We need to decide on a…

We need to decide on a master bathroom vanity much sooner than I'd realized -- the plumbers want to be installing things in about two weeks. Eep. So we're on a mad vanity hunt; hoping to make a decision this weekend. There's a ton of space available -- we could go up to 7 ft. in length. I was looking at a bunch of traditional-style vanities, especially after various of you pointed out the splash issues with the raised vessel ones (particularly a problem because we'd been thinking of just using a sealed wood top, which means excessive splashing should be avoided).

And then I stumbled across this beauty, with its gorgeously exposed plumbing (so steampunk!). I love the clean lines, the carved but simple details, the weathered finish to the faded wood. (Sorry the image is so tiny -- click-through for the big, zoomable version.)

Leaving aside the price issue for now, that leaves the question of practicality. At first glance, I would have thought that this would provide insufficient storage for all those unattractive bits of bathroom miscellany that gets crammed into drawers -- half-open tampon boxes, extra toothbrushes in their packaging, etc. But there'll be another tall cabinet in the room (eventually, when we can afford it), which can be at least in part closed storage if needed. And the open storage here is actually potentially more efficient than closed in terms of space, since nothing is getting eating up by doors or sides or false cubbies in front of the plumbing, etc.

As long as we get several matching bins for storage (perhaps some of them with closed lids, like the bamboo ones I got for my art supplies from The Container Store), this could actually be quite efficient. No? Tell me if you think I'm crazy. (But keep in mind that I kind of love open storage, when done neatly/cleanly. In our kitchen, we're planning to have several shelves of open storage, where dishes / glasses / vases / spices / etc. will live. I know some of this is a taste thing, and that for many people, the very idea of open storage is the work of demonic influences...)

Which takes us back to price -- oof. I haven't researched this much, but $1000-$1500 or so doesn't seem entirely out of line with what's available for nice double bathroom vanities. (Is that totally wrong? Is Amazon deeply misleading on this score?) The price does include both sinks, which is something. And we're not interested in the super-expensive marble version, but it's unclear to me whether the wood base has an actual top that can be exposed to the air (and sealed appropriately), or if it just has holes outside the sinks, and requires having some sort of top attached. I'd be happy with a wood top, and thrilled with a zinc one, but we're already having stress issues trying to figure out the zinc issues for the island (cost of zinc itself - $200; cost of having someone make a zinc top, apparently $2000 (!) -- we're trying to find a better alternative). I have a call in to RH to ask what the wood base actually has for a top right now, so hopefully they can call back with info soon.

But any advice / thoughts on this would be welcome. Sometimes, I am too easily seduced by the pretty. And this piece is so very very pretty.

8 thoughts on “We need to decide on a…”

  1. They have a similar-looking freestanding kitchen cabinet at Ikea which you might be able to modify. Have you looked for any salvage-type places out your way?

    You could also use an old piece of furniture for a sink, which is what I eventually want to do.

    You also have a master carpenter. Can you take him that picture and find out how much he would charge to build something like that? Then all you’d have to buy would be the sinks.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Sadly, my master carpenter is wonderful, but not cheap. In general, it seems it costs more to have him build things than to buy them. Sigh. We’re mostly sticking to having him build the structural bits that keep our house from falling down…

    The salvage places in Chicago itself unfortunately know that the locals value this stuff, and charge accordingly — what I find there generally costs notably more than the equivalent pieces at places like Anthropologie or Restoration Hardware.

    Using an old piece of furniture was the original plan, and I’ve been keeping an eye out at various antique stores, flea markets, yard sales, etc. for several months now. To no avail! I haven’t seen *anything* the right size, even. Very frustrating. And I think we’re running up against the deadline now, or I would keep looking. Nadeau did have one piece that would have worked, but it sold before I had a chance to go up and and look at it (their pieces often sell on the day they come in, which is frustrating now that they’re an hour away).

    I’ll look at the Ikea one — thanks! Although ability to modify is probably beyond us.

  3. You could also put a pretty fabric across the front–maybe just over the top half where the exposed plumbing is–to hide the unattractive necessaries. If you left the bottom uncovered, then you could use the attractive storage bins there.

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Oh, good thought, Dayle — very Victorian, too. 🙂 They would have done it in a flowered chintz, but I’d be more likely to do a grey velvet or some such…

    Will keep it in mind if we go with this style.

  5. As you know, I’m more on the “open storage is demonic” side, but honestly, is there anything attractive besides towels in bathroom supplies? Also on the practical side, everything is much more accessible to little hands if there isn’t even a door in the way. You’ll have to store all potentially hazardous (or simply valued) possessions elsewhere.

    I don’t think the price is bad though. Have Pam tell you what it would cost to make a standard wood vanity of the same width from a couple different places (it shouldn’t take long). I think this piece is cheaper.

    Also, just a thought. We have standard varnished cabinets in our boat and they show lots of drips/sloshes and permanent marks from toothpaste which is apparently caustic (although you can also use it to fix harmed wood, so there you go). Anyway, the only way to make them look nice again is to strip and revarnish. Our new bathroom cabinets at home are also wood but have a different kind of varnish which isn’t supposed to have the same kind of trouble.

    And wait, another thought. If you use baskets under the sink you’ll likely be pulling them in and out every day. Will bamboo start scratching the wood finish?

    This sounds like I’m negative about them and I’m not. Just afraid. They can look pretty 🙂

  6. Mary Anne,
    The original water closets were a compact folding combination of sanitary bowl and a wash basin on top. They also had a framed mirror.
    They were a cabinet makers tour de force.
    The furniture piece you show is more utilitarian as would have been found in a scullery or kitchen.
    I have to agree with Kirsten on the issue of keeping the cleaning supplies and other insundries out of the kids hands. Definitely have a separate storage unit for those.
    Looking at the whole picture, consider how a pair of nicely framed mirrors and several ornate shelves would compliment the plain look of the wooden tables. Perhaps several ornate towel rods set between the mirrors would add interest.
    Yes, I guess you need to tie this down soon so the plumbers set the piping exact to match the sink locations.
    Instead of looking in Chicago for the table, head in the opposite direction and visit some of the old farming communities and their antique shops. Not that they would charge less, but you might have a better selection as well as help to visit out of the way collectors.

  7. Keep in mind that if you use something open like this that the plumbers will have to be quite neat and maybe even use different fittings that normal. I am seeing lots of the PVC drains these days…you won’t want that if you’re doing an open look like this. They’ll have to be very careful to center the fittings, cut the inlet hoses exactly to length and use all metal fittings. Could be more expensive..definitely more fiddly.

  8. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Megan, good point on fixtures — will keep that in mind and check with contractor!

    Dennis, I do already have ornate mirrors in mind. 🙂 These: http://www.novica.com/itemdetail/index.cfm?pid=92257

    I’m hoping I can attach them to the front of medicine cabinets…

    We’re going to spend Tuesday running around to antique stores out in the suburbs to see if we can find something similar. Sadly, time is the most precious commodity at the moment; with the kids and work, we have very little time for shopping!

    Kirsten, I don’t actually think we’ll be pulling them in and out all that often. I hardly use most of the stuff that ends up in our bathroom! Basic days: soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss on counter. Shampoo, conditioner, more soap in shower. Towels. Toilet paper. I think that’s it for regular use!

    I do think most bathroom supplies can be pretty, once you take them out of their packaging. Q-tips, emery boards, assorted nail polishes, assorted perfumes — even tampons, if you get the kind in white cardboard and stack them. Not that I use tampons or pads anymore — hooray for the IUD…

    And we’re planning on recessed medicine cabinets, so I think all the actual poisonous medicines can go in there. Cleaning supplies do need to be in a closed cabinet somewhere, though.

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