Vanity, Thy Name is TL

vanity 0619
Unadorned, basic, clean lines . . . who knew finding something similar would be so impossible?

Our friend Carol returned last week from her six-month California sojourn. Recently retired, this is the longest she’s been away from home — although she spent the time at her ancestral home — probably since she left her point of origin in the first place. So she sounded a touch surprised to find everything in her house unchanged. “I reach for something and it’s right where I expect it to be,” she reported.

I didn’t follow that further with her, but I have been thinking about it since she said it a few days ago. I imagine she probably had to do some hunting for things, even while in the house she grew up in, the last six months, and after being gone such a stretch of time it’s probably nice to know that you haven’t lost your “muscle memory” (that’s what we call it in tap, when your feet do something without you having to think about it) with your regular place of residence.

I am — I hope this doesn’t surprise you — probably the king of wanting things to be right where I expect them to be. Lynn has been here closing in on 17 years, and she was allowed to rearrange the furniture one time. I still miss the old configuration.

And now I am getting ready to upend 40-, 50-ish years of life in one configuration for a completely new one. Knowing me as I do, one bedroom and bath in the new house were designed to look familiar. Even there, “same” will be different: the new steam shower has the controls and water at the west end rather than the east; the bedroom door ends the hallway instead of coming off it; the light switches are all on walls opposite of where they are here (I will just be stumbling in the dark more than I usually do) — but it will be similar.

The part that I honestly thought was going to be easiest about this is now turning out to be more difficult than I could have possibly imagined, and it is now serving as an endless source of stress. How hard could it be to find a bathroom vanity?

Well, a lot harder thank you think. Or than I thought.

I should have had an inkling when I first wandered the “vanity aisle” at Home Depot and couldn’t find anything that I liked. But I was browsing, not seriously shopping, months ago, and what really depressed me was how vanities came in pieces: box, top, sink, faucet. Every one of them a separate choice, and every choice with 1,000 options, most of them ugly.

Lynn, who has made an entire hobby out of searching for house bits part by part (we are wondering what she’s going to do with herself when all the bits are found), started off in an easy place: she repurposed an heirloom for her vanity. And finally settled on a vessel sink (not the one that lights up, sadly) and a faucet that no one but she will know how to operate. Done.

Months ago, when Dusty made it sound like installation was imminent, I found a sink. I did not spend time in Lynn increments; I typed in “black bathroom sink” and picked one. Yes, it’s black. (I think; I haven’t ever opened the box to check. I don’t even know where the box is.) There are, in this whole entire world, no good colors for bathroom fixtures, so I defaulted to “macho.”

At the time, I also selected a piece of Formica that looked like wood for my countertop, except Dusty never ordered it and much later told me it was just the Formica and not actually the countertop. At the time, I was envisioning wood or faux wood flooring, so I thought I’d get a black vanity to go with the sink, and faux wood on top to go with the floor.

But now the floor is oceanic, or sea-ic, really, since the color is called Adriatica, so I figured maybe I’d go with a wood look for the vanity. And use leftover flooring for the top. Dusty put the kibosh on that due to the likelihood of the counter getting wet, but he will let me use a Marmoleum sheet of the same color. (Don’t laugh; Taco Bell uses Marmoleum for counters and walls.)

But now every “off the rack” vanity I can find on-line already comes with a counter and sink (no faucet — we haven’t gone there yet, although I told Dusty the one pictured with my sink would be perfectly fine). And the majority of them are astoundingly ugly.

From looking at them, I have learned I have some distinct preferences, so we can mark this as a growth experience for me. I thought a vanity would be a vanity. Ha!

I don’t want one with legs, the way they all seem to come. That little space underneath is just a catcher for dust and animal toys, like the underside of the bookcase I’m looking at right now. And the hardware on most of these vanities is really off-putting. They come with so many drawers and cabinets in such a small space that when I look, all I see is a mile of chrome, or polished brass, or whatever one might use to open the drawers. The one I have now comes with little finger cut-outs and no pulls of any sort, and now I know I like this much sleeker look.

If you don’t go with a pre-fab vanity, then you have to consult a cabinet company, and most of them spend endless pixels on pictures of their wood and corner options, but no space whatsoever on actual configurations. Nor is there anything even ballparking prices. Not even hints, like “cherry is more expensive than oak.” Nothing.

Dusty did send me to a site he can get get direct, Kitchen Kompact, a family-owned, made-in-U.S. company with forest and LEED certification. He also billed them as “inexpensive.” And they even provided a spec sheet showing the box options one can get, along with the four wood colors they do. All of this seemed workable.

And then. It turns out the configuration I wanted only comes in a 36-inch vanity. My current vanity is 43 inches, and I use all of it (my SpongeBob toothpaste I look at but don’t use has to go somewhere). And more important, Dusty scraped and sweated and made the plumber move the toilet over to get me a 42-inch space in the new bathroom. I really don’t want his effort to go to waste.

So at 4 this morning I was back on the hunt for vanities. I found an overly ornate one that looked nice . . . but it’s 38 inches. And there’s the pesky counter and sink I don’t need.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I have to come up with one soon. I do not need to be wasting perfectly good stress on a stupid piece of bathroom furniture when there are so many other, better things to use it on.

Not sure where the Adriatic Sea is? Coach can help:

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