Faucet, light and hardware for the black-and-white 1940s bathroom: The 7-day Gut Bathroom Renovation

kohler fairfax faucetWorking fast to buy all the basics for my mom’s impromptu gut-bathroom renovation,I first decided tile for the walls and floor…. next, chose the decorative trim tile…. and next, chose the vanity. After that, it was filling in all the “little” pieces that were, for the most part, purely decorative decisions.

The white countertop that will go on the vanity is pre-drilled with three, four-inch spread holes — so we had to find a faucet to fit those holes. At Lowes, we saw the Kohler Fairfax single-hole faucet in shiny chrome. But, they did not have any other varieties. The minute I got home, I jumped online and found the style above — in satin nickel with an escutcheon plate — at FaucetsDirect.com. I slapped down my credit card and payed $20 for two-day shipping and boom, it was here in a flash. We like this faucet for its vintage look — and also because of that white porcelain dot on top. Happy happy.

cabinet pulls with white porcelain inserts

For the vanity hardware, I found brushed nickel-look  Liberty cabinet pulls and knobs with white-porcelain (look) inserts. Just to further indicate the travail in all of this, I actually found these at a Different Home Depot.

cabinet pulls with white ceramic inserts

I had to drive to Shepherdsville to pick up more rope trim tile; there was not enough at the E’Town Home Depot. They say, “It’s not the years — it’s the miles.” This week, I’m puttin’ on plentttttty of miles.

black porcelain bathroom light

For the lighting, the clear choice was black porcelier. I chose this Rufus black porcelain bathroom light with a white shade from Rejuvenation. Many thanks to the lovely folks at Rejuvenation for helping me get the order real fast!

Disclosure: Rejuvenation gave me a discount on the retail price of this light and on a second one that was included in the order by mistake and which I never got around to returning.

large recessed medicine cabinetThe bathroom light will be centered above a 30″ Kohler recessed medicine cabinet, also from Lowes. Yikes, though, I just went online to get a photo and see this has received poor reviews for the hinge design. We’ll see. I certainly liked the idea of maximizing the medicine cabinet space. The original recessed medicine cabinet was just 14″ wide — to fit between studs. When we had the walls open, we enlarged the space to hold this cabinet specifically.

For towel bars and TP holder, I bought a sort of flowery (not literally — just “swoopy”) design from Baldwin, at Home Depot. I can’t find this on their website, or even on Baldwin’s. I think the design may have been being discontinued. The reason, in particular, that I liked the Baldwin, was that it was heaviest. I like my brass to be heavy enough to use as a weapon. All the hardware is at Mom’s waiting to be installed — I’ll grab and add a photo later.

jacuzzi toilet

Oh, I almost forgot. We decided we wanted the Jacuzzi toilet. It was like this, only taller. We wanted “comfort height, elongated” for Mom. When I worked for Ford, I actually met a member of the Jacuzzi family. He worked in the auto industry in communications, like me. I remember, when we were first introduced, I thought the person introducing us was just kidding about the last name of his friend. Like, this person was so laid back that they called him “[first name] Jacuzzi.” But it turns out: There really is a Jacuzzi dynasty!

Finally (sort of): I used basic Moen for the shower. And, we chose a sliding glass shower door from Lowe’s with obscure glass. This, in fact, is the only thing that we ordered. We knew it would be the very last thing to go in the bathroom, so there was time. Just barely.

Tomorrow, I’ll report on Aunt Mary Anne and my crazed trip through Target for towels, rugs and bathroom bling. Oh, make that two trips becaus we had to go twice… plus, I had to marshall my sister Jenni to get some stuff at the St. Matthews store, too, because we exhausted the stock of a critical item here in E’Town. I am not obsessed with making this perfect. Oh no. Not me.


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  1. Kate H says

    You are a MACHINE of EFFICIENCY despite the obvious obsticles that the Home Depot crowd put in your way!! I think you might be tied in my book with that extremely energetic woman with the many sons who redid her kitchen in metal cabinets. Seriously. I am in awe.

    I also have questions: For the floor, which I am guessing was originally mud-set, how will the new tile go in? On top of the old? And how did you reconcile your adoration of pink bathrooms with Mom’s choice of black and white? Did you decide to skip ReStore because of your time constraints? (Reason I wonder is, they might have been able to help with the vanity. Or not, since it’s unpredictable what they’ll have.)

    Can’t wait to see the finished project and see what Mom thinks.

    • pam kueber says

      Hey, Kate, the old floor was vinyl — went in in 1974. So out it came in a heartbeat. No Re-Store here that I know of in Elizabethtown. But you are right, I shoulda asked. Pink? Well, pink goes fabulously with black and white, don’tcha think? 😉

      • Kate H says

        Well, I think you made some great choices, especially since you worked with new in-stock materials. I have lived with that kind of medicine cabinet and it’s nice. And I love the light above. It reminds me of something Frank Sinatra would have had.

  2. rebecca says

    I got the same light in my bathroom reno with a similar theme. Medicine cabinets were the main challenge…. everything looks so modern. Ended up with a similar plain recessed mirror like you’ve chosen.

  3. says

    lovely, lovely. those cabinet pulls are awesome for a quick and cheap furniture upgrade – we’ve got them on a second-hand flat-pack hutch and a “kitchen dresser” from the re-store. a sample size paint color and ceramic pulls, and you’ve got a whole new thing for $15!

  4. michelle pond says

    I am doing a five-day renovation on my seventy-five year old bathroom. Trying, because it is so small to make it wheelchair accessible. Talk about a challenge. I am inspired by your posts about your own project. Thank you.

  5. Lynn-O-Matic says

    Ah, the Rufus! One of my all-time favorite Rejuvenation lights. I am still trying to figure out how to put one somewhere. Well done, Pam! I’m waiting for the reveal tomorrow like a kid at Christmas.

    • pam kueber says

      ummmm, i mis-spoke. we’re putting final touches in tomorrow… ummmm…. then, i might just hold this for sunday 🙂

  6. says

    Love the Rufus. I’m a sucker for a porcelain finish lamp in almost any decor. I think that black will really set off your liner tiles, too.

    Good work figuring out all the little details: they are the killers, I know!

  7. Melanie says

    Love that light fixture. It’s making me rethink my light choice for my bathroom. Can’t wait to see the end results!

  8. says

    I would love the Rufus light in my upcoming bathroom reno but am concerned that it will be too small to provide enough light for the vanity area (which is too small for 2 sinks but has generous storage space on each side of the sink). I am really struggling on the lighting issue. Looking forward to the big reveal!

    • Lynn-O-Matic says

      Do you have room for sconces on either side of the mirror with the Rufus above? Rejuvenation’s sconces are almost as yummy as the Rufus.

  9. Elaine says

    I love satin nickel! How glad I am to see it in a retro design. I am thinking of changing my chrome fixtures to satin nickel in my 1963 aqua and gray bathroom and sort of white kitchen with aqua accents. The time capsule medicine cabinet is very similar to the one you picked.

    • pam kueber says

      You know, shiny chrome would be more “authentic”, but for this bathroom, I wanted to have some current touches. Also, brushed nickel = easier to clean. In fact, what I bought may actually be brushed stainless. I am not that picky and consider them the same.

  10. Trina says

    Love the light. May need to consider for my reno.

    The medicine cabinet is the same one I was planning on buying, but today I was looking around in the house that we just bought on Tuesday and I found the original medicine cabinet waiting for me in the attic!! Complete with the side light. The light covers are intact with no cracks, but they are discolored. Any ideas on cleaning these up? Either way, I am going to have this installed in my bath where it belongs. Score!

  11. Jkaye says

    Wow, the other drivers out on I-65 this week probably think another tornado has swept through the area! It’s no tornado, it’s Pam and her family, on a mission. This has been a very intriguing project to follow. Your favorite color this year is orange — will we see it featured in this bathroom? Or does your mom have a different favorite color? Can’t wait to find out.

  12. Andrea says

    Love your choices for the “details” and like everyone, adore that porcelain light! Can’t wait for the Great Reveal!

  13. Lauryn says

    From someone who literally took MONTHS to pick a kitchen faucet, I am so impressed with the incredible efficiency of this project. Are you taking a week off when you’re done just to catch your breath? I love the porcelain touches, one of the reasons we were intrigued (but did not go with) the Fairfax line in our kitchen. And the beautiful thing about black and white (pretty classic for that era) is that ANY linens (pink??) will look fabulous in there.

    Go Pam & Co.! Can’t wait to see the results.

  14. brad says

    did you decide not to go with the shower door? i noticed a curtain in your pix ..,,,,im in the same boat: just redid both baths and planned shower doors, but now i am rethinking … curtains are just so easy, can be replaced in a flash and make cleaning the shower easier, imho ….. but doors do look nice when new …..hhmmm……i am so torn ….

    • pam kueber says

      yes — this was covered in a previous post (scroll down for complete series.) shower curtain gives more flexibility on entry/egress … easier to keep clean … way cheaper … fun to decorate / change out … requires no drilling of holes in the precious new tile. Trade off: Water-tightness. We will “watch” that issue.

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