In our recent bathroom renovation, I labored over making sure that every detail, no matter how seemingly insignificant, fit in with my overall design vision. This translated into countless hours spent in “rectification” mode, when the products I found at the best prices happened to be in varying finishes. I will not tell a lie: this was one of the most maddening parts of the renovation.
When you’re trying desperately to keep some semblance of a budget, product sourcing can be a real pill! After hours of online and in-person reconnaissance work, I finally determined that a change in my attitude had to be implemented. I was pulling my hair out, trying to find the perfect coordinating finishes, all the while missing great deals on items which would have functionally worked and fit my design theme, but just happened to be clothed in the wrong finish.
We had developed this amazing design for an open concept vanity. Our furniture-maker, Charles Ramberg, had worked with a local metal smith, Joseph White, to design and build this beautiful stainless steel and cypress piece. Everything was going great, until I looked underneath, only to find that the standard plumbing escutcheons didn’t provide complete coverage! Of course my inner voice said, “To the Net!”
There began the biggest waste of time I had encountered during the whole project. I found deeper escutcheons, but none, as deep as I needed. I found oil-rubbed bronze ones too, but no one seemed to be providing brushed nickel escutcheons in the size that I needed. In desperation I pulled an “Amazon.com” maneuver and purchased the next best thing – for a pretty penny, even for a discount website.
Two days later, with my superfluous escutcheon supplies growing (Two I found at a hardware store, two I bought online, and two that came with the rough-in plumbing for the sink drains.), I finally did what I should have done in the first place. I hallowed the threshold of a plumbing supplies store.
I think there was a collective gasp, when I walked in with workout clothes on and a smile pasted to my face. I might have been the first woman to grace that utilitarian Mecca of plumbing accoutrement in years. After putzing about, I finally got up the courage to ask where the escutcheons were. The nice store clerk gave me a wary look, and I immediately began wondering if I’d been saying the word, “escutcheon,” wrong this whole time. Two minutes and $3.55 later, I walked out with two perfectly adequate escutcheons, made of some composite of cheap metals, and a determination that if I couldn’t find these darned pieces in brushed nickel, I would join the ranks of fabled alchemists turn them into “gold” – or, in this case, brushed nickel – myself!
The Mischief Managed
So began my exhaustive series of trial experiments to achieve the best faux, brushed nickel look. Since the metal seemed slick, and my experience with paints had taught me that paint and slick surfaces typically don’t get in bed together and procreate beautiful finishes, I decided to sand down the surface. I intended to follow that up with a primer and some spray paint. Imagine my surprise and delight, when I finished sanding, only to realize how eponymous the term “brushed nickel” actually is.
Voila! Brushed nickel in a snap, as long as the metal is not just a coated finish.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it is a slippery slope, once one realizes that brushed nickel can be attained so easily. I found myself “brushed-nickeling” our curtain rods, closet rods, side table legs, make-up table legs, and tub filler escutcheon with reckless abandon. In fact, I was so crazed with the brilliance of my discovery that I only stopped short of ruining a perfectly good picture frame. [For the record, picture frames that seem polished or chrome are rarely solid anything, and the sanding just peels off their coating. My bad.]
In the end, I found that my dalliances with jerry rigging proved to be both a productive and cost-saving answer to my finish conundrum. Another case of mischief managed in my home with a flick of the wrist. This time my wand was a 5×7 piece of sand paper, and I couldn’t have found a more capable instrument!