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Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

Posted by crl_ (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 6, 13 at 10:30

We are hoping to remodel our tiny master bath in our 1926 "Normandy-style" house this spring. The bathroom is in a 1938 addition, the shower is leaking, it's very, very, very small and it's connected to the wrong bedroom. None of the finishes are anything special and we won't be trying to salvage any of them.

I am trying to make some preliminary decisions so we can talk with contractors and get meaningful bids. My goals are durable and easy to clean surfaces. I'd like to get two sinks into the space. And, while I am not going for a period perfect look, I want the bathroom to look appropriate to the house.

After consulting codes and layout guidelines, we have a preliminary layout that works with the door and window locations and that allows for two sinks. But the sink space is quite narrow to allow a full 30 inches, plus a couple extra for wiggle room,between the sinks and the shower.

I was originally planning on a pair of wall-hung sinks, but dh has requested counter space. So I am now contemplating a custom vanity to fit the space (approximately 5.5 feet by 15 inches.

I had not thought about countertop materials or sinks to go with a counter.

I am currently thinking a cast iron shower pan, white subway tiles with a grey liner, grey linolieum (not vinyl) floors possibly with a simple white inlay design, vintage chrome medicine cabinets from Pottery Barn and chrome fixtures.

So, after all that, what I am having the most trouble with is the countertop material. Teak? And put a fold-down teak bench in the shower as well to tie together? How would this look with the grey and white? Teak is gorgeous but I think of it in more modern/spa bathrooms and I am having a bit of trouble seeing it in a more vintage look. I have tried to search Houzz and see a lot of modern/spa bathrooms with teak, but not coming up with much for an inspiration picture in a vintage bathroom.

Soapstone? Love the look. I would not oil it, just let it darken naturally.

Secondarily, how would you design the vanity? I love the look of open at the bottom vanities, but am concerned about having to clean under one. I really want easy to clean stuff.

And finally, what kind and size of sinks should I be looking at? White vitreous china? Oval or rectangular? Undermount? With faucets mounted on the side?

Thank you for reading my long spiel and for any thoughts!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

A few thoughts:

If you do linoleum and you expect the floor to get wet, consider sheet linoleum. Or if you go with linoleum tiles, your installer can seal the tile joints with melted rods. That will give you a tile look, but with essentially a seamless installation to eliminate potential water infiltration problems at the seams.

Teak. My bathroom is more "traditional" style versus a slicker "spa" style, and I have teak countertops. I think they look okay.

You can see I also have cutouts in the cabinet toe kicks. The cutout shape was "designed" by my then 6-year old daughter. lol. High enough for the vacuum head to easy get through.

When I built the cabinets, I simply put a vertical dividing block underneath the cabinet, about 8" to 10" back behind the toe kick. I painted the dividing block black. So when we clean, there's no struggle to get any dust bunnies way deep underneath the cabinet, as the opening only goes back 8-10".

Your overall color scheme? Regarding soapstone versus teak, my brain leans one way or the other depending on the shade of gray; a light gray or a dark gray. It's not "right versus wrong". It's more my personal opinion.

So for me, you'd have to define "gray". If your floor and tile liner were lighter shades of gray, and if you wanted the color scheme of the entire room to be more neutral, then my brain leans toward a more color-neutral (gray to charcoal black) soapstone versus the brownish-red of teak.

Do realize that soapstone will eventually darken, but it will occur faster on the portions that repeatedly get hit with water. So you could end up with a splotchy countertop, near black around the sink, and lighter around the perimeter, as the stone oxidizes unevenly.

If you're thinking of "gray" in terms of dark gray, leaning towards charcoal, etc...then the brownish-reds of the teak could look fine.

Again, this is my personal preference. While either can work, I see the brownish-reds of the teak as working better with darker grays, more towards charcoal, and the soapstone working with either shade or gray, light or dark.

The vanity design is up in the air. Depending on the style you can get traditional or spa-like with doors and drawers or with some open shelving. It's a matter of how much hidden storage you need, and if open shelving will bother you regarding everything having to be perfectly neat, etc.

The sink is the same. The typical stuff will work with traditional. If you go spa-like, you can go slick and clean or you can go, for example, vertical, with more of a vessel sink. Though personally, I dislike tall vessels, as I think they are impractical in an every day bathroom.

If you look at my photo above, that's a Kohler Memoirs pedestal sink top that is set on top of the teak countertop. A different application. But it looks fine.

If you want "durable and easy to clean", common-sense wise, that alone sort of leans you towards soapstone over teak. Though I have to tell you, we are not neat-niks in the least sense, and our teak looks just as good today as it did when I installed it years ago.

"Easy to clean" might also steer you towards an undermount sink. But again, I have the Memoirs with a very wide rim on it. Pretty much no water gets on the countertop when we are at the sink.

Regarding your faucet being to the side of the sink in the countertop or on the sink, simply try to avoid nooks and crannies, or low-clearance spaces between fixtures where water can pool and grim can build up. The more easily a surface can be hit with a towel, the more likely it will to remain clean with a quick wipe after use.

So yeah, a somewhat undefined wishy-washy response on my part, as most of my reply is based off of opinion versus there being a true right or wrong way.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

I have a 60" vanity with 2 undermount oval sinks (17" Kohler) and a 12" drawer unit in between. My vanity goes down to the floor with a furniture molding finish.
I have a marble counter (Calacutta), which I think would go well with your home. Marble comes in all price ranges- starting with carerra. It is easy to clean and always looks nice. We went with white subway tile in the bathtub.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

Thank you both. Gorgeous visuals. The teak definitely looks quite at home in a lovely traditional setting, so that's very helpful.

I think marble would be perfect style wise, but I am concerned about stains. Scratches and such on soapstone won't bother me but I am pretty sure stains on marble would.

As far as exact shade of grey, I haven't decided and could definitely tweak it to go with other choices. My inclination is a medium grey floor as that seems likely to show less dust and dirt. I also would like for the floor and the wall tile liner to tie together well so the availability of shades that match or at least look cohesive will be a factor. I'm guessing this won't be that hard to pull off though given the huge range of tile available.

I appreciate all the thoughts and help!


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

If you seal marble it shouldn't stain, but it will always etch. That doesn't bother some people, but drives many others crazy. Only you know how tolerant you can be about that.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

Are you saying the space for the vanity is only 15" deep? That is very shallow. You will have to carefully select your sinks.

If you are planning on doing an inlaid design in the linoleum, then that would be sheet linoleum. We have sheet linoleum in our two hall bathrooms, but they do not have an inlaid design. The inlaid design will be very expensive. We have tile linoleum in our master bathroom and it is not a problem. Ours also happens to be grey. Went with the tile in the master bathroom because there was less waste doing it that way. And we didn't like where the seam would have ended up if we had gone with the sheet linoleum, as the sheet linoleum is not very wide.

mongoct - they do not using welding rods with tile linoleum. They only use it with the sheet linoleum.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

Yes, just 15 inches. I know it's quite narrow but it's the space we have got. That's why I am thinking side mount faucets. I have looked a bit for small sinks to fit, but will gladly take specific suggestions for sinks, or guidance on how much space I need to allow in front and in back. I assume if we go with soapstone or other stone, they can only cut that so narrow without it cracking.

I am thinking sheet Lino. One advantage to the narrow space is that I don't think we should need a seam. If the inlay is prohibitively expensive, we won't do it of course. Any thoughts on just how expensive it might be?

Thanks!


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

The shallowest width vanity sinks that I'm aware of are for 18" deep vanities. You could use a 12"x12" bar sink, but that's a darn small bowl to wash your face in and will barely fit in a 15" depth.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

15" is really small. Could you post a layout/diagram? It may help with ideas. You could also do wall-mounted faucets.

Here's my 60" vanity, which may give you some ideas on traditional vanities with open bottoms and the counter space you can achieve with smaller sinks. The top is a leathered granite (antique brown, a.k.a. marron cohiba), so I don't have the etching concerns I have in the rest of my bathroom (marble floors around the toilet are not meant for men...)

Photobucket

Photobucket


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

I am not up to the technological challenge of posting a layout at the moment, sorry. Maybe once we have unpacked a few more boxes and I'm no longer scrambling to figure out how to cook dinner without my spatulas I will have more time and energy.

In the meantime, I do know that 15 inches is quite shallow. That's why I mentioned it several times. And why we are looking at a custom vanity. I would much rather be able to bargain shop stock materials, but stock just won't fit.

I considered wall mount faucets, but it sounded to me like they might be problematic to replace? That's why I am considering side mounted faucets, to save on the depth at the sink.

If there are not small enough undermount sinks, I know IKEA makes one that would fit as an above counter sink, although the faucet on that one is deck mounted and apparently only one-sided so not ideal for pairing.

Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: Possible small undermount sink


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

With an undermount sink, you need about an inch to an inch an a half of open space under the cabinet for the sink clips that hold the sink to the counter. And then there's the actual thickness of the cabinet walls to contend with. Now, if your cabinet maker agrees to "scoop" the sides of the cabinet and the counter installer attaches the sink directly and then drops the whole thing in, that can probably mean that you could use a 12" sink. Maybe. It depends on the cabinet construction. And a 12" sink doesn't mean that the interior of the sink is 12". It's more like 9" for an undermount or 7 1/2" for a topmount due to the flange.

I'd really consider having a complete custom "entire top is a sink" built for what you're considering. The only down side to that would be no counter space.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

"mongoct - they do not using welding rods with tile linoleum. They only use it with the sheet linoleum."

I understand it's not a traditional use of the rods. But a Forbo installer once used that method when he used tiles and later needed bulletproof seams in an installation.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

If we can't get counterspace then the whole vanity idea is moot. That's the point. I'll just revert to wall hung sinks before I'll go with a sink on top of a vanity with no counter space.

I wonder if we go with soap stone counters, what about soap stone sinks that are farm sink esqe in style, but smaller and shallower. . . Then counter space on each side and in between. . . .

Thanks.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

Just a quick link to the IKEA Lillangen sink. It would sit on top of the counter, and unfortunately doesn't seem to reverse, but I can't see why it wouldn't fit.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tiny Lillangen sink


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

Do you truly need/want two sinks versus counter space? Even when we had two sinks, we tended to use the same one. My bathroom (1930) is also limited to about 15" for the sink. The previous owners put in a shallow vanity with a round overmounted sink that allowed a slightly larger sink without eating into the passage past the sink to the shower/toilet. I wish I could tell you the manufacturer, but since the previous owners installed it, I don't know what it is - is there a way to tell from the sink?


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

Switching to one sink would not net us any more counter depth to work with. It is not strictly necessary, but would be nice (we do brush teeth and such at the same time a couple of times a week) and since it doesn't make the 15 inches change one way or the other, I'd like to go with two.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

The sink you found will work if you put the faucets off to the side. It's a nice looking sink. Most of the websites I consulted when we were building our narrow vanity suggested simply using silicone to attach the sink, which is what we did. That eliminates the clip problem. We also shaved down the lumber to accommodate the sink. Check the actual dimensions at the outside of the sink, not just the interior bowl dimensions. That was a problem I ran into- the exterior dimensions were too big. There is also something called 'the Hercules harness' which is a wire harness that is attached to the vanity wood instead of to the top.

Have you considered using porcelain tile for the top of the vanity? You can have the look of marble with the ease of tile.

Renee


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

Have you thought about a trough sink? They can come in the smaller size you need but still full length with holes for two faucets. You wouldn't have any counter space where the sinks are, but you could get two of them with counter space on either side or just one double with counter space on either side. They're usually modern applications, but I think you could make it work with the right components around it.


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

So the trough sink idea made me think a bit more. Is this a crazy idea: soapstone counter with one looong soapstone sink with an apron front? We could put a side-mount faucet on each end with counter space on each end.

It's a more modern feel, but maybe the vanity could be made to evoke a dry sink?


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

have you considered two small pedestal sinks with a small dresser or cabinet between to function as both countertop space and storage? The open space under the sinks would be visually open, which would be nice in a small space or could house a trashcan, a small hamper or even towel rings. Plus it would be easy to clean underneath. You can use almost any dresser in between - a wood like the teak or painted to coordinate with other colors. you could even include a small glass shelf mounted above the sinks could add extra "countertop" space for toiletries, etc.

via Houzz (Hilary Young Design Assoc)

This post was edited by jrueter on Thu, Apr 4, 13 at 14:53


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

The IKEA sink you posted a link to says it can be done with the faucet mounted left or right. The only reason I can see that it wouldn't reverse would be if the back side wasn't finished so that you would see a raw side when reversed, but it sounds like you can reverse it. You have about 18 inches for counter in the middle. Is that enough or are you giving up too much to the width of the sinks?

If you went with a trough, I think I would do wall faucets and keep the space you have for the counter space you want. You probably need something about 36 inches so two people can stand in front of it at the same time, and if you add faucet on either side, you're down to less than 12 inches of counter space on each end. I would hang on to every inch you can, and I think wall mounted faucets would look great with that kind of sink. They aren't something you are going to replace frequently and you might be able to get clever about creating access in case you need to service or change them out down the road. Ideally, they would stay put until someone else remodels. ;-)


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RE: Countertop/vanity thoughts? Spinning in circles a bit

Thanks for all the great ideas! We have just chosen a contractor and he feels confident we can get an 18 inch front to back vanity in. I have decided to go with just one sink, because fitting two in would mean running the vanity partially under the window--meaning no mirror for the second sink which just isn't all that functional. I think we will go with a wall mounted faucet after all to preserve as much depth as possible for the sink. I think the best answer to my repair concerns is to pick a very high quality faucet. Hansgrohe?

I appreciate all the ideas, feedback and hand holding!


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