Opening Doors & Breaking the Rules

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The new house already had nice door knobs, but they were an oil-rubbed bronze finish that hadn’t worn well.  While doors that hadn’t had much use still had perfect doorknobs, heavily used doors had well worn knobs with the finish completely worn off in a few places.

These are the Emtek Cortina levers with the regular rosette.

Similar to our kitchen cabinet knobs, we wanted something light and modern with a classic feel.  Chrome & glass has been our go-to for this look.  We also wanted to address some baby-proofing issues since levers can provide a challenge in toddler crowd control.

The knob on the right above is what I fell in love with, but at around $20-30 more per knob, I opted to select something with a similar look in a more realistic price range.  I was also concerned that the taller version that would have fit the spacing on our standard doors wouldn’t have the same impact.

I purchased our new knobs locally.  They are also by Emtek which made swapping them super easy.  If you swap from one brand to another or from something older to something new, you may find yourself re-drilling holes (or at least widening them) and re-chiseling or using wood filler where the hardware doesn’t line up with the existing holes & grooves.  If you have the old-school mortise door hardware where there is only a small hole for the door knob to go through, you should look into reproduction knobs made for the existing hardware in your doors.

I kept going back and forth on glass knob vs metal lever.  I’ve always loved the classic look of crystal knobs and loved the new options available that took a new take on that classic look.  On the other hand, levers are easier to use for arthritic grandparents, toddlers needing to potty in the middle of the night, and bag-lady moms carrying in everything from the car all at once who need to open the door with their third arm foot.  I really wanted both!  While I wanted many doors to be easy to operate, we also needed to secure the exterior doors from little ones who can operate levers.  Although we have baby-proofed the pool and have an alarm that chimes when an exterior door is opened, you never know.  There are baby-proofing options for lever doors that worked OK for us, but we know a 3 year old who can operate them without a problem.  We’ve also used this option in the past on our pantry door, but it’s really a one-way option and you have to manually lock it.

So… we broke the rules!  It occurred to us there there are only a couple places you can see both exterior and interior doors and that with the same back-plate, they should really play nicely together.  We went for it and our interior doors have the Emtek Cortina lever in chrome and our exterior doors have the Emtek Georgetown knob in chrome.  Both have the rectangular rosette.  The photo below is the one and only place in the house where these knobs are next to each other and it is the laundry & garage which we really can’t even see.

A few points…

  • You can’t get higher quality knobs like Emtek at the big box stores
  • We bought ours locally and saved a ton of money over online sources
    (and supported the local community — which we always try to do)
  • The rectangular rosettes are slight more narrow than the round ones so some doors need paint touched up
  • We are also replacing our hinges with chrome to match

The hardest part was waiting for these to come in!  All interior hardware was removed before we painted so when we returned home, we had no door knobs!  That gets old very quickly.  For instance, Cora’s door likes to open on its own so we had to prop the door shut from the inside with a doll and go out through the bathroom.  We had people working in our house still finishing paint and doing the kitchen backsplash so getting privacy was interesting.  When they finally came in, we had half of them on the first day.


We love how everything turned out and think that we made the right call on mixing the knobs & levers.  We were able to get more effective door knob baby proofing that is more effective and as a bonus, guests can generally figure it out themselves.  We are now using these on our exterior door knobs, although currently, our toddlers can’t operate the knobs themselves (even better!).  The levers are no problem and Chloe, who sleeps in a big girl bed, has no trouble opening doors to get out of her room and too the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Everybody wins!






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