The Cool House: fixtures
Showing posts with label fixtures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fixtures. Show all posts

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Something old, something new...

Comments left on my recent post about the rehabbed powder room and also by The Handyman made me think I should explain in greater detail why we kept the fixtures we did and how I arrived at the plan for the new ones.

Like many projects in this house it was undertaken piecemeal. When I first thought about this room (2004) I was going to strip it completely, starting with the shag carpet, but we didn't have the budget to do it right away. I did, however, start formulating a plan. I could say it started with a doorknob but it was a little more complicated than that...

Between 2004 and 2006 we had a bunch of leaks, drips and other plumbing issues that resulted in a completely rebuilt toilet mechanism. When we decided to redo the powder this Spring room I didn't want to throw the WC out especially as the china looked good, it fitted the space and I'd spent more than the cost of a new loo getting it fixed.

One day in 2005 the ventilator broke and when put in a new one we also tried to fix the chandelier back to the ceiling. We couldn't and neither could any other contractor who has worked on the house. We knew it had to go when we redid the room, so eventually we swapped it out for one we already had.

I was going to rip out the vanity and replace it with this unit but the more I thought about it the less I liked it. For one, I'd lose precious counter space, then I'd have to possibly remove the mirrors and maybe re-texture the walls. Finally I wasn't sure I liked the bowl and faucet enough. In the end it seemed like too much money to spend to get something I wasn't 100% happy with. There was nothing wrong with the original cabinet so I figured why not get rid of the part I hated, the fake marble top with its clamshell sink and tiny faucet that only elves could operate, and keep the base.
The shag carpet bugged me every day. We wanted to wait until we remodeled the kitchen before we took it out but the longer we lived here the more remote that day seemed. Once we'd made the decision to keep the vanity and tile up to it there didn't seem much point in waiting any longer, we'd just get it done.

Then came my favorite part: shopping. Firstly I shopped for free in the "things I thought we'd use but never did" department aka a shelf in the garage. I found a chrome towel bar I bought for the boys' bath remodel that we couldn't fit in that space. Then I started spending money. I love Carrara marble and we've used it throughout the house to update other bits of furniture so that was an easy choice for the countertop. I made a paper template and took it to the stone guy up the road and he had it cut in two days.

The faucet I wanted, the Tara Classic from dornbracht would have cost a stress-inducing $918 but I found a much more reasonably priced version at There was a brief obsession flirtation with a red vessel sink but I think the one I chose out of necessity actually looks better here. It cost a little more but it compliments the marble really well.
Our ethos during the renovation of The Cool House has been to save as many original features as possible, to do as little harm as we can and accomplish it on the smallest feasible budget. Having said that I do like the occasional "wow" piece.

My designer neighbor once charitably described the old powder room as "not horrible", she hasn't seen the new version yet but I hope she will approve. There's a lot of old, a fair bit of new and some things borrowed from another room in this remodel and I think it all works together. I'm happy anyway.

Friday, January 19, 2007

(mostly) Excellent service

I spent Tuesday evening online ordering some of the fixtures for the new bath. Shopping around for the best price takes time but beats the hell out of driving round visiting every plumbing supply store and bath showroom in a twenty mile radius to find a Tenso faucet. And that was after I'd visited the Grohe website to locate the dealers. Every one could show my a picture in a catalogue but no one had the model in stock. I'd seen the faucet on the website and had the dimensions but I wanted to see it in real life. I wanted to see how shiny it was, how big, how bulky. After a really frustrating four hours and nearly half a tank of fuel I gave up, came home and started searching online suppliers. By 5:00 pm I had not only ordered the faucet but a matching shower valve trim and a Freehander shower.
Then I moved on to the vessel sink. I'd wanted a bronze tempered glass sink but I was concerned that the color might not be as pictured on the websites and once again I couldn't find anyone locally who had anything in stock - not even the snotty hardware store in Nassau County, NY where the salesman's first question wasn't "Were you looking for glass, ceramic or stone?" but "How big is your budget because we only deal in expensive sinks, we're a high-end store, that's what our clientele demands." (note to self: wear a huge diamond ring and borrow Louis Vuitton bag when shopping in Great Neck). He showed me a bunch of catalogs and gave me a price on a glass vessel that I could beat by $180 elsewhere. Superb customer service.

I identified a cute Italian ceramic vessel sink at Qualiytbath,com, emailed them about lead times, had a reply within 10 minutes saying it would ship 5-7 days after the order was placed, ordered it at 5:30 pm and it arrived by UPS at 3 pm yesterday. Less than 24 hours, free shipping and no sales tax. Oh, and no snotty salespeople of course. I rounded off the evening by ordering the towel racks, toilet roll holders, robe hooks and finally a Toto Maple Softclose Toilet Seat.
Just to prove that I can shop locally without feeling like I'm wasting the salesperson's time, I ventured out again to look at lights and had lots of help from The Lighting Gallery in Huntington. I explained what I was looking for and was directed to contemporary vanity lights. A few questions later and I had the perfect solution: a bar light that won't detract from the mosaic tile but will still make a statement and will fit in with the style of the house. I did have to pay NY sales tax but I got excellent service and I got to feel the merchandise too.
It's all coming together at last. Today, before 9:30 am FedEx dropped off the faucet and shower. The trim is promised, via the wonderful UPS tracking system, for Monday, the other things by the end of the month. The plumber is getting the actual toilet for me and the Grohe shower valve and now he, the handyman, the other contractor, my husband and myself have all agreed on the dimensions of the shower I can go ahead and order the base, safe in the knowledge that five people can't be wrong. Can they?