OK to splurge on everyday items in your home that go the distance

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Those who’ve been reading my column for a while know that I can write about some truly insignificant home design subjects with great passion. Take, for instance, columns I’ve written – I believe somewhat compellingly – about selecting outdoor rocks, the finer points of furniture legs, and the composition of carpet padding. I, frankly, find none of those topics boring and feel the same way about shower caddies.

My new shower caddy is life changing.

Until lately, I’d put up with poorly made caddies, worth-what-I-paid pieces of junk that slipped and tipped, toppled and tilted, spilled their contents, never came clean, fell apart at the joints and rusted.

However, Sarah Jenkinson of Sterlingham, a 30-year-old English company known for luxury bathroom accessories, raised the towel bar for me.

Last year, I got a deal on what I now know is the Tesla of shower caddies – a triple-basket chrome model that screw mounts into the shower wall. For seven months it sat on my shower floor waiting for the right man with the right tools to come along.

My regular handyman was nervous about drilling into the limestone shower wall.

I knew that the outdoor cabinet installer who was here last week, sinking bolts into stucco as easily as if pushing thumbtacks into butter, was my man. I took him into my shower. “Can you …?”

“No problem,” he said with confidence. “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“The shower caddy you use every day should be as good as you can afford,” said Jenkinson, “But many aren’t worth the plastic they’re made of.

“This is so difficult to explain to Americans,” she said. “For items you use every day, go the distance, spend the money. We use the kitchen faucet more than anything in our house. If you’re going to splurge, that’s where you splurge.”

For a good quality shower caddy, expect to pay on par with what you spent on your other shower fixtures, which, ideally, are also meant to last. A surf through Amazon reveals caddies ranging from $15 to $1,500. Pricing for Sterlingham’s caddies is on the higher side because they’re handmade of brass, which won’t rust. (Rust happens when iron meets water. Brass doesn’t contain iron.)

So for you, a quality-of-life bump may not come from a shower caddy, but from a chef-worthy set of knives or a built-in closet system. Whatever your pleasure, occasionally life calls for an everyday splurge.

Here’s what Jenkinson says to look for in a caddy:

Style and comfort: When choosing a caddy, ask what you want it to hold. Then choose one that matches the finishes in your bathroom and that scores high for form and function.
Durable materials: You want long lasting and rust proof. “Many bath accessory makers focus on how cheaply they can make something and still sell for a profit. … When you don’t have to replace an item every two-to-five years, the more expensive one becomes the reasonable one.”
Strong attachment: Caddies that attach to the wall with screw mounts are sturdier than ones that hang or stand. Be sure it comes with proper hardware ready to install, then find that special someone.
Commercial grade: Many products come in two grades: commercial and residential. Residential lines are usually less expensive, but don’t hold up as well as commercial grade.
Careful cleaning: Avoid harsh cleaning products. “The chemicals cause finishes to pit,” Jenkinson said. Wash with a soft cloth and water.

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