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Hippo's Top 10 Easy Fixes for Your Home This Holiday Season

Posted on September 02, 2018 | 0 Comments

Fall is only a month away and that means the holidays can’t be too far off. And we all know holidays mean family and visitors that most likely will want to bunk at your place. But what if your home isn’t ready for visitors? Don’t fret, Hippo friends—we are here for you with our top 10 easy fixes to get your home ready for those holiday-time home crashers!

1) Make sure you have plenty of hooks! Though this one seems simple think of that huge coat pile that will undoubtedly end up on your bed if you don’t have enough hooks for coats, purses, hats, etc.

2) Check those door handles and make sure they are set correctly on the spindles lest they break at an inopportune moment. No Aunt Phyllis stuck in the bathroom this year!

3) Speaking of doors. It’s time to check on/replace those springs in your mortise locks. Heaven forbid it breaks and now your door won’t lock. Your guests and family will thank you.

4) Do you live in an old home with NO lock on your bathroom door? It might be a great time to add a simple slide bolt to keep those knock-while-entering visitors at bay.

6) You’ve got a gorgeous light fixture but it’s broken, and sure, you will get it rewired someday. . . but man that would suck if you wait too long and it burned the whole place down. There’s no time like the present to drop a little money and get that puppy UL certified! Safety first, friends.


7) Are your guest rooms dark and gloomy? Add a beautiful vintage lamp and give your guests some reading light so they aren’t keeping you up all night instead.

8) Guests and visitors mean time to stock up on bathroom accessories like towel bars and soap holders! God forbid your cousin and her kids pile all their wet towels on top of yours. Gross.

9) Make sure those hinge pins (especially on your bathroom doors!) are tapped down as you wouldn’t want your doors falling off. . . at the inopportune moment. And while you’re at it, replace your ugly boring hinges with beautiful vintage ones.

10) Who needs more mirrors? You do! So do your guests! As Mary Poppins says, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” She’s probably quoting someone else, but the point remains: a beautiful vintage mirror adds that practically perfect touch and every room needs at least one.

 Want to know the best thing about this list? You can find everything (and so much more) at Hippo Hardware! Plus our experts are here to give you advice whether you want it or not, helpful hints and tips and general emotional support as family-time draws near.

Spindle Kits Redux

Posted on July 08, 2018 | 2 Comments

Since the spindle kit is one our best selling items, we felt it merited a blog post to explain the increase in our price from $10 to $20. Our wholesale costs rose dramatically these past few months due to (we've been told) the price of steel. We'd like to offer a few options:

1) Our original threaded/tapped spindle kit which is great for saving lovely old doorknobs on a threaded spindle. See our blog post all about how to fix antique doorknobs here. These are still our favorite option, but the cost is higher.

2) We have started carrying a less expensive reproduction straight tapped spindle kit. These will function the exact same as our threaded/tapped spindles once your knobs are mounted. Getting them on, however, might be more difficult depending on your set. These spindles do not have any threads so if you're using them with a threaded doorknob where the threads are damaged, you may have to file out the remaining threads to get this spindle to work.

3) Threaded spindles (thread 16, thread 18, and thread 20) which work if your threads are still in good shape however you will need to know the thread size in your knob. Our wholesale on these spindles has not gone up so the prices remain much lower.

Thanks for your patience while we've gotten this sorted out. Please keep us posted on how best to help you our with your projects.

DIY Projects with Salvaged Antique Doors

Posted on May 04, 2018 | 2 Comments

Here at Hippo Hardware, re-purposing discarded material is a pillar of our business, a personal passion, and a stylish way to include the past in our modern lives. 

A favorite starting material for many of our customers is a salvaged door. Not only does a door make a great statement piece, but the quality of construction are rarely matched in our modern era. With some delicate sifting, we would love to share some of our favorite projects! 


Hall Tree


Hall trees reached their peak of popularity during the Victorian era. Although they can be difficult to find today, a DIY version is easily within reach.

With a few doors, some gorgeous vintage hardware, and a little elbow grease, a stunning and practical hall tree is made. Add a mirror or a shoe rack to organize your entry space!



With the same convenience as standard lumber, doors can also be used to craft some amazing seating options. From a cottage style, deep sitting chair to a wonderfully weathered swinging bench for your patio, the possibilities are truly endless.



We love this innovative yet the simple design by far is a hanging table suspended by vintage styled hemp rope.

And don't overlook doors for a statement DIY coffee or end table. You can impress your company and customize it to your personal needs and space.



A simple slice down the length of a 4 or 6 panel door creates the perfect ends for an elegant, stylish bookcase. Creative organization can easily be conquered with some simple planning.


Room Divider

Both glass and solid panel doors can be suspended from the ceiling to create amazing room dividers! 

Alternatively, hinge doors together for a folding screen using whatever doors fit your fancy. Great for photo shoots as well!


Sliding Doors

Whether you call them barn doors, stall doors, or sliding doors, a rail and matching hardware quickly turns any door into the centerpiece of your creative space.



Some antique doors have a great place for an inset for a mirror. Selecting a door with unique character is always best. You can guarantee everyone will be looking right at it!



Yet another beautiful use for the inset panels of a door are chalkboards or corkboards. This popular and affordable DIY project is easy to personalize for your own space and needs. Chalkboard paint along with corkboard can be obtained at most hobby and craft stores.


Whatever your DIY project is, our architecture department is a treasure trove of materials ripe for re-purposing. We’d love to help you get your next project started or help you find that finishing touch so bring us your ideas, pictures and let us help you bring those DIY dreams to life. 

DIY No Soliciting Signs

Posted on April 05, 2018 | 0 Comments

So, I was recently having a small conundrum:  I want a No Soliciting sign on my door but I just don't love my options out there. I have heard many customers expressing the same sentiment and I just today figured out a solution I'm exciting about - label holders!  Yes - perhaps it seems obvious now, but I just realized how awesome and varied label holders are and how easy it would be to make my own attractive sign. I chose a large one because my front door is up off the street and I'd prefer folks get the message before ascending my stairs.

Personally, my handwriting is atrocious (thank god for the keyboard, I say) but I have friends who know how to make pretty things.  Likewise you could paint something, print something, or type it on a typewriter.  So many great options!  Here is what I ended up with:


 My very talented friend Thea Gahr made painted this beautiful sign with watercolor. I absolutely love seeing it every time I come home. We did have a slight misunderstanding which is why the sign is a big smaller. I did decide to laminate the sign both to preserve the art as well as make up for the space between the frame and the sign.

Setting it up was easy as pie - just mount the label holder to the door

Cut the sign to size

And then slide it into place (my frame was slightly open on the top which is the most common).


This structure would also work great for other signs, such as:  Please Remove Your Shoes, Please Turn Off the Light, or Thank You for Not Smoking. Most label holders are much smaller - around 3" x 2". We have some great label holders online right now - this copper black japanned one, this classic brass one, this lovely and unusual iron Victorian one, and this fantastic arts and crafts brass guy.

Anyone out there have some cool DIY signs they've made?  Post them in the comments below! 

A Short but Sweet Pictorial History of Escutcheons

Posted on February 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

es·cutch·eon (aka. door back plates)


noun: escutcheon

  1. a shield or emblem bearing a coat of arms.
  2. a flat piece of metal for protection and often ornamentation, around a keyhole, door handle, or light switch.

Origin: late 15th century: from Anglo-Norman French escuchon, based on Latin scutum ‘shield.’

No matter what you call them by, we have a huge collection of stunning pieces. Ranging from ornately decorated Victorian to stream-lined art deco and everything in between, Hippo has your era covered.

They truly don't make them like they used to--this late 1800s Victorian-era escutcheon boasts an intricate design and a key hole cover:

This Victorian "reole" pattern piece has tiny carved roses, scroll work and elegant lines:

This piece is from approx 1910 and has a japanned finish:


These craftsman/mission styles are minimalist yet stately in both shape and design:

These art deco pieces are iconic in both design and shape with their tell-tale stream-lined yet glitzy details from the 20s through the 40s:

This art deco has a lovely sunburst-like pattern:

Unfortunately the intricate patterns and classic styles were only made through the 1940s. This classic mid-century escutcheon and door set has become the new modern standard.

A far cry from this row of design and craftsmanship:


(DIY hint: don’t want to use them on a door? Use them as a backplate for hooks or anything else you want to display!)

A Very Long Engagement: the restoration of the largest chandelier we've ever seen

Posted on January 14, 2018 | 2 Comments

Our lighting department manager recently finished a most massive restoration of impressive proportions: this huge Maria Theresa chandelier. This beauty was finally lit last for the first time in over half a century—25 lights in total! The fixture sold recently but we wanted to commemorate this 8 year journey to restore one of the most regal light fixtures we've seen.

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How to Buy and Care For a Clawfoot Tub 101

Posted on October 15, 2017 | 6 Comments

We answer a lot of calls here at Hippo with questions concerning Claw foot tubs, and they usually lead to more questions. So, here’s my little clawfoot tub primer of do’s and don’ts if you are considering upgrading to one of these irresistible beauties. They can that be picture perfect luxurious soak you’ve been dreaming about.

#1: While it’s not impossible to find feet for antique tubs, it may be impossible to find the exact four feet, or missing foot, that connects to your tubs unique bracket and profile. Each maker had their own unique casting. We estimate there are somewhere around 400 different castings. On some tubs, the back two feet are be a little taller for proper tilt for drainage. So, rule number one, buy your tub with all four of its feet. However, if you already bought a footless tub, all hope is not lost. The best way to find out if we have feet for your tub is to bring your tub in. We realize that's prohibitive for some folks so a good second option is to press some soft modeling clay over the entire surface of the leg mount and make a mold.

#2: Weather and harsh chemical cleaners are not your tubs best friend. Storing a tub outdoors in the elements is a bad idea, buying a tub sitting in someone’s yard an even worse idea. That beautiful pristine porcelain finish is thin and porous at a microscopic level. The harsh environment of rain and winter degrades the surface, and you may be left with stains that have permanently damaged its originally glossy appearance. Additionally the iron may be brittle from the extreme temperature changes and humidity.

#3: Once you have your dream tub, make sure it stays dreamy with proper care. Harsh chemicals can damage the porcelain and end up causing more harm than good. Here’s a great resource from Apartment Therapy on the care and cleaning of your antique tub or sink.

#4: If you need to restore your tub's surface, leave it to the professionals. Home kits often leave a less then stellar surface, that becomes even more problematic over time. The biggest key to a successful refinish is a totally sterile environment. Any dust or particles will keep the chemicals from bonding with your tub's surface. Be aware that if you buy a tub that has a failing re-finish, it will cost a little more to have it stripped and re-surfaced professionally, but well worth the money.

Those wonderful claw feet that we all fell in love with, can also be given a new lease on life in the hands of professionals.  Remember there’s no shame in having a love affair with your well-worn tub either, with their numerous coats of paint on the outside, scratches, rusty feet and all. After all who’s perfect?

#5: Another thing to consider is the space your working with, I’ve seen many regrets over the years, from people who could have had a larger soaking tub, but went smaller. Sizes on tubs range from 54” all the way up to generally 6’. As a rule, we recommend you buy the biggest tub you can comfortably fit in your space, your aching bones will thank you!

#6: Let's talk about valve placement: there are few standards in plumbing, and tubs generally come a few different ways to fill with water. By far the most common style has the valve mounts to the inside surface of the tub with the drain directly below on one end of the tub. There are a few other unusual styles as well such as valve holes are in the of the rim or in the center of the tub. Most tubs have a mounting hole distance of 3 3\8ths. The valves we sell range from cool old antique tub fillers, to basic reproduction valves with a diverter, to fun valves with porcelain levers and a built in hand shower. So many options!

#7: Wanting to re-tile your bathroom? Thinking about adding some tub coasters? Make sure your plumbing drain and supply lines will fit the new height! Although needing to go shorter may add some time, ensure you include that in your schedule. If you'll need a longer drain or supply lines, definitely factor in replacement parts as part of your costs.

Are you ready to dive in now? We have many antique claw foot tubs in the store to choose from. Or maybe you just need to accessorize your little gem with some porcelain tub coasters, or an over the rim soap holder (or maybe two)? Let us know how to get your clawfoot tub dreams up and running!


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