Baby Did a Bad Bad Badkamer

The (finally) finished product. No, that’s not a bidet in the background.

From the beginning of the Big Move planning process, I intended to spend a significant chunk of money on improvements to the Hoendiepstraat apartment. It started with a large Ikea closet to hold my clothes. In short order after my arrival came an “American-sized” TV1; a new dining table; and the most non-negotiable item, a clothes dryer.2 

And then, in the middle of discussions about what should take priority next, the toilet started to leak.

Feel free to make the obvious joke about my American poops overwhelming European bathrooms. Given that the toilet was now being flushed more than twice as often as before, you wouldn’t be far off-track. But the toilet was old and in poor condition anyway, so it was time for a new one. And—all you homeowners will nod in agreement here—if we’re swapping the toilet, why not do the sink as well?

This would be the fateful twist in the story. As James Breakwell recently wrote, “The key to any small, reasonable renovation is to keep adding to it until both of those adjectives are a lie.” In this case, all it took was a sink.

Now, unlike those free-wheelin’ Americans, home-improvement stores are currently closed in Nederland, so your only option is to order online. Praxis.nl is no homedepot.com, but we were eventually able to pick a toilet, sink, and faucet from their online shop. I successfully booked a plumber (no small feat) who had a delightfully thick British accent for the following Tuesday.

Then on Thursday, the sink arrived. It sounded like this.

Now let’s not kid ourselves: that is hilarious. But it meant that I had to cancel the plumber, letting him know I’d let him know when I had an intact sink. It also meant that, when the toilet arrived the following day, it had nowhere to go besides our living room.

We found ourselves at a standstill as Praxis customer service remained consistently unhelpful and unresponsive about getting the sink replaced. (One customer service rep hung up the moment I asked if we could speak English. Another told me via email to call their shop in Heerhugowaard, 45 minutes north of Amsterdam; when I did, the shop was as confused as I was.) Days stretched to weeks, with the toilet and shattered sink going from comedic conversation pieces to unwanted freeloading roommates. 

In desperation we ordered a second sink from Praxis, which arrived in one piece and allowed us to schedule the plumber once again. Finally on Wednesday, March 10th, five weeks after we’d started the process, a very nice, ridiculously good-looking plumber3 arrived. In four short hours, the toilet and sink were installed; by the end of the night, so were the cabinets. (Small bit of bragging: thanks to my double- and triple-measurements, the cabinets fit in with the new sink down to the centimeter.) Our new bathroom looks fantastic. So happy the ordeal is over.

I’m still trying to return that broken sink, though.

  1. 55 inches. Odd fact: even in metric countries, TVs are measured in inches.
  2. Incredible how cool Europeans are with just hanging all their clothes even when dryers are available. Kiki’s sister—mother of two girls!—asked me with genuine skepticism: “Why would you want a dryer?”
  3. We wondered if this was a porno setup.

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