We've been making some big decisions in our house of late, many of which center around our never ending story of the master bathroom project. Though some of the big choices have come rather easy (of course we'd like a claw foot tub), one selection in particular I've been agonizing over for nearly the last decade is the choice between goose or telephone. Say what? Do I have you a little confused as to how a decision between a goose or a telephone might be a critical element in a bathroom renovation worthy debate for nearly 10 years? Trust me, it makes sense. I'm actually referring to the style of faucet we'll use for our salvaged claw foot tub.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me back up for a moment and share the story of how our claw foot tub came to our home, and how it’s been quietly slumbering in our basement for the last nine years.
As you may know, new cast iron tubs aren't cheap. Depending on style, size, and how they're made, they can easily run from about $1,000 on up to $3,000 and more. For the basic style that we like, $1,000 is a pretty good bet.
Though we knew we could buy a new tub, we also knew how many deals there were to be had with older tubs. The key here was to find an old tub that was in decent shape and wouldn't break the bank. We also really liked the idea of reusing an old tub that just needed a new home. The trick was simple, we had to find that good deal.
Back in the summer of 2003, we were just a few months into home ownership. Our energy knew no bounds, but unfortunately our budget was quite the opposite. We turned to second hand stores and eBay as primary sources for home furnishings, and back in those days it felt like eBay was absolutely full of wonderful finds and great deals . While scouring eBay one night, Alex started perusing the claw foot tub selection, thinking ahead even back then to the day that we could overhaul the ugly 1980s master bathroom.
Amid the large selection of damaged and rough around the edges options, he spotted one tub that looked to be in great condition. The tub had no bids but a starting price of just $150. This quickly attracted his attention, but his enthusiasm waned when we noticed the “local pickup only” disclaimer in the description. Since we don't have photos or screen shots of the process (this was back in 2003, after all), I'll pepper in the shots that we do have from that time. This photo shows what decent shape the interior of the tub is still in.
But the stars must have aligned that day, because upon further inspection, he excitedly learned that this tub's location was listed as "Alexandria, Virginia"! Although we knew our bathroom project was years down the road, we simply couldn’t pass up such a great deal. After securing the tub, we rented a truck from The Home Depot, enlisted the help of our friend Bull (yes, like from Night Court, a nickname earned when our 6'6" friend shaved his head in college), and drove to neighboring Del Ray (a neighborhood in Alexandria, adjacent to Old Town), where the tub was located. Here's Bull and Alex working to bring the tub in.
We met the current tub's owners in the yard of their home. They were flippers working on renovating the home and were discarding the tub in favor of a new fiberglass tub. Though we were a little sad for the bungalow they were working on, their loss was our gain and we hauled off our hefty addition.
Although getting the tub back to our house was relatively uneventful, moving the tub downstairs into our basement required the strength of ten men. The tub itself is in the neighborhood of 300-350 pounds, but the lip of the tub offers an easy carry handle. The problem comes when the tub needs to fit through the doorway that's more narrow than the tub is wide, and the tub needs to move onto it's side.
Somehow Bull and Alex, under my careful supervision, managed to wrangle this sucker down our rickety basement stairs without killing themselves. Here’s a look at their victory celebration.
I gave it the "dry fit" test, and was satisfied with what will be my future soaking tub.
This tub has sat in the same location now for nearly a decade, serving as a dust and junk collector, just waiting for its chance to be the center of attention in our new bathroom. You can barely see it buried below the mountain of junk in this photo from last year.
With the start of the New Year, we’ve refocused our DIY ADD and are devoting our thoughts, plans, and time to taking on this project. Which brings us to present day.
While we plan out the look of the space, we knew it was high time to make a decision on the type of faucet we’ll use for the tub. Ruling out deck mount options was relatively easy, as the access points are already located in the wall of the tub itself. Besides, deck mount options require a tub that's specifically designed with this in mind.
Freestanding fixtures were also a consideration, but I wanted something more understated than that. Alex also has had a longstanding concern about using the freestanding fixtures that has to do with how easily they're supported and what sort of stress they put on the fittings. Not to mention the complication of needing to fill the existing supply holes in the wall of the tub.
That left us with the decision to mount the faucet in the existing holes, but we needed to decide on a style. Our options ranged primarily between a simple gooseneck faucet or the more commonly seen English style with telephone sprayer.
We searched online and reviewed our various options. Of all the various styles there was one look in particular I didn’t care for at all. The style of faucet that I just don't like are the ones with the “downward spigots.” These may be the most historically accurate, but perhaps it’s my juvenile sense of humor that keeps me from liking these faucets. For some reason these spigots look way to phallic for my tastes. As I kept telling Alex when he'd suggest one of these faucets, “No, I don't want any drippy penises in my tub!” TMI? Sorry about that. He thinks I’m crazy too.
On the other hand, I found I really liked the look of the wider mouthed spigot seen below. It’s simple, almost utilitarian look really appealed to me.
Of the telephone style, it was easy to rule out those that were really large, overly complicated, and would take over as the focal point. I want the attention to be on the tub and bathroom, not on the hoses, levers, and pipes that make it all work.
After a lot of browsing, I found one tub mounted telephone style that was more understated. It’s available in a polished nickel finish (the finish we tend to gravitate towards), and the price was more reasonable than many I’ve seen over the years. Hmm, maybe this telephone thing isn’t so bad after all.
Several years ago I was 100% certain I wanted to go with the gooseneck, largely due to the size and cost of the English with telephone style, and my general dislike of the weird telephone cord that lays flat against the tub wall. But after using a handheld sprayer on our trip to Budapest this year, along with considering how much easier it will be to clean the tub if we have a sprayer, this option was suddenly more appealing to me.
With this research in hand, I hemmed and I hawed. I flipped and I flopped. And after enough internal debate to put congress to shame, I finally pulled the trigger. We’re adding a phone to our bathroom, and not one that will make outbound calls. This beauty has been ordered, and is on her way to Old Town Home.
I’m really excited to have finally made a selection. It feels like we’re finally making the tough decisions that have presented mental roadblocks for us in our bathroom planning. Though this finish fixture piece of hardware has been ordered, don't let it fool you, we're nowhere close to install (I mean, NOWHERE)! But I’m currently working on my full design plan for the space, and can’t wait to share it with you.
Does anyone else own a claw foot tub? I’d be curious to know how you like it, and what style faucet you use and prefer. Am I alone in my “paralysis by analysis” when it comes to making design choices? If you’re stuck on something, I’d love to know what’s holding you back, and/or how you finally moved forward on a daunting renovation.