Vintage-Looking Doorbell

When we first moved in (after a year and a half of demolition and renovations), we didn’t have a doorbell. We headed to the brand new Lowes and Home Depot in our small town and looked for something that would blend with the house. Unfortunately, the bell or chime part of the doorbell is located right in the living room, and after spending way more than we ever expected on plumbing and electric, we didn’t want to spend another dime on having the doorbell re-wired. But then all we could find were the big white plastic boxes with electronic-sounding chimes. They just didn’t fit our 1870s house. I decided we would either have to buy an expensive antique (or reproduction) or have it rewired to a less noticeable place in the hallway.

But then, we spotted it–the (almost) perfect solution right under our noses at Lowes. And it cost less than $10.

It was so simple and timeless, but it was awfully shiny–too shiny to look like it might be 140 years old. It needed patina, but we could fake add that.

So, while I was painting trim in our master bedroom, Harper made the doorbell look old. First, he sanded it a little (by hand). Next, he spray painted two layers of paint on it: one red and one black. Then, he sanded off most of the paint. We knew that if we didn’t like the old paint look, that we could just sand it all off, and that would at least eliminate the shine.

I love how it turned out. It’s loud as hell, though. It sounds a lot like the little buzzers you attached to a 12-volt lantern battery back in Mr. Nutley’s fourth grade science class. I still jump every time it rings if I’m in the living room. And the dog jumps up and runs to the front of the house sounding like a herd of elephants. But that’s just part of our charm around here. Delivery men love us.

I’m sharing this because it’s a “project” that’s actually finished, and I’m supposed to be focusing on those instead of all the stuff that still needs to be done. And, if any of you are redoing an old house and in the same doorbell predicament, I just wanted you to know that there is an inexpensive option out there.



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8 Responses to Vintage-Looking Doorbell

  1. Roy says:

    That is funny because we have the same doorbell. It is so loud! Lillie used to think it was the fire alarm so every time it went off she thought she had to get out of the house. Now we put a note over it when Maggie is sleeping “Don’t push baby asleep.”

  2. Mike C. says:

    I would love this doorbell as a replacement for an old one we have. But I looked on Lowe’s website and did not see anything like it. Maybe it is just in the store or do you think it is discontinued?
    Mike C.
    Alexandria, VA

  3. Dessi says:

    Hello. I keep stumbling your post in search of a real vintage piece. Will you consider making one more of these for a client of mine? What would be the price you charge?

    Thank you : please feel free to call 281-222-9467.

  4. Mary S. says:

    Thanks Natalie, this is perfect! During our kitchen/hall renovation our contractor ripped out our doorbell, which looked almost exactly like this one, and threw it away. Our local Lowes has them in stock and I’ll head out tomorrow. Nice job distressing it too! Thanks again, Mary

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