After living in our one bedroom condo for a few years we have replaced all the appliances, updated the outlets, light switches, and door handles, added an easy to clean backsplash to the kitchen, dressed up the built-in-desk, organized the closets, and painted all of the walls. Only two things remained untouched, the cabinets and the bathroom fixtures.

This spring I decided to update the fixtures in the bathroom. The ones we had were over 14 years old and not my style to begin with.

 

I’ve never been a fan of gold and silver together. The sink was stained, not just discolored, but there was some permanent grime by the faucets. Eww!

You can imagine my excitement when my husband and I finally budgeted for this project. I figured it should be pretty simple. Measure the sink, find a prettier top to the vanity, pick out some matching faucets for the shower and sink, hire someone to install, and voila! An updated bathroom.

Shopping around was certainly fun. I created a private board on Pinterest to collect images of everything I was considering. I showed my favorite choices to my husband, he agreed, and we ordered them. So far, so good.

I expected all the material to arrive in about a week, so I called Home Depot to schedule someone to install the items. I ordered the sink and faucets from them, so I hoped I could get someone to install the shower faucets as well. They referred me to a local handyman shop. I explained to them my simple job and they said, the sink will be simple for sure. “We can do it for XXX dollars. The shower, however, will cost at least XXXX dollars and you will have to replace the tile. Unless we can cut through the back wall.”

What!?

Here is a picture of the faucet I was hoping to install.

Three pieces, just like I had. I was shocked to learn that it is not plug and play. The man on the phone even informed me that not only do Kohler and Delta not fit the same, Delta and Delta might not fit the same either. He said with fixtures that are 14 years old I would probably have a 30% chance of finding a Delta that fit what I had.

Saddened, but not broken, I decided to call the maintenance guy in my building to see if he had any advice. He agreed that I could not install the Kohler fixtures without breaking through the wall, and that would be very expensive. He did, however, show me what pieces I could easily remove and suggested that I take those pieces to a store in Chicago that specializes in Delta. He thought they might be able to help me find the same fixtures, but in silver, with no gold.

Searching for Delta dealers in Chicago lead me right back to Home Depot. There is also a Delta showroom in the Merchandise Mart, but I thought that would be my second stop, if I didn’t find a solution.

I managed to find some universal pieces. I didn’t bring in enough of the faucet handle, but I was able to buy this spout (not a big improvement) and planned to come back with more of the handle later.

Meanwhile I called another company, Intercity Maintenance, for a quote on installing all of this stuff. They wanted to come out and measure everything before quoting a price. The sink arrived before they showed up, which was a very good thing! We found another problem.

This is the glass sink with the collar that came with the new faucet sitting in it. See the raw edge of unpolished glass around the top edge? This collar is too small. Also the sink does not have overflow holes. He told me that I should buy a push up drain. They are designed for these sinks. It will keep the water from overflowing when filling the sink and it is large enough to cover the raw glass.

I also asked him about the spout I bought for the bath. He said it would fit, but he suggested I first go to a store called The Faucet Shoppe on Elston. He couldn’t guarantee that they would have what I was looking for, for the shower, but he was sure they would know what my best option would be. They would also have the drain I need.

I disconnected everything I could from the bathtub. I had just the gold handle of the faucet, the hot/cold directional plate, and the spout. I brought that, pictures, and the collar that came with the new faucet to The Faucet Shoppe.

The Faucet Shoppe is a tiny storefront on Elston between Addison and Irving Park. It reminded me of a dusty antique shop, but of plumbing supplies. They even mentioned that a few pieces they had were over 100 years old! I did my best to explain my dilemmas. They knew just what I needed! Suddenly on the counter appeared a push up drain, the same spout I had, but in silver, the newer version of the faucet I had, and the newer hot/cold directional plate. Done!

They were patient and friendly in explaining what everything was and how it fit together. Eureka! I didn’t have to break through walls to update the shower! Now it looks much better.

After my success at the Faucet Shop I called Intercity Maintenance back to schedule the installation of the sink. I couldn’t wait! We scheduled it for a week from that day.

Finally the day came. Things were going smoothly, but two hours into the job the installer came to find that the pipes didn’t match.

The pipe to the hot water shut off needed to be longer and the J pipe needed to be further out from the wall. He left to go to the store to buy the right size pipes. I don’t know how much longer it took, because I had to leave while he was gone, but finally the project came to a close.

The shower looks great, the new sink looks great and I didn’t have to break through any walls!

Next up, painting the cabinets. Then I think our improvements on this home will be done.

What home improvement projects have you done that turned out to be much bigger than you expected?


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