New door­bells have all the bells and whis­tles

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ESTATE - By Kim Cook

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.

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