painted things off? I am looking at my fixtures with no clue where to begin. Please advise! xoxo

    • Mostly, I just tried to scrape the paint off with a flathead screwdriver or exact-o knife, over where I could see the screw holes, to expose the screws, and then tried to gently pry from one of the sides once I’d unscrewed them. When that was too difficult, I used a bit of paint stripper (Zip-Strip, it’s crazy toxic magical shit that’ll do the job).

      • Cool. I knew if I scrolled down far enough SOMEONE would have asked that. It’s the part I look forward to THE LEAST…scrapping at the hardware to find a way to get it off the doors.
        Need to find some zip-strip now…

  96. AND, did you sand the doors at before painting them?

    • Nope! I did sand certain areas, like around where the hardware had been that had been messed up with paint stripper, just to smooth everything back out. Also, where paint was chipping I scraped it off with a spackle knife, and primed any bare wood that was exposed with an oil-based primer (since the latex paint doesn’t always adhere too well over wood surfaces).

  97. I’m a huge fan of black doors with brass hardware, job well done Daniel! I envy your doors. They may have needed a whole lot of work to make them look the way they do now but they are so much better than the hollow, wood doors that our apartment came with. All I could do was basically paint them white (while wearing a jockstrap) so they could just recede into the background of white walls but I secretly would kill for real wooden doors painted black! J.Crew-Men’s-Shop-Yale-Club-Old-New-England-Classic-Fancy indeed!
    xo
    the Biscuits!

  98. This made me all kinds of happy inside. Lovely doors. You are hilarious. Thanks for making my morning!

  99. So, so, so much better than the ‘brushed silver’ everyone is switching originals out for these days. The mix of pearly black and brass is just perfect!

    How do you know how to do all this stuff? You always amaze me!

  100. you have no idea how much i am loving this new apartment of yours and how it’s starting to look. Jealous!

  101. This is amazing. And so is that X-Files reference. And yes all of those J.Crew-Men’s-Shop associations make perfect sense to me too :)

  102. I LOVE IT!!!!!! Love, love, love!

  103. Love it all – the doors, the hardware, the story. I can’t wait to see your next project!

  104. amazing. AMAZING! what wonderful surprises and outcomes to such great work. i love it all.

  105. O.M.G.
    I love this amazing transformation. Fantastic.

  106. Word to your mother, DanKan! I like it! And I think the thing that really sets you apart from other shelter blogs is that your projects tend to involve a ton of obsessive, tedious work to achieve the vision. AND you aren’t afraid to do things you’ve never tried before. It’s awesome.

    How about you start a reality show a la Trading Spaces where you fix up New York rentals, but instead of the real tenant at the reveal saying, “Oh my God!” it’ll be the landlord saying, “What have you done to my apartment? This will take days to correct.”

  107. As we say here in London- those doors are the DOG’S BOLLOCKS.

    Er, which doesn’t linguistically make a lot of sense, really, when you think about it.

    Your doors do not look like dog balls. Just to clarify. They’re flipping sexplanks!

  108. Beautiful. Your landlord should pay you for making those doors look so pretty and for rescuing all the doorknobs and hardware.

  109. I painted all my doors black and refinished the old brass hardware year ago. Such a great look. Best black IMO, “Off Black” Farrow and Ball. A tip for the hardware– soak in acetone. The paint will peel off literally like a mask.

  110. I friggin’ LOVE those doors! I am SO going to do that to mine! well it’s a studio so outside of the front door I really only have one door to the bathroom but it’s going to be Onyx Black soon! I’m such a copy cat.

  111. Wow, there are a lot of comments already so no worries if you don’t get to my 132.

    A section of one of my living room walls protrudes a bit and I’m thinking of painting it that same beautiful black but I’m worried that a) accent walls are lame and b) that its true what they say about black walls, that they make a space seem smaller. And at 535 sq feet I don’t think I stand any smaller.

    What do you think, Rental-Space-Redo-Guru?

    • I don’t think “accent walls” are lame (the term makes me squirmy, the concept can be quite nice though!), especially if they’re black! I generally don’t like random colored accent walls, but black is different. I DEFINITELY don’t think it’s true, though, that black walls make spaces feel small… I’ve painted several and been in spaces with black walls (like this one!) and I’ve never felt that way!

      That said, of course I don’t actually know what your room looks like, so you’re probably the best judge. But, really, it’s just a wall! Worst case scenario, you paint it, don’t like it, and paint it back. No harm no foul.

  112. Black Doors = A++ in my book buddy. And that old black doorknob is grand.
    Also, I kinda love reading about your struggles with Max (Sorry Max!), because I can relate. Love you boys. :)

  113. Thank you, you have inspired me to get off my ass and work on our sad, old house, it all pretty much looks just like the before photo of your bathroom door. layers and layers of hideous paint choices (neon green! tiffany blue!, cigarette stained beige!) and then i will paint all doors black- not only do i love the look but i think it will help hide all the coal dust that occasionally sifts down from the inner walls. i wish i had something viable to bribe you with to come to pittsburgh to get your advice on our 110 year old “fixer”. want a french bulldog? two? how about a nice alley house in upper lawrenceville / pittsburgh? seriously.
    but thanks again for the inspiration, i needed it.

    • I will take one of each, thank you!

      Actually, my brother lives in Pittsburgh! It’s not that hard to get me to come out there. :-)

  114. I’ve just discovered your site. You’re sassy. I like you. Your posts are inspiring me to do things to my rental house that I’m sure would make my landlord freak (they painted a hallway fucking neon GREEN for chrissake). Oh, black doors….you will be mine someday! You have won a new fan, sir.

  115. Beautiful job! I am cleaning up the hardware in my 1903 apartment. The layers of old paint came off as easy as pie after boiling it as you suggested. How did you shine the hardware though?

    • No, I didn’t use any polish or anything…I like never wanted anything to look new or fancy, I just wanted the paint off! I like patina.

  116. The patina you have looks amazing! I think mine is brass plated or something lame. It isn’t as lustrous as yours. I might spray paint it. Thanks Daniel!

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