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My new shave den (probably too long, and quite a few pics)

We've lived in our current house for 11 years...long enough to have gotten everything up to speed, you would think. In my case, not so. The house was built in 1964, and has all of the design quirks associated with that. One of which is what I'm about to show you. Off of our master bedroom, there is a "dressing" room, for lack of a better term. It's just a space with a countertop, a sink, and three doors. One leads from the bedroom, another into the bathroom, and the third into the closet. For more than a decade, we've used it for what many red-blooded Americans use rooms like this for: Hiding disorganized piles of clutter from company.

We've (slowly) repainted every room in the house, replaced the flooring, acquired suitable furniture. In every room, that is, but this one. This one had an off-white vanity with gold-painted accents, bright yellow wallpaper with some pseudo-oilpainted flowers on it, and a 1976-ish banana-yellow sink - replete with an oxidized single-hole faucet - set beautifully into some bubbled faux woodgrain formica. The drawer pulls were vintage pot metal, looking for all the world (at 20 yards) to be solid brass.

I know: Why change it? Well, with discretion being the better part of valor, I choose the other part every time. So one day a few months back (it really did happen like this), I got out of bed, went to the garage to get a pry bar, and tore the countertop and sink off. With absolutely no plan, I began to think about new sinks and countertops.

Boos butcher blocks are well known to chefs around the world, and they're made not far from where I live. Boos has an outlet store that sells returns, odd items, truck-damaged freight, etc. I've made a few end tables and a desk from pieces I've picked up there on the cheap over the years, so I thought I'd try my luck.

(This part never happens to me). I walked in to the shop needing a piece of wood that I could turn into a 24x60" countertop. Fully expecting to buy something too big and cut it down, or damaged, and refinish it, I hoped I could find something close among the dozens and dozens of pieces on racks. The first piece of wood I saw in the warehouse was a 24x60x1.5" piece of solid walnut butcher block, already flawlessly urethane-sealed. I gave the guy a hundred-and-fifty dollar bill, brought it home and set it where you see it (After painting the cabinet black). My apologies for my ugly self pic - no unmirrored angles in the room...

Here are a couple of pics of the same thing, with a little closer detail:

Not a huge fan of vessel sinks, I decided on this one for a few reasons: It had the old, simple, washbasin look I was going for. It raised the level of the sink substantially, which was necessary because the old built-in cabinet was REALLY low, and I'm 6'2". Most importantly, it wasn't terribly expensive, was easy to install, and shows off the countertop a little better.

There's a little bit of splatter sometimes, but I'm the only person who uses this area. Yes, my wife is fantastic. (My kids are too...but they're also grown and out).

My wife and I are both avid readers, and conveniently, my wife is a librarian here in our small town. She has fairly constant access to neat old antique books with broken bindings slated for the trash, and brings them home occasionally to use for crafts. She's been wanting to use book pages as wallpaper for several years, but didn't want to commit a "real" room to it. This one was perfect. After gluing the pages onto the wall with artist's glue, the room began to take on a pretty cool vintage vibe. My aunt passed away years ago, and never threw anything away. I knew the location of some stacks of her old magazines that made it through the years, and began to cut some ads out of them. There are more since these pics were taken, but these particular examples are from the 40's and 50's, and are glued on right over the book pages in various places.

...And then this particular ad gave me my next idea. I remember my folks having this old leather-look vinyl Samsonite luggage when I was a kid.

My folks had long-since thrown their luggage out. But I found a matching suitcase and briefcase in an area antique store, in great shape. The suitcase became one of my aftershave cabinets. At that same Boos outlet I mentioned earlier, I bought a cherry butcher-block tray a couple of years ago, intending to make an end table. I cut each end of it off for the shelves in this suitcase/cabinet. See the finger ledges?

I could've used thinner wood and made three shelves, but I needed the space for the tallest bottles. I had to do a little drilling of rivets to get the divider out of the suitcase, and some Exacto knife work to get rid of the interior pockets, but it really turned out nicely.

The briefcase became a table for my small-but-growing Allen Edmonds collection. It's sitting on an old hotel luggage stand I found on the 'Bay for 10 bucks. It holds four pair: Two on top and two below.
Next to it is a garage-sale bench we've had for ages, that I almost threw on the burn pile. My wife found some old-looking upholstery fabric and recovered it for me. Nice place to sit to use the shoehorn with the AE's. If you look closely at the first few pics, you can see I used the same fabric to cover an industrial carpet remnant, which acts as a place to set damp towels, brushes and razors when I shave.

Above the shoe table is another suitcase cabinet. This one is a suitcase my wife found several years ago at a rummage sale. It's a 1940's model, with beautiful lining. I hated to drill/cut it, actually, but my wife talked me into it, amazingly enough. I'm glad she did. I had a few pieces of oak in the garage that I cut into three shelves for this one:

Clockwise from that cabinet, and you're back to the Samsonite cabinet I showed. A closeup with the cabinet closed shows another little contribution from my wife, which I love: A reprint of an 1890's barbershop photo, taken in Michigan...

That's kind of a long tour of a short room. There are several pictures I still need to put up, a frame or two I need to add, and a couple of vintage items I'm trying to figure out how to mount. Hopefully that gives a you a rough idea of my new favorite spot, and where you'll find me every morning at 6 (or after, on weekends.):thumbup1:
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Brilliant post! I enjoyed every bit of it. You're going to have a lot of envy for a really nice shave nook. My favorite part of it is the way the natural light looks with the colors.

One of the greatest things about being s grownup is setting up your personal space just the way you like it.
Amazing work! I am a little jealous, but mostly giddy about how that room looks! It is no longer a "dressing" room, it is now a "barbering" room. Congrats on the den, and having a wife that supports your vision! Mine told me that we would (when we eventually get a house) dedicate some space to the display and use of my shaving stuff!
I only read up to the first picture. I'll be back later to read the rest, but for now I have two comments for you:

That was fantastic luck at Boos.

I love what you did and I'm a bit jealous.

If I were you I'd shave off the beard so I could spend more time there shaving!
Very nice! I just posted my own in-progress remodel. I like seeing what other people are doing, and yours is very creative. I really like the usage of the old cases, I may steal that idea myself. Great little den you have!
Wow! I'm honestly humbled by your kind comments. I was excited to show it to a group that I knew would understand the "why" behind it. There aren't many who do. At least, not in my circles. I've already shown it to a couple of people, who, while they might've appreciated some of the different aspects, were REALLY confused as to why someone would dedicate so much space (however redundant that space might be), to shaving. Thanks to all for not being those people.

Claudel Xerxes

Staff member
Nice! The sink and countertop are awesome. The rest of it's great, too. The suitcase cabinets are very clever. Congrats, on the new shave den!
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