A Towel Bar As A Door Pull (Would It Work?)

This rolling door design just keeps changing daily.  But if you know me at all by now, you know that I’ll continue to change my mind until I finally land on something that feels and looks just right (to me).

Yesterday’s door options post was me trying (once again) to fit a rustic/farmhouse/cottage look into my house.  Why do I keep doing that?  I love that look, but it’s not what I’m going for in my house.  Yesterday I kept sitting there at the table (currently in the music room) looking at that door with the top part cut out, right there next to my green kitchen with the gold leaf, and the two just did not mesh.  At all.  And there I was thinking about adding to the country/rustic/farmhouse/cottage style of the door with trim and possibly a worn paint finish?  What was I thinking?

So I made one more modification to the door.

repurposed old door into french door

Now I feel like I’m finally on the right track.  This won’t end up being a typical French door.  Let’s just say there will be lots of pretty trim, maybe some gold leaf, and probably some antique brass nailheads mixed in to the design before all is said and done.  And they’ll be black.  And suffice it to say that there will not be even one hint of cottage/country/farmhouse/rustic style on these doors.  And they’ll look like they were custom made to blend right in with my green and gold kitchen.

So with that in mind, I’ve been trying to find some really pretty, large, statement-making door pulls for these doors.  Turns out that finding reasonably priced large door pulls in an antique brass finish that I actually like has been an impossible task.  Every time I happen upon one and think I’ve found the one, the price ends up being over $150.  Per pull.  That means in the end, I’d pay over $600 for four door pulls.  That’s not going to happen, I can assure you.

Obviously I needed to get a bit creative.  But do you know what looks a lot like large door pulls?  Towel bars!  So I started searching for reasonably-priced towel bars.  They seemed a bit expensive, too.  But after looking at $150+ door pulls, the price seemed a whole lot more reasonable.  My very favorite one is this Pearson Towel Bar from Pottery Barn.

pearson towel bar from pottery barn

Am I crazy, or would that make a gorgeous door pull?  Obviously in that picture, it looks like a towel bar, but that’s because it’s installed horizontally on a tile wall.  If you take it out of that context, and install it vertically on a door, would it look like a fancy door pull?  I think it would, but please tell me if I’m being crazy.

That door pull…ummm, towel bar…is 18 inches long, but towel bars usually come in three separate pieces, and the center tube is separate.  So it could be cut down just a bit if I wanted it shorter.

Anyway, that one was my absolute favorite that I found, but I’d have to get my doors finished to see if the stile on the door is wide enough to accommodate that door pull.

I also came across this Dolce Towel Bar from Signature Hardware that could possibly work as a door pull.

dolce towel bar from signature hardware

But the base on that one has a very typical “towel bar” appearance, in my opinion.  Plus, the actual bar is a smaller diameter than the Pottery Barn towel bar.  I think one thing that really draws me to the one from Pottery Barn is the substantial look of the actual bar itself.

Anyway, there are countless different styles available, and I think so many of them would work as door pulls.  What do you think?  Have I finally just completely gone off the deep end on this one, or do you think this idea would work?

Side note:  As I was just writing this post, I got an email saying that my replacement kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts are ready and awaiting shipment!!  YAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!!

UPDATE:  Now I’m really torn between the Pottery Barn towel bar and these awesome peacock pulls on Ebay that Anne Marie shared in the comments below.  Y’all know I have a weakness for anything with a bird on it!  🙂

peacock pulls



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  1. There we go! Much more in line with the kitchen 🙂 The only possible downside I see to towel bars could be that when installed vertically the bar portion may succumb to gravity and slide down. Be sure to choose one that fits tightly, or find a concealed way to snug it up. What will you use on the other side of each door?

    1. That is very similar to what I was thinking. Will the towel bar itself, want to slide down and unhook when attached vertically? Other than that, I think a towel bar is a creative idea.

    2. I’m confused about what would actually slide down. I’ve seen my share of towel bars with loose bars, but that’s just because the end brackets weren’t installed close enough together so the bar wasn’t held tightly enough. Is that what you mean? If I put the brackets close enough together and make sure the bar is snug between them, wouldn’t that solve the problem?

      1. It will probably depend on the style. The Pottery Barn one should be fine, it looks like it fits well together. Others, like the Dolce, look as though they are looser inside the brackets, allowing the bar to slide from side to side within the brackets’ circle. I would play with some of them to be sure their isn’t any side to side movement or choose a style that end caps it so that mounting the brackets snuggly together will be effective.

      2. There’s two hoops and the rod is resting inside them. When horizontal gravity can’t pull it out (“out” being to the left or right). When you place the same combo vertically the rod would go out by pulling down, therefore gravity is a problem. Maybe you can use a screw for each hoop, to secure the bar and prevent it from sliding.

        1. Ohh, I see what you’re saying. I actually don’t think that’s how it’s designed at all. That would be a very poor product design. I think the end brackets include the parts that look like the decorative ends of the main rod, but I don’t think it’s actually part of the rod. The rod fits securely between the two end brackets, and the design just gives the illusion that the rod extends continuously through the hoops.

  2. The change you made to the door has hit the spot!! I agree, it looks much more like your kitchen now. As for the towel bar, yes, I think it would look great. Kinda reminds me of the door pulls they have on the doors leading into the Tennessee Performance Arts Center. I was going to suggest you find a way to add some of your gold leaf trim to the doors to tie them in to the kitchen, but maybe just the touch of brass from your pulls would be enough. I am sure whatever you decide, it will look great!

  3. Good idea. However, most towel bars are hollow, so you might think about inserting a dowel inside the bar to make it stronger. Cutting it down should be fine. Just a thought.

      1. Deanna beat me to it! I was just getting ready to write a comment noting that most towel bars are hollow and if you’re going to use one as a handle, you’d need to reinforce the inside. Yep, a dowel rod works perfectly for this!

        I like the first one you selected. If the bar was cut down shorter, it’s be a perfect door handle. I picked up something very similar as Ikea, have you checked their site? Thought most of their stuff is in silver tones ….

        1. I’m glad these ladies pointed out that most rods are hollow. The dowel rod should reinforce it nicely. I think the ‘new’ look of the doorand the larger pulls will fit nicely with the kitchen.

  4. I like this idea. But I agree the bar itself must be of a sturdy size. I was wondering what the price of a piece of glass that size would be. Also will it need to be tempered glass? I love the idea of nailhead trim and that you are keeping it black? So much to look forward to with this project and the cabinet doors coming in. Did you even take a vacation this year??????????

    1. I ordered my glass yesterday. One piece of clear tempered glass that size came to $84.36. I decided to go with clear glass because I like the shine, and I’ll find another way to obscure the view through the glass.

      1. perhaps a bit of frosted design, not a lot but just enough to let you see that glass is there..but please no tacky decals like people put onpatio doors, not on those beautiful doors Maybe just a line or two of frost across the middle. Just a suggestion.

    2. One other thought. I really like how you are pulling the gold/brass look into each room. On the cupboards and now the doors and on the end tables in the living room. This is very appealing to me.

  5. I like where you are going. However, I don’t think a towel bar will work because the rod is only held in place with a little screw. I think it will fall out. Also, you can’t cut those bars down unless you want to lose the decorative feature on one end. I wonder if you could DIY pulls that you like, though. Maybe you could use wood dowels (painted) plus the hardware for these rods. You might be able to secure the dowels better. I don’t know, really, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out!

    1. Hmmm…I just assumed that the decorative ends were actually part of the end brackets, and there was a separate bar (with unfinished ends) that fit into those brackets. I think the look of one continuous bar with decorative ends that slides through the brackets is just an illusion because of the design.

      1. Why couldn’t you use the galvanized pipe that you used on top. Paint it black then do gold leaf and clear coat.
        Or is that too industrial?

  6. From past experience, get tempered glass. I walked right through a frosted full glass door like the one you just posted and was very, very fortunate to have survived. (it was dark and I was going through the house forgetting that the door had been closed) Also, the door looks much better with the entire center removed for the rest of your homes interior though I did like the multipaned version also. And, I’m not all that on the towel bar idea. Too much a statement. You want the doors to add to the room not be the room. IMHO

  7. I would be concerned the towel bars might be too delicate to pull doors back and forth since they were designed to hold a towel and not much more. Maybe a nicer one would be stronger? It’s definitely something I’d want to hold in my hands before I bought them (online) hoping they’d work.

    Maybe they could be reinforced ala the dowel suggestion above, but what if it’s not hollow all the way through but still too lightweight for the task?

    I think you’re on to something that might work but I think it’s definitely going to take some ingenuity which I’m sure you have!

    1. Now that you say this it makes me think that the problem might be how towel bars are secured to walls with that little bracket and a tiny screw. It wouldn’t work on a door (you’d pull it right off after a few pulls, I think). However, I’m sure that Kristi will figure out how to modify them for them to work.

  8. A towel bar would be sooo cool!!! I think because it would go along perfectly with the charming doors you showed yesterday that looked like shop doors. The towel bar would look like those bars you have to push in order to open the door.

  9. I say use whatever works. When I refinished my kitchen, I needed a 10 inch oil rubbed bronze towel bar for decorative tea towels….none to be found. I considered toilet paper bars, but too small. I found just what I needed in the durable medical equipment section. It’s an oil rubbed bronze hand grip bar for a shower converted into a perfect towel bar for my kitchen. …it’s just perfect….seriously. No compromise…just Stay fearless and Keep listening to your inner voice.
    Susie :-))

    1. One other thought….durable medical equipment is designed to hold weight…..I haven’t looked for bars that might work for your doors, but if you could find the look…they should be sturdy enough.

      1. I have used those durable medical equipment bars for handles – couldn’t find anything inexpensive and big in the hardware section. They’ve been great, but the finishes I saw were pretty much ORB, chrome or nickel. I looked briefly online and there were some polished brass, but the antiqued brass (like this one: http://www.wayfair.com/Allied-Brass-Dottingham-Smooth-Grab-Bar-DT-GRS-L6513-K~DOK1150.html?refid=GX50899333620-DOK1150_7051234_7051239&device=c&ptid=75694999860&pptid=75694999860&PiID%5B%5D=7051234&PiID%5B%5D=7051239&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=DOK1150_7051234_7051239&gclid=CIPjw5_N2cACFSMV7AodbQoARA) were spendy.

  10. Nope, you’re not crazy…you’re just being ‘Kristi’. I think you could pull it off and it would look great…I like the PB ones the best!

  11. LIke the idea of using a towel bar. The Pottery Barn one has a base wide enough, that if you HAD to reinforce it, you could by drilling through and adding a couple of nice screws?

  12. another suggestion, could you purchase rod that you used for door hardware at the top and fashion your own handles?

    1. What a brilliant solution from Sawdust Girl. The ones she made are much better looking than her inspiration. For a different look a wood dowel could be substituted for the acrylic bar and then painted.

    2. That was exactly what I had in mind when she first posted her idea for the doors! I couldn’t remember where I had seen the DIY version.

  13. “And suffice it to say that there will not be even one hint of cottage/country/farmhouse/rustic style on these doors.” — I let out a huge sigh of relief at this sentence. I was really excited to see a non-rustic/cottage barn door, and then yesterday’s post had me worried. Woo hoo – back on track! 🙂

    Love the Pottery Barn “pulls”.

  14. I used a towel bar on my pantry doors and it didn’t work at all….there was no way to secure them to my doors without them wobbling….if I had used them on the wall as towel bars, I could use some kind of anchor, but I could not on the door….

      1. I’m a decorative bird person, myself, and I love those peacocks!

        On the towel bar end of the discussion- seems like a good idea and I’m sure you could reinforce everything with the right adhesive to make it work!

      2. Oh you must get the peacocks!!!!! They are so fantastic!!! And heck, if you decide not to get them as door pulls, you should still get a pair, attach them to a piece of stained or painted wood, put a frame around them and use them as wall art!!!

        BTW…everything that you do is amazing!!!! I am in awe of your creativity and your talent!!! Keep up the wonderful work!!!

  15. I think you are on the right track! Why not use towel bars??? My dad and I just recently built me an new pantry cabinet and I wanted long door handles. Yeah right, not at over $100 a pop! I ended up making my own with copper tubing and I LOVE how they turned out! I say go for the unconventional!

  16. I like the look of the towel bars, but I agree with Teresa that gravity may result in the rod slipping down. Using a towel bar with decorative ends that are larger than the rod could prevent this, since the top decorative end would rest on the piece that’s mounted to the door (I don’t know what that piece is called…). I’m not sure how stable this would be, however.

  17. My experience with towel rack is use the small screw is always coming out. I would think that as a door handle that would happen alot. Couldn’t you make something and paint it brass?

  18. I don’t know if u were set on the brass look??? But if you could entertain the idea of painted surface, and you knew someone who was a welder, they could make something very sturdy, and perhaps inexpensive. My hubby is a welder and once got a request for pulls on a door such as yours. Thats what made me think of it. And it would be unique. No one would have another like it.

  19. Go for the unconventional!!! They will look fabulous! My dad and I recently built a pantry and I wanted long door handles. Only ones I could find that I like were over $100 a pop! Not gonna happen. I ended up making my own from copper tubing and they came out great!

    Cannot wait to see how these turn out and the rest of your house as well!

  20. Why not make them look like theatre doors to an old opera house. Stencil some musical notes on the glass. Gives it that old feel and fits with the piano. Heavy brass pulls.

  21. 4 bars? I don’t think you can put bars on the other side of the doors unless you don’t want to be able to open them all the way.

    I like the idea of the towel bars, but the clincher for me would be that they don’t have that little screw hole showing that you screw in to keep the bar in place and I wouldn’t want it as tall as 18″ as I wouldn’t want the focus to be the handles, but rather the door themselves, but I don’t have your vision in my head and it may end up just fine. I like Hardware to be like jewelry – the last thing that makes everything work together and not the statement piece.

    I think you’re finally finding the direction you want to go in. I keep struggling with that myself when I do stuff in my house. I’m so easily influenced by what I see and tend to stray off where my heart really wants things to look like.

  22. Glad you cut the rest of the door out. Now it’s more your style and goes better with everything you have done so far to the house. I think black will be stunning with the antique brass. I love the Pottery Barn towel bar and think it would work great for what you have in mind. Good luck and I can’t wait to see the finished results.

  23. I have to agree with a few others that 18″ seems too long. I love that you could cut the bar down to whatever size you like. Great idea from Deanna to insert a dowel into the bar for some extra strength. I love the first photo you posted. When turned vertically it would look nothing like a towel rod.

  24. Glad you’re going with black, and love the idea of using the towel bars! I really like the one from Pottery Barn. I agree with you that the other one looks too much like towel rods.

  25. Ah, that looks so much better! Another option is to maybe DIY and have it dipped in brass? I just read a blog the other day, I don’t know which one, because it’s not one I regularly read……anyway, she had an old metal stool dipped in brass because she wanted that shine that she felt spray paint wouldn’t achieve. It was $70 but a stool is bigger than four handles or maybe it would be that much for all four and still be cheaper. Just another option. It did look beautiful. As for the towel bars, definitely the first option over the second. I agree that second one will always look like a towel bar where the other is more versatile and pretty!

  26. Why not use a long drawer pull? That’s what my brother did for his pantry door and it looks great because it’s just a longer version of the cabinet pulls.

  27. The towel bars would look great if the base isn’t too big for the stile. The peacocks are cool, but they look kind of wide. Question: how do you close the doors from the other side?

  28. Not crazy, it’s CREATIVE! I think it looks great. But will you be able to see these from the kitchen? I like to keep hardware the same color/metal if I can see it from room to room. This may not be a problem the way your rooms are situated. Or it may match a proposed light fixture. Great idea, though.

  29. I’m so glad to see the black doors are back and I think the full glass panel looks nice. I’m sure you’ll do more to them although I don’t think it will be necessary between the black, the glass, and the pulls you select. I don’t like the towel bar idea only because they aren’t very sturdy and I think won’t last long at all. I think the look of the PB one is nice and the second one I don’t like at all for a pull. I really like the DIY ones made with acrylic. Are you going to use a plate behind the pull or just the pull itself? I keep getting images of big doors with the brass plates and pulls like at restaurants.
    For the glass are you going to put anything on them? I was thinking you could stencil black or gold lines in the pattern you had for the 9 panels with small squares at the corners.

  30. Have you checked recycling centers for brass pulls? Scrap yards? Probably a long shot to find 4 that match though. I totally agree that the towel bar idea, even though it is the perfect look, will need some modifications to make it work. I say keep looking, you’ll find the right product at the right price.

  31. Kristi, I LOVE the PB towel bar! It actually looks like a custom door handle, with the rectangled base. Would any pinhole screw locations be noticeable if hung vertically?

  32. I just want to say that I love your blog! You are so freakin’ inspiring. Currently, I am doing my kitchen and I have been thinking outside the box because of you! For example I have flat panel kitchen cabinet doors and I have been researching how to add a little bit more personality before I paint them. I saw some ideas on pintrest about adding wood trim. I had a “Kristi moment” and found that paint stick work and a totally free and will give me the look I want. I have no doubt in my mind that the towel bars will work and that gravity problem will be solved because you are you and can think of everything even if it takes you forever to get there! You refuse to give up and that makes you a diy rockstar goddess!

  33. OMG!!! The PEACOCK ones! Peacock, peacock, peacock!!! Um ok maybe that was a bit exuberant, but I ADORE all things Peacock and I think these would be fabulous!!!

  34. Wow I feel like I’m the only one who is all for the Peacocks. I love love love them! I too have a thing for birds so that is what I would chose in a New York minute.

  35. I’m totally NOT a bird person but, in this case, I’d have to go with the Peacock pulls. They are so handsome!

  36. The PB towel bar is a creative choice that would look great, but the peacoks are FABULOUS and definitely one of a kind. Hands down I vote for the beautiful birds!

  37. I loved the PB towel bar pulls, but then I saw the Peacocks! Oh. my!! All I keep thinking is how you’ve got the greens and blues in your home, so peacocks seem particularly appropriate to me. Not to mention that they’re unique, and elegant, and totally awesome! Fantastic find!

  38. I find towel bars don’t have a lot of substance to them. As in, if my kids hang on them they will bend. So I’m not sure how they would stand up to pulling heavy doors day in and day out. Though your first option would look great, I’d be reluctant.

  39. For someone who tries to save a buck as often as possible, you sure are throwing money at a couple of door handles. Most French doors or pocket doors have a plate with a handle. You can go to on line and order a flat 12 inch push plate for each door. They come in Brass, a brushed nickel look and probably a lot more. I just happen t have those two, Brass on the dining room side and brushed nickel. They are not terribly expensive and they have a traditional presence. You could then find any kind of pull you like and mount it through the metal plate. Simple, attractive and traditional. While the peacocks may be “cute” and one of kind. Do they really go with your home? Just because you like birds does not mean you should have them everywhere. You are already planning on Bird pictures in your kitchen. I think this is a case of less is more and also you are frustrated at the hold up of your kitchen, so you are determined to go full speed ahead on something. I would hate to see you decide that you made another design mistake like the kitchen floor. I love the full glass doors, and you can certainly add frosted film to one side to break up the view. They are doing it on all the DIY shows with ensuite bathrooms, to create privacy, while not loosing light. Good luck, this is taking up a lot of your time these days! Blessings for your cabinets to show up.

  40. Oh, LOVE those peacocks. I think they match the feel of your living room fabric but will work well with the kitchen too. I think the Pottery Barn towel bars could be a smart choice too, very clean look. Can’t wait to see which one you go with!

  41. I think the peacocks are adorable too! Definitely would add character and flow with other things you have, plus the greens and blues in your home. I’m always for simple – especially when you love it, so I say those are the way to go!

    But just in case, I thought I’d send this too. Your towel bars made me think of these DIY acrylic pulls. Thought you may be able to make your own custom handles doing something like this: http://sawdustgirl.com/2013/08/21/diy-acrylic-drawer-pulls/

  42. I was wondering if I could do the opposite: use a long drawer pull as a towel bar (for a hand towel). I’m looking for a somewhat affordable metal towel bar with a realistic bamboo shape, but all I can find are drawer pulls. I found some that would be long enough, but would I have trouble securing it to the wall in a way that it won’t pull the drywall off? This is the drawer pull I have in mind: http://www.interknobs.com/cgi-dbshopper/search.cgi/interknobs2/interknobs/ezshopper?user_id=26868-20150126&product_ID_option=1&product_ID=DHP100&database=dbase1&template=template1.htm

  43. Did you ever end up doing this? I am in the same boat, but used Sussex PB knobs and pulls in my kitchen and need an antique brass appliance pull or 3 for my French Door fridge!