Bonfire of the Vanities

vanity 1119

Dusty thought he was done with our house. Yesterday was going to be his last day, except for one replacement part. But no, ‘twas not to be. And can you guess the source of the problem? Why, my bathroom vanity, of course.

The sub-contractor who caused him the most grief on our build, the concrete guy, has come through in much better stead on Dusty’s newest project, which is allowing him to take advantage of our unseasonably warm weather and start weeks ahead of schedule.

[Yes, while the rest of the country freezes, Lynn and I are still opening windows because the house is otherwise too warm in the afternoon. We will need this to change soon, which I believe is forecast for Wednesday, but in the meantime those of us in Gunnison, who didn’t get much of a summer, are enjoying the extended nice weather.]

Yesterday whatever Dusty needed to do couldn’t happen until the frost lifted off something, so he thought they’d quickly come install the vanity, perhaps even get to the backsplash. Then it was a matter of replacing the cracked plate in my solar tube, but the wrong part got sent (or ordered). There’s a difference between “diffuser” and “complete diffuser,” it turns out. Once the part arrives, that should be a quick swap-out, and then done, gone. [Which means he has given my steam shower no further thought. I believe I will just give my work electrician a crack at it.]

But, as one of a series of bad financial moves I have made in recent months, I decided to get my vanity from True Value.

We initially went into True Value to talk about appliances and cabinetry sometime in the spring. When we went in, he had just had his cabinet line taken away from him because his volume wasn’t high enough. He found a new line, and in the meantime I purchased his demo cabinets for our laundry room at what seemed like a good price. Already, though, Dusty has had to shore up a sagging hinge, and one cabinet, which may be holding more weight than intended (dog and cat food), barely rolls in and out. So, not the best quality, and good we didn’t go that route for all our cabinets.

Lynn got her kitchen cabinets from Custom Home Accents, which also had vanities. But I couldn’t find anything like what I was looking for, and when it was going to cost $250 to ship my one vanity (because there was nothing else she needed to order just then), that put the price in the range of what it would cost to have Dusty custom-build exactly what I wanted. That’s where I should have gotten off the train.

But then True Value told me – and I’m sure this is what he told me, but I don’t seem to have it written down anywhere – that he could get me a vanity for half that price, no shipping, in three weeks. This was going to be cutting it close to our move-in date of mid-August, but it seemed my most cost-effective, and quickest, option.

Well, ha, I say, the laughter ringing hollow now that it is mid-November.

The first vanity actually did arrive only a week beyond predicted delivery, but when Dusty and Sam went to unpack it, they discovered the drawer base was higher than the cabinet. And both of them were bright orange when I thought I was ordering a natural maple finish.

Those went back to True Value, and because the color had been so different from the catalogue, I asked to see actual wood samples. Which didn’t come for another month. I looked and looked and looked at the samples, then gave up and went with a color I didn’t have a sample of: black, to match the sink and toilet.

I placed my order and waited the scheduled three weeks. Then I waited another week. And another week. It snowed for two days in October, and that’s when the company finally decided to send its truck. The driver announced he would not be going any farther west than I-25 and there was my vanity, stuck in Denver until the cabinet rep brought them over this week.

Having learned through three microwaves, we opened the boxes in the store and inspected them. The drawers looked a lot narrower than I was banking on, so I even took out my tape measure to make sure that base was 15 inches wide. And it is, but the drawers are only nine inches across, because in this brave new idiotic world of soft-close cabinetry and form over function, it’s so much more about appearance than use. So that’s disappointing, and the construction flaws in the cabinet (small gaps, and the door opens from the wrong side) didn’t help, but the price tag was the most off-putting: it was almost double what I’d been told back in July, and he gave the impression he wanted to charge more but didn’t feel he should under the circumstances.

My best guess is that when he quoted me a price, new as he was to this company, he told me the wholesale price and I didn’t question it because I was finding similar prices all over the internet, which I also scoured, trying to find a vanity I wanted.

I have nothing written down and it is now mid-November and I am still living out of boxes, so I kicked myself multiple times mentally, paid the much-higher-than-anticipated price and brought the vanity home. Dusty and Sam came to install it, and like me, they didn’t stop to measure the cabinet first. They cut a hole in the back for the plumbing, went to put the natural maple countertop on — and discovered that this vanity is 35 inches wide rather than the 42 it’s supposed to be.

We made the plumber move the toilet over specifically to maximize the width of the vanity, but that aside, the sink won’t fit in this shrunken size. Fortunately, Dusty went back to True Value so I didn’t have to, and now I am waiting until Dec. 19 (be sure to mark that on your calendars) for a replacement cabinet. Until it snows and the trucker won’t go past I-25.

I could put my items in the drawer base, because that won’t be changing, except that Dusty for some reason didn’t attach the drawer pulls (which will really interfere with the sleek look I like better), and it’s disappointing that the drawers aren’t any wider than nine inches. (Seriously? Six inches of wasted space — what does that get anyone?)

Because I don’t read books written by men who only wear white suits (a rule I just made up to excuse myself for not reading either Tom Wolfe or Truman Capote), I am unfamiliar with Bonfire of the Vanities. But less than five minutes of internet research turns up the interesting factoid that this title has a/n historical origin: on Shrove Tuesday 1497 in Florence, Italy, religious “purists” threw into a bonfire all manner of cosmetics, art and books — objects that make us vain.

Today I am right there with an ancient Dominican friar: let us cast out these overpriced vanities and live our lives in simpler fashion, perhaps out of cardboard boxes instead. It would certainly make things easier, and not cause my expectations to soar too high.

Drawer pulls, in narrow little drawers rather than on them. This is how modern furniture works. Or doesn’t.

drawer pulls 1119

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