Friday, July 31, 2009

House Number Hullabaloo


There is more to selecting house numbers than one might initially think. You have to weight funtionality verses aethetics. You should consider size, color, and font in your selection process.

A mundane generic house number might help ensure speedy delivery of your pizza but it might also distract from your home's appearance. Select a house number that complements the personality of your home. Arts & Crafts house numbers contribute to the charm of a bungalow. Victorian house numbers enrich an elegant Queen Anne home. Fun house numbers reflect the whimsy of homes with children.

Choose a color that contrasts the background so the house number will be more visible. If the address number is mounted on white trim, choose a dark color house number. If your house has a dark paint scheme, choose a light color house number. The color of the house number should match other architectural hardware such as exterior door hardware, the doorbell button, or the mailbox.

A proper sized house number should be proportional to its location. Bigger is not always better. If house numbers are jewerly for your home, then oversized house numbers are like cheap, gaudy costume jewelry. They will draw more attention to themselves than to your home.

House numbers should be displayed near the front door in a well lit area to increase visability. Address numbers painted on the street curb or on a streetside mailbox can provide you with more freedom to be artistic with numbers on your house.

House numbers have purpose but they do not need to be completely utilitarian. Find the best of both worlds at Shop 4 Classics.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thoughts On Selecting The Right Antique Reproduction Lavatory Sink Faucet

Selecting a reproduction antique bathroom faucet is often the most enjoyable task of the bathroom remodeling process. However, before immersing yourself in the numerous styles and finishes available today, it is wise to first spend a few moments familiarizing yourself with your bathroom sink. The sink's configuration determines the types of faucets that will work with your sink.

Number of Faucet Holes: Sinks commonly have three faucet holes, two for the handles and one for the center spout. However, early sinks only had two faucet holes. Separate hot and cold basin taps with no mixing valve or center spout are used with these sinks. Bridge faucets can also be used. Bathroom sinks with a single faucet hole require a single post faucet.

Distance Between Faucet Holes: The distance between the center of the outside left and right faucet holes is commonly referred to as the "centers" or "spread". The most common faucet options for sinks with 4" centers are centerset and mini-spread faucets. Generally, sinks with greater than 4" centers require widespread faucets. Widespread faucets typically are adjustable to fit varying centers, however, it is highly recommended to review a faucet's features to confirm that it will fit your sink's configuration before placing your order.

Sink Thickness and Required Spout Length: In addition to the number and spacing of faucet holes, the thickness of the sink or counter and the required length of the spout must be considered. Thick sink counter tops may result in troublesome faucet installation. Also, check to ensure that the faucet's spout reaches the sink's bowl.

For more information about selecting an antique bathroom faucet, please see Faucet Tips.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Touring Your Local Foundry Is Like A Trip Back In Time

I recently had an opportunity to visit one of Kansas City’s foundries. Cities like Kansas City once had numerous foundries that poured copper, bronze, brass and aluminum for all sorts of industrial as well as commercial needs. Today only a couple foundries remain active in Kansas City due to competition from overseas. Those that are still in operation have been creating product from molten metal in much the same way as they did since they were founded nearly 100 years ago. My visit, therefore, was in many ways like taking a trip back in time to the 1920s.



The foundry opens early in the summer to take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures. They were pouring bronze the day of my visit. Large bars of primarily recycled bronze were melted in their large crucible at temperatures of nearing 2400 degrees Fahrenheit. Patterns of industrial parts had already been pressed into extremely fine black sand leaving an amazingly detailed impression of the parts in the sand. This type of casting is known as sand casting and has been performed in much the same way for hundreds of years. The melted bronze was then carefully poured into the impressions left in the sand. The bronze was allowed to cool. Once cooled, the sand was removed leaving only castings of the parts. The parts were then finished by removing any excess bronze that resulted from the casting process. Finally, the parts cleaned from any remaining sand with a shot-blasting machine.



Shop 4 Classics sells a lot of bronze home hardware products, so it was interesting to get a glimpse of how these products are produced. Hamilton Sinkler manufactures bronze and brass hardware including bronze door hardware and bronze vent covers. Classic Grills specializes in manufacturing decorative heat registers and air returns in several types of bronze. Finally, Mission Metalworks offers unique copper and bronze Arts & Crafts house numbers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Too Tall for My Shower Riser

Every so often, a Shop 4 Classics customer will email to express concern that the shower riser that is included with their preferred clawfoot tub shower enclosure may be too short for them. Most clawfoot tub shower enclosures include a 5' shower riser. Even if you reason that the clawfoot tub faucet is typically a foot or more from the bottom of a clawfoot bathtub, the overall height of the showerhead may seem low by modern standards. Our shower enclosure sets are antique reproductions and the 5' shower riser is true to the original design of clawfoot bathtub showers. "Were people shorter in the early 1900's?" the customer will ask. Probably not. Robert Wadlow, the tallest man to ever live, was born in 1918. But unlike today when it is normal to shampoo your hair at least once a day, it was considered commonplace in Robert's time to wash your hair just once every two weeks. To accommodate normal usage of the day, shower risers were designed to prevent getting the hair wet. Even so, the 5' shower riser will work for most customers. If height is is a concern, there are clawfoot tub shower enclosures that include taller risers and Strom Plumbing even offers a 6' version of their 5' tall shower riser. There may not be a shower riser tall enough to make Robert Wadlow comfortable but there are options for the rest of us. Sorry Robert but perhaps we can interest you in a giant pedestal tub.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Small Bathroom Solutions

Old homes are valued for their unique character and solid construction. Unfortunately, they are also known for small closets and bathrooms. With the exception of clothes hooks and shelf brackets, Shop 4 Classics can offer little to help the remodeler with their small closet dilemmas. However, we do have a number of products that will help make space, or least give the appearance of more space, in your vintage bathroom. Petite sized pedestal and wall mount sinks are not only great space savers but there are also period-appropriate designs for your antique bath. Many manufacturers also offer similarly styled petite toilets. If in need of even more space savings, consider corner mount sinks and toilets. The pull chain toilet may be great option if you are uncomfortable with a petite toilet. The pull chain toilet is also known as the high tank toilet because its tank is mounted on the wall above the toilet rather than behind the seat. This configuration allows the bowl to be placed inches from the bathroom wall. The tub, of course, is the fixture that typically contends for the most space. Shop 4 Classics offers clawfoot tubs that measure a mere four feet in length as well as even smaller clawfoot shower pans. It is important to remember to account for the additional space needed for the tub or shower pan plumbing requirements before making your purchase.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jack White Thinks About Doorbells




"I'm thinkin' about my doorbell. When ya gonna ring it, when ya gonna ring it."

I've been hearing this White Stripes song a lot lately. It's probably no coincidence since Jack White's latest incarnation, The Dead Weather, has an album release this week. When I hear "My Doorbell" I wonder if Jack White has a nice Arts & Crafts copper doorbell button. I wonder how the song might change if Jack White had a Victorian mechanical doorbell or if the song would have even been written if Jack White had a door knocker. But mostly I think that if Jack White had a complementary mailbox and house numbers, his doorbell might be more inviting and he might not have to ask "when ya gonna ring it". Yeah, I've been thinkin' about Jack White's doorbell. Oh well.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Evolution of Sunrise Specialty


Now one of the oldest and best respected brands of clawfoot tubs and antique reproduction plumbing, Sunrise Specialty has matured gracefully from its roots as a salvage yard. The company began in 1972 as Sunrise Salvage. They salvaged antique house parts including doors, windows, light fixtures as well as original plumbing from Victorian homes being raised in the San Francisco Bay area. But before long, the company recognized the growing appreciation for old homes and recreated itself as a manufacturer of antique reproduction clawfoot bathtubs and faucets. They combine traditional designs with the dependability and functionality of modern plumbing enhancements. Today, Sunrise Specialty offers premium quality cast iron clawfoot tubs, cast iron pedestal tubs, clawfoot tub faucets, clawfoot tub showers, and plumbing for cast iron bathtubs. In addition to Sunrise Specialty's large selection of freestanding bathtubs, this reputable company is also one of the few suppliers of pull chain high tank toilets. Shop 4 Classics proudly offers Sunrise Specialty's complete catalog of hand crafted period bathware.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cast Iron Tubs' Style and Construction Stand The Test of Time

Vintage clawfoot tubs are known for their sturdy cast iron construction and resilient interior porcelain coating. However, even the most durable of objects wear down over time and use. Neglect, constant exposure to moisture, or years of cleaning can eventually damage the painted cast iron exterior of the tub causing rust to form. Even the tough porcelain interior may chip and stain over time.


Restoring a cast iron bath tub is not an easy task. Repair of the exterior involves sandblasting or grinding the exterior, smoothing the surface by additional fine sanding and applying coatings, and repainting. Resurfacing the porcelain interior requires help from a bathtub restoration professional. It is highly recommended that you receive and contact references prior to committing to a tub restorer.


An alternative to restoring an original tub is purchasing an authentic reproduction. Shop 4 Classics cast iron bath tubs feature the finest porcelain interiors. The exteriors are crafted of cast iron, sanded smooth, primed, and finished. Reproduction cast iron bath tubs are available in many sizes and styles. Therefore, you should be able to find a tub that is the perfect fit for your bathroom.

Shop 4 Classics offers only name brand tubs from experienced manufacturers including: Strom Plumbing, Sunrise Specialty, Elizabethan Classics, and Cheviot Products.