Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Countertops with 50s style

I've moved: Please see my dramatically impoved site: RetroRenovation.com

The countertops I removed from the two vanities in my 1951 bathrooms were both laminate, edged in metal. One - a soft aqua tinged green - imitated a really beautifully, nubbly linen weave. I could not identify any current laminate to replicate it in either style or color. (Greens really differ in popularity by era, I've found.) In the other bathroom, there was a marbleized pink -- and I found a good match for this one (see below).

Ultimately, these are the best choices I found for bathroom laminates:

- Wilsonart Bleu Windrift - a light, marbleized blue. Special order.
- Wilsonart Tearose Illusion - this is the pink marbleized laminate described above. Special order.
- Wilsonart Beige Illusion - also shown above. Special order.

Now, you can also get Formica 1950s replicas for the bath or kitchen. They all look terrific:

- Formica Boomerang - in four colors, shown above.
- Virrvarr - in two colors, light blue and white. This is a reproduction of a popular European pattern. I think it's terrific, and may use it in my upcoming kitchen reno if the salvaged aqua-with-gold-fleck counters I'm hoping to use don't work out.

Other details:
- I edged my bathroom countertops with the laminate, simple square edge. My husband the neat freak again begged me not to use the metal edge. I think this worked out fine, it certainly is 'softer' than the metal. I'll do a future post on where to find metal edging.
- The original countertops had a special piece of metal molding, a narrow T molding between the edge of the counter and the tile that ran up the wall alongside it. I saw at my local lumber store, this was still available. I skipped it.
- I ordered a high-gloss finish, although I think matte or a soft gloss would be fine and certainly less likely to scratch.

Finally -- if you really don't want laminate and prefer something more durable, I recommend you look at Caesarstone, a solid surface material. I thought their "Blizzard" was beautiful, a bit off white with some nubble but not overwhelming or a major contemporary statement. You could design around it.

Next: Tile.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bathroom faucets that are hands-down 50s style winners

God bless Mac the Antique Plumber.

These are my two favorite lavatory faucets for 1950s bathroom restorations/renovations. The shape of the faucet escutcheons (the bases of the handles, yes that's what they are called) are the most reminiscent of the wrecked faucets I pulled out of my original 1951 bathrooms. Both of these faucets are from Mac the Antique Plumber -- http://www.antiqueplumber.com/. They are not inexpensive, each around $250 on sale, but I found the quality to be excellent and Mac's had great customer service, too.

A note on the 8" "Mississippi" lav (the second featured). It is much larger in scale than a 50s lav faucet. If you are purchasing a sink to go with it, ensure you have adequate "deck" space on the sink. The Kohler cast iron self-rimming sinks recommended in my Jan. 29 blog look great with this sink.

Regarding the 4" "Deco" two-hole-mixer faucet shown, I have never seen anything to match this one. It was not available when I renovated my bathrooms, and instead, I had the original faucet rechromed for $115. It leaks to this day and is a real pain. I wish this had been available then, and may end up with it yet. Ugh to the brass, though. Go for chrome, for sure, or nickel if you must.

BTW Mac the Antique Plumber has some great kitchen sinks that I will showcase in a future post.