Is Robern Worth It?

nancyinmichSeptember 21, 2013

I am planning ahead for a bathroom gut in a year or so. I have started to buy materials as I find great deals on them. In researching bathroom mirrored medicine cabinets, I came across the option of the defogging mirror with electrical plugs inside by Robern. After seeing cabinets with cheap plastic boxes in the big box stores, Robern boxes at the plumbing store seemed like "the real thing." Having the electric toothbrush inside a cabinet is great, too. A defogging mirror for DH when he shaves would be that little luxury that seems extra special.

We are not rich. If I was buying at full price, I would not buy Robern. I have searched this forum and read up on Robern cabs and people who have them love them. I also saw the post where someone simply had their contractor put an electrical outlet into the backside of their cabinet. That is a great solution! My contractor could easily do that if I don't get a cabinet with a glass mirror on the back wall.

Here is my dilemma: a guy on Craigslist has an arched top beveled edge Robern cab 20 x 30 x 4 with electric inside and defogging, new in box, for sale for $300. Medicine cab box dimensions are 18-1/2"W x 29-1/4"H. I need two mirrors for my vanity. The second Robern - non electric - but with 6" depth to hold all of my stuff would be $635 at the cheapest internet retailer I have found. So our total for Robern would be $935.

Meanwhile, I have finally managed to get DH interested in this project and together we have settled on the Kohler aluminum bodied Bancroft rounded-edge beveled-edge mirror cabinet that is 20 x 31 x 5 with a 19 x 25 box that can be recessed. This is our "not a Robern" high quality cabinet that would be $440 total for both cabinets, but without electrical inside and no defog. I am doubting that the electrical can be put in the back wall, since it has a mirrored back. I am hoping it is a metallic mirrored back and not a glass mirrored back, for that reason.

My question to GW bathroom folks is: Is Robern worth the extra money? I have seen here people refer to Kohler/Robern, and wonder if this cab I am considering as my alternative is one of those, since it fits the Robern style so well. Do any of you who looked at Robern but bought other medicine cabinets regret that decision, or do you feel that you are glad that you recovered from temporary madness just in time to keep yourself from committing consumer excess that was just not "you?" It is not like I am downgrading to particle board here. Will I really, really miss having the electrical plug in the cabinet? Has anyone ever tried to put the electrical plug in a cab with a "mirrored" back wall? Is it worth $500 to have an electrical plug in one cabinet?

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Only you can answer that question...sorry...but that is why I am finding renoing bathrooms even harder than doing the kitchen just seems that there are so many questions!

If you haven't already, maybe creating a spread sheet and trying to figure out your budget for everything might help. You mentioned a contractor. do you have one lined up already for a year from now? Do you know what he is going to cost? I have a spreadsheet, and I am literally appalled at how much this Master bath is costing, and we are almost totally DIY. We had the vanity and the shower pan custom made (though we are installing both ourselves). Everything else we are doing. This is a complete gut and rearranging of every single fixture, so that means rerouting all the plumbing, electrical, etc. I am pretty well getting what I want, though I would have gone with all custom marble walls instead of just a shower pan, but I couldn't justify the extra $2000. (We have all custom cultured marble walls in our basement bath, and it is a breeze to keep clean). Since we are going to install the tile ourselves, we can save over $1000, where as we couldn't install the marble ourselves. I am going with a skirted Toto toilet and a washlet cuz that is what I want, I am willing to spend the $1000 dollars there. I found a faucet with a pullout spray (something I really want) on eBay for 1/10th the cost of the model I really love, cuz it is good enough for me, I'm willing to compromise on that... So I think before you start buying items, make sure you have an overall vision of what you want, and definitely figure out the budget.

I agree that I think a plug in in a medicine cabinet would be a useful feature, haven't ever had one, am planning for DH to install one in this BR, would it be worth $500 to me...probably not. I think a mirrored back is pretty when you look in the showroom. Probably won't be all that pretty/noticeable when cabinet is filled, so if you can find cabinets without the mirror then your problem is solved.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 8:48PM
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My bathroom has a kohler (older unit) and I purchased a Robern for a third bathroom. It did not have the plug in. The Robern is a different type of mirror. It is very well built and the mirror is wonderful. I see a lot of mirrors at places like pottery barn that are wavy and they are not very clear. If you can afford the Robern, get it. I love that the Roberns go up to 8inches deep which allows the storing of a lot of things in the medicine cabinets like bigger bottles. I have a 8inch deep unit. The kohler is 4inches deep and my toothbrush and facial brush don't fit comfortably and I have to run the cords out of the mirror to charge them. This means the door never closes.
Best of luck.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 9:15AM
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I have a Robern. It's fine. The aspirin bottle fits in there just the way it should. I don't have one with an electrical outlet. I have an outlet on the wall near the vanity. When the toothbrush is charged, I put the charger away so it is only plugged in overnight.

I really don't understand why I was so intrigued by having mirrors inside the medicine cab. I never look in them (the interior mirrors). The cabinet does close nicely and is sturdy. Still, if it is straining the budget, I don't think having a Robern is all that necessary.

Put the money toward heated floors. They are fantastic.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 9:08PM
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We installed a Robern Uplift into our new bathroom. It has the defogger, nightlight, and six outlets. Love the defogger because I like getting ready(moisturizer, makeup, etc...) the moment I get out of the shower. It was pricey. But my husband and I chose to do all the work ourselves(complete gut) so that we can afford nicer things.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 12:38PM
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