Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vanity/Sink Options


First, blogging friend and Urban Cottage supporter Tricia Rose from Rough Linen has received some wonderful news.  She's been nominated as a finalist in Martha Stewart's "American Made" contest!

Martha Stewart!

If you don't know Tricia already, she makes/sews the most beautiful linen products you've ever seen and she could use your support.  This is a great opportunity to support a small business without having to spend a dime, although you might find something pretty to buy too!  Please take moment to learn more about Tricia and show your support by voting.  

Go on.  I'll wait right here for you.

via Tokyo Jinga

Thank you for supporting Tricia!

Back to the bathroom.  Someone asked me if I would be doing a period bathroom for the downstairs/guest room.  And that's my difficulty with it.  The house was built in 1842 so a period bathroom would look a little something like this:

This might be a little too rustic so I'm looking for something a little more timeless.

Photo courtesy of Donna Seger, Streets of Salem

I've always felt a console sink would be a perfect timeless choice and I was happy to see 
 Edith Wharton's home built in 1905 in a recent blog post by local historian Donna Seger.   A console sink does eliminate the opportunity to incorporate some storage but it also maximizes visual space in a small bathroom.  But in a way, I feel it's a cop out.  I'd much rather have the challenge of finding something unique to repurpose.

One major limitation I have is space.  In the architect's plan, they've placed a 30-inch sink.  It appears like I might have a tiny bit of leeway but not much as all.


My biggest complaint about bathroom sinks is they tend to be too small.  They're fine for rinsing your fingers but try to wash your face and you've usually got a counter floating with water.  Don't you?  Maybe I just have a bog head.  

I do love this old chest with what looks like a chunky square basin.  I also the wall mounted fixtures on the marble tiled wall.  But vessel sinks seem to come with higher maintenance.  How do you clean behind it?


Here's another handsome bathroom with a vibe that fits my house but no storage underneath.  I don't mind the exposed plumbing at all.  If this had a lower shelf, a few basket could provide additional storage.

This has long been a favorite of mine since I saw it in--was it Country Living?  Rustic meets modern and little shelf below for storage.


This one's perhaps a tad too country but, again, I love the juxtaposition of the old chest and modern sink basin.  And it looks like a nice large one too.   And a little closed storage too.  

A big sink in a small space sacrifices counter space... 


...but maybe an adjacent built-in would provide a place for guests' toiletries...

..or perhaps a little narrow shelf above the sink for a few special soaps and toiletries
for a guest to pamper themselves.

So I have my mission.

I'm off to look for sink solutions.

Thanks to Camille whose bathroom Pinterest board I totally raided for inspiration.  I love your taste!


  1. ok, I'm back from voting.
    I've seen Rough Linen before, very cool, love her work.
    Now about the bathroom.
    I vote for the open console sink with the open shelving.
    I think it gives a clean simple look and you can display pretty bottles of stuff and some nice white towels.

  2. Before I go to visit Tricia, I have to say I totally howled over the outhouse look. You kill me. These images all appeal to me, but my biggest fear with vessel sinks is that the minute it gets a chip, it will be ruined and t hen you're stuck with it. I went to a designers house who had a stunning, hammered copper sink. I'm still in love w it. Can't wait to see what you do.

  3. I have a nice sized head and find a lot of sinks far too small...I like the large sink on the cabinet that you said looked could adapt it. Look on have some nice sinks at good prices or You could also use a kitchen butler sink and use it with a're so talented you can make anything work.

  4. Sink Boy:

    I think you must have a lot of extra brains in that big head of yours. That can be handy, I imagine. It is easy to clean behind vessel sinks. I think I like vessel sink that is fitted in half way. You WILL find the perfect foil. Cuz you'se got brains.

    vessel sink cleaner

  5. I voted! Laughed at the outhouse. Love the look of the white bathroom with vintage black and white photos. Love old cabinets used to hold a sink. Or new ones that look old. Get yourself a big sink, you deserve it!

  6. Good luck with the decision making. I hated going through them with our bathroom ... still not sure I made the best choice. Check ... lots of ideas.

    I was in your neck of the woods today, by the way - blisters on my feet from my burlap Toms, but WOW - what a beautiful area!!

  7. BON CHANCE.... and I can't wait to check out Tricia.

  8. Thank you sooo much for the boost Steve!

    I have seen loos with a wooden box built around to look like an old outhouse, including a very grand one in a castle. Just saying.

    My last three bathroom sinks I have put plain Ikea (yes, Ikea) sinks into handmade or altered bases. I like their generous size and squared off look, and you don't have to clean behind and under like vessel sinks. More money left to splurge on the carpentry!

  9. I just had a closer look , and the sink in the picture with the round mirror, maybe Country Living, is definitely an Ikea Hollviken, now superseded I think by the Lillangen.

  10. have you seen this blog/bath?

    The walls are covered in pool plaster! I KNOW what's gonna be in my next space...absolutely NO TILE.

    You may want more traditional/period-ish finishes...but imagine that plaster as a backdrop for an old dresser turned vanity with a funky sink.

    Maybe a trough for a sink?
    Then you can pick whatever size would fit :) Have it flash chrome plated. Or done in ORB. Or hand painted-something all modern artsy; it would make cleaning it more fun!

    What about a kitchen sink?
    Deep and functional. Lots of colors-even black.

    It will be cool , whatever you pick. Is that funky leak/peeling wall issue resolved yet?

  11. I've had a yen for some of that Rough Linen for some time now. It may be a self gift for an upcoming birthday that I want to celebrate in an indulgent way.
    The vessel sinks have always bothered me with the cleaning behind issue. I like lab sinks flush against the wall but that's just me.

  12. I just thought that the big lab sink on the chest could be nice in your kitchen greys or even arsenic green. Don't you already have one that colour?

  13. doing our bathroom at the moment too, so found this blog very apt, we have opted for an oak unit with a square porcelain sink mounted on ours......will keep watching yours.


  14. They are all so unique. I like all of them, but especially like when furniture is re-purposed into bathroom storage. Can you imagine having to use an out house? Gross! LOL!

  15. yay! tricia rose!

    I put double sinks into an old french chest and they turned out great - although my plumber will likely never speak to me again, donna

  16. Steve, thanks for highlighting Tricia. I've been voting for another artisan, but was so interested in Tricia's story and her beautiful linen pieces that I've voted for her also. Her work is simple, pretty and I'll bet it feels great - and her prices aren't terribly high considering it's all made by hand. I'm tempted to buy something!

    About your bathroom ideas, I love the look of an old-fashioned console sink (first choice for me) and also a refashioned wooden chest made into a sink. But I'd worry about a wooden surface getting water on it, unless it were well sealed. Whatever you go with, it'll be great, I'm sure. Look forward to seeing your progress.

  17. Whatever you decide on, the pale colours, these creams and whites, are the colours to go for, in a bathroom. They make you feel pampered, protected, clean, light.

  18. I wouldn't get too fancy on this Steve - and I think the vessel sink is definitely too trendy and you would regret it one day. I do love a pedestal in an old house (the oval one on my downstairs bath is from about 1905) and you could consider a porcelain one with two legs instead, in order to have the storage space/basket underneath. The bigger trough sinks look great mounted on the vintage wooden stands but they are annoying to use - no counter space!! But maybe you can remedy that with shelves - love those last two photos!! Now I'm off to check out the link to Tricia...

  19. Hello Steve, Thanks so much for the link! Last week was a busy back-to-school week but now I am happily catching up on your blog: I'm experiencing water problems, a yard sale and Martha's Vineyard via you!

  20. that outhouse photo was perfect comic timing!!First hoot of the morning!

  21. I had the coolest sink in our CA house...for some strange reason i never gave thought to the depth. It was very shallow and you had to be careful not to splash. Not sure if I would do it again...but it looked great. I'm kinda drawn to that rustic meets modern with the round mirror. personally, I think any under sink storage is like a black hole except in this example.

  22. My only suggestion is that you choose something with at least a little space around it so that any company you might have has somewhere to set their makeup bag, handbang, blow drier while they're getting ready. My guest bathroom has a terrible pedestal sink and my guest have to put their toiletry bags IN the sink which makes it hard to wash the gunk off their hands.

  23. I would love, love to have a set of Tricia's Linen sheets! I just voted.

    If you decide on a sink and vanity on legs, there are so many cool baskets you could put an extra set of towels in etc!

    Art by Karena

  24. I betcha you already have something cool up your sleeve and it's already being made into the perfect sinkhole.

    Am I right?

    I voted as suggested, now I'm off to check out her blog.

    Will I be sleeping on some of her linens?

    xo J.

  25. Hi, Steve,

    I got a good laugh from your correctly period bathroom. I like console sinks and like you, am not bothered to see plumbing if it's a nice chrome. But I would vote against baskets because they always end up with things in jumbles. Better to have cabinets or shelves, for sure!

  26. My half million dollar log cabin bathroom sucks. I gave it a lot of thought but the execution of contents doesn't work.

    Size of room, 5' x 8', rough sawed pine walls, floor, timber ceiling. White tile shower, white toilet, white 17" square sink. The mirror came from Restoration Hardware, one of the oval wood framed bullseye things but it is too big. Wall mounted faucet. The cost of things was not the problem it was just that what I chose did not look right when it all came together. I found a $5 adjustable wall mounted light at the Goodwill. The electrician is coming this week and I was desperate.

    I just wanted to insert a tale of failure amidst all the success stories.

    You say the plumbing showing under a sink doesn't bother you. How can that be? All those stupid pipes. We can land on Mars but we can't put the P Trap in the wall of a closet. Crap

    Good luck on your bathroom choices.

  27. Ann,
    This is what I'm trying to avoid. Picking a bunch of things that look great but crap when they're all pulled together. What you're going through sounds frustrating. I wish you could send us pictures. We'd all give you a big virtual hug of support.

  28. I like your image from Country Living...that might be the best choice for you - to get an extra large sink and incorporate it into a console with storage underneath. I agree with you on a timeless design---I love that in bathrooms. Happy sink shopping!

  29. Feel your was excruciating trying to find "something" to work in our log cabin...finally got antique wash stands and cut a hole in the top (saved the wood circle!!) and dropped in antique brass sinks. They have "stood the test of time" for almot 30 years now...just sayin. franki

  30. I assume to the left of the sink is an exterior wall? I like where your initial thoughts are going, Steve. Open base, with storage below... (Not totally sure about the light fixture hung directly over the sink.) What's going on with the wall space between the mirror and tub? Is it possible to squeeze in some attractive storage between the studs?


  31. Hey Steve -
    I think a repurposed small cabinet with doors below would be great. Maybe a small painted Swedish sideboard? They are usually a good height too, not too low.
    Keep us posted!
    PS - I just voted for Tricia - she is awesome!

  32. I am anxious to see what you choose. A bathroom remodel was on our next remodel list, but it will wait until all the water leak mess is repaired. I love to see old chests used for bathroom sinks. I am going to go check out Tricia. Bonnie

  33. May I suggest you look at the Kohler Memoirs Stately line of bathroom fixtures. The 30-inch pedestal sink is a beauty. So is the drop-in sink. And the WC - well, let me just say this is the first time I've ever had one I took a photograph of! The style would go well with your urban cottage. (PS I am not in any way connected to the Kohler company - just a happy customer!)

  34. Gosh, I've got a headache just remembering the bathroom choices we made. We chose a pedestal style for the upstairs guest bath because that bathroom has a lot of storage, but I now have a stool underneath it so that guests have a place to set down their stuff. HATE IT! The bath downstairs does have a cabinet under the sink, but the sink is so large there is only about six inches of counter all around it. WAY TO SMALL! Only the the master bathroom has sufficient counter space. A little counter space is "A Good Thing." And speaking of Martha, I love Tricia's linens and I voted!

  35. Voted for Tricia. Lovely linens. I will follow what you are doing in the guest bath with great interest. I am planning my own remodel, and I have the same layout and dimensions as yours. In another guest bath in my home, I used a console sink from RH. I wasn't crazy about the usual pipes, so I went for the extra expense of a contemporary p-trap. I have a full width basket under it filled with rolled towels. I also installed a large medicine cab from RH for all the goodies I like to have on hand for my guests. Without that, it is difficult when there is no closed cabinet to keep the room looking uncluttered.

    I think the time has passed for vessel sinks. I love the look of the full width rectangular type, but there is no counter surface, except for soap. This is fine for a powder room, but not for overnight guests.

    Have fun.

  36. Dear Mr. Cottage,

    I didn't know I could sent pictures to a blog. Do I just attach it? I'd be glad to do that.

    My cabin looks good from the outside but my bathroom - it just dies on the vine.


  37. Ann,
    You' have to attach them to an e-mail. urbancottageblog at gmail dot com if you able to do that.

  38. So much to say...

    First, I voted for Tricia. I love what she has to say about using texture.

    That photo with the round mirror comes from Tradhome's first issue. I remember because I loved it so much!

    Regarding using stained wood with your sink, you should talk to Lane of Urban Orchard Interiors. She has sinks in two bathrooms made from wood and uses tung oil to seal them. I've seen both in person and they're in great shape.

    Last, thanks for the shout out. I love your taste too. Obviously. :)


  39. I've wondered if water goes everywhere in the bathroom because the sink is too low rather than too small. Perhaps both which is why I like the one you said might be too rustic--putting that nice chunky sink on top of an old chest might bring it a little closer to the face!

    I prefer closed storage because I'm not the worlds neatest person. Counter space isn't my highest priority because I use a dressing table in the bedroom to do hair and make up. Might you have space for one in the guest room so you'd have more freedom for style in the bath?

  40. I will give it a try, that is sending you a picture. I go down to the cabin on weekends so next Monday I'll be sending you a picture of my log cabin and my lame bathroom. Ann

  41. I voted for Tricia too. Used to go to the Crane Estate in Ipswich for work. It was the 'summer house' (built 1910) of the Crane family of bathroom fixtures money. It was also used for the exterior set for 'The Witches of Eastwick' movie. Each bathroom fixture was different but of the same period. My favorite (if memory serves) was the 2 clear (glass?) 3+" diameter rods holding up the front of a 30"d x 36" wide marble wall mounted table with inlaid sink. The simplicity, transparency, and lack of embellishments of those legs got me!