There were seeds of this even before the upstairs bathroom project began in earnest.
The first seeds of this came when the radiator froze last winter; Lori's father replaced the radiator with a baseboard radiator, and filled in the hole in the wall. Then the pipes to the sink froze, and he rerouted them through the house so they would stay warm.
Lori's father urged us to get a vanity to replace the exposed pipes; I hadn't realized until recently that he meant us to do so urgently, instead of some vague future time.
So we've been shopping for vanities. It's been a miserable experience. The problem is that Lori and I have fairly different tastes, and the intersection of our tastes with what we've been able to find in the stores we've shopped is nearly empty.
The tastes we've tried to juggle:
My tastes generally favor things being sleek and spare.
I have had an idea (possibly a wrong idea,but a strong idea) that that the powder room would look more spacious with open visible space underneath the sink.
I have strong opinions against vessel sinks; I feel that they sacrifice too much function for form.
Lori prefers a visual style with more ornamentation.
She really wanted some concealed storage beneath the sink.
Lori's father insisted that we have something to conceal the pipes coming up through the floor.
The conjunction of our desires limited us to a bow front sink vanity. We saw some lovely glass vanity tops, but couldn't easily reconcile those with our other desires. (I'd love to have a bow front vanity with a glass basin, but I can't find such a thing for sale.)
On February 7 (just after the first big snowstorm), we thought we had a consensus on a vanity that we'd seen and both considered acceptable, so we went out to get one. We'd seen it at Home Depot, but we went to Lowe's first, because it was more conveniently located. It didn't have that vanity, or anything similar. So we went to a Home Depot--but not the right Home Depot, because this Home Depot did not have the one we'd accepted in stock.
So we went out to the Home Depot where we'd seen the acceptable vanity. There was only one on the shelves, and it was in a badly ripped box. So we asked to look at it before we bought it. It was mostly in good shape, but there were some gouges and dings. We asked if there was another one in another store. After some computer searching from the salesman, he concluded that the nearest ones were in Johnstown.
As I considered the options, the salesman asked, "what if I asked my manager if I could take something off the price?" Hmm. Yes, it would make a difference, because I wasn't eager at all to head out to Johnstown. The salesman came back with an offer of 10% off, and I accepted it.
When we got the vanity to checkout, we discovered that the system's price for the vanity was 20% off of the price we'd seen on the shelf, and the 10% applied even so.
This vanity ended up being cheap enough that we were able to talk ourselves into it by saying "if we find a vanity that we agree is better than this one, we can replace this one without regretting the cost." This seems like empty words, though--it was so grueling to find one vanity we both accepted that I think it's unlikely to find one we like better.
This is my usual experience of retail in general. It's so rare to find something that I like that my whole shopping style is based around finding something vaguely acceptable and making the best of it.
So I was pleasantly surprised by the experience of shopping for wallpaper.
Lori's father changed his mind and decided he would put up wallpaper for us after all. But that meant that we needed to buy wallpaper quickly; waiting for a special order was not a good option.
Our first stop was Lowe's, which had nothing we liked. So Lori suggested stopping by Peerless Wallpaper. Once there, we were stonkered to find that there were several options that really looked nice to us. I was totally flummoxed; my usual shopping strategies were inapplicable here. We ended up making choices fairly arbitrarily--Lori saw a border she really liked, so we chose that and picked a wallpaper to match, just to narrow down the range of choices.
I wonder how to get that experience of actually finding products we liked in other forms of shopping. Going to specialty stores alone was not the distinguishing factor; we went to Crescent Bath and Kitchens in our vanity search, and they had almost nothing we considered acceptable.