Ask the Audience: Powder Room Vanity (and a sneak peek)
The powder room is 75% done and it’s ready for a mini-reveal. I don’t want to spoil the full reveal so this is just a tiny peak. When we bought the house the powder room was in the old servants hallway (sounds very fancy, but it wasn’t). It was small, as powder rooms are, and it needed some love. Here is the original floor plan, pre-renovation.
We’ve added the graphic to show you where the original powder room was, but basically you couldn’t get to the powder room except through that utility hallway. And then when you finally got to it, it was in very vintage condition if you know what I mean.
The new floor plan opened up the bathroom to the entry, kitchen and den to make it more functional and usable, so it became a big opportunity to do something fun, but not crazy and it wasn’t where I wanted to spend a ton of money.
Here is what it looked like before:
The sink was actually charming but needed a facelift and everything else had to go. We shoved the whole thing down (taking up the space where the shower was) and made it smaller, but still super livable (and getting a bigger utility/laundry room has been key to my sanity).
Here is the mood board for the original design of the room. It’s the usual “playful modern english country” that you see/feel throughout the rest of the house.
We installed beadboard to give it some architectural interest and to continue the casual country feel, but then we blew it up with that awesome hand-painted wallpaper. Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this paper is special because it’s stamped with paint – it’s not just printed. It’s SO, SO pretty. The taupe color-way of this paper might be my favorite paper of all time, but I wanted something more fun in here, although there are times when I wished it were the more neutral color. The rest of the pieces are classic – unlacquered brass throughout that has already patina’d perfectly. And the toilet and vanity are simple and classic, with a slightly more edgy light fixture (which was a theme throughout the house).
But, of course things changed. We realized that the space is crazy tight and there wasn’t room for a big vanity + they didn’t plumb for a pedestal and instead plumbed for a cabinet-style vanity. In other words the newly installed plumbing was too wide for the back of the small vertical pedestal to cover. That is obviously fixable but the inspections were in 2 days and we needed to pass in order to move in to the house. So we found this one at Ikea and installed it to get through inspections:
I was shocked by how well it worked. Sure, I knew it was cheap but nobody else would have said anything if I hadn’t profusely apologized for this vanity to everyone who toured the new house. there was a lot of ‘don’t worry, we are switching out the vanity, this is just temporary and of course we aren’t going to mix in that modern chrome faucet with the light or the vibe of the house….. ‘. But everyone just looked at me like I was nuts. And then I thought, well, am I?. It really looked pretty good and the scale of it is perfect. Just not as amazing as I wanted:
So we wallpapered and I even found the perfect mirror at an antique store for $60. That mirror is so old and shaky that you can barely apply lipstick, but we don’t care. It’s so pretty and the perfect size/shape and that old glass is gorgeous in there against the wallpaper.
Now that we are trying to finish everything for the house I want to really address this vanity situation. Everything is locked in and installed except the vanity. The sconce is awesome (modern to edge up the bead board and the wallpaper), the mirror is perfect, the tile is good to go…. it’s just this stupid vanity situation.
So we have three options – and while I’m leaning heavily towards one of them, there is a great debate around me and not everyone agrees. So, obviously its time to ask a few hundred thousand of my favorite friends in hopes that you agree with me and I can stop making my case about such an innocuous thing.
This first option is what already exists – an Ikea vanity, but replaced with a better faucet. It’s not bad, but as an interior designer I’m not inspired. But I also don’t want to obsess about every single detail in the house and I know that with the right faucet it would be FINE. At some point I have to stop bleeding money. It’s not amazing but it is definitely good enough. If this weren’t my job I would definitely just replace the faucet but it is my job so I have to/get to obsess about perfection. I’m both lucky and annoying.
But what about option #2:
This option is retrofitting an antique music cabinet that isn’t the right height, but could be great in every other way. I found it at an antique mall for $200 and I didn’t need it at the time but I loved it so much. Now as I realize I need a vanity I’m super tempted to use this. It’s too tall and it’s pretty petite size-wise but it’s so pretty. And I always think that being beautiful is more important than having the exact perfect proportions. I can retrofit this and it will be stunning. Possibly not perfect, but totally wonderful.
The cons – it will cost a lot in mental annoyance. We need to take it apart, buy an under-mount sink, carve out the back and top, get the marble fabricated and I’m sure problem-solve the entire time. This option will definitely cost me way more time and stress, but it will make me so much happier (and be much cheaper than #3). Speaking of …
This option is customizing a furniture style vanity. It would be fabricated by the cabinet makers that did our kitchen and they did impeccable work. It would be simple and a small scale, but to make it more interesting I would put a grate where the panels are and behind the grate I would put a cute little ruffled curtain. I know it’s terribly sweet, but I like that it feels special and shakes it up a bit.
I’m not dead set on the faucet, but I don’t think we have time to get the unlacquered brass finish – long story but we ordered two of these faucets when we thought that we were going to do a single sink/double wide vanity in the master bathroom. But we ended up getting a double vanity and stealing the faucet from this sink so we had two. Since we are shooting the house in 6-7 weeks, I may not be able to get that finish and mixing in a different brass isn’t ideal (the hand towel, toilet paper and the flush are all unlaquered brass). Thus the black faucet (there is both black and matte gold in the light). We have left-over marble from the kitchen for the top (my favorite marble ever) and lastly we would probably put a cute little colored stripe as the curtain – like a pinstripe, ticking, or the safest choice would be a pretty washed linen. It’s hard to render that out properly so you’d have to trust me that we’d make it look WONDERFUL. We rendered all three options side by side with pricing below to give you an idea of how they could all look.
1: Leave Ikea vanity, change out faucet. Pros: It’s easy, inexpensive and works with the style of the house. Cons: It’s fairly uninteresting and isn’t a real portfolio piece.
2. Retrofit a music cabinet – with marble top, under-mount sink, new faucet. Cons: A lot of managing of time with many sub-contractors and it will cost some (I realized that I didn’t really factor in the cost of the faucet in there, too). Retrofitting and install would be $300 (I got two quotes, one for $1200 and one for $250 – HA), marble fabrication would be $200 + sink and faucet costs.
3. Have a custom vanity made via cabinet maker with cut out window for grill and fabric. Cons: $1000 in labor + marble (left over). Fabrication of the marble might cost $250. Pro: Someone else manages, high end finishes, unique but still simple. Install would be $150 – $300.
Obviously those costs are rough but after getting some quotes I think those are good ballpark numbers. Here are the costs of the rest of the powder room thus far: Wallpaper: $690 (gifted), Beadboard: $220 (needed 11 pieces. They are sold as 16′ at $1.25 per linear foot), Paint: $100, Floor Tile: $113.12, Toilet: $1219.24, Mirror: $60, Light: $420 (gifted).
After considering everything I am leaning towards #2. I think it’s special and interesting but it’s more affordable and more approachable. Getting a $1000 tiny cabinet made feels a tad insane, but at the same time I don’t want my retrofitted cabinet to be janky and rickety in the long run and regret it. Here’s what it looks like now, but let me know what you guys think.
What do you think guys? Option 1, 2 or 3???
***Sneak Peek photo by Tessa Neustadt