Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Spring Cleaning, Spring Dreaming

So we've begun the transition from bitter winter to summer heat. I'm dismayed that it's going to be one of those years where it's in the 30s one minute, and the 90s the next. Sure, right now it's in the 50s and 60s, but the humidity and wind make it feel much colder, yet I'm sweating all at the same time!

Well, Sunday was a soggy day and during the lulls of my open house, I started thinking about my OWN real estate - my 1 bedroom coop in Kensington, where I've lived the past 8 years this June. I bought it when I was 24 (yes, you do the math!), and it's served me and my sweetheart well. But it's definitely looking lived-in now, and nowhere so much as the bathroom.

Our bathroom was straight outta the 80s when I bought it. Actually, that's rather new for my building, where many of the units still sport their vintage 30s enamel soaking tubs in cranberry, and sometimes salmon pink or lime green art deco era tile as well.

My bathroom was obviously redone in the 1980s, but with powder blue-gray tile all throughout the shower, walls, and floor, and a shallower tub (still long and deep enough to accommodate my 6'3" sweetie, who loves to soak!) also in powder blue-gray. A captain's sink (suspended from the wall, with no vanity underneath to hide the pipes) matches. You'd think that a Civil War enthusiast chose the color scheme.

I have long harbored dreams of doing a designer rehab throughout my little home - it could be maximized to so well will all the amazing technologies that we have now. At the very least, I want to strip the moldings and window frames to get the globs of dried paint off them. But the bathroom, that place that you go for peace in all the urban lore, it brings me deep sadness... probably because of all the blue-gray!

Let's face it, in today's economy, income is a precarious thing, and I'd be a fool to undertake such a renovation at the moment. I mean, that room needs a gut renovation. I'd love to re-orient the tub to the back of the bathroom so that I can rip out the sink and have a real vanity. And possibly even (gasp!) a single-unit washer/dryer tucked under part of the vanity! The art-deco laundry hamper - currently housing our excess toilet paper - would go and make room for a larger set-in cabinet that could hold most of our medicines and some towels. Oh, to have some real color in the bathroom, but not much. I love cobalt blue and probably a border of that with black accents against classic New York subway tile.

But again, that's easily a $25,000 renovation, much of it eaten up by the custom bathtub and moving the plumbing. Not really something I can take on right now, and not a do-it-yourself type project either, since there's only one bathroom in my apartment and two people depend on it.

But.... I realized that just replacing the sink might have a nice warm-fuzzy feeling effect. The sink is really an eyesore and just about the most inconvenient thing about the bathroom. Since it's completely off the floor and has no vanity underneath, there's no storage at all - we are stuck stuffing the cleaning supplies in the linen closet, which is stuffed enough. And there is absolutely no room on top of the sink for anything except our toothbrushes. The two tile cup/toothbrush holders that stick out six inches above the sink mean we can't put anything over two inches tall on the back part of the sink, which is the only flat part of the sink where we can put things. And guess what? The holes in the toothbrush holder don't fit today's toothbrushes! also, they are so close to the medicine cabinet that opening the cabinet will knock any cup we put on top of the holder off onto the floor. At least twice a day, I knock a comb, razor, or even toothbrush off whatever precarious perch where we've managed to balance it. And I'm the CAREFUL one in the house!

Not to mention the grime that accumulates under the sink as a result of both shower spray and sink spray that makes it's way underneath. Simply put, practically useless.

That said, I endured it for over six years because it worked. Until one day, I realized that the cold water wouldn't shut all the way off. Odd that it would be the cold water, but then again, we use that faucet more than the hot water. The super very agreeably changed a washer and all was well. But just last month, it started happening AGAIN! Less than two years later, the cold water washer has gone on us. Now, I don't pay directly for my water - the bill is paid through the co-op maintenance, but I am concerned about conserving water - and money - for all of us. And I learned that, due to the fact that the sink has its faucets in a lateral position instead of a vertical, and I have to realize that the likelihood we'll have another leaky faucet soon after repair is very high. So the sink, it has to go.

So, spring dreaming and lulled by the rain that tapped on the windows of my giant duplex townhouse rental, I logged onto the Lowe's and Home Depot website and started pricing out sinks. And what I found was: I can get a "placeholder" sink for under $200, vanity, basin and faucets all included. I figure that installation would be a similar amount or less, making this a very doable improvement. Not that I'd want to just sell my apartment that way, but I'd sure feel better selling it that way than with the crappy sink I've been subjecting myself to all those years.

AND I can remove those horrid useless holders myself with my Dremel tool and patch the space with plain black tiles until I'm ready to gut the place. oh, I can hardly wait for that day. But until then, I'm going sink shopping, and no one can stop me!!!!!