Please review plan and save our ugly Guest Bathroom

azmomJuly 8, 2013

We have a long, narrow, dark guest bathroom with dysfunctional floor plan. The first diagram is the current configuration:

1. A wall with a pocket door separates vanity and toilet/bathtub areas.
2. A long narrow window is up on the wall of long side of bath tub.
3. Vanity has two sinks. Notice how long the vanity is, the entire room is narrow, dreary and ugly.

We are making some changes, here is the plan:

  1. Remove wall and pocket door to open up the room.

2. Remove bath tub and put in a walk in shower with frameless glass enclosure.

3. Next to the toilet put a 27" wide, tall linen cabinet. The top part of cabinet has double doors with selves inside. The lower cabinet has 3 drawers.

4. Remove one sink, and center a larger sink on the vanity with a 30" two-door cabinet beneath it to access the plumbing.

5. Put two banks of drawers under the counter of both sides of the sink.

I need your help with a few questions I have:

1. Are the sizes of the linen cabinet and sink cabinets adquate? Do we need to change their sizes?

2. Should we place the linen cabinet next to the door instead of next to the toilet?

I worry if it is next to the toilet, the room would feel suffocate that defeats the intention of removing wall and pocket door to make the room more open.

3. Is there any way we can make the room looks less narrow and long? In other words, can we use tiles or paint to create "Optical illusions" that makes the room seems a little wider?

I hate this bathroom, but due to budget cocern, we cannot make any big changes, such as moving walls. I am so looking forward to your suggestions that would help us to make the room more normal and pleasant.

Thank you in advance for the feedback and help.

This post was edited by azmom on Mon, Jul 8, 13 at 0:28

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You didn't say what your flooring would be, but I'd think of doing a larger format tile on the diagonal to stretch the space side to side. I also would put the linen closet next to the door instead of the toilet. While it won't be as handy for towels for the shower, if you use it for other linens, i.e. for the bedrooms, it will be handier.

Also, depending on the sink and faucets you use, you might be able to get away with a less deep vanity, which will also widen your space.

Here is a link that might be useful: flooring ideas

This post was edited by olychick on Mon, Jul 8, 13 at 2:41

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 2:38AM
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Could you put a window in the long wall to bring light into the room. Maybe over the vanity in some way. I think olychick has a good thought about a shallower vanity. I have 18" vanity and it is fine for my needs. the sink will be more specific and may be more difficult to find.

Your shower looks too narrow at 28" and you have the room to make wider. I believe there are codes to the size of showers and 32" minimum across in any direction, without obstruction, is the size if I remember correctly. Anyway, you have the room.

The window in the shower will need to be treated in a manner so it is protected from water. Is it very high on the wall?

What about a curbless shower, one that doesn't need a door either? I know Elphaba's shower is curbless and doorless. I think it is about 5' square. I'll link it below. AND LOOK, she even has a window in her shower!

Here is a link that might be useful: Elphaba's bathroom reveal

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 6:29AM
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You don't need a 30" sink cabinet, unless your sink is unusually large. I'd make that smaller and give more space for storage. Do you really need a linen tower? You have a lot of undercounter storage space available. Eliminating the tower would help it feel less closed in. At the very least, put it down by the door. I would put a taller cabinet (maybe about 42" high, 12" wide) at the end of the cabinet run next to the toilet to provide a sense of privacy. You can make it a pullout cabinet or put shelving on the toilet side, or some combination of that.

You show a 20" deep vanity. I wouldn't go any shallower than that.

Can you move the toilet? You don't show the distance between the toilet and the end wall. The tub you show looks much larger than 28", though. Code requires 30" minimum inside dimension for a shower. I wouldn't want less than 36", though, and 42" would be better if you can move the toilet over. Don't forget you need a minimum of 15" from the center of the toilet to any obstruction on each side.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 8:36AM
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Thanks enduring for referring to my shower. And yes, that was the first thing I thought of here because of the 5 ft width of the bathroom. Put in a 5X5 shower WITHOUT door - you can have the toilet adjacent - would make it a wet room. If you can swing the cost, I strongly recommend wall mounted toilet which is something else that will open up the space.
Put in a floating vanity which will also open up the space - definitely no shower door but if you must, you can put in a short pony wall and still not close it in too much. Use vanity depth of 18 inches - I really like the narrow depth on our cabinets because you can get closer to the mirror - a little less counter space isn't impacting our enjoyment of the bathroom one bit.

p.s. if you look up the rules for home decorating, one says that if you can keep as much of the floor showing beneath furniture, it will give a more spacious feel.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 10:08AM
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I wouldn't get rid of the wall and the pocket door. Having that separation makes the space usable by more than one person at the same time, and I don't see how it changes the "long and narrow" look of the room to remove it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:52AM
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You won't be able to put a wall mount toilet on that wall if you live in a cold climate. At least, I wouldn't risk the supply pipes freezing. The only way you would get benefit from a floating vanity is if it's really short. Then you give up a lot of storage. If it's not short, then you'd never be able to see under it (because of the room size), which is a major reason for having one.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:55AM
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I agree that a short floating vanity gives a more spacious feel than a taller floating vanity but still not seeing the "feet", giving the illusion of space beneath still contributes a fair amount to an open feel that you wouldn't get had you had the vanity on the floor. YMMV (plus easier to mop and clean).

I also want to stress that an 18 inch deep vanity works quite well - of course may be easier if your faucets are wall mounted. The wider the aisle, the more open the feel. Definitely the case in our hall bath.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 12:42PM
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Since it is a guest bath, probably not needing much counter space, what about leaving the toilet wall and door, rotating the vanity and putting in a 24" wide vanity against that wall? You could have storage below, or float it for more visual openness. Then you could build a similar width tall linen closet against the hallway wall. That would leave you a good deal of floor space with the 6' width. I'd put in an obscured glass door to the toilet/shower area, to capture the light from the window.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 1:43PM
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My hall bath is 5 feet wide and 14 feet long. I also have the shower (it is also a bath) at the end with a tall, narrow window in it. I also have my toilet and vanity in your approximate places. I did a vanity with feet to make it lighter. It is about six inches off the ground and it makes a difference. I would definitely ditch the tall linen tower and make the shower bigger. I might also mirror the entire toilet/sink wall to open the space. Height is your enemy. I should know. My master bath is also five feet wide and 17.5 feet long. I did two towers on either end of the double vanity, but they were really necessary for my space. I should have done a 22" deep vanity rather than a 24". However, I think you will be fine with 22" if you make the vanity shorter and lose the tower. You should have plenty of storage in the vanity for linens, given that this is just a guest bath.

I think Olychick's idea could work but I wouldn't do it because it would make the counter area really small and you don't need to do it. You can have a luxuriously long counter space. You just need to lose that tower.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 2:22PM
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Hello olychick, enduring, catbuilder, elphaba, terriks, nycbluedevil, you are so wonderful. I am so grateful for your quick responses and advice.
Here are the changes I am considering based on the suggestions:

1. Limit the counter top dept to 22 inches. Keep double door plumbing closet to 24”.

2. Remove linen tower and only use vanity cabinet. Keep it to 36 inches tall. Length is TBD based on how to handle toilet.

Catbuilder, we raised the end run of the vanity to 45” in the hall bath, later we realized that 36” tall cabinet is sufficient to provide height privacy (not length privacy) for a toilet.

3. Olychick, I hear you, but would it be better to use small mosaic tiles like Nycbluedevil’s bathroom floor? May be small repeated pattern would make the space bigger?

Nycbluedevil, I love your bathrooms. Love the brilliant designs and the “tone on tone” color. May I ask what is the material and the name of the tiles?

4. Enduring, the window is high up on the long wall of the tub, it is narrow and long. Since our exterior wall is made of block, DH is firmly against enlarging the window.

5. Elphaba, your bathroom is wonderful. In fact I thought about using curbless shower, but I thought our bathroom is too small for the application.

Elphaba and Catbuilder, How big of a space do we need to have for a curbless shower?

6. Catbuilder, we want counter and storage space. We are in Arizona, so freezing pipe will not be a concern. We can use a wall mount toilet.

7. Terriks, we removed the bathroom partition and pocket door from hall bath, it made a huge difference. We never use bathroom at the same time, including our guests. In addition, we have 3 bathrooms in the house, there would be another one available.

Below are detailed measurements surrounding the current toilet.

Here is the measurement after removing the wall and pocket door.

After the wall/door are removed, do we have sufficient space for a curbless shower?

It seems the best way is to move the toilet, and make the current toilet/tub area a big shower, or a wet room. Is it a good idea? should we move the toilet or use a wall mount at current postion? if we move the toilet, how far should it be moved?

DH will resist moving the toilet, but if it is the best solution, we have to do what we have to do.

Please make suggestions. I am so overwhelming with the ideas, really need your inputs and help.

Thank you again.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 12:20PM
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Both of our bathrooms were done in the same material. It is botticino marble. We used 12 x 12 tiles on the walls and floor (we did not use mosaics on the floor), mosaics on the shower floor and trim and slab for the counters. I think going with one material helps open the space. I think it is important to use large tiles on the floor. And the less grout, the better, in my opinion. I am not a fan of diagonal tile placement. I had it in my old bathroom and did not like it very much. It also wastes a fair amount of tile.

Did you look at the pictures of our master bathroom in that thread? We have no shower door although we do have a curb. The shower is about 4 feet wide and 5 feet long (with some of the 5 foot length interrupted by a column). As you can see, we were able to go with very little glass, so the shower is pretty much open. Also, you can't see it in the pictures of the hall bathroom, but that tub also serves as a shower. You will notice that there is no door or curtain, but nothing gets wet, except maybe a bit of water on the step. The key to this is the rainhead. If you would be willing to make your shower bigger by moving the toilet, I don't see any reason why you couldn't do an open shower. A curbless shower is probably not going to work because you need to slope the floor and I am not sure you have that much room. But you could achieve the open look with a small curb (ours is 4" max). Doing a larger shower would make the bathroom seem so much squarer and larger. That was the thinking behind our master bath and hall bath configuration. In the hall bath, the tub/shower used to be along the toilet/sink wall which made the room seem like a tunnel. By putting the shower in the back in each room and making that space large, the rooms just really opened up (would have been even better if I had not done the 24" vanity in the master.

Also, we did a wall mount faucet in the hall bath. Not for space, because we have a 24" vanity but because I liked the look. It could really help with a 22" vanity because cleaning behind the faucet in a 22" vanity is not that easy. (Our old master bath had a 22" vanity.) The only downside to a wall mount faucet is that you have to really have your act together with measurements because the rough-in for the plumbing needs to be done first.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 3:09PM
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azmom - I think you are doing exactly what you need to be doing and that is entertaining all possibilities. I'm having some difficulty with suggesting options because I don't remember if you said you were more traditional or contemporary in your style preference.

Here's a drawing - pardon the stuff that I used because I am familiar due to my recent remodel. I also reversed the walls, before I learned you were in Arizona. That's a horizontal Ikea upper cabinet in lower right hand corner. I still think you would like 18 inch depth - would give wider aisle and also allow a 36 inch door to be used that is great for ADA requirements (and resale?). Guess I've written a book below. I'm still in a philosophical mode about how much I'm enjoying our new bath. Hope you get to that point to. (Also, my husband is out of town so I have more time, LOL). Sorry image is a bit light.

The curbless shower will put you in the direction of contemporary but of course by your choice of vanity and accessories, that can modify things some.
5X5 is standard ADA size and ADA definitely supports curbless - rules are even more lenient for curbless if you do 5X5 or at least is parts of the county according to Mongo (see other threads on this subject). Lot of people think they are going to feel the slant, (my girlfriends were surprised that the whole floor wasn't slanted, LOL). It really isn't a significant slant yet, the water drains quite well even with all three fixtures running.
That said, I'm pretty sure I would know exactly what I would want with your bath but then I'm not you, am I? I'm kind of new at this suggesting part in case it isn't obvious. Hard for me to remember this is someone else's bathroom. LOL

I also am having some trouble because I don't think you mentioned your budget. On our bathroom, I had decided from the beginning that I was willing to spend on structural changes because these would be much more difficult to change later. So lots of things were moved at least a foot or two one way or the other. I was lucky my DH didn't object - he was so glad to finally be getting a bathroom - it had been in a demolished state for some time. I also was lucky with my contractor, I would suggest things and most of the time, he would say something like "that's easy". I've NEVER had a contractor like that so I can't expect others to have a contractor like this.

For example, on our tiny master bath he is doing now, we were talking about the tile floor. We'll be doing porcelain plank again and I asked if slanting the tile took more tile. He said no, he thought a minute and said actually it took less, LOL. I have heard many opinions to the opposite of this, perhaps because this is "plank", it might make a difference but what I'm beginning to understand is that my contractor is exceptional and seems to minimize the work rather than exagerate and charge me more - and I am more and more grateful every day.

So, my next point is about going with a curbless shower. I live in a major metropolitan area but I would not have considered this curbless shower without having a lot of confidence in my contractor. So if there is a possibility of your not having a skilled contractor with previous experience doing this kind of work, you might consider hesitating.

The size of our shower is 5X5 which is perfect IMO. We have a fixed shower head one side and hand held on the other which can be reached easily. (rain shower in the middle which we do use occasionally but it was more for fun than practicality). The footprint size minimizes the spillage outside the door.

What I have prized the most about our bath is in priority order:

1. the light color of wall tile and therefore spa-like ambience
2. not having a shower door - this is more wonderful than I could have possibily imagined. And my husband loves it too. Saves quite a bit of money too - not spending on the glass probably covered the extra cost of the wall mounted toilet. But we weren't sure so we had wall built such that we could add door later. Not going to happen now that we have enjoyed it without door.
3. And what I get most compliments from others about the bathroom is the floor - they like the plank and they like the slant and they like the color - think it adds a little subtle drama. But I heard my contractor talking (not to me) about the floor and because our house is pier and beam it was VERY important that the floor tile be VERY flat. He didn't want me ordering tile on the web for delivery because he wanted to check it out before it was paid for.
4. I like feeling somewhat prepared for the future if one of us is wheelchair bound or disabled (hopefully temporarily). I have broken my foot three times in my life time and wish I could have had this shower then.
5. I really like the wall mounted toilet brush. What I like least about our bathroom is the wall mounted toilet. I find it necessary to use the brush a lot more often than I did with our old floor mounted toilet. The brand we purchased is Toto but I have read complaints on the web about Duravit also. Apparently, somehow the structure of the bowl (not width but depth) is more narrow because it is wall-mount and allows for less water to be in the bowl between uses - thus causing the wall to be drier (this is my conclusion, I haven't read this part). But I and do love being able to clean the floor beneath the toilet and I'm having another one put in for the remodel of our master bath so I'm not so disatisfied that I regret.
6. FYI - 5'X 5' is the standard Size for ADA - it allows for different rules concerning floor slant if you go with this size. We have a linear drain and there is no problem with slant. Here it is in progress of being tiled. Doing a linear drain costs a little more than a center drain. But the sleekness of having the drain not obvious is quite nice. I'm not sure functionally, that it contributes except if you were in a wheelchair, my contractor tells me you don't have to "fight" the floor when turning the wheel chair. I wouldn't know.

p.s. don't forget to have a large mirror (or two cabinets side by side) - great way to open up space and give more storage if medicine cabinets.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:08PM
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Nyc, elphaba,

Thank you so much for the inputs. I apologize for the late reply. I have been putting in long hours at work to take care of crisis.

I want to create a clean, streamline, calm and contemporary bathroom. You gave me hope that this goal is achievable.

I have decided to move the linen tower next to the entrance and reduce its depth. I will keep the regular cabinets instead of floating one to gain more storage space. We put a Toto Ultramax in the hall bath, I just love love the toilet ( doesn’t it sound strange? LOL). We plan to install another one in the guest bathroom.

Nyc, I finally found your bathroom reveals through the Google search. Both of your bathrooms are just stunning.

You are right; using one type of material with less grout lines will open the space. I want to take your “tone on tone” approach that I believe is the trick to make the room spacious, calm and spa like.

From your description, your hall bathroom has the same dimension as mine, but why yours look so nice and sqauish? Could you please post the floor plan since it is hard for me to see the tub, toilet and vanity placement from the photos. I want to show your floor plan to the GC (hope this is the one we would sign a contract), and get his inputs.

elphaba, The curbless shower in your bathroom is wonderful. May I ask if pony wall next to the shower necessary? Would a glass penal be sufficient to prevent splash if we enlarge the shower to 68 x 60?

The “GC to be” said they have done quite a few curbless showers, so skill and experience wise, it would not be a concern. I will need to meet with him to figure out cost impact of moving toilet, and enlarge shower to make it curbless.

Since this is the guest bathroom, cutting cost by using chrome fixtures instead of brush nickels, porcelain tiles instead of marbles may offset the increase scope, we will see.

I will report back after meeting with the "GC to be".

Could you please share more tricks you used to creat optical illusion? This is the next subject I need to focus on.

Thank you again for your help.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 4:42AM
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I don't have a floor plan to post but I can try to walk you through it. The space is 5 x 14.25. Draw a rectangle that is vertical, like the letter I. The door is in the center of the bottom wall. Now block out a 2 foot square plumbing column on the bottom right and another plumbing column on the top right. These are not exact measurements but you get the idea. I have two intrusions into my rectangle caused by these columns that I had to work around. So the column at the bottom sort of creates an entry way. The column at the top required me to turn the tub sideways. The tub is 32 x 48. I have a few inches on the right side of the tub for a tall niche with baskets attached to the wall. You can see the step in front of the tub, I think. That was to cut down the visual height of this tub, which is 24" deep. The step continues to the right all the way to the right wall. That was something that helped the room feel more square.

So that's the tub shower. On to the vanity and toilet. The vanity is about 36" wide. It sits flush against the column I mentioned above. I used a Jado New Haven wallmount faucet. The vanity sits about six inches off the floor. It was custom made. Three drawers with just enough space cut out for the sink. Two shallow drawers and one 12" deep drawer.

The toilet (Toto Ultramax) sits halfway between the left side of the vanity and the step I mentioned. It is a nice low toilet, which helps visually.

I mirrored the whole right hand wall over the vanity and toilet with a thick border of mosaic marble on all four sides to create a frame.

So, bottom line, my room looks square because I minimized the straight line of objects on the right, I made the tub area feel like its own space, I used one light color and I mirrored the wall.

Once you move the toilet and enlarge your shower, the entire feel of the room will change, I believe.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 8:47AM
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Got it. Thank you so much.

You and your designer are genius. You turned the two columns from challenges into great assets. The design broke the tunnel shape and made the room architecturally interesting. Brilliant!!!

No shower door is another great feature of your bathroom.

I try to reduce cleaning effort, such as using single faucet, hand hold shower head (to make cleaning tub and shower easier), and easily maintained surface. I know mirrors make a room appears larger, but really want to limit the usage to reduce the cleaning effort.

BTW, Saw your children's photos from the photobucket, you have BEAUTIFUL daughers. Congratulations to the new graduate!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 5:52PM
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I had a chuckle when you mentioned my designer. I sort of used one--he is a friend and he took me tile shopping but I determined the design myself. As a matter of fact, he kept insisting that moving the tub to the back wall under the window (where the toilet used to be) would be "quirky." I didn't listen and was determined to move it back there. I was right! My girls had to get used to the room. Stepping up and into a really deep tub (and a short one at that) to shower and not having a door was quite different. But now they are used to it. And besides, the two younger ones went off to college last year, so what they wanted wasn't really going to drive my decisions, if you get my drift! And thanks for the compliment on the girls' photo--I posted it accidentally. It's about six or seven years old.

Cleaning the mirror is no big deal. To the extent it gets messy, it happens over the sink. You would likely have a mirror there anyway.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 6:42PM
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azmom - you ask:
"elphaba, The curbless shower in your bathroom is wonderful. May I ask if pony wall next to the shower necessary? Would a glass penal be sufficient to prevent splash if we enlarge the shower to 68 x 60?"

Your question is similar to another thread somewhere here. They didn't want a pony wall. Responders basically said that the pony wall is useful is preventing a space that will collect mold if glass shower wall is closely adjacent but not butted up against vanity, keeping it clean and preventing it from being dirty and "unsightful" (am I using that right?) can be difficult.
But if the partial glass shower wall is a standalone (attached to ceiling for stability maybe?) and not butted against a pony wall, but at least far enough from adjacent wall so you can fit your hand through easy enough to clean, I think most thought that would work though might be a pain if space too small.

Also, Fyi - Currently, our Greek Kohler tub is being installed - it is 48X32. I had some concerns because in our new bath (second one) - it will be part of a tub/shower combo. The issue is about it being a top down drop in tub but my contractor has a plan. I hope to post within a couple weeks how it will look.

If you plan to do a shower/drop in tub combination, there are definitely issues which many here think are too difficult to surmount. Here is a recent thread :
Drop In Bathtub leakage

Good luck. Sounds like your bathroom will be stunning.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 6:47PM
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LOL! So glad you insisted to go with your own design.

It happened to me during the hall bath remodeling. I insisted on many decisions. DH and the contractors later agreed the decisions I made all turned out great.

Same thing happened when we remodeled landscape. The designs from the reputable landscape designers were not inspiring and did not consider the strength and weakness of our yards. Finally spent a fraction of what was wasted on the landscape designers, I purchased landscape design books and studied; DH and I came up with our own design. It has been 9 years, the yard is still pleasant to look at, and live with.

I have been wondering may be the “professionals” are so used to what they do; they are stuck in their regular track for general public, or by "conventional wisdom" or by the concers of "dealing liability issues" instead of being ingenious. As an amateur, we bring in fresh aspects. We also have more stakes in the project since we are the ones who pay for it and will live with the consequences.

Unfortunately, it seems as a homeowner, we have to do a lot of independent study and work before finding a good designer or a contractor assume we are lucky enough even to find one.

For lower priced home improvement projects as ours (hopefully below $150K), I realize that it is a fantasy that we could be worry free and completely hand over a project to a professional.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 11:21AM
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"it is a fantasy that we could be worry free and completely hand over a project to a professional."

azmom - I TOTALLY agree with your comment. Once I learned google sketchup and could do my own drawings, that was all I needed to understand that it would be a big mistake to put this remodeling design and planning in the hands of anyone except myself. Luckily I am retired - couldn't have done this before or at least it would have been so much harder.

Now we aren't DIY (though wish we were ) but once planning is done, and more research on options to get assistance from experts (example: I am going for Ikea in my kitchen and I have taken advantage of their design service to get list of cabinets...) and more paying attention to this forum (for longer than I care to admit) and other forums on the web - John Bridge forum is great source of information - I think I have a chance at ending up with something we truly love.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 12:09PM
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