Photos courtesy of K. Beck
Here's one of my favorite doorbell niche treatments. Painting a light background contrasted with a tasty wall color really frames the doorbell. K. Beck of Portland, Oregon, wanted a doorbell that complimented her taste for her mid-century renovation:
In the 1930s, doorbells that rang like an alarm were considered at best, annoying, and at worst, as dangerous to ones health. After electric lights, doorbells were often the second residential electrical appliance in a home. Early doorbells were exactly that: bells which sounded like a fire alarm. Thus door chimes were marketed to combat "Public Noise Enemy #1" and calm "Doorbell Nerves".
Sure, early doorbells alerted you that somebody was at the door but it was like hitting you over the head with a hammer!. In the 1930s door chimes saved the day by treating the world to a much more pleasant sound by striking one or more tubular bells or metal xylophone-like tone bars.
Today, door chimes produce the ubiquitous "ding-dong" sound we know today. For more on the subject of door chimes vs doorbells, please see the article on my sister site, the Doorbell Museum.
Doorbells frequently turn up in TV shows, movies and the theater. If you spot one, let me know.
More often than not and unsurprisingly, their sound is used to announce a visitor. Sometimes, set decorators use doorbells to speak silently to the circumstances and set a mood. In the Wonder Years (ABC 1988-1993) a long chime doorbell is featured in a scene where Kevin and Paul get home from school and converse with Paul's family from the Pfeiffer hallway.
The characters lived in ranch style homes typical of the millions built in post war America. We all related to Kevin, his friends and family because so many of us grew up in just such houses.
In a stroke of brilliance the producers kept the show's setting ambiguous while taking extraordinary care to precisely reproduce homes of the period. This enabled us to relate the characters to our own experiences as we picked out furnishings we remember from growing up in Mid Century Modest surroundings.
In Edward Albee's absurdist play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a long chime doorbell has a stronger supporting role. The chimes are used to illustrate the fractious relationship of the characters with faith and each other.
The doorbell is at various times rung and violently bumped to advance the plot. At left, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton perform in front of the doorbell in the 1966 Warner Brothers film adaptation.
ElectraChime doorbells have been used as stage props in a number of Virginia Woolf productions including a notable 2007 revival at the Sydney Theatre Company.
If you are producing "Woolf", ask us about prop rentals.
In this post, we'll look at whether a two, or three bell, ElectraChime is best for your application.
The center bell in ElectraChime doorbells is entirely decorative. All ElectraChime doorbells ring "ding-dong" for the front door and "ding" for an optional third bell. When a caller presses your doorbell button, a striker hits the shorter tube to produce the "ding" and when the button is released, the striker recoils to hit the longer tube for the "dong".
Even though the mechanics of two and three tube doorbells are identical, the aesthetics are quite different.
Without question, a three bell chime presents a fuller look. On doorbells with larger cases like the Comet pictured above, this can provide extra balance. The same cover looks more modern, and perhaps a bit less formal with two tubes beneath. So if you subscribe to a minimalist design philosophy, a two bell doorbell assures the form follows function.
In Feng Shui, odd numbers give Yang energy and even numbers Yin. Thus, a two bell chime has more feminine energy while a three bell chime has more masculine energy. Cecilia Walker's blog, everything in threes goes deeper on the subject.
Design principals hold that odd number compositions—and in particular the rule of three—adds motion and interest. This can be explained that your eye and brain can't pair odd numbers of elements. Above, I arranged three vintage Rid-Jid patio chairs to demonstrate.
I'm not certain I've provided any clarity to the subject of two or three bells or just muddied the waters a little bit more. And I'll so my best to resist creating my own doctrine of the "ding and the dong". So I will just leave you with this old saying I just made up:
Your house is your castle, so furnish it as you will.
There are no rules as to where to hang a longbell door chime, just a few best practices.
It's a good idea to mount a long bell doorbell where it will be heard in the rooms where you spend most of the hours when you might expect visitors. A location near your front door is desirable as this allows your callers to hear the door chime as they push the doorbell button. This provides feedback that you have indeed been summoned. Ideally, your chosen location treats your guests to the sight and sound of your still resonating long bell doorbell as they enter your home.
In general, a spot between 72 and 78 inches above the bottom of the finished floor to the top of the case is about right if your ceiling height is eight feet. You may choose to mount your chime at higher or lower to suit your taste.
If you are lucky enough to have a door chime niche, The location for your door chime was made for you by a thoughtful designer.
At left a vintage, never used, Kensington by Rittenhouse Long Bell door chime has a commanding presence in a Chicago area home. Meanwhile, an ElectraChime Empire tubular doorbell graces a niche in Minnesota.