It all began with an old marble sink top that lay discarded in the grass, propped up alongside an old barn. I had spotted it from the road and told my husband that we needed to pull over so that I could check it out. The name of the business inside was simply “The Strip Joint.” Inside this dilapidated building I found a treasure trove of old antique furniture, most of which had seen better days. Some of the items inside were not for sale…they were pieces that had been dropped off and were waiting to be refinished. Other antiques were stacked precariously up the walls and on the second floor the furniture was up to the rafters in some places. We spotted several old doors with great beveled glass lights that had been taken out of an old courthouse, and of course the footstool that I was eyeing was buried deep beneath broken caned chairs, old headboards and various other finds. The owner of the shop was only too happy to help me dig out what I had spotted. And the old Carrera sink top that I found laying discarded in the grass outside had a story of its own. It had been taken out of an old house — completely unusable in its present condition. The faucets, originally there had been two, were corroded, and only the faucet dedicated to hot water remained. All that was left of the cold faucet was the hole that had been drilled for it many years before. Underneath, the clips that held the original sink in place (which was nowhere to be found) were completely rusted an immovable. I knew instantly that I had to have this vanity top for my new powder room.
Restoring this old beauty would be a project that ultimately required the help of an old Italian marble restorer, who was able to carefully remove the old broken plumbing fixtures and rusted clips without damaging the marble. After that, he cleaned and polished the thick marble, which when restored betrayed the most beautiful patina that can only result from many years of use. I knew that the best way to showcase the sink top in my small powder room would be to mount it on chrome legs. Adding a deep sink bowl and a traditional three piece chrome faucet would be the finishing touches.
Since this powder room was brand new and in an old house that was built in the late ’20s, I knew that adding a vanity top with some history would make the bathroom so much more interesting. And this is one of the design principles that I tried to employ while renovating. If my kitchen and baths were just like all of the beautiful examples that I found in countless magazines, then they wouldn’t have been unique. Designing a powder room around an old vanity top was also so much more gratifying than having bought one pre-made, which I have certainly done before. It demonstrated to me that with a little bit of ingenuity I could have a powder room built around a piece with some great character. And that 1 1/2″ thick Carrera marble top? Well, I paid $50 for it. A worthwhile investment.