Deep Dive: Unusual Touches

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

Doorbell-less 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 I like air vents much better, but they're far less obtrusive, as well as less aesthetically challenging.

Here's the doorbell installed in the hallway wall outside the pantry. Once the wall is sheetrocked, the opening will be covered by a small return air vent. Buh-bye, doorbell.

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:

Asymmetrical Kitchen Sink Faucet

I'll be employing a similar approach with the kitchen sink faucet. I've never cared much for single-handle faucet valves, so I'll be using the same arrangement as the tub, with separate hot and cold valves offset from the spout.

In the illustration above, the fixtures are, from left to right: spout; sprayer; hot water valve; cold water valve. The arrangement allows me to adjust the temperature with one hand without crisscrossing with the spout.

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