Bath

TBT: The original sink

In what I rank as the biggest salvage find thus far, we managed to get our hands on the original sink to our house. Finding good stuff can be summarized into two steps: being at the right place at the right time, and not being afraid to ask: can I have that?

Lucky for us, we happen to be walking down the street on trash day, when our neighbor asked us if we thought sanitation would take it. I am so glad we were able to grab it.

The two original bathrooms to our house are very very tiny. I’ve embraced that fact and let go of my old dream of a humongous bathroom. Who needs that? I’m over it. I want original, a fact that has been met with some opposition by the husband, who wishes to have a bathroom large enough so that he can towel off without having to open the door. Details!

Anyway.

Bathroom plan

This the original drawing for the bathroom by Daniel McDicken, the builder. As you can see, there isn’t much space.

(pardon the blurry photo. It was really hard to take pictures at the DOB and not be trampled by developers. A metaphor for what is happening in Brooklyn? Hmmm…)

Before finding the sink and the plans, we figured this must have been a small wall mounted sink. Turns out, it was a small sink with a darling marble counter:

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A tiny under mount sink. How cute is that?

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We have located a skinny bathtub (29 inches wide), and now we just need a toilet. And of course, to install everything. Details, details…

 

Another find from the trash heap

There has been a change in the construction crew at the gut reno project in my neighborhood.

(I say this as if there is only one. Sadly, there are many, but that’s fodder for another soapbox).

The construction foreman, who was saving me the stuff, is no more. It’s back to chucking everything onto the pile in the front yard. Sigh. It seems the same law of physics that makes the toast always land butter side down also dictates that anything worth saving is alway at the bottom of the pile.

(I am trying not to think about the intact garden level trim that was so carefully removed, now tossed)

Once in a while, however, there is good stuff to be found at the top. Case in point: a broken medicine cabinet. I found this when I accidentally/on purpose took the long way to the bodega.

Medicine Cabinet1

The mirror is long gone, but the worst part is that this cute little medicine cabinet was basically ripped out of the wall.

Medicine Cabinet2The back is gone, as is one of the sides.

glass knob

It has a pretty knob (probably not original) and a pretty piece of hardware underneath (not sure original to the cabinet, but it is of the period because we have the same kind in our house).

glass knob2

I think originally it had a locking latch, given the notched out part that has been filled (or is that the lock, hiding under all that paint?)

Peeling Paint

It’s covered in several thick layers of paint – but that’s pretty much every piece of woodwork in my life right now. I’m confident it can be made pretty again. As a point of comparison, this is what the medicine cabinet original to our house looks like mid strip. It too was shellacked in layers and layers of paint.

Victorian Medicine Cabinet2

(lame flash photo. The overheads were casting a huge shadow inside, and I was too lazy to drag the big work light over).

It has all the pieces, including the locking latch (see notched out part on the left?)

Victorian Medicine Cabinet

I’m really interested in the woodwork from that particular gut reno, because the house was built around the same time as ours, and by the same builder. I figured it’s the best chance to find the closest match for what is not longer here. Once I strip my little find, replace the plywood with a mirror, and cajole the hubs to rebuild the side and back, it will be pretty once again.

 

 

What is this thing?

paint covered thing

(besides covered in an unholy amount of paint)

This mystery bit of hardware is attached to the chair rail in our tiny bathroom. It never occurred to me,  until now, to wonder why there is  chair rail in our 27 square foot bathroom.  Maybe to top off long-gone bead board? The location of the bathroom is original to the house, and the chair rail matches the type in the kitchen and dining room.

Anyway, this strange object is attached to both sides of the pocket door (one by the toilet side, one by the sink side).

Paint covered thing2

It looks like it’s meant to hold something, but what? Can’t be a towel hook, because it would make the towel hang almost in the toilet.

I spent way too much time poking around online vintage plumbing suppliers to see if I could find a fixture that looked like it might fit.  I didn’t find anything, however, I did come across the worst plumbing-related invention ever. Behold, the folding urinal:

The Victorians never cease to amaze.

An itsy bitsy bathroom

Our house is a work in progress. It’s livable, depending of course of what your living standards are (in this case, a notch better than camping).  We knew going in that it would be a lot of work and we were OK with that. There was electrical and plumbing work that needed to be done. Asbestos that needed to be removed. Rotting floors, crumbling plaster and leaky skylights. Whatever was a safety issue was addressed.  And yet, the thing that gave me nightmares was this:

SAMSUNGThe green bathroom of doom. I don’t know why I obsessed so much about this room, given everything else that needed (and still needs) fixing in our house.  I hate this room to the core of my being. It occupies the side of the parlor floor, a room that one day will be our kitchen. To make that happen, the bathroom will move back to its original location, the glorious 27 square feet of space wedged between the staircase and the green bathroom.

Our first thought was to make it a powder room, since for a toilet and sink, 27 square feet is quite spacious. But then we got to thinking… if we are going to redo a bathroom, why not put a tub in there, too? We both feel strongly it should be a period appropriate bathroom, which means a claw foot tub. We played around with potential layouts:

With tubWith tub is a tight squeeze – similar to what we have upstairs in the shower of sadness.

No tubRemoving the tub would make the room feel luxuriously large, by comparison.

We could add two additional feet to the room if we closed the hallway which leads to the rear parlor (current site of the green bathroom, future location of our kitchen), but removing the hallway access will make our parlor floor very railroad-y. We’re not huge fans of  the no walls/open concept HGTV nonsense, and we want to respect the history of the house – thus the hallway stays.

We found the original medicine cabinet in the basement, which will be re-finished and re-installed. We have some salvage wall sconces, which need to be re-wired. In addition, I’m thinking a small wall of Brooklyn Toile from Flavorpaper:

BROOKLYN TOILE

Hex tile with a simple border on the floor, a subway tile wainscoting (if we go with the tub). We need to source a super tiny sink, a pocket door, and maybe a super cool toilet (not only is it Victorian, but it will save crucial wall space)

Watercloset

 

Right now everything is up in the air. It’s about collecting the right pieces so that the plumbing can be done accordingly. I’m going to guess that progress is going to be slow…

Wallpaper

It’s pretty safe to say that we are light years away making decorating choices for our parlor floor – and yet sometimes you just have to give in and imagine the light at the end of the restoration tunnel.

A while back I read about a Brooklyn-themed wallpaper pattern designed by Beastie Boy Mike D. Ever since then I kept imagining what this crazy toile style paper would look in our yet to be built period power room. I’m not a wallpaper person – quite on the contrary – but I loved the idea of using a very traditional style (in this case toile) with an unexpected twist.

So I googled my way over to Flavor Paper and spent some time day dreaming about what out teeny tiny powder room may look like with this, this, this or this. I ordered  samples and I realized I’m not any closer to a decision. But it was a lovely distraction from the less fun aspects of bringing an old house back to life. It may be a while, but Flavor Paper, I’m coming for you!.

The Air/Light Shaft

Back when we had our home inspection, we found out that our house had a air/light shaft. These were somewhat common in brownstones as a way to provide ventilation and a bit of light to parts of the house that have no windows – a problem when your house is stuck on the house next door, leaving only the front and back for windows.

The top floor kitchen and bathroom had windows that were sealed with paint, as did the parlor floor bathroom/closet. Curiosity eventually got the best of us and we pried one of the windows open.

The inside of the shaft looked like something out of a movie – doesn’t this look like an abandoned factory where the bad guys are holding the action hero hostage?

Clearly, the shaft is going to need a bit of work. But having a source of light and ventilation for our bathrooms is something  super awesome, regardless of how scary it looks inside.

The Micro-Bathroom

Bathrooms in brownstones are notoriously tiny, and our micro-bathroom is no exception. Coming in at a spacious 52 inches by 64 inches, it features a full size tub, a pedestal sink, a toilet and no standing room to speak of. The space is so small there is no room for a toilet paper holder, and any  miscalculation while approaching the toilet will land you in the tub or out in the hallway. Yes, it’s that tiny.

(can someone explain to me why people insist in having bathtubs? This bathroom would feel much bigger if it had a stand up shower instead, but I digress)

There are some features I really like: the tin ceiling and the air shaft window.

Currently everything is caked up in gobs of beige paint. We’re working on freeing up the window, which will add much needed ventilation, and perhaps stop the tin ceiling from rusting. Eventually we plan on turning this space into our master closet – sometime in the distant future. In the mean time, this is where we shower.

There is a room exactly the same size directly below our micro bathroom. The previous owners had turned it into a closet, keeping the tile and soapdish intact. We tore it out and will be turning it into a powder room in the not so distant future.