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lifestyle

Local Company Takes Bathroom up a Few Notches

Barbara Sallick was vacationing in Europe with her husband Robert back in the 70s when she had a “what if” moment. “We saw all kinds of plumbing,” she says. “Over there the bathroom is not just a convenience.” The couple wanted to bring the kind of bathroom they’d seen in the fine hotels of Germany and France to American homes. They gathered a group of friends together one Sunday and asked them to come up with a name for a new company. And that’s how Waterworks , the upscale plumbing company, was born.

The Sallicks weren’t total newbies to plumbing. In 1925, Barbara’s father founded Nutmeg Supply, a plumbing company in Danbury, and Robert joined him in the 60s. In the 70s, when the Jacuzzi company developed a whirlpool tub for home use, Robert saw an opportunity to steer the company away from just valves and pipes. Barbara quit her job as a research assistant at the Yale University art gallery and took on inventory control. “There were no computers and I had made up my own version of Excel,” she said. Keeping track of all the different colored fixtures and tiles was a nightmare. “One day I told my husband I couldn’t do it,” she says. Robert’s solution was simple, and brilliant. “He said let’s just do white,” she says. The colored inventory went to Habitat for Humanity and Waterworks started a new trend. The white bathroom.

In 1984, Barbara, who is the company’s design director, introduced the Edwardian look to the U.S. “We were the first to sell cross-handle faucets as well as thermostatic valves ,” she says. Barbara travels the world for inspiration for the company’s new designs. “The things we carry are classic designs redone,” she says. The three elements she values most are balance, proportion and scale. “I learned that at Yale,” she says.

If you go to the Waterworks showroom in Greenwich (there’s a smaller one in Danbury) you’ll notice that every fixture and tile has a name. The newest arrival is Henry , which has a sleek, slightly industrial look. Barbara says the Easton , a cross-handle faucet with elegant classic lines is their best-seller. “We’ve sold tens of thousands of them,” she says.

What sort of fixtures do you have in your bathroom?

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