“The Hard Way” – New Year’s Reality Check, 2011

pink-bathroom-fixtures.jpgWelcoming 2011, here’s the story that now has become our Retro Renovation new year’s tradition…kind of summing up the bumpy journey so many of us share… or can expect to, if we’re Retro Renovating:

We know about taking the road less traveled. To me, doing things the hard way has the same allure. The hunt for the perfect estate sale light fixture, the set of vintage cabinets that are just right, the document wallpaper that pulls things all together.

Honestly, the reason this blog even exists is that after completing big projects, I had so much info in my mental hard drive about the retro renovation alternatives available — all obsessively and endlessly researched — that it seemed a shame to simply be done with it when my projects were completed.

But the dangers of the hard way came into focus this week, when I pulled Palm Springs Stephan into the vortex.

A week ago Friday night I spotted the brand new, mint in box, never installed set of circa 1958 bathroom fixtures in this exact photo, on a forum. They’d just been posted. Hot! I happened to be emailing a bit with Stephan, and knew he was working on a bathroom reno.

Long story short, he was very excited about the prospect of pink fixtures and spent hours back-and-forth with the seller in Cheyenne, Wyoming, trying to certify the exact color, before he sent a certified check. Hours with a tile store to coordinate tile. Planned to switch the plumbing. Worked out shipping. At one point thought it was a done deal. Ultimately, though, the color didn’t pan out for him, and it’s back to plan A.

The moral of the story is — I guess — to know thyself. If you really truly want very special retro finds to complete your renovation vision, it’s gonna be a roller coaster. Requiring patience, tenacity, and a belief that once you put your vibes out there, the retro decorating gods will send you what you need. If you think that sounds fun — so then, will be doing it the hard way.

P.S. Anyone within driving distance of Cheyenne, Wyoming, interested in a set of brand new, mint in box, never been installed Crane bathroom fixtures? Tub, toilet with really cool seat, sink with chrome legs/towel bar, lav faucet, tub faucet. $1000. Email Gary, who seems very nice and appreciative of them, at: [item sold]. He can give you the whole story, which begins in North Dakota.

Oh yeah. They’re not really pink. They’re beige. Or taupe. Or a sandy pinky beigey taupe. Something like that. Buckle up.

This post was originally published Dec. 9, 2007, then repeated on Jan. 4, 2008, again on Jan. 1, 2010.

  1. TappanTrailerTami says:

    To know thyself is such an important thing! Passing up a brand new set of vintage matchy matchy fixtures would be a really difficult thing for me to do, since I have the matchy matchy gene (actually a double dose of them I think!). Kudos to Stephen to keeping his pink vision intact. Sometimes it is very hard to not waver when something else comes along.

    Then, there are countless stories, I am sure, of all the “meant to be” moments we get handed seemingly out of nowhere. For the last couple of years, I had envisioned two matching vintage corner china cabinets in my living room. I have one very ornate carved oak corner china that my parents purchased new for my grandmother in 1976. For the last two years, I’ve scoured Craigslist and eBay for a matching pair of corner curios and had resigned myself to the fact that I would have to send my grandmother’s china cabinet to someone else in the family once I located a matching pair at the right price. I realized long ago that my chances of EVER finding one that matched what I have now were slim to none.

    Low and behold, I ended randomly searching eBay a month ago for corner china cabinets – hadn’t searched there in a few months at least – and voila! On eBay, the same cupboard as my grandmother’s! I halfway expected it to be in New Jersey or some other far off place (I’m in NorCal)….but it turned out to be located in Southern CA. I found it on a Friday, and the guy who posted it was actually delivering furniture within 30 miles of me the following Monday.

    I now have two matching carved oak corner china cupboards! The retro decorating Gods apparently did not want me to give up Grandma’s china cupboard after all, and also recognized my extreme matchy matchy disease and presented me with the matching china cabinet!

    Happy New Year everyone!

    1. pam kueber says:

      What a great story, TTT. Yes, the retro decorating gods recognized that you were a humble and patient servant — and delivered you the goods! xoxo

      1. TappanTrailerTami says:

        Pam, I really hope the RDG’s shine upon everyone here in 2011, whether they are humble and patient or not (LOL).

        The best to you and yours, and THANK you again for maintaining the best retro everything blog out there!


  2. Trouble aka Shane says:

    I remember this post. I wish I could find a toilet seat like that style, but even DEA Bath has flatter style seats….not like this one!

  3. JKaye says:

    I was one of the early readers who saw this post when it very first appeared (back when I went by Sumac Sue). Gosh, has it really been THAT long ago? There have been so many great bathrooms and kitchens and house facades and so on to appear here since then. I often wonder about the outcomes. For instance, did Sebastian put up wallpaper in his great yellow bathroom in Montreal (2-23-08)? What did Susan put on the shelves over her fireplace (7-14-10)? What did Alice do to her yellow kitchen (4-11-08)? Maybe they are still researching and going at it the hard way. May they and we all have happy house experiences in 2011.

    1. pam kueber says:

      kisses, judi! i will forever remember my trip to lexington with my sister jenni to meet you and go on a tour of your gardenside neighborhood. is life strange, or what! i’ll try to follow up with these folks this year and see what they decided!

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