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HomeHomes
Published: Wednesday, 3/9/2005

Beautiful basins

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Kohler's Artist Edition Tale of Briar Rose sink. Kohler's Artist Edition Tale of Briar Rose sink.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

The sink that humble, faithful bathroom servant has gone glamorous.

The traditional white drop-in basin with tidy rounded rim still has its place, of course.

But the luxury sink offers a combination of function and drop-dead fashion.

These sinks are objects of beauty: some look like art-glass vases set on a table, some nest in wall-mounted brackets or a frees t a n d i n g wrought-iron base. Some, like fine c h i n a dinnerware, are painted with delicate floral motifs.

They are square, rectangular, conical, free-form, fluted, half-sphere. Or they can be a combination of shapes, one melting into another, like Porcher s bronze Effusio that has a square base that slopes

upward to a soft triangle.

Materials start at the familiar vitreous china and extend to glass from clear to iridescent to jewel tones bronze, cast iron, stainless steel, marble.

They re smart, too: a glass basin advertised by Whitehaus Collection changes color with the temperature of the water.

And no surprise they are expensive.

While you can buy a generic drop-in bathroom sink for around $100, a designer sink can set you back for as much as $2,500 not including the base or faucet.

Not for Marcia Rubini, though. Shopping during a day trip last fall to Nogales, Mexico, while her husband attended a convention, the

Sylvania Township woman bought three hammered, raised-detail copper sinks for her new home for a total of $240. All three were installed as under-mounts with granite counter tops two in the master bath and one in the powder room.

They re so cool, I can t stand it, she said. Everybody wants them.

Ms. Rubini said they also reflect her preference for fun, eclectic decor that gives her home a distinct personality. You see the same old stuff, so I wanted to make mine different, she added.

Dion Wilson, showroom manager at Kohler Bath House in Perrysburg, said the glamor sink is being installed primarily in powder rooms and master baths. It s typically a showpiece,

he said. It adds almost a piece of art to your bathroom.

But for some styles, beauty comes at the expense of practicality.

Above-the-counter sinks generally lack the overflow opening

that s standard in a drop-in model, he says, and they have more surface area to keep clean. You wouldn t use it in a kids bathroom, he pointed out.

It s not for shaving or brushing your teeth, confirmed Ev Jackson, manager of the showroom at Builders Bath & Kitchen Supply on Monclova Road. Under-mount sinks paired with granite or other solid-surface counter top are far more popular options locally for the upscale bathroom, even in mid-price homes, she added.

Solid-surface pricing has come way down, she said.

China is a popular choice for an undermount sink, and is the least expensive at about $80, Mrs. Jackson said. Stainless steel is

another favorite, with a price range of about $230 to $430, she added.

Dan Bollin, president of Eagle Creek Builders on Warehouse Road, said he s seeing more and more customers selecting above-thecounter bathroom sinks but that most of the sinks are going into powder rooms of homes in the $400,000 to $550,000 price range.

Granite is being used in master baths, and we still use a lot of cultured marble with pre-molded bowls, Mr. Bollin said.

The use of the bathroom has changed from a purely functional space to a place people go to relax and recharge, observed Nicole Langel, associate product manager for lavatories at Kohler Co., in a telephone interview from Kohler, Wis. We re looking at ways to enhance that experience.

Dressing up the bathroom is a really easy way to add more

design value to your home, Miss Langel said.

When Kohler introduced the fi rst above-the-counter Vessels

sinks in the 1990s, many people thought the fl ashy product would quickly fade, she said. But growth has been steady, and we re fi nding that consumer expectations are going to the next level. They want more choice of materials. We started with vitreous china and

cast iron, and have expanded to include stainless [steel], glass,

and marble.

Miss Langel said new looks have been developed for vitreous

china and cast iron as well, as part of a new product line called Nature s Chemistry. It includes a wall-mounted lavatory made of a thin sheet of enameled cast iron that fl ows cleanly from one rolled edge to the other, dipping in the center to form the bowl . Another, made of vitreous china, has a grooved bowl with the look of wheelthrown pottery.

In a way, today s lavish bathroom sinks aren t so far removed from the primitive accommodations of generations ago: Miss Langel said that Kohler s above-the-counter basins were inspired by the

old-fashioned washbowl on the night stand.

Contact Ann Weber at: aweber@theblade.com or 419-724-6126.



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