New doorbells have all the bells and whistles
Before electricity, doorbells rang via a complex rigging of mechanical pulleys. Visitors pulled a rope or turned a keylike affair — think Downton Abbey’s elaborate system to summon staff, but on a smaller scale for the masses.
The electric doorbell was invented in 1831 and, by the early 1900s, was all the rage. Chimes and bells could be heard from anywhere in the house; a tremendous convenience for homeowners and visitors alike.
Today, you can coordinate the look and sound of your doorbell to your home’s style. You also can embrace the internet age with video doorbells that can be answered from thousands of miles away.
If you’re renovating an older home, the retailer Rejuvenation has several retro-style doorbells There’s a round oak bell, popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with a porcelain button. A midcentury starburst style comes in chrome or brass. And a couple of vintagelook ones are stamped with a “ring” or “please ring” note, in oil-rubbed bronze or burnished finishes.
Got a vacation home near the water? Consider a doorbell shaped like a turtle, crab, scallop or starfish. There are castmetal ones shaped like hummingbirds, daisies and dragonflies. You could opt for a cabin-y look with a doorbell in the form of a pine forest or bear, or go full rustic with a truly old-school bell on a rope, in brass cast like a horse’s head
Rhode Island artisan Michael Healy, who crafts outdoor art and hardware, has a doorbell in the form
This midcentury-style starburst doorbell from Rejuvenation would go with a renovated home.
This impish little gecko doorbell is cast in brass and comes from Waterwood Hardware.