The Victorian House

Push-Button Switches

How much attention do you pay to little details in your home, like the light switches and electrical outlets? The light switches especially are on my mind, since those are seen/touched/used every day. Some of the ones in our house are old and lovely.

Push Button Light Switches

They’re the exception though; the rest are not so great. Most of the cover plates are brass (which I like), so for now I’ve been replacing the handful of plastic ones with brass to match. The local hardware store sells them for $1-2 each, depending on the configuration.

Light Switches

Eventually, I would love to have all push-button style switches. You can buy them and their cover plates from a few places (Schoolhouse Electric, Classic Accents, Rejuvenation, and House of Antique Hardware all sell them), but the cost adds up pretty quickly for an entire house. My tentative plan is to replace them a few at a time as I work on individual rooms. Electrical work has always had me a bit fearful, but I’ve replaced plenty of light fixtures and this doesn’t seem any more complicated.

Uncovered Light Switches

Part of this house’s charm lies in its hardware. The hinges and doorknobs are almost all universally beautiful here, and I think it will be worth it to bring the light switches in line with the other details.

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

You Might Also Like...

26 Comments

  • Reply
    Jessica from Of Sand & Snow
    November 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Lutron has some awesome options, if you place more importance on the “lighting-experience” over the “aesthetic” of the switch.

    I don’t believe they offer any products in “brass”; and they’re all pretty modern-looking. But their dimmer switches are to-die-for! (Seriously, to-die-for.) We placed one in our dining room and it has transformed our space! I don’t think I’ve seen my husband more pleased with the outcome of replacing home-fixtures! (Certainly, nothing else has made him sound as “feminine” or domesticated, lol!)

  • Reply
    Jessica from Of Sand & Snow
    November 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    We use the Maestro dimmer switch, btw.

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      November 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      I’m pretty set on getting push-button switches, but whoa, that’s a fancy switch! :)

  • Reply
    Amanda Jean
    November 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Oooh, I’m very interested to see the push button options. How unusual. Also, a chair option from Zulily to replace those green beauties?

    http://www.zulily.com/p/dark-brown-modern-jennifer-lounge-chair-63694-6317131.html?pos=80&e=1&

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      November 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      What a coincidence — someone else emailed me with a link to those same chairs on Amazon today! They’re great, but not quite right.

  • Reply
    Julie
    November 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    The 1920s craftsman bungalow I’m renting has a few push-button switches like these! So cool. The plates on mine are a dull black. Seeing yours, I wonder whether mine used to be more brassy? http://juliesdoodleblog.com/2013/11/14/funky-little-details/

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      November 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      Probably! You can polish them up if you want to bring some of the brass back.

  • Reply
    Ryan
    November 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    We have push button switches and unlacquered brass plates in the “public” areas of the house. The hall, bathroom and bedrooms have regular switches (although some are likely original from 1925 and make very loud switching noises).

    I’m thinking about putting in a dimmer switch that looks like a push button in the dining room.

    As many of our outlets and plates are painted over, i’ve replaced a few and really like the look of the dark (brown or black) outlets with a brass plate. They’re so much less “obvious” than bright white outlets.

  • Reply
    linda
    November 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    When you had the house inspected, was there a mention of knob and tube wiring? Your pushbutton photo looks like it could by k&t. Houses where I live can not be sold unless k&t is upgraded. Just wondering.

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      November 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      There were remnants of it in the basement, but it wasn’t live. All of the electrical is up to date, as far as the inspector could tell.

      • Reply
        Paige @ LPD
        November 27, 2013 at 8:12 am

        thats what my inspector said too. Turns out they just fixed what they could reach in the basement and everything behind the walls was knob and tube. ::face palm::

  • Reply
    Lesley
    November 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Wo, you are brave to tackle the electricals in your home.
    That’s something I just wouldn’t consider here in Oz…
    Nice push button switches though… very quirky

    Lesley
    xx

  • Reply
    Megan
    November 26, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I love the push button switches!

    When we moved into our house, almost every outlet was different. And it isn’t like our house is very old (built in late 70’s) – it just seemed that they used whatever was lying around at the time. They are all the plastic kind, but some switches were white and the flat rectangle kind, while others were white and the common ones, some beige common ones. Some flat, rectangle outlets, some rounded outlets (some beige, some white). Some outlets were white but with beige covers. Quite comical, really. We’ve been slowly replacing the outlets to the all white, flat rectangle kind – nothing special, but it feel great to have them all match now.

  • Reply
    ryan
    November 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Those pushbuttons are amazing! Most of our light switches are awful and straight out of the 80’s but we lucked out with original 5 panel wooden doors and brass plates. Here’s a few photos I posted awhile back: http://aforeverhouse.blogspot.com/2011/12/making-house-home-upstairs-update.html

  • Reply
    Sarah @ 702 Park Project
    November 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I am in LOVE with push button light switches! They have so much character. We have them throughout our house and are definitely keeping them. It’s funny you posted this today because I’ve been looking at switch plates all day! Here’s my favorite spot to shop (besides the ReStore): http://www.houseofantiquehardware.com/

  • Reply
    Laurie
    November 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I think the little details like light switches and outlets are really important! That’s the kind of thing that makes an impression on the room even when you don’t realize that is what they are doing.

    I’ve been slowing replacing mine for fancy modern ones (I don’t have an old house so updating is what I need to do) and it’s really easy. Much easier than light fixtures.

  • Reply
    Jessica
    November 26, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    We used to live in an old house with push button switches. There were many undesirable things about that house, but I loved those switches. I really wish I had been confident enough in my DIY abilities to install regular switches and take the push buttons when we moved. I wonder if a salvage yard might have push button switches, although that would probably be an exercise in patience and frustration.

  • Reply
    Julia
    November 27, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Push-button AND brass? Doesn’t get much cooler than that.

    Julia
    from baker-builder.com

  • Reply
    Christina
    November 27, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I was so afraid when I saw the title that you were going to do away with the push buttons. Whew! They are definitely one of those little details that add so much to the house.

    How awesome, I had no idea companies still sold them. Thanks for the links!

    Glad you’re tackling the wiring yourself, it really is easy, and you’ll save so much money. Just go slowly and triple check your work. And just for your peace-of-mind: being zapped with 110 doesn’t hurt nearly as much as one would think, it’s more startling than anything. ;) But I’m sure you’ll make sure the power is off before you start.

  • Reply
    Marissa
    November 27, 2013 at 9:13 am

    When I lived in an old victorian row-house, I replaced the switch plates with the craftsmen style ones from House of Antique Hardware, but I managed to fine someone selling a lot of them on Ebay. I haggled a little and ended up getting 5 of them for about 7 dollars each. Keep an eye on Ebay!

    http://www.houseofantiquehardware.com/bronze-switch-plates-and-outlet-covers-push-button?sc=9&category=1315

  • Reply
    Alissa
    November 27, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    I love, love, love push button switches and have always wondered what it would be like using them? I imagine something cool with a small jump of inner joy like when pushing elevator buttons as a kid… We even talked about changing over to them when we picked out switches for our (currently underway) remodel, but we have a 1951 MCM Eichler-sequence home and they just didn’t seem to fit in with the undeniable modern feel that our home has. I love when houses have a personal feeling in tune with current times, but are still respected for the wonderful character of their origins… Can’t wait to see more of how you walk the line in this new house as you did so well with doing just that regarding the last home you had. :)

  • Reply
    Kristyne
    November 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Dude,

    Never mind the switch plates … that is Laura Ashley wallpaper in the first photo! It was called Palmetto. And I can’t be positive, but I think the blue floral is also Laura Ashley. Just sayin’ … I used to work there and pretty much memorized the catalogues from 1990 – 2000. Oh how I miss that store! What a fun surprise it was to see it in your beautiful old house. K

  • Reply
    Tamisha
    November 29, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Oh, I so want to replace all our downstairs switches to push button switches, which were originally in the house. Now that major renovations are over, I think I might start working on that. The one one I might need to call in my electrician for is the 3 way switch at the front door/stairwell/upstairs 3-gang one. That one might be over my head. I never thought of brass switch plates, but I really like the idea…..something to muse upon!

  • Reply
    Margie
    April 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Help! I want to replace the electrical part of the 3 button light switch shown at the top of the page. I can find 2 but not 3 button….tried all the mentioned websites…any ideas?

    Mrgie

  • Reply
    New Lights, and New Favorites – Making it Lovely
    July 11, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    […] on the first and second floors changed out for new push-button switches at the same time. There are a few original ones left in the house, and I love them! I’m so excited that all of the switches are going to […]

  • Leave a Reply