Wendy and I have has an ongoing debate in our house that we need you to settle for us. The options are simple: "covered up" or "au natural," but the decision has our house divided.

It's an age old question that plagues home owners day and night, and more specifically, our home's doorstop. To paint or to not paint, that is the question. Please allow me to introduce the conundrum of the day and to present both sides of the facts that may ultimately sway your decision. At the conclusion of this post, we ask that you weigh in to help us tip the scales of justice in the appropriate direction.

After we completed our vestibule reconfiguration and front door restoration project, we allowed a final detail to go unfinished for nearly a full year. We needed an interior baseboard door stop for our front door that would be both functional and aesthetic. Unfortunately for us, we weren't sure just what we wanted it to look like. I knew I wanted something that would look like it had always been there and had successfully stood the test of time, while Wendy wanted a doorstop that was unobtrusive and was not "hideous." We all know the standard style door stops that we often see in homes, and we both knew we were not interested in this look or style for our 1880s Victorian.

After extensive online research, time spent in antique stores and architectural salvage yards, and an exhaustive amount of time spent looking at door stops in homes for sale or on period TV shows and movies, we finally settled on the classic and accurate look for our Victorian front door. We decided it would be best to stick to the roots of what our home probably originally contained, in this case, a turned wood doorstop with hard rubber tip (like this one).

Over the years I had seen many on eBay while I hunted endlessly for antique rim locks and other door hardware, so I returned to the auction giant to search for the perfect doorstop. I came across everything from the beautifully restored and extremely expensive, to the downright disgusting and broken.

To satisfy our needs, I wanted to find a doorstop that was in good shape, not broken, chipped, or cracked, and still possessed the original rear mounting screw fully intact and functional. After a bit more searching I found a winner. This paint covered and completely dirty antique doorstop was in need of a little TLC to bring it back to what it could and should be. When it arrived I knew just what I needed to do.

I covered the doorstop with SmartStrip paint stripper and PeelAway paper (essentially wax paper) and let it sit overnight. The next day we had a mess but also had taken a step in the right direction.

If you remember this little doorstop project, it was during our manic "OMG, let's get everything possible done before the Christmas home tour!!!" phase last November/December, so we had our hands pretty full and were juggling several small projects at once. After removing the paint I used a little bit of Bix stripper to clean up the more intricate details on be doorstop.

Following more intricate work on the details, the stop's wood was really looking great. It was in wonderful shape, had no cracks or areas that needed to be patched, and it seemed like it would do the job nicely. Even the hard stop tip was in relatively good shape. Everything just needed a final sanding with some steel wool before I applied the finish coat.

To finish the doorstop, since the wood looked great, and we were pressed for time, we opted to simply apply several coats of shellac. This really made the rich color of the old growth wood pop, but it's the catalyst for our ongoing debate.

When I installed the stop it was easy to determine where it should go. The original door configuration was the same as our new set up, so there was already a hole and stop location clearly visible.

I just threaded this new stop into the old location and took a step back to admire our once-and-for-all finished project.

That's when Wendy piped up and said, "It seems like it works, but are we going to leave it unpainted? It looks like a giant boob sticking off of the baseboard." Incredulously I responded in a simply flabbergasted tone, "Yes! Unpainted...more like untainted." (I'm super clever like that.) It was beautiful in my eyes, perfect, better than I could have imagined, definitely not boob-like. Why would we want to paint it?

Due to our time crunch surrounding the home tour Wendy allowed the doorstop to remain untainted er, unpainted, in its installed location, but she's been tiring of this look lately and is once again beginning to put the pressure on me to "finish" this item once and for all with a coat of our baseboard paint.

From my perspective, it's rather simple. I like painting stuff as much as the next guy, but I also don't want to be a "cool, let's paint it!" kind of guy. But in this case, I think it's just wrong to apply paint. Sure, it's mounted directly to the white baseboard, but the majority of the time I'll be looking at this doorstop from the top of the stairs as I walk down. From this view the baseboard is not the backdrop of the view, but rather the wood floors are the backdrop. The shellac covered doorstop actually resembles the wood floors almost perfectly and allows the doorstop to more or less blend into its surroundings. I worry that painting the doorstop will work against this approach and will actually make it show up in a much more prevalent manner. Not to mention that leaving it unpainted is also more historically accurate.

Wendy, on the other hand, has her "boob" argument. More specifically, the fact that this "ugly" looking wood doorstop resembles a bare boob protruding from our otherwise nice baseboard molding. 

Now we need your help. What's your vote. Do we keep it au natural, embracing the beauty of the wood and its ability to blend into the backdrop when we see it while walking down the stairs? Or do you think we should cover that boob in a coat of glossy white (leaving the black tip will stay unpainted)? We want you to choose sides and explain where your allegiances lie. 

Comments 42


2/28/2013 at 2:20 PM
I'm torn...I'm usually in favor of keeping it simple and natural, but it doesn't look natural sitting there on the white baseboard. If your baseboard was unpainted, perhaps..but it does stick out like a sore thing. I'm gonna go with paint it white.
2/28/2013 at 2:21 PM
Just FYI - The poll didn't work on my computer (using Chrome). But, I would leave it unpainted ...
Thanks Thad! That's what I like to hear. (The poll is corrected now, thanks for the heads up. I'm using Chrome too and didn't even notice.)
2/28/2013 at 2:28 PM
Survey isn't working for me either (IE), but I am Team Alex. I agree it blends in to the floors more that way... and I have never seen a boob that shape. If anything it looks like a little doorknob :)
In spite of my lacking technical skill I appreciate your support.

**Edit By Alex**
Apparently I don't have "logging out" skills either and was logged in as Wendy when I posted that comment. Sorry. :-)
2/28/2013 at 2:29 PM
I'm torn. Could we see a photoshopped version of it in white in order to make an informed decision? =)
I think we may need to do this.
2/28/2013 at 2:30 PM
I really think you could go either painted or not... but beings I was forced to choose in your survey..I went white!
2/28/2013 at 2:35 PM
Definitely unpainted. Looks stellar, blends in with the floors. Couldn't get the poll to work either, fyi.
Thanks for the support. Poll works now, had to throw it in an iframe. I think I need to find a better poll next time.
2/28/2013 at 2:41 PM
That is really a lovely piece. I think if your baseboards were stained rather than painted, you would clearly leave the door stop stained, not painted. But with painted baseboards, I think a painted door stop. I am sure you'll miss seeing all your hard work with the refinishing, though! :)
Not seeing the stripped doorstop would be sad, but if I had to let it go, based on the people's vote, I would have had to. :-)
Emily Mathiak
2/28/2013 at 2:44 PM
I already voted, but leave it. No question. It's beautiful! Not even remotely "boob-like."
2/28/2013 at 2:46 PM
Oooh tough call. I can see where both parties are coming from. On the one hand looking at it straight on it does seem like it is a bit out of place against the white baseboards. However, looking at it from the stairs, Alex is totally right about how well it blends in with the floor.
Very tough call.
Personally (because I am lazy) I would probably leave it unpainted, since you said you had already put a few coats of shellac on the stopper. Unless it bothered me enough. Try photoshopping the stopper in black and white (both example views!) before making the final decision. In the end, I think it'll look fine whether it's black, white or au naturale. Besides, no one is going to pay as much attention to those teeny little details as the DIY'er who added them ;)
2/28/2013 at 2:49 PM
I voted Team Alex; err on the side of historically accurate. My thought is if you paint it white, it will make the black tip look more like a...(dare I say it)...nipple. Leaving it stained makes it blend in more, therefore (imo) looking less "boob-like."
Besides, do you really want to hear Seth MacFarlane sing, "we saw your boob!"
2/28/2013 at 2:52 PM

At first I wanted to say paint it, so it blends with the baseboard. But, then I felt it should be left unpainted because then it is more of an "architectural detail" trumping form over function.

I guess would say leave it unpainted to give it the prominence - it took you a long time to find one that is more period correct and aestetically significant - than to paint it white so it blends and thus disappeared.

But, for Wendy's sake: Girl, I would want to paint it if it was in my house, too.
2/28/2013 at 2:54 PM
Compromise offer: attach it to the door, and put a small metal plate (painted white) on the baseboard?
2/28/2013 at 3:01 PM
I like it unpainted. It is beautiful wood. Could you compromise by pickling white or black, rather than painting, so you still see the wood?

Also, I don't think paint would hold up well to the abuse. I think it would chip and look dirty quickly, perhaps.

Also, you can always use wood oil instead of shellac to make the grain pop but not look so shiny.

Finally; time to strip all the trim (bwah ha ha ha)
2/28/2013 at 3:29 PM
I was going to say "strip the trim" too, Elaine! Hahaha!

I voted to leave it unpainted. It's a beautiful piece of wood and I like how it stands out rather than blending in to the baseboard. I still have the original doorstop on my 1887 Queen Anne Cottage but it and the baseboard are under a thousand coats of paint.
HAH! Strip the baseboards!?!?! Been there, done that, don't plan to ever do it again! Really, those baseboards were already down to bare wood and painted back white again. I think I took off nearly 1/8-1/4" of paint. It was horrible, lumpy, and full of drips.
2/28/2013 at 3:05 PM
Oh boy. First, I'll start by simply stating that I'm a fan of wood. I'm a cabinetmaker, I restore antique furniture, and I hate seeing things get painted. HOWEVER, in this case, I think I have to go with Wendy, and say that it should get painted. I think the door strop is gorgeous, but stylistically, it sticks out like a sore thumb. It does match the hardwood floor, but I think it really should match the baseboard. If the baseboard was wood, it would look awesome, but since the baseboard is white, I think it should also match so that it blends in better.

PS: That is quite a nice design. I plan to eventually make some of these for my place, since I have several doors that will "stay open against a wall" 90% of the time, and I have no stops currently.
Jill PP
2/28/2013 at 3:06 PM
I'm definitely on Team "paint the boob white" Wendy. It looks like a dead heat from the poll!

I can see Alex's point of view, but I think seeing the boob from the stairs while walking down is completely different from sitting in a room and being able to see it all the time (is that your living room? I can't remember) - I think it would totally annoy me.
Stephen Lee Davis
2/28/2013 at 3:24 PM
Love it unpainted. Definitely.
2/28/2013 at 3:38 PM
I like it the way it is; but in the interest of marital bliss, if it must be painted, why not do a treatment similar to what you did on your entry walls. Just trying to keep the peace.
2/28/2013 at 3:47 PM
I'm gonna go against you both and choose black. So I am no help. Perhaps you should rock paper scissors for it?
Misty Koper
2/28/2013 at 3:55 PM
Unpainted, but I also would have left the stop un-shellac(K?)ed. Still...can't undo that. It looks good as-is. No paint.
2/28/2013 at 4:40 PM
Have you considered hinge pin door stops so they aren't as visible? If you are going for a statement I would keep it unpainted considering how much work you put into cleaning it up.
Joe Heaton
2/28/2013 at 5:14 PM
Team Wendy. Paint that shit.
Karin K
2/28/2013 at 6:16 PM
I'm torn too, as much as I would love to just quote Joe Heaton up above. I guess take the advice to photoshop it with the white and the black. Tough call - I'm usually never without an opinion.
2/28/2013 at 8:51 PM
I vote for leaving it. I think if it were white with a black tip it wouldn't look very good and I could see it getting scuffed up in white. I actually wouldn't be opposed to black either but since it is already wood finished I wouldn't bother changing it.
3/4/2013 at 12:38 PM
Yeah I am definitely with Heidi. Leave it. I agree that the white could get a little dirty.
Jenelle Cheng
3/1/2013 at 11:05 AM
The shape doesn't change if you paint it. Leave it alone.
Katie G
3/1/2013 at 11:21 AM
I can't believe it, but I just voted to paint it white.

This is coming from the same girl that has unpainted trim in 85% of her house.

Tough call after all the work you put into finding it and cleaning it up, but it's a doorstop, not something that normally commands much attention.
I like it unpainted. It’s a pretty accent. Like baseboard jewelry… On the other hand, I’m a firm believer in wifely-sovereignty on details like that.
3/1/2013 at 12:52 PM
It depends on which view of it is most important to you. If it's most important to blend in as you come down the stairs, the background is unpainted wood, so leave it unpainted. If it's most important to blend in as you look at it from the living room (or whatever your front room is) the background is then the white baseboard and should be painted to match the white background.

So, where was Wenday standing when she made her comment, and where did you hide after you delivered your snarky come back?
Spring AltmanSpring
3/1/2013 at 1:29 PM
Leave it unpainted it matched the wood floor
3/1/2013 at 5:56 PM
I'm with Wendy on this one -- sorry your hard work to clean it up will be less apparent, Alex, but Wendy is right that in its natural state it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Kathy S
3/2/2013 at 11:11 AM
How about getting a doorstop you can paint and switch out the two as you fancy?
3/2/2013 at 10:59 PM
I vote for unpainted, but wrap it in some white tissue for a while to see how you like it white.
3/5/2013 at 7:58 PM
I do not see the boob. To me it looks like a pepper mill sticking out of the wall, but I like it. I voted for unpainted. The only reason that I could see for painting it would be so that it would not blend into the floor. Unless you wanted it to blend into the floor. So, I guess you have to decide how much you want it to stand out. I still vote for au natural.
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