Thursday, July 29, 2010

French Vanilla


Housekeeping week continues its look at a freshly rehabbed rent-controlled bathroom. This is a pretty decent job, considering. It wouldn’t hurt to paint out those plastic towel bars, replace them with white ones, or at least detail the tiny spots that found their way onto the stock.

If I were in a hurry, I’d try covering a spot with a permanent black marker, and I’d look for consistency in the towels. This room is a good argument for buying white towels that can be bleached and finding entertainment value in something else. Coherent linens make even modest quarters look dignified and well considered.

Mounting a mirror on the back of the door would improve eating habits and expand the space in the room. The landlord would want you to leave the mirror, but it would be worth it.

A quick ploy would be to cover the panel behind the towel racks with a venturesome poster trimmed to size. Bold graphics would pull together the racks and miscellaneous collection of towels. Roll blue painter’s tape into a short cylinder to mount a poster invisibly, but as always, check with the management. Liquid laundry starch is an easily reversed adhesive that doesn’t mar paint. Test it in an obscure area.

These racks are a convenient place to hang clothing when bathing in this room, so it might make sense to have few towels on display.

This building was constructed as a small hotel of luxury suites, and the hardware reflects its origins. Under all those coats of paint are undoubtedly fine chromed brass fittings-the shape is the giveaway. It may not be worth one’s time to detail someone else’s fittings, but a little constructive procrastination would pay off. Spray a minor part, like a screw, with oven cleaner to see what's under the goop, bearing in mind that any paint older than 1970 has heavy metal in it.

I never could put my finger on why, uh, affordable quarters look the way they do until I read the painting chapter in the U.S.Navy’s Bluejacket’s Manual, the maritime Joy of Cooking. I learned that anything that’s meant to be shiny should not be covered with paint. Getting the bright work right makes the whole paint job look better, whereas perfect paint and walls with sloppy hardware will never look finished.

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