Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

How to replace hardware, switch plates, etc. in a historic home. Office update!

The office is moving along! We got all the painting (except touch-ups) done in one long day after prepping the day before. It's looking so good. I'm really glad we decided to paint the trim. Pics below!

It's time to start putting things back, hooray! One thing I knew I wanted to upgrade in here was the switch plates. We have some original, some new throughout our house but the white plastic ones were just not going to cut it in here with this beautiful new color and tone-on-tone look! I'm replacing them with something appropriate for our 1937 Tudor revival house and sharing how to choose really nice hardware for a home with (or needing) character!

Thanks to Nostalgic Warehouse for partnering with me on this One Room Challenge!

New here?

If you're new to this blog from the ORC site, welcome!! I'm Suzannah, a longtime DIYer and design lover currently making over our 1937 Tudor revival style home, our second fixer-upper. My style is modern traditional and I'm always working toward high quality design.

I have a 3-year-old and 9-month-old, but my husband and I have done almost all of the work on our homes ourselves! I've blogged about all of it so you can check out my tutorials page and room reveals to see. You can also follow along with me and my projects on Instagram! I also co-host the Your Home Story podcast!

See all my posts about this ORC here

First, a painting update. We went with Sherwin-Williams Comfort Gray, which is on the same card as Acacia Haze which we used in our upstairs bathroom (my One Room Challenge last fall). It's definitely in the green family but in a lot of light in the office (north-facing), it looks sort of teal/blue.

How to choose replacement hardware and switch plates

I'm in the camp of honoring my historic home, but not restoring it fully to what it would have looked like in 1937. That means I try to choose things that make sense here, but often are a bit of an upgrade from what people of the past might have chosen or had the option for. Larger light fixtures, longer curtains, a modern kitchen, etc. But I'm not going to go create a bunch of new character it didn't have. Like, I won't install a clawfoot tub (Victorian, not Tudor Revival) or shiplap (this house was built with lath and plaster walls and some wood paneling, but not shiplap style).

For door hardware and switch plates, rather than choose something new and trendy (like black door hardware, which we installed at our last house as an upgrade from the 90's builder basic shiny brass), I want to match or at least coordinate with what was originally here.

Thankfully we still have a lot of the original elements of our home so we know what that was. Below you can see the original vent cover, original door knobs and one lock, original switch plate, and new deadbolt lock we had installed when we moved in cause the other was broken (and someone had added a deadbolt instead of fixing).

We also have an original light fixture in this entryway, which I like so I've kept. It's two colors of brass. (This matches the dining room and living room chandeliers which we have in the basement--the glass is broken on one of them.)

Here's another original switch plate--brass, which has aged over time, with off-white switch toggles.

These switch plates are pretty plain, just flat with a little bevel around the edges. The door hardware is also pretty plain. I've seen other homes of this era with ornate curly plates behind the knobs, or carved or glass knobs. Not our house. This builder and owner must have been on the simple/practical side for the time. If we were to replace any door hardware I'd look for a reproduction with a similar feel. (I love Nostalgic Warehouse for replacement hardware of many styles. You can use their Hardware Designer to mix and match knobs/plates and get very close to matching or reproducing a historic style!)

We also have some black toggle switches and outlets, which look pretty old too so might be original. We have those in one of the bathrooms and a couple other rooms. We also have chrome doorknobs on the inside sides of our bathrooms and kitchen. I know from interviewing Nostalgic Warehouse on the podcast (episode 52) that even within homes traditionally there would be a mix of metals: chrome was used in wet areas since it holds up to water better, but brass was traditional elsewhere. Obviously this varies by era of home, but is a design rule you can refer to if making decisions for a historic or traditional home. Think about how every old faucet you've seen is probably chrome! It's classic. 

If you don't have any original lighting, switch/outlet plates, knobs, etc. in your home, I really recommend stalking Zillow or Redfin in your area for homes built around the same time. You can see listing photos for recent sales and homes for sale and look closely! I've done this for a couple in our neighborhood and it's so cool to see elements that are just like our house. Might have even been the same builder! I also have a friend who lives an hour or so away in a similar era home that's pretty different from ours in layout and finishes--has fancier plates behind the doorknobs, etc. It varies for the size and style of home but I love seeing what my home might have originally looked like or had. 

This also works if you want to create character in a newer home. Don't mix styles too much for the basic stuff--like, modern door knobs on the main floor and vintage-inspired elsewhere--and choose a feel/era to inspire your home. I recommend Get Your House Right: Architectural Elements to Use and Avoid to guide you on things like trim styles, openings, doors, etc. if you're replacing them.

As for what we chose for the office? I went with the New York switch plate from Nostalgic Warehouse, in a lightly brushed antique brass that looks great with the vent covers and original door hardware. This style is kind of plain (that flat style with little bevel around the edges) and I'll admit I was tempted by all the beautiful shapes of plates they have, but I stuck with close what we have in the living room and they are beautiful and classic!

I did a matching outlet cover, too.

They also come in double toggle switch plate

I mean, HOW MUCH BETTER is that than white plastic?! I'm so excited for this upgrade and how the room is looking!

Thanks to Nostalgic Warehouse for partnering with me on this One Room Challenge!

Check out the featured One Room Challenge participants here and the guest participants in each week's post here. And, you can enter your email here to get updates when I share posts every week about this project! Thanks for following along!

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