And The Bronze Medal Goes To . . .

by Katy on October 5, 2012 · 31 comments

With a 1914 fixer-upper, my remodeling and and decorating to-do list never ends. Paint this, rebuild that and more than anything try to not let it take over my life. It’s expensive, time consuming and often mentally draining.

However, there are those occasional home improvement projects that take an hour or so and cost the same amount (or less) than a schwanky coffee drink.

Because a can of spray paint costs $3.50, and that my friends, is enough to paint drawer pulls, my mailbox and a set of doorknob hardware. Specifically a can of Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.

I’ve been less than enthused with my mailbox for awhile. I’ve put a fair amount of thought into the look for my front porch, and the landlord special black and aluminum mailbox was frankly, pretty ugly. I’ve kept an eye out for a more aesthetically pleasing one for years without a drop of luck. However, I recently realized that I could simply repaint it for what I’ll term “an inoffensive look.” (Seriously, some home decor needs to look fantastic, while others simply need to aim for “inoffensive.”)

Here’s a Before Picture. Note the lovely Rejuvenation light, (fixture from the seconds department, glass shade from Goodwill) the homemade “No Soliciting” sign and the custom front door:

And here’s the After Picture.  See how painting the mailbox puts it in context with the rest of the porch?

I’m the first to admit that the mailbox has zero Wow Factor, but I do believe that I transformed it from ugly to inoffensive. Which was my goal. Period. (My husband said it looked “army issue,” but we’re going to ignore that comment.)

And since I was already rocking out with a can of spray paint, I might as well bust out another project at the same time. The doorknob hardware to our spare bedroom was a hodge-podge of three completely different aged metals. It just looked crappy.

How awesome is this look? What, not awesome at all?!



And with the exception of the wrong color screws, the doorknob hardware has achieved my goal of inoffensive. No one will ever compliment it, but it won’t grab their attention either.


Maybe I should start a blog called The Inoffensive Decorator. It would be riveting.

Have discovered the magic that is Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint yet? Please share any and all paint-it-and-forget-it stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen | The Frugal Girl October 5, 2012 at 9:17 am

Clearly, I need to get me some of this paint.


Katy October 5, 2012 at 9:24 am

Clearly. 😀



Erin October 5, 2012 at 9:23 am

Haha I love the “inoffensive decorator” you should definitely start that blog. My mum, who’s Finnish, always had a phrase “god nok” which roughly translates to “good enough” that she would say for everything. I swear that is her life motto, and something the perfectionist in me is trying hard to adopt. Sometimes good enough is just fine. 🙂


Katy October 5, 2012 at 9:25 am

I love “god nom!” My mother always says “Good enough for government work” and “Better done than perfect.”



Barb October 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm

My hubby calls me the “good enougher” at times because I can’t be bothered to search out the perfect whatever (shoes, cell phone, etc.) The first thing I find that meets my needs and is in my budget is going home with me. I don’t need to maximize each purchase as he does…hence the good enougherto nickname he bestowed on me. I’d totally read “The Inoffensive Decorator”. 😉


Su Mama October 5, 2012 at 9:30 am

Looks great, Katy — well beyond inoffensive!

For stuff that’s tricky to paint, or you want to skip sanding/priming, Krylon’s Fusion spray paint is terrific. It can cover anything — plastic, really crappy wood that wants proper preprartion, wicker, metal. At about five bucks, it’s a bit pricier than the regular stuff, but well worth it.

Remember: Better done than perfect. Sometimes good enough is good enough. And that other one — Perfection is the enemy of progress (?).


Susan Marsh October 5, 2012 at 9:45 am

My husband occasionally says “Good enough for who it’s for” which is okay if it’s for him 😉
I have used the oil rubbed bronze spray paint on numerous items in and outside of our home such as lamps, lanterns, hinges, knobs. The perfect way to frugally freshen the look 0f things around our 1990 house.


Sharon October 5, 2012 at 10:07 am

I have been looking for a “nice” way to display a “don’t make me buy stuff” sign. Love yours! How did you make it? Also, we live in the city and have those ugly on the house mailboxes too. When we got new siding I refused to hang that eyesore. We got a regular rural mailbox on a post right by front door. If you don’t have a place to put post, you can always cement it in a nice painted metal bucket or milk can . I have seen more pop up over the years too. That one on the house was never big enough .


EcoCatLady October 5, 2012 at 10:52 am

I’m always so impressed with people who are willing to take on this sort of “just for looks” project. In my world if it still functions, then it doesn’t need attention – and it takes just about everything I’ve got to deal with the “must do” stuff like making sure the windows aren’t going to fall out from the disintegrating 40 year old glazing, or getting a coat of paint on the exposed wood where the paint has peeled so it doesn’t rot away, or fixing the clogged drain so the bathroom sink will actually function.

I keep thinking that “someday” I’ll get through the “must do” list and have time to focus on the “pretty” stuff – but alas – someday never seems to arrive. Sigh.


Jennifer October 5, 2012 at 11:28 am

I just did my mailbox too. And I took the peephole/door knocker out of my front door and painted those to match. I went from brass(blech) to hammered black. It looks 8 million times better. Now I want to do the doorbell & the screen door handle.


Katy October 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I used that hammered black paint at least ten years ago to unite my heat register grates, which had been brass, silver, gold and mostly just rust. It was easy and made every room look slightly less foul. My favorite home improvement project ever!



Diane October 5, 2012 at 11:30 am

The mailbox looks not only inoffensive, but terrific! Good job.


kelly October 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Love ORB spray paint! Have used it on the mailslot, front handrail, ugly brass chandelier, curtain clips, cabinet hardware and decorative thingys. So handy, and so cheap compared to the cost to replace these items. Highly recommend!


Lois October 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I love any kind of paint, but spray paint is so easy. I have used it for children’s toys, picture frames, lamps, switch plates, register vents, and more. For me there isn’t much use in buying new things when a coat of paint will give something new life. And for wood I can’t live without gorilla glue to put it all back together again like new.


Chris October 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Also used the hammered black on a door kick plate and matching accessories = awesome! If you feel like being finicky and painting the screws, just spray a little paint on a q-tip and touch it up – easy peasy!


Katy October 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I used a black Sharpie pen. Easier-peasier! 😉



marie October 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I love spray paint, that’s my easy fix.
I spray painted an old sattelite dish brown and nailed onto a cedar tree for a bird bath. Only 1 person has realized it’s a dish!!


Jamie Howe October 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Love it! You’re just polishing things. 🙂


Peg October 6, 2012 at 7:24 am

Gosh, I love your posts. No putting on airs, just reporting on life like it really is!


Katy October 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

Me, put on airs? I am too flawed to ever do such a thing. 🙂



erin October 6, 2012 at 7:36 am

While on the subject of homes, which do you think is a ” greener” or small footprint option:, buying a used house or building new with eco friendly products? We have been thinking about this before we start our search.


Jen October 6, 2012 at 8:49 am

I feel that it’s a greener choice to use the housing stock we already have. There are a lot of studies that will show you that old windows are awful, but they can actually be just as energy efficient as new windows (and replacement windows have a life expectancy of about 10 years, whereas old wood ones do not).

That being said, there are a lot of materials that we now consider environmental hazards – like lead paint and asbestos. That’s because we know a lot more now than we did then. So, what dont we know now that we will in the future?

You should really focus on the way you will live in your house and the time you want to spend there. Do you entertain? Do you have kids? If you dont yet have kids, but plan to, take a friend with kids to an open house. They might see things you dont – i.e. a circular floor plan that is a running kids mecca. Decide if that’s the thing for you. Architectural style can really guide the way you use your home. Bungalows and Victorians are a stark contrast because they were designed during two very different periods in history with opposing philosophical viewpoints. That affects how the homes were designed.

I’m sure you’ve considered these points before, but I thought I would say that it’s best to consider how you use a home before you decide about materials. I’m in a home that is lovely, but it’s taking a lot of time to adjust to a Colonial after living in a Bungalow.

Good luck!

Decide if you want to spend your weekends doing yard work or house maintenance. All homes require work, but a fixer-upper will require a huge amount of time, patience and money – even and maybe, especially – if you DIY.


Jen October 6, 2012 at 8:40 am

I really like that the close up of your door shows the everyday use of a house. Sometimes I get irritated with the dents and chips in all my doors/windows/etc. after reading home blogs. I guess I just need to remember that its the character that comes with owning charming older homes. Thanks for the reality check.


patti October 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I love oil rubbed bronze paint!!! Just recently spray painted an ugly brass lamp that I got for free… it looks amazing with the ORB paint. I also have plans to change out my hardware to the ORB ones – I have bought the egg shaped doorknobs and new hinges, but probably could have spray painted the hinges. I am going to spray paint the other odds and ends in the rooms to match. You’ve motivated me to get started!!


Katy October 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm




JoDi October 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Wow, I think that mailbox looks great on your porch! Even in black it was nice although the silver parts were too stark. In ORB it looks awesome! The shape and style look good with your door and the light fixture. Really nicely done!


Anna October 8, 2012 at 5:49 am

Your house is gorgeous! I love older homes, even with their oddities and work. Our circa 1950 rancher is not perfect, but it’s perfect for us. Love the blog!


jennifer October 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I love paint too! It’s amazing what can be done with a little bit of paint and a bit of time! Well done.


Rick S July 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I love the way paint blended your mailbox into the porch. Sometimes we need to do our best on some things and good enough on others.
My paint project was to spray paint the vents In the family room. I used a $1 can of brown to make white covers blend into paneled walls. So much better. No one will walk in the room and say the vents look great, but I know they do. I sanded the rusty one in the floor and painted it a tan/gold to blend with the carpet. My $2 fix.



Katy July 17, 2013 at 4:48 pm

I painted all my vent covers way back in 2000 or so with “Hammered” spray paint, and it made a huge difference that only I could see. However, that porch light is actually my back porch, so no mailbox. 😉



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