Bathroom Planning + a Kohler Day Trip!

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We guess that our bathroom was last renovated about thirty years ago, simply based on the current fixtures and the state in which they (sort of) stand. There is nothing remarkable in how it was done, and at the very least, we can say that the design is inoffensive; but over time, little grout remains between the tiled floor, the less-than-stellar fixtures are stained beyond repair and we can only stare at the clump-like caulk lines for so long. (Oh dear, that caulk.) Sadly, the only thing that could be considered salvage worthy is our bathtub, but because we’re swapping the plumbing fixtures to the opposite side, it’s no longer a fit for us (but could be for someone else with a reglaze, so that’ll get donated).

All this to say, we couldn’t be more excited to dive into this renovation. The bed, bath and laundry (but especially the bed and bath) are those personal spaces that we have turned a blind eye towards since move in day, and devoting so much attention towards it now feels like a dream, really! We never intended this long of a delay, but we’ve learned that renovation takes time. And now, it’s time. So much so, that even Scott is happy and willing to indulge me when I buzz on about aged brass vs. polished chrome and the merits of the perfect blush pink paint.

When Kohler heard about our bathroom project, they were just as excited as us to dive head first into a room design that will feel as beautiful as it will functional, and to keep things as transparent as possible, they will be providing us with fixtures throughout our renovation. To say we are beyond grateful to have their partnership wouldn’t be enough. We are continually amazed at their ability to effortlessly mix modern with traditional, style with quality. Everyone we’ve spoken with behind the Kohler team has been a wealth of knowledge (and boy, we ask a lot of questions!), and we’re really looking forward to sharing our experience with you along the way.

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After spending a couple of days in Kohler, Wisconsin last year, it was all I could talk about for weeks. (This one time, at Kohler…) The heart and pride behind the company is so visible, and it makes my love of Kohler that much stronger (watching cast iron tubs glow a hot and fiery bright red during the factory tour was a standout moment, for sure!). Scott wasn’t able to go with me then, so we remedied that by taking a day trip up to their Design Center a couple weeks ago! Things we love about Chicago: the food, the alley finds and its proximity to Kohler, Wisconsin.

The Design Center is open to the public, and it’s 3 floors of all things bath and kitchen. If you’re even remotely close (or even if you’re not), it’s a must see! As soon as we arrived, we were paired with one of their product consultants, Stephanie, and we sat down to talk about our renovation plans, discussing everything from space layout to size restrictions. She hit us with questions like, how would you describe your style? We told her that our house tells us what to do – she’s an old lady, and she’s set in her ways, we said. When she didn’t bat an eye, we knew she got us. (Stephanie, you rock.)

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Once we had covered everything we wanted to discuss, we began our walk around the Design Center, where we got the chance to be hands on – the best part! Staring with the vanities, we were impressed that soft-close drawers were a standard, with the ability to add in electrical and every organizational component you can imagine. (My heart!) In our case, we had to move on from the vanities; our space allows for nothing more than 4′, and we have our hearts set on a double sink. Kohler vanities don’t accommodate a double sink at the 4′ width, but we gathered a handful of ideas we’ll be adding to whichever vanity we do end up with!

Next, we spent a good hour (or two?!) dissecting what makes the perfect slope of a gooseneck faucet, but we debated going sleek and minimal, too. In the end, we said, who are we kidding? as we found ourselves attracted to faucets from the Antique, Artifacts and Bancroft lines. This set the tone for every choice thereafter, and we began mixing and matching faucets and tub fillers. Stephanie let us know that our decisions didn’t stop there – everything from choosing the exact shower head to the exact arm to the exact back plate could be tweaked to our liking!

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The shower head and hand held spray were some of the most involved choices to make, and we were happy to learn that we could opt for water savings (yes!) without losing water pressure. Kohler incorporates Racetrack Technology + Air-Induction Technology into their products (we had Stephanie repeat and explain this to us no less than 3 times), which combines to deliver force, eliminate overspray and provide larger, warmer drops while you shower.

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Okay, who wants to talk toilets? We are probably more excited than we should be about a new toilet, but let’s just say that we inherited a less than stellar bowl in our current bathroom. This was probably one of our easiest decisions, made possible by the Kathryn (love her name, right?). Look at those angles!

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Choosing a tub felt just as easy, and we told Stephanie that we’d love to see options in cast iron with a simple side apron. She encouraged us to get in! the tubs, and we couldn’t stop laughing. People really do that? That’s not just a TV thing?, we asked.

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Last but not least, we browsed their collection of kitchen and bar sinks, which would work well in a laundry room, too! After sketching ideas (so many ideas – thank you for all of your input!) and measuring (and re-measuring) counter depths, we just couldn’t get on board with our vintage sink. Did our hearts break a little? Absolutely. That said, we know that’s the first of many road bumps, but we’re still weirdly excited about our laundry room renovation, and we have no shortage of ideas to make it work best for our family.

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So while we were at Kohler, we wanted to check out the smallest sinks Kohler offers and found an adorable 15″ round under-mount on display in a sea salt finish. Sea salt is stunning – just a tiny step up from plain white with small flecks that looked like, well, salt.

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We walked through our checklist for close to 3 hours, and we had about 30 minutes until the Design Center closed for the day. While Stephanie gathered up some samples for us, we took a tour of the upstairs, which is filled with kitchens and bathrooms to spark your own imagination – each room tucked into nooks, immersing you fully into each design:

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The room below had us re-thinking our floor tile choice, and we went home and immediately ordered penny round samples to compare against the hex tiles we thought (no, we were sure) we wanted:

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Aside from the actual decisions we made throughout the day, the Design Center was inspiring in so many ways! Being able to see every single product is like a party(!) for your eyes, and the ability to interact with each item enhances the experience ten-fold. We surprised even ourselves by leaning much more traditional and sticking with classic chrome finishes overall, and we can’t wait to share our choices with you as the renovations unfold.

Speaking of which, the domino effect begins the first week of December!

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  • patty blaettler - November 19, 2015 - 11:29 AM

    From experience, my advice is to beware of very large tubs. They use way too much water. Unless you’re a big guy you tend to just float in them (not cool), and by the time the tub is full, the water cools down. Also jets sounded like a great idea; we NEVER use them.
    Some of the most memorable baths I ever had were in a rather petite tub in an Italian hotel.
    Good luck with making a wonderful bathroom!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 19, 2015 - 11:56 AM

      I love that! And thank you! Yeah, we ended up choosing the same size tub as we have now in width and length, although I think the apron on our new one will be a couple inches taller. We stayed away from jets and kept it very, very simple.ReplyCancel

    • KimC - January 5, 2016 - 9:23 AM

      Totally concur with this. We have one of those giant corner tubs and by the time it’s full there is no hot water left and the water in the tub has already started to cool off. Maybe they’d be better with a tankless water heater, or if you had a 2nd water tank. They *are* great for bathing a couple of half-lings though!ReplyCancel

  • Lydia - November 19, 2015 - 3:48 PM

    I love all the selection!! And the tub is so simple and sleek! I do have to ask where you found your booties, I love them!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 19, 2015 - 3:54 PM

      Thanks, Lydia! I got them at TJ Maxx well over a year ago, but the brand is Franco Sarto if that helps! They’re super comfy, too.ReplyCancel

  • Staci - November 19, 2015 - 3:50 PM

    This seriously looks like a dream come true. Now I want a trip to Wisconsin!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - November 19, 2015 - 6:00 PM

    My husband decided to install our penny tile and this is how it turned out…
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/64/c8/c5/64c8c5280e2baaa1c2a5685b3f5f7011.jpg

    I sure hope your installation turns out better. It makes me want to cry every time I go into the bathroom.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 19, 2015 - 7:42 PM

      Oh, no! :( We’re still deciding between the penny and hex, and every time we think we made up our mind, we change it again! We’ll be sure to use spacers!ReplyCancel

  • mgn - November 19, 2015 - 11:30 PM

    I think you are misusing divulge up there (maybe indulge)? Feel free to delete this if you correct it!ReplyCancel

  • Mandi @ Vintage Revivals - November 20, 2015 - 7:53 AM

    Wahhhhh!! I’m so jealous that you got to go back!! Kohler for life!! Cant wait to see what you guys came up with!

    xo
    mReplyCancel

  • Ashley - November 27, 2015 - 8:38 AM

    Oh, it’s so my dream to visit Kohler! Best of luck with your renovation- I can’t wait to watch it come together!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - December 11, 2015 - 4:37 PM

    Hi there!
    Just happened to come across your site and I’m so glad I did! We too are doing a major masterbath Reno & I only wish we had a huge showroom like this to go through! (And someone like Stephanie to talk us through some of the decisions that need to be made! :) anyway, just curious about which tub you ultimately decided on. I’ll be looking for more posts with pics as you complete your project. Thank you for such a great blog!ReplyCancel

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