The Architect & Me – Part 24: Bathrooms

You wouldn’t think a bathroom would be so stressful. To date, even though not one speck of soil has been moved on our lot, nothing has stressed me out more than the bathrooms. When building a house, you have to think from the inside out. You don’t start with the paint color (though in full disclosure I’m stressing over that, too), but you start with all the things you eventually won’t see. The framing, the electrical, and yes, the plumbing.

I thought I had all of the bathrooms decided months ago when Packer and I had our first meeting with the plumbing specialist. I went in there knowing full well two things. First, I wanted a clawfoot bathtub like I had in my Cottonwood remodel. Second, I knew I wanted antique brass fixtures in my master bath. As we wandered through walls of faucets and paths of sinks and tubs he kept saying, “You are starting on this really early.” The same statement was communicated to me by both our flooring specialist and the appliance salesman. Each time they communicated this to me I had to fight the inner critique. “You are so naive and so unequipped for this, all of the salespeople see it and are calling you out on it.” What I had to battle to push through that lie was substantial. I had to climb over the embarrassment and potential shame to simply own the fact that it takes me a while to make decisions. I need to live with them. Rummage through them. Toss them. Grab them back. Until I am satisfied with where to land. But for me, fully aware that I was making long term decisions and knowing full well I didn’t have a design degree, I had surrendered to the fact that I questioned everything.

In that plumbing outing I was reminded yet again, just like with my stove experience, that my long-held belief of what I wanted could become my new belief of what I now wanted. This was fundamentally true with my bathtub. As I sat my body in the cast iron clawfoot bathtub, my long-held memory of the home I loved, I left having chosen a different tub. This experience, like the previous ones and others to come, made me okay with people’s assessment of my premature selections. My process required, well, processing.

So, now, here I sat at my kitchen bar realizing I didn’t exactly have any bathroom truly decided. I had rummaged Instagram images until my thumb was tired. I had saved enough bathroom images off of Houzz and Pinterest until I could start my own website. And yet, here I sat with pictures scattered in front of me and my mind feeling the same way.

Packer and I have a standing date. Our prayer team meets every Tuesday morning as we have for a decade now, and then Packer will stay and we take one thing at a time. On this day, we were deciding on bathrooms. Who knew there were so many decisions to make?! And the reason the decisions have to be made so early is because plumbing goes inside the walls. And they have to know if you want a centerset, a single-handle, a spread fit, or a bridge, which will determine if you need the 1-hole, or 2-hole, or 3-hole. Do you want it wall-mounted, or deck-mounted? Because each of these decisions determine the type of plumbing that goes inside the walls.

But wait! How can I decide what kind of plumbing I want or need if I don’t know what kind of sink I want to do? See what I’m saying? One decision requires multiple decisions. And my decider had vacated me after picture number ten thousand nine hundred and eighty-five. Thank God for Packer’s calming influence, voice, and her knowledge. She could tell you every kind of faucet if she were talking in her sleep. I, however, had faucets running through my sleep like sheep that I didn’t know the name of.

“Let’s start with the master.” She calmly said.

“I know the master.” I responded. Well, that wasn’t completely true. I knew the color I wanted for the master and had picked out my tub, but I had no idea what I wanted for the cabinets, which meant I didn’t know the countertops, which meant I didn’t know the sink. The vicious cycle never ended. I opened a page in my James T. Farmer coffee table book. I had recently discovered this talented southern designer who could have lived in my head, as his designs felt like he had dug through my heart for the last decade and already designed my dreams. It’s weird how you just know something is right when you find it. That is what I knew when I saw this bathroom in his book. And down the list we went, item by item, piece by piece. In less than ten minutes I was confident about every master bath decision.

We moved to the first guest bedroom. Fortunately, I had this one determined years ago from a picture I had pulled from a magazine. I had no doubt. It was perfect… And on we moved until each bathroom was decided. By the time we were done I could see not just the bathrooms and their colors and fixtures, but the life lived in them. The makeup bags of friends and family sitting on their counters. The wet towels from lake life hanging up on the wall hooks. The naked bottoms of little ones as they washed off their sun-kissed bodies with sleepy satisfaction. It was then Packer and I sat back on our barstools with our own satisfied sighs.

“We did it.” I exhaled.

“Yes, we did.”

“We’re going to have our insides.”

She laughed, “Yes, you will have your insides.”

Denise Jones Reclaiming Hearts

Hi, I’m Denise!

I love Jesus, my family and friends, my sweet dog Sophie, SEC football and Coca-Cola.