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Posted: December 17, 2013 7:52 p.m.

Bathroom remodel brings flood of decor decisions

I have been told some strange things in my life.

Excuses from students about homework can be quite inventive. I once got a written note from an agriculture teacher explaining why a student was late to my class. The note simply said, "steer aloose." I got his point, and if he was still chasing that steer, he probably did not have much time to write an excuse.

This week I was told that the bathtub I had ordered in October would not get to my house soon because it was being held up in customs. I don’t think a cast-iron and porcelain bathtub could conceal much contraband.

That information was the latest in a string of frustrations I have tried to overcome in what appears a vain attempt to spruce up my back bathroom. It seemed like an easy project at the time. But beware; nothing is easy in an old house.

All I wanted to do was order a new roll-top, footed bathtub and a freestanding sink to replace the ones I now have, which are over 100 year old. They have been refinished twice and, despite my husband’s exhortations, it is time for new ones. That seems simple. Just take the old ones out and replace them with new ones. But no.

First, I couldn’t find a sink with as large a base as the one I now have. My floor is hardwood in the bathroom, so when I remove the sink, I will have to refinish a small square of floor. And if I am doing that, I decided, I might as well paint the bathroom while there are no fixtures in the way. No problem. I will just have the plumber come to remove the sink and tub. Then I will paint and sand and have the plumber come back and install the new fixtures.

Of course, there were decisions about what kinds of faucets and drain lines and other stuff to order. I ordered brushed nickel, much to my husband’s disgust. He wanted brass. I have had brass in that bathroom for 40 years, and it was not the coated kind. I am sick of polishing brass, and even though I know that you don’t have to polish the new kind, I just couldn’t face brass faucets. So we compromised. The tub has brass feet and I have brushed nickel faucets. We don’t match.

Then everyone, well, mostly my sister, wanted to know why I didn’t order the faucet with the hand shower for my tub. That’s easy: wood floors, plaster walls and four granddaughters. I kept imagining the damage they could create with that hand-held shower.

The light fixture over my sink is also brass that needs to be polished, and I was planning on replacing that.

Then my sister derided the light fixture over the dressing table. I liked it and was going to keep it, but she said it was too ’80s. I began looking online for light fixtures, thinking this would be an easy problem to solve.

But, again, no. The light fixture over my sink has to be turned on and off at the fixture. It is not connected to any light switch. The light fixture over the dressing table has to have a bar base of a specific size. I have wallpaper behind the light fixture, and while I am willing to repaint the bathroom below the chair railing, I am not willing to re-wallpaper.

Then there is the problem of light bulbs. I absolutely do not understand light bulbs. I don’t know the ratio of lumins (I think that is the word) to watts. How many lumins does it take to make a 100-watt light bulb?

A lighting man at a big- box store recommended to me a light bulb that he said was the LED equivalent of a normal 100 watt bulb. It costs $10. But he said it would last 50 years. Well, let me tell you, I’m not going to last 50 years, and I don’t want light bulbs I have to bequeath to my children.

The only good news is my sink is here. But my tub is still being held hostage and, I am sure, won’t be free for Christmas.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at

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