Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Which kind of fool are we?

A farmhouse style sink with various faucet options

Shower head and controls

A couple of toilets--traditional styling? dual flush?

What's known as a Schoolhouse style antique lamp

Some used doors. In a few instances we found them being sold in a collection of matching sets

We have been focusing on a few other aspects of the project over the last handful of days.

We have spent considerable time sorting out the options for kitchen appliances, the kitchen sink, plumbing fixtures for the kitchen and bathrooms, as well as doors and lighting. It's takes a certain kind of perseverance in the face of so many choices and little basis to work from other then intuition. We've made tons of headway and have the lion's share of the decisions made. This has included hours on the internet sorting through descriptions and makers trying to make sure we're comparing apples to apples, and then lots of time in the car driving from retailer to retailer to get the sales pitch and see for ourselves what seems like the right choice.

So far we've actually purchased a dishwasher and laundry washing machine. We feel like we made good choices in both cases.

For a long time we've been hoping that we'd be able to use old doors throughout the interior but upon looking at the options we are sort of leaning towards new. There are lots of doors out there, but in almost every case there is the factor of refinishing, concern about structural tightness, and feeling confident about the style that has kept us from certainty when sorting through racks of old doors.

Lighting was really fun to look at, especially the offerings at Conant Metal & Light in Burlington. They make beautiful lighting that they sell along with tastefully selected choices from other makers. This stop got my creative juices going and I left feeling inspired to make some of our lighting. I'm looking forward to digging into this...

An aspect of this whole effort that's had us kind of uncertain is this: We started our shopping day off at a plumbing supply house that has a showroom for the public but only sells through contractors. We spent considerable time looking at options and in the end made choices we felt good about. I would typify their selection as mid-to-high quality. Nice stuff with a range of choices. Nothing cheesy.

Our quandary came at the end of the day when we stopped by Home Depot to "just look" after having looked at lots of other generally higher quality retailers throughout the day. When we started looking around we were just confused. How can a faucet be $600 at one outlet, and $150 here at Home Depot? Is the qualitative difference that great? What gives? I've been joking that we started feeling like we didn't know which kind of fool were are: A) buying into the price-equals-quality-and-we're-worth-it foolishness, or the B) huh-that-looks-pretty-good-and-its-way-cheaper-and-can't-be-that-bad kind of foolishness. A fool either way? Who knows.

Its hard to say what the answer is, but I find it helpful to think of the qualitative differences about something with which I AM familiar, like bikes, and that helps me remember that similar looking objects can have significant qualitative and functional differences. So, having consulted with others whose opinion we trust and having thought on it a bit, we are erring towards quality where and when we can, at least with high-use and high-contact items like the faucets. I said to Nance tonight that I'd rather have a decent stove then a premium toilet.

Somethings got to give sometime, somewhere.


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