Before I begin, let me say that I’m not immune to the irony of spending what I think of as big money to refurbish a functioning bathroom when Vali Myers, by the evidence of my own eyes, lived the most joyous and creative life imaginable above Positano with no plumbing whatsoever, drinking and washing from a pure mountain waterfall and answering “the call of nature”, I believe, off a cliff.  However, the motto of the ancient Greeks, Know thyself, is still useful, and the truth is that, while my heart admires the wild and bohemian, the rest of me is firmly rooted in the bourgeois and loves plumbing, endless hot water, privacy… In the midst of our wonderful, wine-soaked afternoon at Vali’s, inevitably I had to take a pee, and I wandered so far from the compound in search of a private spot that I almost slid off the mountain and only saved myself by grabbing a fortunately-placed bush.  What a way that would have been to go.

I bought my house, here in upstate New York, back in the summer of ’02 and, at the time, intended immediately to make some improvements to the downstairs bathroom.  Of course, I didn’t get around to it.  I’m acutely aware that my tenth anniversary of owning the house is coming up soon, and I would like to have things looking better by then.

First, let’s take a look at how things are.   The floor tiles, when I bought the house, were real terracotta and pretty charming until, within a short time, they started to loosen and break.  Eventually I had them taken up and replaced by dark-stained pine.  Much discussion ensued over how best to seal the wood.  I actually bought a gallon of latex polyurethane but became so intimidated and irritated by the conflicting instructions of the manufacturer, versus local advice, that I decided – against ALL advice – simply to use a beeswax based wood conditioner instead.  The floor has been in place for around a year now; it does, of course, require occasional re-polishing, but it looks better every time I do it.   Perhaps disaster awaits, but for now I’m very pleased.

The biggest source of discontent has always been the tan plastic shower surround.  Behold:

Its tub is far too shallow to take a nice bath.  I could never decide exactly what to replace it with – certainly something white, but which?  Everything affordable at the local big-box stores seemed to be either shallow as well, or just ugly – Jacuzzi jets, strange decorative contours, etc.

In February 2010, I found my answer.  I had traveled to the Berlinale film festival as part of a film’s production team (the film was, incidentally, directed by my traveling companion of the Eden Hotel – perhaps some of that Fellini genius rubbed off on him on our one-night stay).  We stayed at the Movenpick Hotel – director and two co-producers in one room – this is independent film, not Hollywood – and all fell in love with the bathtub, which was gleaming white acrylic, simple, rectangular, and oh, so luxuriously deep.  It turned out to be a Philippe Starck design for Duravit and, astonishingly, not an impossible dream in terms of its price.  Besides the excitement of premiering the film, I think that tub was the best thing about Berlin.  The Berlinale is prestigious but also enormous and overwhelming, and the weather was utterly grim.  Teams of men with jackhammers had been set to work clearing ice from the sidewalks, because at some point the city had run out of salt.

So, having discovered the dream bathtub, my design direction was clear:  something rather Euro.

Bathtub # 700092; photo from http://www.duravit.us
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