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W

Opposites

12.27.2016 / WORK

Ken gets itchy without a project. (I cannot even remotely relate to this.) When Bee was just one, barely walking, she took her pajama-clad self to the kitchen window to see the first snow of the season fall quietly onto the backyard trees. The moment is slow, sweet. I stir the chili and watch them both take it in — mesmerized, mouths agape with wonder, each of us in silent awe. They in awe of the snow, me in awe of them. All is calm.

Less than three hours later, Ken emerges breathless from his woodshop with sawdust hair and a giddy smile, carrying a custom sled he’d built – Just now? I ask. Just now! he says. – Out of spare plywood and a rope. Can I wake her up? Take it for a spin?

 

It has just always been this way: Ken, with the boundless energy, the sheer spontaneity, the winning ideas. Me, stirring the chili. Opposites attract indeed.

This was not the greatest month to perform a remodel of any kind; I’ll just put that out there right away. The baby is teething. The book is launching. The calendar is filling with caroling nights, cookie parties and plane tickets; it all feels a bit blurred. And the bathroom shower did need tiling.

 

The Official Loechner Remodeling Protocol, Revised 2016: Erin suggests form. Ken demands function. Erin offers a compromise of form and function. Ken tells Erin this particular compromise is impossible, citing for reference any of the following axioms: physics, chemistry, time, space. Erin gets confused. Bee interrupts to ask for cashews. Ken promises to make it look pretty, offers any of the following platitudes: Trust me. I have an idea. I know what to do. Erin agrees, gets cashews. Ken gets to work.

 

It has been only a few months since my Chicago design tour, so I’m still steeped, still freshly inspired. There are so many possibilities for our wee little bathroom. Are you gonna add any color this time? my mother-in-law jokes on the phone when I discuss our plans. Does Zura TM Matte Black count? I ask. I hear only laughter. But I’ve learned that knowing your style means little more than knowing yourself, and well, I suppose we’re all fairly acquainted with me by now.

And so, it’s decided: a stark black faucet against the all-white vanity to provide contrast. Subway tiling to offer clean lines. Hanging planters to bring texture. A pop of cedar lining for detail. Form and function, yin and yang. Opposites.

 

Ken works tirelessly as he grouts to the Christmas Magic Spotify station while Bee and I take turns pulling teethers out of the freezer for Scout. Every now and then, one of us will sneak a peek down the hallway to see that Ken’s finished another row before we tip-toe back to the kitchen to tackle a puzzle or read a book. To stir the chili.

Days later, my mother-in-law stops by to see the big reveal, to survey the project that has kept her son awake well past the wee hours of the morning. She offers admirable sighs as Ken points out the cedar lining of the tile, the matte black of the faucet Watch the sensor; it’s touch-activated! – Each detailed element that so perfect complement my form and his function.

We still need to put in the bath mat, he tells her. What color is it?, she asks with a smile. We all know the answer.

In life and in bathrooms, there is beauty in challenging yourself. In stepping beyond your comfort zone to experiment, to try a new hobby or skill set, to – gasp! – attempt a colored bath mat. To add yin, or yang. And yet, there’s also beauty in knowing your likes and limitations. Your boundaries and bents. In glancing at your sawdust-covered husband as he grouts, smiling at his level of energy, his ideas, his dreams and goals and capabilities. Knowing they’ll never be quite the same as your own. (Someone’s got to stir the chili after all.)

Later, we brush our teeth before falling into bed after a busy weekend: his extrovert spirit filled from the bustling activity, my own introvert energy depleted from the same. I floss as I tell him how much I love the bathroom, as I thank him for his hard work. I knew you’d love it, he says while he rinses, spits. It’s so you. And so you, too, I laugh. Isn’t that weird? Not at all, he says with a kiss on the cheek as he flips off the lights to find sleep.

Two rooms over, Scout begins to stir. I rise and ready a bottle. I change a diaper. I shush and calm and whisper. There’s no sawdust, no spontaneity, no winning ideas. But it feels like a little bit of work, and it feels like a little bit of service, and it feels like a whole lot of love. And as I lie awake rocking Scout in a chair of gray upholstery, I wonder if maybe Ken and I aren’t quite so opposite after all.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Delta Faucet. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Please be respectful. Design for Mankind (Minikind) is a place for positivity, inspiration, constructive criticism and healthy debate. Comments are moderated. Those that are deemed inappropriate, including general or self-promotional spam, untruths, offensive or harassing statements, profanity or comments unrelated to the post will be deleted.

  • Anna

    I wondered, why you never really show us your faces. A profile here or there. As a reader, it feels like you want to treat us like friends, but not totally. I’m just curious. Not meant to be critical…

    • hi anna!

      a totally justifiable question! i don’t like to show the faces of my children because i want to be respectful of their privacy — who knows how they’ll feel 10, 15, 20 years down the road when their photos are online (the internet is forever, after all!) for anyone to see? i want them to be more in control of what they share when they’re ready, and it’s a totally personal decision they reserve the right to make themselves. as for my husband or anyone else, i like to ask if they’re ok with me posting a particular photo prior to sharing — if i get the green light and it’s a meaningful moment to me, i’ll share away!

      i hope that helps shed light on a bit of the reasoning. just trying to be a mindful parent. :)

      biggest hugs your way, anna!

      • Mrs. Diana Cadle

        Great Response to Anna & VERY WISE TO SHIELD UR CHILDRENπŸ‘πŸ’‘πŸ’–πŸ™ŒπŸ˜œ

  • Oh, it’s beautiful! You make a great renovation team! My husband and I are opposites as well (extrovert and introvert respectively) and yet not so opposite too. Blessings to your beautiful family in the New Year.
    P.S. I personally love the way your photos capture you doing life, rather than posed shots. It feels like I am getting a sneak peak into your world :).

  • So so pretty! I love the matte black and the little touches of cedar accents. And what a clever idea to hang succulents in the shower. I never would have thought of it, but I absolutely love the effect. Great work Erin and Ken. You make a great team ;)

  • Kristy

    I so enjoyed your recent article posted online
    Thank you for sharing your faith and wisdom

  • jana

    This bathroom and this post are amazing! Good job to both of you! :)

  • Wait — are there plants growing in your shower? How is this a thing? Teach me your ways!

    • hahaahaha YES! i used to have succulents on a window sill in my shower and i missed them — these are just a faux replacement version so i don’t have to deal with dirt from the real deal. but i know many a folks who keep plants in the shower – makes watering all the easier! :)

  • kate

    Looks FANTASTIC! Such beauty in simple elegance.

  • Denise

    This is just so lovely and inspiring as for our small bathroom remodel! Where did you find the hanging plants?

  • Lisa

    Beautiful. I love the simplicity. Any details you can give about the sink faucet? thanks!

  • I am looking for a shower curtain and rod like you have–where did you find them? Thank you.

    • Rod from Kohler; shower curtain and liner are from Amazon! Copper shower hooks are from Schoolhouse Electric. :)

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