Almost anything sounds delightful with Waterworks co-owner Barbara Sallick’s knack for delivering quirky, yet fitting descriptions.
The luxury bathroom and kitchen design store’s newly expanded Greenwich showroom is “yummy and delicious,” while the color of her home’s bathroom, in Sallick-speak, is like “coffee with lots and lots of milk.”
What does bathroom design gone wrong look like according to the business owner and author on the topic? “As I say, a dog’s dinner,” Sallick said, as her own pup, LuLu, wandered underfoot during an opening event for the showroom Thursday evening.
Keeping design simple and uncluttered drives Sallick’s message on how to create the perfect bathroom, as well as the design of Waterworks’ redone showroom.
In the monthslong renovations in its storefront on West Putnam Avenue, Waterworks, which is based in Danbury, re-organized its bathroom items and added space. It took over 1,200 square feet of what was formerly occupied by a Chase bank to show off its kitchen designs.
The new displays offer something for clients with traditional tastes, in addition to an “ode to midcentury,” Sallick said. Waterworks appeals to diverse styles, but the store includes pops of her particular preferences, such as her “idea that backsplashes stop too soon.”
The midcentury style kitchen features a gray tiled backsplash that covers most of the walls and an island made from two-inch-thick Vermont stone — one of Sallick’s favorites. “It’s so yummy, isn’t it?” she said.
Waterworks’ expansion arrives as the company nears its 40-year birthday. It has had a store in Greenwich for two decades.
Sallick and her husband, Robert, founded the company in 1978 and opened the first store in their hometown of Danbury. It was a bad time to be in the market of bath design, Sallick said, laughing at an issue that’s funny only in hindsight, and with their eventual success.
“There were no bath showrooms in the U.S. at the time,” Sallick said, because people weren’t as interested in investing in nice bathrooms.
“We opened our first showroom and nobody cared, so nobody came,” she said. “At some juncture, I realized if we were going to make this business succeed, I had to become the educator and evangelist for better bathrooms. We had to repay our bank loans.”
So Sallick set to work spreading the good news about how a well-designed bathroom could be a homeowner’s private sanctuary. It took almost 10 years for her message to catch on, she said.
“In 1987, I got a call from the first client, who, for the first time, came and asked for a bathroom just like her hotel bathroom,” she said. “I’m about as stubborn as you can imagine, and all of a sudden, this whole shift happened.”
Today, Waterworks has showrooms in 13 cities and Sallick’s son, Peter, has taken over as CEO. Barbara Sallick and her husband stay closely involved with the company, but they continue to spread the word about better baths and kitchens with other projects.
Barbara Sallick has published three books, including her most recent ,“The Perfect Bath,” and she plans to write a fourth on the perfect kitchen. “I still have a lot to learn about the kitchen,” she said.
Much of her research will be done on Instagram, which she joined to keep track of her grandchildren, but has found it helpful in keeping track of designs by “doing that nutty thing where you click and push,” otherwise known as a screenshot.
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