Monday, 9 September 2013

Our New House–Going All Out on the Bathroom

The first of two posts for today.

On arrival at the new house today, I put some of my electrical equipment into the kitchen – my Kenwood Chef mixer, juicer and bread maker – funny to think I’ve made my last loaf in the old house! Then I went through into the annexe kitchen and put the second and final coat of paint on the door frame, and it’s all looking very nice in there now.

My girlie bathroom, as my hubby calls it, is now the focus of efforts at our new house. The studwork frame and roof are complete on the garage and the cladding is on order. Andy has been away on holiday all week and is due back on site tomorrow, when he will focus his efforts on the utility room and airing cupboard, and in the meantime Paul is happy to be back working on the en-suite bathroom – he understands that it was necessary to move all work down to the annexe for a while as Mum’s furniture was on its way, but he says he prefers to complete a job once he starts on it!

The shower pipework is now covered with plasterboard. You can see that it is mounted on the inside of the original wooden door into the old loo – I agree with Andy that it is a good idea to leave these two doors in place, to retain the appearance of the landing, and also, they form a firm base for attaching the shower – much stronger than the lath and plaster of the wall.

01 Shower with Plasterboard

On the right, you can see the edge of the arch, complete with its arch bead, which will give strength to the edge once it is plastered.

Paul has now plastered the arch and it’s looking very smart indeed! In the next photo, Paul is preparing the floor ready for the underfloor heating. He has to drill a series of holes for its attachment in the plywood which has been laid over the floorboards to provide a good strong and flat surface for the floor tiles.

03 Preparing the Floor for Underfloor Heating

04 Drilling Holes for Underfloor Heating

There is now some adhesive spread on the floor to hold the underfloor heating in place. The next photo shows the underfloor heating being laid. It consists of a long length of electrical wire winding back and forth and trapped in a mesh which is laid on the floor. There will be a switch with a timer outside the bathroom, on the bedroom wall. When we eventually have our solar panels fitted, I can set it to come on in the morning once it is light – we are also having a towel rail radiator, which will have its own switch and timer. This radiator is dual function; when the gas central heating is on, it will function as a normal radiator, but in the summer months when I need a heated towel rail, its electrical element will come into play, heating the water in the radiator. Clever stuff.

05 Laying the Underfloor Heating

Andy was a bit concerned that the towel rail radiator might not be sufficient to heat the space – these radiators do not produce as much room heat as a normal radiator – but when we decided on the underfloor heating in addition, he said that would solve the problem, as well as providing a bit of added luxury! (My fear is that once they discover it, there will be no getting the kitties out of my girlie bathroom…)

The underfloor heating is only going down the centre of the room; the bath will be on the right, and on the left, there will be a counter with a shelf underneath for storage, with the basin mounted on it at the further end, above which will be an illuminated cabinet. In the photo above, you can see the pipework ready to receive the basin.

Here, now that the underfloor heating is down, Paul is beginning to plan the layout of the floor tiles. These large tiles have a wonderful colour and texture like natural stone, or like sand that has been washed by the sea. The slightly rough texture makes them non-slip. The wall tiles are slightly smaller, and lighter in colour, and there will be a band of mosaic tiles going around the entire room at about waist-height.

06 Planning the Floor Tiles

Finally for today: upstairs, all the doors have the most beautiful art deco door furniture which is clearly original to the house. Downstairs, it is a different story, with plain and rather ugly round wooden door knobs which do nothing for the beauty of the solid wood panelled doors, and I really wished they were the same as the ones upstairs. I had a good look on Ebay the other day to find something similar, but what I did find was either not very nice reproductions, or very expensive genuine 1920s/30s ones, and even if I’d have been prepared to pay silly money for them, there were generally not enough – I need 7 or 8!

When I was wandering around the house today, I found the spare one, together with its door handle, which had been removed from the inside of the original bathroom door… beautiful, isn’t it!

07 1925 Doorplate

…and my cerebral wheels started turning, and then spinning!!What if I were to make a mould from it, with silicone moulding putty? I could make as many as I wanted, either from Friendly Plastic or polymer clay, or possibly from resin. The real thing is made of relatively thin metal, and requires no strength in use; it is merely decorative. With all the materials at our disposal today, I would have no problem making them look metallic and distressed… I have just signed up for Andy Skinner’s Timeworn Techniques online mixed media course and there are plenty of ideas there for reproducing extremely authentic-looking finishes, using acrylic paints and other basic materials, and am quite excited about putting some of these techniques into practice. Watch this space! It won’t be long before I am creating again, and I am suffering from extreme withdrawal symptoms now that my new ARTHaven is almost ready for use!

As for the doorknobs, I could not make these myself, but I may be able to find something suitable in brass online, and then treat them to match the door plates.

I just love art deco…

It is now clear that the work will not be finished before we move on Monday 16th. Paul suggested that we use the annexe bedroom until the en-suite is finished – it will only be for a few days, or a week at most. There are two other bathrooms in the house! He needs the space in the bedroom to store his stuff and materials while the work is being completed, and I can probably survive that long without the utility room, too – we will have two working kitchens to choose from! Anyway, we will be too busy sorting out all our stuff and getting the annexe ready for Mum’s arrival on the 28th to worry overmuch. The garage can be finished after we move.

On the home front, there is still a huge amount to be done before we are ready to move in a week’s time. I have made up a detailed schedule of my activities over the next few days, to ensure that everything gets done, and that I can pace myself and not get overtired. Goodness, is it only a week to go? We have been waiting so long, and suddenly it is upon us.

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