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November 20, 2014

Mike and Sara Rehab a 60s Retro Ranch : Vintage Doorknob Weirdness

By Sara In AZ

So I guess this post is not so much a ‘rehab’ post……more of a ‘what do you make of this’ type post.

We knew when we bought our ranch pretty much everything was original right on down to the door hardware. We hadn’t given the knobs very much attention though, we mainly just noticed that they were coppery and we thought they were pretty cool looking.

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It wasn’t until after we bought the ranch and we started taking the doors off to paint all of the trim that we noticed this…………

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A chrome doorknob! What the what?!

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So then we ran around the house trying to figure out how many doorknobs were different…..we found only 2 chrome knobs – one in the powder room bathroom and one in the hall bath. They were only chrome on the inside of the bathroom, the outside of the door still had the copper type knobs. Oddly, the master bathroom is all copper inside and out.

Anyway, at first I was pissed…why would someone change ONLY the inside of the doorknob. It seemed so weird to me. I was also kinda baffled as we had been told pretty much nothing had ever been done to the inside of the house, so then why would someone go to all the trouble just to change only the inside of the doorknob….why not just change the whole darn thing out!

So then I went to closely examine all of the doorknobs around the house.

Here is a view of the inside and outside of a copper knob set.

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It is made by a company called ‘Weiser’.

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Then I compared that to the half copper/half chrome set.

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Whoa….weird! It’s STILL ‘Weiser’!!!

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After seeing that everything was labeled ‘Weiser’ on the latch faceplate….the same logo and name in both the copper and chrome plates…..I had to believe that the chrome knobs were, in fact, original. My guess why there were different knobs on only the bathrooms –  they had no ventilation fans in the bathrooms and perhaps they thought that the copper knob finish might falter in the humidity.

So the question I have been dying to ask all of you – have you ever seen this type of doorknob set-up before in older houses…..different from the outside to the inside of a room and appears to be original? Please let me know if you have ever seen this before. Maybe I just never noticed this in older homes before, but now I am really curious how common this kind of thing was to do!

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26 Responses to Mike and Sara Rehab a 60s Retro Ranch : Vintage Doorknob Weirdness

  1. Heather C Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 6:29 am

    Mine were like that as well, and only in the bathrooms. My best guess was that they were changed out to match the chrome fixtures in the bathroom, so that everything matched. People are funny. 🙂

  2. Jess Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Perhaps the chrome portion on the inside was done to match the finish on the faucets? Do the cabinets have chrome handles? Just a thought.

  3. Aarika Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Yes, my 1956 ranch has this, too. All knobs are goldish coppery color except for the interior bathroom knobs (which are chrome) and they are definitely original.

  4. deb Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I remember the copper knobs, but don’t remember ever seeing one that was chrome on the inside…maybe I just wasn’t very observant??!!

  5. Melinda Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 8:31 am

    My guess I s that they are chrome in the bathrooms so that they would match other bath fixtures like faucets and light fixtures.

  6. sherree Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 8:40 am

    I was going to say the same thing as Melinda; the chrome inside the baths were to match the other fixtures in them.

  7. LuAnn Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Yes, I remember something similar in the ranch house I grew up in. The door hardware throughout the house was gold tone, with the exception of the two bathrooms. They were chrome on the inside only. As Melinda said, I thought that this was done in order for the chrome fixtures in the bathrooms to match the door knob. Cool, huh?

  8. Debbie Shaver Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Our home was built in the late forties/early fifties and our bathroom knobs are the same way. Chrome on the inside, brass on the outside. I never thought too much about it until I saw this. You’re probably right about the lack of ventilation necessitating the need for chrome on the inside. Pretty cool when you think about it.

  9. Jen Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Our ranch built in 1950 has the same setup– brass knobs everywhere but inside the bathrooms. Always made me wonder too!

  10. RangerSmith Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Yep, the house I grew up in was built in 1961 and had brass finish on the outside portion of bathroom knobs and chrome on the inside. I always assumed it was to match the chrome fixtures in the bathroom.

  11. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Yes! My grandmother had those. I agree that they’re likely done that way to match the bath fixtures once the doors are shut.

  12. Patty T Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    My 1969 house has brass door knobs on the outside of the bathroom door and chrome on the inside the door on both baths. I am pretty sure the knobs are original. It sound like it may have been fairly common set up back then.

  13. Cheryl H Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    LOL: I couldn’t figure out what the problem was at first because I have always lived in a house that had a different knob for the inside bathroom. The ranch style I grew up in and now the 1924 Spanish Revival in So. Calif. Our knob is a milky white with a chrome plate and lock on the inside and a clear glass knob on the hall way side.

  14. Sara In AZ Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Wow! Thanks so much for all of the great comments everyone, I really do appreciate it! 🙂

    It does seem like the different knob on the inside of the bath was kind of a common thing to do back then…and I agree – pretty cool too! I have never noticed it before in other houses so I appreciate all of you letting me know! In regards to matching the fixtures in our house specifically – I assume we had chrome faucets originally (original faucets long gone), but all of the original vanity hardware (the handles and door pulls and hinges) is all brass…..in all of the bathrooms. Maybe chrome knobs were just the ‘go-to’ choice for the knobs on the bathroom interior???

    • watsizname Reply

      February 20, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      Privacy locksets are now sold as “bed/bath”. At that time bedroom privacy and bathroom privacy locksets were separate choices. Yes, the chrome inside knob was to match faucets, towel bars, toilet flush handles, shower curtain rods, and other items which were all chrome plated. Vanity cabinets weren’t that common but chrome hinges and pulls were available for them. Most homes also had in-the-wall mirror door medicine cabinets over the lavatory which had chrome frames around the mirror. Even the light fixture over the medicine cabinet was chromed instead of painted.

  15. Shannon Vetter Reply

    November 20, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    My husband and I are currently retro-renovating a 1965 ranch. I hadn’t noticed the door knob before, but after reading this post, I checked mine. Lo and behold, my bathroom knobs are chrome on the bathroom side and brassy on the other side!

  16. Joanna Reply

    November 21, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Yep, i’ve seen this too – usually in areas where there are high moisture. The fact that you found only two chrome knobs makes me think that the owner needed to replace a handle for some reason, and of course, could not just buy ONE door knob…they bought a set and split it up…Or, it could just be that’s how knobs were sold back then!

    On a similar note, the house I grew up in/the house my mom still lives in in Mesa, AZ has the EXACT textured knobs!

  17. Jason Reply

    November 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Agree with everyone, my 1956 ranch has the same chrome on the bathroom side of the door. This is to match the fixtures I assumed and I think is an example of the attention to detail that was more standard in the past and unheard of today.

  18. Jason C Reply

    November 21, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I think that’s pretty common in houses of that era. At least in Ohio it was! My parents had a 1962 home that had that in all three bathrooms and I remember noticing it in several other houses in the area. In fact, when my parents built a new house in 2000, they were given the option of brass doorknobs throughout, but with chrome inside the bathrooms. (they declined!)

  19. Sevina Reply

    November 22, 2014 at 9:49 am

    We’re another family that purposely installed polished chrome-looking (is it still chrome these days?) hardware on the inside bathroom door to match the fixtures inside. We wanted “gold” finish knobs on all doors that faced the hallway though. My mother in laws house was built in the 60s and one of the baths had funky brass and silver metallic wallpaper decorated with a bamboo and birdcage pattern. The door knob was similar to the brass one in your photo. She redecorated about 5 years ago and now that bath is painted all white and fixtures were changed to a brushed chrome finish.

  20. C.D. Ellis Reply

    November 24, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    My house was built in 1963 and my knobs are EXACTLY the same way.

  21. Kathryn Reply

    November 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    My house was built in 1928–the knobs are all glass/crystal, but the backplates on all the doors except the interior bathroom doors are brassy/bronzy. The interior bathroom backplates are chrome and, TA DA, the knobs are green glass.

    For some reason, bathroom interior doors have always been different!

  22. Jac Reply

    November 26, 2014 at 4:59 am

    I believe that chrome does not usually corrode, so it is used on bathroom fixtures, on car metallics that are exposed to weather, etc . Our 1962 vintage house also has the same doorknob treatment. We have original faucets and they are chrome.

  23. Greg Reply

    December 1, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    This is quite common. Even today you can go to any Home Depot or Lowes and find combination chrome/brass knob sets. It is so the knob on the inside of a bathroom door will match the chrome fixtures.

  24. Sharon Reply

    May 15, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Very common in older homes, but I cannot find one now. I thought they would be easy to find – bathroom doorknobs. Chrome inside and brass outside.

  25. lauraa Reply

    August 20, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    My 60s rancher is same. Chrome on bathroom interior and antique brass on outside. I assume to match chrome bathroom fittings.

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