Q: I have saved up for years to remodel my kitchen, and wanted to do things right by working with a designer to keep me up to date with the latest trends. I love all her ideas except one: she insists we install a cast-iron kitchen sink. My grandmother had a cast-iron sink, and I can't help but think this is a very old-fashioned idea. Am I missing something here? What do you think about cast-iron kitchen sinks? Please educate me a bit before I approach her and start a disagreement.
A: I'm so glad you wrote in, because a lot of people have been missing the boat lately when it comes to cast-iron sinks. I must admit that, 20 years ago, when stainless-steel and custom "man-made" resin sinks came on the scene, I predicted that cast-iron sinks were going to be a thing of the past. Most designers thought of them as "old-fashioned," and plumbers cringed at the thought of lifting those heavy sinks into place.
In most cases when designers and plumbers get together and decide to explore other options, new trends develop and the older materials fade away. Well, not in this case. Just like the material itself, cast iron would not fade away, and it proved to be a very strong opponent complete with a secret weapon hidden deep inside. The secret weapon? Most cast-iron sinks are made from 93 percent recycled materials, and with a reclaimed percentage that high, they have become the darling of the "green"-building movement. Manufacturers have jumped on this new cast-iron bandwagon as well by developing new deep-color enamel finishes for the sinks that are virtually indestructible. The cast-iron sinks I have tried out are guaranteed not to scratch, chip or burn, and new design styles make these sinks as pretty as they are strong.
Bottom line: While the plumbers still cringe at lifting the heavy sinks into place, many designers have fallen in love with cast iron all over again. Remember, it's your kitchen and the final decision is yours to make - your designer works for you. However, all I can tell you is that she seems up on the latest kitchen trends and I would not hesitate to cast my vote for a cast-iron sink in your kitchen!
Q: I have an older toilet with a unique greenish color. I know this sounds funny, but this shade of green is very relaxing for me to look at. I would like to paint my bathroom walls this color, but cannot find the exact paint chip. Any ideas on how I can get an exact match?
A: Wow, sounds like a pretty cool green color if you want to paint your entire bathroom to match your toilet. I do have some good news for you, and hopefully this technology has spread to home centers in your area. In many hardware and paint stores they now have new technology that allows you to bring in just about anything (kids' toys, pillows, coffee mugs, etc.) and get paint mixed exactly to match the color of the object. In the past, to custom mix paints the equipment needed a flat surface with the desired color to read the item. Now there's a device that can measure curved surfaces, odd-shaped or even bulky items and perfectly match the color. The instrument reads the item from about an inch away with a small ring of light projected on the target, so you can even pick out individual colors from one item. You may not be able to take in your toilet, but you can bring in the tank lid for an exact color match.
I recommend that you call around town first to confirm the technology is available to you. If so, once you paint your walls with your new custom toilet paint, I bet all your friends will be green with envy.