Unusual Touches

Do-it-yourselfers have opportunities to realize unusual—or just plain strange—design ideas. Here are just a few of mine.

Hidden Doorbell

In all the years I've been trolling the aisles of Home Depot, Lowes and other such troves, I've never come across a doorbell that I liked. Not even close. Then it dawned on me one day, why do I even need a doorbell—at least one that sticks out of the wall like a zit? That's when I had the crazy notion of building the doorbell guts into the wall itself, with an opening that would be covered with an air vent—not that air vents look much better, but they're far less obtrusive or aesthetically challenging.

Above, the doorbell was installed in the hallway wall outside the pantry. Originally it was going to be covered with a small air return vent; however, changes to the HVAC design resulted in a large return air vent in almost the same space, so I simply incorporated it into the vent opening. Now it's entirely "gone."

Incidentally, it's a plain, simple, "old fashioned" ding-dong type bell. I have no interest in doorbells that sound like Big Ben, or electronic ones that play Also Sprach Zarathustra or other such nonsense. Besides, it won't get much use.

Asymmetrical Tub Faucet

I enjoy employing asymmetry on occasion, particularly small touches that break familiar, expected symmetry. One classic is the bathtub faucet. The asymmetry I employed is not only visually more interesting, but it's more practical. The normal option would be to center the faucet on the long side of the tub, but that's right where one would enter and exit it. If the faucet fixtures were oriented symmetrically along one short end, it would place one of the valve handles awkwardly far from the open side of the tub.

The solution is to place both valves near the open side of the enclosure, and locate the filler spout where it's out of the way. Fortunately the mechanical design of these fixtures is such that they can be oriented in any manner—all of the connections are made with flexible tubing:

Two-Handle Kitchen Faucet

I've always preferred "old fashioned" two-handle kitchen sink faucets over single-handle jobs, but none were available in the style I'd chosen—indeed, they're scarce in any style. Thankfully, the Danze kitchen faucet spout and their matching bathroom faucet spout just happened to be precisely the same diameter, so I cut them both apart and soldered the appropriate pieces together to make a spout fixture with no valve; the bottom of the spring hides the solder joint.

The valves for the bath fixture then became the valves for the kitchen faucet. Voilà:


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