With the quick progress that I was making, zipping from room to room, obsessing about every little detail to make the house sparkle, I was getting a euphoric feeling that closely resembled a runner’s high. Or maybe it was because of the intense aroma of cleaning supplies.
I found myself starting to consider the staging activities that my real estate agent prefaced with “if you have time…”
Changing the door knobs on all of the interior doors from cheap plastic ones to shiny metallic ones was not a deal breaker but it seemed like a nice touch to spruce up the place. With the experience of successfully switching out the door knob on the “eyesore door” last summer to very satisfying results, I was very confident that I could do this.
Despite my approach from every angle with a multitude of flat head screwdrivers, I couldn’t find the trick to remove the first door knob. It actually took a half hour of fussing, cussing, struggling and then breaking the plastic door knob to separate it from the door.
By that time, I needed to get back to another time-sensitive task that was underway, so I left things as they were for the next day.
When I returned, with many other tasks completed, I really could put all of my focus on the door knob project.
As I experienced with the eyesore door, I knew that I needed to drill some pilot holes for the screws to hold the shiny new hardware in place. I found the right size drill bit and started drilling. I then tried pulling the door shut, to check my work and to see if the door would close easily.
To test it out, I inserted the basic hardware in the door without the door knob, just to see if the strike plate would get past the face plate. It didn’t, as the hardware was still sticking out and blocking the door.
So I drilled some more… and checked again… and drilled some more… and checked again. I could see I was making progress but the finish line still seemed a long way off.
In trying to figure out how much more drilling it needed, I went into the powder room and gave the door a mighty push to see if it would close. It finally closed, but then I realized…
With no door knob to turn, and the mechanism clicking shut, I just locked myself in the powder room.
The worst part was knowing that my phone was just on the other side of the door, maybe three feet away, on the kitchen counter! (Insert more swearing here.)
It was in that moment that I regretted missing an escape room evening with my work colleagues a couple of years ago. Any tricks I might have picked up that night might have come in handy.
When I finally stopped swearing and took a few deep breaths, I started fiddling with the parts of the locking mechanism that I could reach on my side.
Upon concluding that it wouldn’t open that way, I decided that breaking it will be the only way out. So I mustered all of the brute strength that I could, pushing and pulling on the mechanism through the hole reserved for the door knob, each time hoping and praying that at some point it would break off.
After about five minutes, it finally did and I was released from my powder room cell.
The lesson learned for me: do not perform any home renovations without my phone in my pocket to call for help… just in case. Just the same, this was the very first time in my home ownership days that anything like this had happened.
I ran to my workshop to see if I could retrieve the plastic door handle from the garbage and potentially put it back on and forget this whole situation. Unfortunately, it was broken beyond repair.
I looked at the clock and I still had the better part of the evening ahead of me, so I shook off the stress of the accidental lock-in and drove to my nearest hardware store for another door knob.
At the hardware store, in front of the massive wall of door knobs and their accessories, I was rather daunted by the selection but I managed to find the one I was looking for (the same brand as I used on the eyesore door that installed with such ease) and returned home with much hope, optimism and enthusiasm that I could get this done tonight.
Half an hour later, I was right back where I started, where the strike plate would not get past the face plate, and no new solutions. With house showings two days away, I was running out of time and still rattled from the accidental imprisonment.
Relief came the next evening, as I ended up calling professionals who were able to switch out eight door knobs in under an hour, a stark contrast to the time and effort I had put in with nothing to show for it. When all was said and done, those new door knobs looked wonderful.
If I knew at the beginning what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to change the door knobs in the first place. My overconfidence had me underestimate how much time and effort this “little” project would take. And the stress and anxiety of accidentally locking myself in my own powder room just wasn’t worth it. Who could have seen that coming?
For this chronic planner, the end result was just too close for comfort, but I survived.
With renovations completely (and joyfully) behind me, the house was finally ready for showings!
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