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A dresser finds its inner sink

An old mahogany chest of drawers with sentimental value becomes a sink cabinet and the centerpiece for a room full of memories.

May 01, 2003|Janet Eastman | Times Staff Writer

Carl and Judy Schlosberg found themselves in a common situation: They had a sentimental piece of furniture, but they couldn't find a spot for it in their Century City condo.

Then Carl had one of those creative moments, when it dawns on you that something doesn't have to be what it started out to be. He looked at the old mahogany chest of drawers and thought: This could become a sink cabinet for the powder room.

The transformation of the George V reproduction worked so well that they decided to decorate the little room around it. Dark hardwood planks replaced the carpet, and Carl, a dealer of fine art, hung a Picasso, Max Beckman and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner on the gray silk walls.

The chest, bought by Judy's mother in the 1960s, is surrounded by other pieces of the family's history. There is a leather wastepaper basket and a child's ladder-back chair the Schlosbergs bought when they married 37 years ago. An antique Chinese bowl Carl's mother gave them is serving as a soap dish. And a bronze sculpture of a girl, which rests on the counter top, was purchased by Carl's grandparents during their honeymoon.

"It's a tiny room packed with nostalgia and emotion," Carl says.

But back to the sink.

The couple hired Max Borgese of Max's Custom Cabinets in West Los Angeles to execute the brilliant idea. They wanted to make the changes to the chest without compromising its pleasing lines, bowed front, original brass hardware and the appearance of five drawers.

And it turned out to be a relatively simple project. In fact, Borgese says, someone with basic skills in carpentry and plumbing could turn an antique dresser into a sink cabinet as a weekend project (the rest of us, however, will need a professional).

First, Borgese took off the top, and, like an archeologist, began to excavate the inside. He created an 8-inch well for the sink by removing the bottoms and sides of adjacent drawers and building a new shelf deeper into the cavity. These small drawers, no longer functional, were closed shut with removable interior brackets. The unaltered drawers below them have kept their usefulness; they hold guest hand towels.

Borgese then cut three circles in the cabinet's back for a drain line and the hot and cold water lines.

Although the exterior was in good shape, Borgese darkened the reddish stain and sealed it with lacquer. The cost for the woodwork alone was $600.

Once the sink was dropped into place, a slab of black granite was flush mounted on top to make an even surface, and the finishing touch was added: a brass faucet with ebony lever handles from Waterworks.

Says Judy: "When my parents, who are both 91, moved from their home, their children and grandchildren were invited to take what they wanted. This was a piece from their living room that no one picked, but Carl really liked its elegance and came up with this idea.

"When my mom saw its new use, it made her so happy."

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