I still remember the day she came over with a preliminary architectural plan for the addition to their old house that was big on space but lacked some of the things she wanted. We sat down at my dining room table. "Ok, gimme your wish list"... "A soaking tub, a separate, big walk in shower, a vanity with lots of storage, the toilet hidden, a walk in closet....." she went on and on. Laughing at how few of the items on her wish list were on the plan in front of us, I pulled out the big roll of "bum wad" (architect's tissue paper) and started sketching out all of the elements she wanted, moving walls and doors around and playing "what if"- sheet after sheet, different ideas layered five deep until everything sorta fit. The next step was to take all the sketches to the drafting board to make sure it all worked and was fully detailed and dimentioned before the workmen arrived. And then there was the material budget - yet another challenge.
Anyone who knows me very well knows I have a place in my heart for all things old and have a private stash of old house parts in storage, salvaged from previous projects and streetside give aways, that I call the "housepital". There I had the 120 year old oversized clawfoot tub that had been waiting for it's perfect new home for more than twenty years - right in the neighborhood at Sue's house! (Which was a good thing for anyone who has ever tried to move an antique cast iron bathtub).
And so went the scavenger hunt for all of the bath fixtures -pilasters from an antiques flea market,
the octagon window from Habitat for Humanity's Restore shop, the wide fluted door and window casings from a yard sale, the glass cabinet doors from the housepital, cabinets built by Mark using castoff doorsample fronts from our shop and all of the tilework done by the handy Sue herself. I convinced her that her abilities on a sewing machine would transfer to a tile saw. I had seen her reupholster yardsale finds into her formal living room and was convinced that she had the patience to cut and fit all of the pieces together like bits of fabric into an evening gown. After a quick 'tile 101' tutorial and a few pointers on the wetsaw,she was off.
I only had a couple weekend dashes across the patio to offer immediate assistance. Like when a bucket of paint fell off her paint ladder all over the newly tiled floor. We can laugh now because it all came up thanks to the fact that she took my advise to use epoxy groute when she finished the floors, but there were alot of explatives at the time. Here again, my saying really paid off:
" If you're getting the labor for free - use the best materials you can afford"
We entered photos of the finished room to St. Louis's Bath of the year contest and it won. Then we entered it in the National Kitchen & Bath Association's contest and it won third place while gaining the attention of the Old House Journal where they featured it on their October 2010 cover with a whole spread in the magazine. I had to smile when I was in Lowes while on vacation in Florida and there was my neighbor and friend Sue's bath in front of me in the magazine check-out rack as an inspiration for all to see. It is indeed good karma.