By Brian D. Coleman
The barbershop “front”—8' tall x 10½' wide with sinks, countertops, drawers, and mirrors—miraculously never had been altered. It remained one of the finest in the state, with gleaming marble walls, beveled mirrors, and cabinets of wood and glass. The songwriter Bobby Gosh and his wife, Billi, were building a neo-Victorian home nearby; they’d just framed in the master wing. So Bobby paid a visit to the old barbershop and bought the marble front with fixtures on the spot, for $500.
Removal was straightforward. The entire unit, solidly built, simply had been screwed into the wall. The carpenter carefully dismantled the components, making sure to save the screws, and packed everything securely in moving blankets. Two helpers held the large wall mirrors steady between plywood sheaths in the back of a van, and the whole unit slowly made it to its new home without damage.
Installation & Finish
The carpenter arranged framing studs to line up with the old screw holes in the marble panels; thus he was able to simply mount the entire unit along one long wall, using the original screws. The original plumbing for the pair of pedestal sinks was in good shape and was reinstalled, along with the old arched hair-washing faucets.
The antique Chisco Sterilizer wood cabinets had been painted white. So they were chemically stripped, and finished with Minwax’s Helmsman polyurethane varnish in satin. White hexagon mosaic floor tiles with grey grout tie the old barbershop front into the rest of the classic bathroom, which has new porcelain fixtures and a modern showerbath. Pendant light fixtures with vintage Holophane shades complement the period fittings.
LIVING WITH MARBLE
There’s nothing like cool classic marble in a bathroom. The stone is, however, relatively soft, porous, and easily scratched and stained.
1) Treat marble counters like a fine wooden tabletop; protect them from accidents. Use coasters and mats under glasses and bottles to prevent stains from acidic juices or alcohol; a vanity tray works well for bottles of perfumes or toiletries to avoid stains. If you have a slab marble floor, slip coasters under chairs, tables, and heavy appliances as well. Quickly vacuum any dry powder spills that can stain.
2) Be careful how you clean marble. Don’t use ammonia, vinegar, or lemon products as these may corrode and etch the surface. Avoid bathroom cleansers with abrasives because minute scratches will dull marble. The safest route is to wash the stone gently with hot water, moving a soft sponge in circular motions. Rinse thoroughly and buff with a soft, dry cloth. Don’t leave standing water on marble. Dustcloths and mops are fine, but avoid scratching with vacuum attachments. To preserve luster, clean occasionally with a marble-specific cleaning product like Stone Plus Cleaner.