how to repurpose a doorknob

last summer, i stumbled across this one minute video tip on apartment therapy. knowing i’d want to refer to the video at some point in the future, i shared it on facebook so i’d have quick access to the link later on. my friend meghan quickly left a comment on the link, something to the tune of:

“ha ha ha, for all those old doorknobs we all have lying around.”

unbeknownst to her, i had about ten in varying styles and patinas.


the nearly two years i spent looking for old doors to fit my house resulted in several unnecessary doorknobs. i’d brought doors home off peoples’ curbs that didn’t end up being the right size, but i’d remove the hardware before dragging the doors back to the curb. or we bought doors from salvage shops that still had their hardware attached, but i’d remove it, save it, and replace it with the crystal and brass hardware i’d acquired elsewhere.

even though i’m the anti-pack rat, i saved all the knobs that i wasn’t using. they were just too beautiful to throw away, and i felt that i would find a purpose for them someday. (a very pack rat sentiment, i’m aware.) and then, of course, that video tip from kasey henke came along.

he recommends using “a rusty wire to help match the patina of the doorknob.” so. you can’t buy rusty wire from home depot or anything, but you can search your in-laws’ garage for some.


i got this package in the mail from my mother-in-law, which is how i know she loves me.

i disappeared into the basement one night, watched the how-to video a few times, and emerged a half hour later with ten repurposed doorknob photograph/note card holders.

here’s how i did it:

using pliers, cut about 10″ of rusty wire off your spool. straighten the wire out using your pliers and then position the neck of the doorknob in the middle of the wire. wrap the wire tightly around the neck of the doorknob a few times, keeping things even. i just used my hands for this; i guess step one should really be make sure you’re up to date on your tetanus shots! it’s kind of like putting laces into shoes for the first time — you don’t want to end up with one side shorter than the other. then, pull the wire off the neck and use your pliers to cut one side so you have about 1″ of wire and the other to about 2″ and bend it into an “L” shape. put both ends into the neck of the doorknob, threading the “L” side through the side-outlet socket.

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this next part was tricky for me because i couldn’t find any needle-nose pliers. you have to tuck the wire that’s sticking out of the side-outlet socket up and into the neck of the doorknob. after i’d made five or six of them, it got a lot easier.

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pierre picked his favourite doorknob to take to work and keep on his desk, with a photo of us tucked inside. i put one in our bedroom, which, for blog photo shoot purposes, i appropriately chose a photograph of my friend meghan (the facebook commentator mentioned above) and i from when we were four years old.


i was thinking of giving the remaining eight doorknobs away as christmas gifts, but i’m not sure which of my friends and family would love a rusting, peeling doorknob gift as much as myself. luckily for me, they’ll make perfect place card holders, i think. pierre brought me this beautiful alphabet letter rubber stamp set home from australia earlier this fall and i can envision artfully arranged assigned seating at our next friend or family gathering. i guess i’ll just have to make sure that no rust specks or paint flakes wind up in anyone’s strata! what would you use these for?

8 thoughts on “how to repurpose a doorknob

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