1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Multiple Personalities

One of the annoying interesting elements of living in an old house is that each door has its own personality.

The master bedroom door opens with a whinny and closes with a thunk.

The guest bedroom door is a trickster. It appears to shut normally, but a few minutes later, you'll hear it creeeeeeeaking open. Though you know what's going on, it still freaks you out for a second. To get it to close properly, people without much upper body strength (aka me) have to hold on the doorknob, set their feet and lean back, using their weight to tug the door solidly against the frame. Sometimes even this only holds out for an hour or two, and the creeeeeeaking will begin again.

The office door squeaks. The laundry room door sticks. The back door has taught me to automatically pivot out my foot to catch the screen door while I turn my key in the lock.

The front door handle - one of those where your thumb presses down on a metal tab - sticks so stubbornly that those without much upper body strength (again, me) always feel a moment of panic, thinking they've somehow locked themselves outside in the cold after going to get the mail.

The worst is the master bathroom door. You must grip the doorknob lightly - but DO NOT turn it - and yank the door sharply behind you. If there's a resounding slam, you've been successful. If it's a wimpy, muffled slam, try again. If someone is sleeping in the next room, you can pretty much bet it will not shut on the first try, and you'll have to slam it over and over and over until the person (usually Darwin) is thoroughly awake.

Only two doors in the house open and close properly - the half bathroom/butler pantry door and the door between master bathroom and bedroom. Each time I close them, I smile. Such a sweet, simple joy - a door that doesn't require mental or physical olympics.

Maybe other old house owners don't have this much trouble with doors, but we also have cats. They aren't allowed in certain areas of the house (no cat hair on my clean laundry, please), so if we don't shut the door just right, a sneaky little Orangey Boy will find his way inside. Henry is particularly talented at teasing open doors that appear at first glance to be closed.

Is there a way to fix this? Probably. One by one and slowly, we could banish each door's personality problems. But that much therapy is expensive.

Seriously, I wonder which is worse - the daily frustration of using these doors or the frustration of figuring out what's wrong with each of them and fixing it. Eh.

For now, we'll keep living with it. We've got too many projects already.

Let's look on the bright side - if we're still living here when we're old, these doors will keep us mentally active.



Jocelyn said...

If the problem is that the door isn't catching, it could be as simple as taking the lock out and oiling it. We did this for that situation and we have a functioning door. I do relate to this having pets and old doors.

Some of your other issues described sound like too many coats of paint or the house settling etc...Sanding or planing the doors could help- but yeah- those are projects I agree.

I think my post today relates to this pretty well.

6:37 PM  
Gary said...

Buy a can of 2 in 1 oil and oil the hinges while you are at it. You may have to loosen a screw on the lock plate too if the door isn't catching properly.

10:35 PM  
Lenise said...

At least YOUR doors CLOSE! Our upstairs doors won't. But then our cats are spoiled and have the run of the house. I did have to keep some strays quarantined in the "spare" bedroom , which is no longer spare, but it was so hard to move the door once it got close to the doorframe, that no cat could get past it anyway. Works for me!

8:03 AM  
Kristin said...

I posted the following in the comments on Jocelyn's blog:

I examined ours a little more closely last night and think oiling might help at least one or two of them. I think if we get the master bathroom door working properly, I can deal with the rest of them.

10:17 AM  
Patricia W said...


At least you have doors!!! I'm missing all but three and trying to find old doors the right style, right size and in good condition is next to impossible.

Sometimes readjusting hinges helps too.

2:35 PM  

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