The “Crock-Pot Method” Is the Brownstone Boys’ Smart Hack for Old Hardware

updated Jul 2, 2024
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Kitchen with white cabinets, green tile backsplash, and a slotted wooden island

If you love old homes, then you’ve probably heard of Barry Bordelon and Jordan Slocum aka The Brownstone Boys. Together they’ve been lovingly restoring period houses with preservation in mind, including their own Brooklyn brownstone, for close to a decade now. And for that reason, they’re one of the chief authorities on renovating out there today — especially for those of us who want to keep history in mind as we modernize our spaces. So it was about time they finally released a book of all their best advice in one place, For the Love of Renovating.

Although it contains practical information on budgeting, how much things actually cost when renovating, and how to identify your design aesthetic and who you’d might like to work with (if you’re not DIYing), For the Love of Renovating is much more than just your average guide book. As it moves through each of the major rooms in the home and what renovating them may entail, it’s also equal parts coffee table tome chock-full of beautiful interior inspo, including images from the design duo’s original projects (like the kitchen you see above). Marrying style and substance is the hallmark of the Boys’ work together, so it’s no surprise then that the book follows suit. 

But as someone who is always looking for quick hacks and money-saving tips, the book delivers there, too. Case in point: I’ve been thinking about cleaning my 1928 home’s original door hardware and hinges, but the thought of scrubbing each element separately seems daunting. I have 10 interior doors! The Boys’ quick and easy suggestion for this task? The “Crock-Pot method.”

That’s right — you can make your old, potentially paint-crusted door knobs and handles look shiny and new again with this trick, provided you have a slow cooker and dish soap/detergent. “We use just water, a bit of liquid detergent, and a long soak in a Crock-Pot set on Low,” write the Brownstone Boys in For the Love of Renovating. “You can also use chemicals, but there is usually no need with the Crock-Pot method.” 

If you want to try this method out, plan to leave your hardware in the cooker for about four hours or so. I’d also shop for a cheap slow cooker from a thrift store to relegate for this particular purpose because you don’t want to contaminate any future meals. You don’t have to worry about potential lead paint exposure with this method, though, as the hot water contains any lead from vaporizing. Just be careful with plated hardware; this method is best for solid metals, so you might want to do a test first to see what you’re working with. And if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can get similar results by boiling your hardware in an old pot that you’re fine with giving up.

When you use the “Crock-Pot method,” the paint supposedly falls right off for the most part, but you can expect to have to scrub a little bit around any delicate details or finer areas. You can also use this method for hardware on furniture flips, like on older dressers, for example. 

And this little trick is just the beginning of the advice in For the Love of Renovating. Pick up a copy for even more gems and all the help you need for planning a reno, big or small.