This past summer, Tony and I purchased a foreclosure home (and you will find some of his interjections in this post in the brackets denoted: “Husband Note”)! The house itself is only 9 years old, but you’d be amazed at how downtrodden a home can become when not taken care of properly, so while the shell was in good shape, there was a considerable amount of work that had to be done inside.
Upon entering from the garage you step into a small tiled hallway which kind of doubles as a “mudroom”. Just off of that is the laundry room which is also the 1st floor ½ bath. The room itself was a blank slate. There wasn’t much to rip out other than the existing sink, and as with every other bathroom in the house they never installed vanity lights which kept us from having to patch holes up and then make new ones. It’s difficult to tell from this picture, but the vanity is totally in the way of the door so it really wasn’t a good spot for a sink anyway!
Before we even closed on the house I had made up my mind that the whole room itself would be designed around a vintage 4-foot double basin soapstone sink. I’m not gonna lie… it’s now my favorite part of the house! Initially a friend of mine was getting rid of what she thought was a soapstone sink, but turned out to be concrete. A concrete sink would have been cool but the only problem with it upon further inspection by my plumber was that there were too many little hairline cracks. He was nervous that we would have some leaking once it was installed. Per his recommendations we decided that it would be better off used outside for potting, or to hold drinks on a warm summer day. I still haven’t completely decided what to do with it yet!
It’s in relatively good shape, and I’ve started brainstorming on what to do with it this spring… obviously that will be a future blog post!
Now at this point my husband was happy that we weren’t going to be installing a 4-foot x 2-foot sink *Insert evil laugh here*. I already had it in my mind that having a ginormous soapstone sink in my laundry room was going to be a reality he just didn’t know it yet! I also refused to pay a fortune for it. One of my favorite places to poke around in is Nor’East Architectural Salvage in South Hampton, NH. They have so much cool stuff and it’s fun to imagine what you could do with some of the more unique pieces they have. I knew that this would be the place to go for finding the right piece at an affordable price, especially since I had seen them laying out back on pallets on countless other trips. They had a number of sinks to choose from, some in better shape than others, but the one I chose had a pretty big chunk missing on top. There were other sinks that were in better shape but upon closer inspection they had rusted out drains and pipes. I decided to be pragmatic and go with the one that had the best plumbing! These sinks are no joke either. It takes at least 3-4 strong men to move one of these beasts as they are extremely heavy! Since my husband didn’t share my enthusiasm for the sink and getting him to help me grab it with a couple of friends was not really an option I purchased it and negotiated with the owner to have his guys deliver it, all for $475. After all my Craigslist research this was a solid deal, and I didn’t have to drive 2 hours away or figure out how to pull it out of someone’s sketchy Silence Of The Lambs basement!
I came home that day and told Tony that we needed to move a bunch of stuff out front since they were going to be delivering it that afternoon and I needed a place to sand it down. The look on his face was priceless, but he acquiesced realizing that it was happening whether he wanted it to or not! He’s a good sport but he just doesn’t have vision to see how everything will come together when it’s done [Husband note: Why have ONE 400lb stone sink when you can have TWO 400lb sinks!… note the sarcasm]. I’m a fly by the seat of my pants, impulsive, ask questions later kind of girl [Husband Note: See previous note] so we do balance each other out. The conversations in the process are usually quite comical!
Once the sink got delivered it was time to make her shine again! I had logged onto Pinterest as well as Google looking for the best ways to restore an old soapstone sink. I actually did not find much on Pinterest, but the best site I found was actually an article written by Gwen Bruno which goes so far as to tell you which grits of sandpaper to start with. You can check it out: Here. I think I started one step lower than the recommended 80 grit because there were some pretty deep scratches and chips in the sink that I wanted to see if I could minimize before moving to a finer grit. There were also some rust stains on some of the sink itself, but I was able to remove most of them during the sanding.
This is a wicked dirty job, and you should probably wear a mask… I was coughing for a few days afterwards because I didn’t, so don’t make the same mistake I did! When you start sanding you’re going to have a fine layer of soapstone so you’ll have to wipe that away with a dry cloth to see if you have reached your desired look before moving to the next grit sandpaper, or you can mineral oil it and repeat the process until you’re satisfied. I’m sure there are better tools than I had but I honestly think you’re better off just using ripped off pieces of sandpaper so you can get into all the small spots, or have a Dremel tool handy for those.
Once I was happy with the way the sanding came out, it was time to mineral oil her up and see how she looked! I was a little shocked initially at how dark it started looking and was not crazy about the darker shade but decided to continue on with it and see how it looked after it sunk into the stone. At this point she’s back to a pretty bluish green which I love but I also think she’s due for another oiling!
Now that the sink was ready, we had to figure out how it would be secured. There was a little bit of trial and error with this because back in the spring a friend and I had gone to the Brimfield Antique Show where I found a set of amazing vintage laundry sink legs for a whopping $60 bucks. Normally they start around $200 so I was doing a happy dance that I found them at such a decent price. I picked them up and amazingly enough they fit the concrete sink perfectly, but not the soapstone one… Balls! I thought maybe we could modify them a little bit but the other downside was that we were convinced all the weight from the sink would crack the tile under the legs and because we were using the existing tile in the house there wasn’t anything extra. As it was we had to pull some tile up from under the washer and dryer to fill in the gaps where the original vanity had been. Because of this, we decided to go a completely different route. I had shown my contractor some pictures of stands that I liked and told him that I wanted a shelf on the bottom as well. I gave him carte blanche to build something that would work, and that would safely hold the weight of the sink. What he came up with was perfect and we didn’t even have to secure the sink to the wall, which was a bonus because I didn’t want to put more holes in the sink and risk cracking it (three 400lb sinks would have sent Tony right over the edge)! The dimensions of the stand were dictated by the amount of clearance the plumber needed for the correct piping underneath. All the guys thought maybe it was too high, but I liked the height of it so you didn’t have to lean down over it, besides that will come in handy as we get older!!
Once the sink was in place the guys could put up the tile back-splash. At this point there was no faucet, just the roughed in plumbing and ascussions coming out of the wall. It looked uneven so I started freaking out thinking my guys wouldn’t be able to tile around it because you’d end up seeing it underneath the faucet once it was hooked up, or worse the tile itself would be crooked. Thankfully I had no idea what I was talking about so it was all good. This is why I’m not a contractor or a plumber! Once that was all in I did some paint touch up on the walls (Sherwin Williams Classic Grey) and painted the stand white.
The sink definitely necessitated a backsplash because with it being so deep the water splashed back up onto the wall. The mini subway tile was actually left over from our kitchen redesign in our previous house from a few years earlier. We just decided to use some of that to tie in the regular subway tile that we were using in the new kitchen! Once the tile was in place we gave it a few days to set, and I quickly realized that there wasn’t any shelving to put soap on! The granite guys were coming to template the kitchen a few days later so I actually had them cut me a small extra piece of the Fantasy Brown Quartzite island slab so that would fit across one of the basins to use as a shelf and it’s worked out pretty well!
All in all I’m very happy with the way the sink turned out, even the little piece that’s missing just adds character. This project was certainly a labor of love, but it was so worth it because I’m obsessed with it and I find myself doing laundry all the time now! I even use these old laundry wash sticks that I picked up at an antique store for 5 bucks! I initially thought they would be a great decor idea but they’ve turned out to be pretty useful as well! Ha ha who knew!
For those who are interested in the fixtures and accessories I used in the laundry room, you can find some of them here:
- Kingston Brass wall mount faucet
- Brushed Nickel Cage vanity light
- Laundry Sign
- Steele Canvas Laundry Bin
Thanks for reading, and best of luck if you’re thinking about tackling one of these bad boys!!