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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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Hippo Hardware is Moving.. Someday

Posted on November 26, 2017 | 8 Comments

We are so grateful to all our customers over the years and we have been hearing many questions lately about what is going on with our building. We want to level with you, so here's the deal:

1) We do not own our building.

2) Our building will be torn down and redeveloped in the next 2-5 years.

3) Our landlord has been awesome over the past 26 years.

4) We don't know where we will go.

We've been given a long lead time by our aforementioned awesome landlord, so we are checking out our options. Real estate in Portland has gone through the roof, but nearby areas aren't substantially better (we're looking at you, diamond-in-the-rough Milwaukee). We are working with some bankers and real estate folks to see what we can find.

We have a few options we're considering:

1) Our landlord will continue to own the property and offered us the ground floor in the new building. The trick here is the 1-2 years of demo/construction time, not to mention the ever worsening parking situation.

2) We are looking for a 15,000 - 20,000 sq ft building (we currently have 25,000 sq ft) somewhere not too far out and close to old houses (Portland? Milwaukee? Oregon City? Gresham?)

3) We are thinking about having a smaller inner city 'showroom' space and a bigger warehouse/industrial space farther out. This does mean two locations which brings up a bunch of other problems.

So, dear supporters and co-conspirators, we are telling it like it is so you know what's happening and in case anyone has an extra building laying around they'd like to share. When we know a little more about our plan, we will likely have some kind of kickstarter/gofundme/pleasegiveusmoney campaign to help with the costs. Until then, thank you endlessly for the continued care and support.

How to Buy and Care For a Clawfoot Tub 101

Posted on October 15, 2017 | 3 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!


Think Outside the Light: Chandeliers for Every Mood

Posted on September 08, 2017 | 1 Comment

There’s nothing quite like a chandelier. Their romantic elegance and wide array of designs provide endless possibilities for home décor.

As the summer winds down and the outside lights sheds a golden hue why not try a chandelier outdoors for those late-summer dinner parties, gatherings and events?

Go classic with a glass armed design. This look is perfect for any covered patio:

Or for a rustic look, try a DIY pulley light fixture:


Don’t want to mess with wiring but want an eclectic look for your outdoor space? A fresh coat of paint and a trip to the garden center turns these Williamsburg chandeliers into planters!


For a simple statement, try a glass globe shade candle holder (note: do not use real candles as they can explode the glass—flameless candles are best for these shades).

Of course, if an outdoor chandelier doesn’t work for your home, you can always go classic and add one inside for a traditional elegant statement piece like these many armed beauties that abound in our store: 

Any way or where you hang it, a chandelier is certain to add a romantic and unique ambiance to your living space.  

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