Is it just me? Ode to towel bars

Every home I’ve ever lived in has touted its greatness in some respect.  Some apartments have come with nice pools, others have included utilities, some places come with extra storage or a gas stove.  In the competition to fill new homes or have the perfect living space, it seems people will go to great lengths to distinguish their space with unique properties.  So it seems odd to me that all of them have missed the marked in at least one respect: they never have enough towel bars, and the ones they do have are often flimsy.

I’ve interrupted my regularly scheduled “heavy chat” as I’m not yet ready to face my newest set of issues.  But I am ready to talk about towel bars.  Levity has its place.  For once, I’m very grateful to have a problem in my life that could not be less important.  I’m thrilled to have this nit-picky, ridiculous, first-world bone to pick with society at large to forget about other things.  It makes me think differently about how others’ shallow obsessions may actually be facades for things they can’t let people see.

I digress…towel bars.

So I don’t know about you, but I like to use one towel to dry myself after a shower (I don’t discriminate between ‘this one for body, this one for hair’) and I keep the same towel in use for about five days.  Ok, seven, max.  I use a dehumidifier to dry out the bathroom so things evaporate more quickly, but nonetheless, a quality towel bar where one can spread this towel to avoid mold growth is essential to making that towel last and not over-using resources, like water for laundry.  Also, if I’ve been working out a lot, I like to hang up my workout clothes before tossing them in the hamper to prevent mildew and mold growth.  Seems like common sense.  So I need a towel bar (and not one that falls off of its brackets every time I retrieve the towel or replace it) for the towel, and another bar, or at least some hooks, for the clothes.

Anyone with me on this?!

So I have followed that basic principle for years.  Then, last year, I got married.  Obviously, now I have a husband who shares my bathroom.  And while the poor state of towel racks has always been a pet peeve of mine, getting married has magnified it tenfold.  My husband, logically, also uses a towel (I hate sharing a towel with someone–how can you dry yourself with someone’s damp leftovers?).  Therefore, there should be two towel bars, his and hers.

And YET.

In every residence we’ve had (which is more than you might think, since he’s military), and in every residence I’ve been invited into and asked to use the restroom to scope out this issue, there is a shocking dearth of towel bars.  There is only ever ONE.  And it is usually 18 inches, made of a cheap, lightweight metal, with shabby brackets so that the towel is in constant peril of plunging to the floor and remaining crumpled and risking mold.  In fact, we were recently shown pictures of a “big kid” home, as we call them, of a local millionaire.  The bathroom was done in marble and gold, with a shower the size of my queen bed and a steam room off to the side.  A huge jet tub was next to the shower.  A stunning job if ever I saw one.  The bathroom had been photographed from every angle.  A wealthy man lived there with his wife and children (and who knows, maybe a mistress or two).  And how many towel bars could I find in all of the pictures?  That’s right, ONE.  Horrific.  Apparently it’s fashionable for the wealthy to throw towels on the floor for someone else to pick up and use after each wash.  Even if I had the money to act like that, I wouldn’t.  Nothing should go into the hamper wet.  It comes out smelling like wet dog.

So, in our current home, I couldn’t stand it any longer.  I undertook the impossible: installing (many) more towel bars; at least three per bathroom.

I began, of course, in the wrong place.  I went shopping at Home Depot for the bars. What I should have done, as any good consumer knows, is look on Amazon for a surefire match to the current hardware and a better deal.  Hindsight is…

My second mistake was measuring from an aesthetic perspective vs. a structural one.  What is the top reason most towel bars fail at crucial moments of need?  They are not properly installed with adequate screws into studs or drywall that is thick enough to hold considerable weight.  So keep in mind that if you decide to add a towel bar, you have to think more about what is behind the wall than what you want it to look like installed.  For example, I am installing one where two walls meet at an unusual obtuse angle.  I wanted the bar to extend the length of the wall and drilled holes to meet the 24 inch criteria.  However, drilling so close to the edge of the wall left me drilling into a metal plate only half an inch behind the drywall.  Not enough space for a 1 and 1/4 inch screw.  And you don’t want to move to a shorter screw.  Trust me.

My third mistake was taking down a towel bar in the guest bath to reinstall in the master.  Unlike most towel bars, the one in the guest bath was really well installed.  Why did I do this?  Well, looking back at my first mistake, it was because I had gone to Home Depot instead of shopping online and getting the exact hardware I should have used.  So in trying to cover that problem I made another, because anyone with any life experience knows that once you remove a perfectly good towel bar from its original location, that location can never be used to the same effect again.  If you do make the mistake of trying to reuse the holes, I can promise you’ll have weeks of misery while your bar collapses multiple times after you leave the bathroom and you return to a crumpled, nasty towel on the floor.  Eventually you’ll capitulate and overpay some goon to come in and reinstall the bar in a new place, which will only work marginally better than the original location, unless you get lucky and the guy uses the right screws.

So, I’ve stopped the mistakes before I can make any more. I’ll watch some YouTube videos, ask some people who know a thing or two some questions.  And then I’ll get back to it, because life with two plus towel bars in the bathroom is just infinitely better.  Until that moment of nirvana comes, I’m back to one towel bar.  I love him so much, I’m letting my husband use it.

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