Sunday, 6 October 2013

Our New House–Mopping Up Operations

After nearly three weeks in the house since the move, yesterday I finally got completely fed up with crunching my way across the downstairs floors and decided to start cleaning up. The original tiled floor in the utility room and back passage by the back door was a total mess – there had been a manky old brown mat there, and when it was taken up, it left a sticky rubbery residue which attracted even more dirt. I got down on my hands and knees and with a scrubbing brush, hot soapy water and a scraper, managed to get it all up. One more scrubbing session and it’s now nice and clean. Once the builders have finished, I shall touch up the new bits of concrete with tile paint to match the floor, and the base of the arch which needs a touch of emulsion, and then I shall seal the floor and make it look really nice.

01 Utility Room Floor

The only jobs remaining to be done in the utility room are a bit of plastering by the airing cupboard door, and the grouting of the tiles around the sink. After this I can do my last bit of painting to finish it all off.

02 Unfinished Work around Airing Cupboard

My suspicions about the large circular mirror in the bathroom were correct. The grab rail over the bath has had to be lowered. I could see the pained expression on Paul’s face as he reluctantly agreed – the top holes are covered by the mirror, but I managed to persuade him that if he filled the lower ones, I would be able to make them invisible! He hated leaving anything that spoiled the finish of his perfect work! The mirror looks absolutely great now it’s in position, making the room look much bigger.

03 Circular Mirror

You would not believe how hard it is to obtain a large, plain circular mirror like this. I searched endlessly online and could only find plain ones that were too small; everything else had fancy frames. In the end I found a company that makes bespoke mirrors of all shapes and sizes and ordered the one I wanted.

The grab rails in my bathroom are now all installed, but they proved a perfect pain. They look great, but it was a question of style over function – they are not at all well designed! First of all, the chrome covers which snap on to cover the screws popped off all the time, and in the end Paul had to fix them with some powerful, quick-setting adhesive. Also, because of the square shape of the handle, the covers would not slide around the corner of the handle, and got in the way when trying to do up the screws. These screws (which Paul decided in the end were long enough after all) have hex heads which need to be screwed in with the use of a small supplied Allen key but because the cover kept getting in the way, the maximum turn you could get was half to three-quarters, which meant it took simply ages to tighten each one – there were three top and bottom on each grab rail (a total of 24 screws). Because of the restricted access, it was quite impossible to use a power tool, and the whole process was laborious in the extreme. Paul was getting extremely fed up with this so in the end I attached the one over the bath into its new position, sitting on my shower stool in the bath! Really, you would think that the designers and manufacturers of these things would at least test their product before it hit the marketplace…

04 Grab Rail Attachment Detail

I now have a grab rail by the loo, and two in the shower, as well as the one over the bath. They all work extremely well. Despite the problems with installation, they look very stylish; I did not want the “hospital” look in my bathroom but wanted to maintain the modern, streamlined look throughout. I love the contrast between the natural colours of the wall and floor tiles, and the polished chrome finish of the various fittings. The next picture shows the grab rail for the loo, and the first one for the shower.

05 Loo and Shower Grab Rails

This is the second shower grab rail. Having tested them all, they are all in exactly the right place!

06 Shower Grab Rail

Tim the electrician didn’t come on Friday, but will be here tomorrow (Monday) – he has already installed the fan in the loft and will need to fit the grilles in the ceiling over the bath and shower area, and connect it all up with a vent through one of the roof soffits. He and Paul were a bit concerned about making the right sized holes in the lath-and-plaster ceiling, but I pointed out that there were two small hatches painted over, which would presumably be made of wood, and they agreed that it was an excellent idea to utilise these for the grilles, even if they were not in a central position – I said that didn’t matter because the fan would operate just as well even if they were a few inches off-centre. Tim also needs to wire in the microwave in my ARTHaven, and replace the underfloor heating control with a timer control, and then hopefully his work will be done.

When Chris removed the door from the utility room into the back passage and created the arch, he saved the architrave, which Paul has now installed around the doorway into my bathroom.

07 Architrave

It is a bit damaged and I am going to repair this with some filler.

08 Damage to Architrave

Paul also needs to finish the threshold in the bathroom doorway; he is going to cut a piece of hardwood to cover this gap.

09 Threshold

My jobs in the bathroom include some final painting to touch up, and also to emulsion the arch into the shower area, and paint the plasterboard at the back of the shelves under the counter, and paint the pipes there. After this the bathroom will be complete.

My hubby took me to B&Q on Thursday and we bought another loo seat (the one I bought online unfortunately won’t fit) – a soft-closing one – what decadence! – so I can now go in comfort!!

10 Loo Seat Hinges

You will see that I have chosen a loo seat with chrome hinges, to echo the other shiny chrome things in the rest of the bathroom.

Here is the basin with the cabinet over, and the accessories that I bought recently at Wilkinson’s – they tone perfectly with my new bathroom!

11 Cabinet, Basin and Accessories

I also bought the free-standing chrome caddy for shampoo, shower gel etc. etc. which you can just see in the grab rails photo above. I have also got some lovely pebbles and shells and a pottery candle holder, and one or two other bits and pieces to decorate my beautiful tiled counter-top.

Yesterday, the silicone having set overnight around the shower tray, I was able to try the main shower for the first time. The large fixed shower head works beautifully with a lovely gentle stream of water. The secondary, hand-held one, is the same as the one over the bath, and has a really nice strong mains pressure stream, and sitting on my shower stool I was able to wash my hair with more ease than ever before in my life, especially since becoming disabled.

Once Tim has finished in the bathroom, I shall be able to clean up the bedroom and get my furniture into the right places. I have now emptied all the wardrobe boxes and managed to hang everything, but access is somewhat restricted until the furniture is moved. There was only one small section of wardrobe with full-length hanging space, but I managed to remove one of the lower rails from one of the two sections with hanging rails one above the other, so I now have plenty of full-length hanging space. There is room for storage boxes underneath, too. My hubby put our spare blankets into two boxes last night and put them on the high top shelf, and I shall put the spare pillows and sleeping bags in space bags (from which you extract the air with a vacuum cleaner) and they will join them – once I can find the space bags!! I also have four under-bed storage boxes, and with the new shelves in the bathroom underneath the counter, I am not short of storage space.

Yesterday I cleared a lot of junk from the annexe sitting room and hoovered the floor. There are just a few finishing touches to do in there before Mum arrives on Wednesday. I have made up her bed, and everything is unpacked in the kitchen and in her wardrobe and chest of drawers, but it will be up to her to organise things how she wants. It will give her something to occupy herself in the days to come, and I am sure she will enjoy arranging things how she wants. When she has chosen where she wants her pictures, we will hang them for her. Today I dusted throughout, and polished her sitting room furniture, and mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors. All that remains to do is to clean the window and move the rest of our stuff out of there, and to put everything back in her bathroom. The hinges on her kitchen window need replacing as the window will not stay open. The new hinges are waiting to be fitted probably tomorrow.

Paul has now gone off on holiday for a fortnight, and will finish the threshold into my bathroom on his return, and also tile around the sitting room fire – the dark red tiles are far too heavy looking with the mahogany surround, and there was obviously a grate with an arched aperture prior to the gas fire being fitted, which now does not look right. The fireplace itself is a magnificent original art deco feature – originally I didn’t like it and was all for replacing it, but it has grown on me, much to my hubby’s delight, and I was pleased that my art deco clock exactly fitted in the centre. I also have a reproduction art deco lamp which you can just see on the right hand side.

12 Red Tiles around Fireplace

The completion of the Man Cave is the main outstanding job now. The doors arrived last week, and it is now secure, and my hubby has been busy bringing his boxes over from the garage in our old house – we were informed at the end of last week that the new tenants will be taking up residence on Tuesday, so the garage needs to be clear by then. His boat is now residing temporarily in the barn of a friendly local farmer! My hubby told me he met the new tenants yesterday and they are thrilled with the house, and have promised that they will not be painting over all my artwork as they love it!! I am soooo relieved…

Work still remaining to be done on the Man Cave includes finishing the bitumen roofing felt and adding the guttering etc. and completing the cladding up to the roof apex, and a final bit of finishing off on the interior walls. With the space-age insulation, it is going to be nice and warm for my hubby, and large enough to live in – I have told him if he misbehaves he will be sleeping up there lol!! The lovely big window which was originally in Mum’s sitting room, and the glass side door, give lots of light, and there is ample room across the end for my hubby’s new work bench.

One of the doors will be electrically operated, and there is a power point nearby for charging my mobility scooter battery. Once we’ve got settled and got Mum installed, my hubby will go up to my aunt’s and collect the scooter for me.

So things are definitely progressing, and at last I feel as if I am getting on top of things.

Health wise, my feet, ankles and legs continue to be swollen. My hubby took me to the doctor’s and she said it was circulatory rather than a joint problem, and as I suspected, probably due to my having been on my feet far too much recently. She asked for a urine sample to check my protein levels but was pretty sure it wouldn’t show anything, and she also wants me to have an ECG once we are registered at our new surgery, to check that my heart is OK – I already have a heart condition (left bundle branch block) but since contracting M.E. and being unable to take exercise, this has been symptom-free; previously on exertion I would suffer mild angina-type pain and breathlessness but this no longer happens and most of the time I am totally unaware of it. However, she is covering all the bases and I was impressed with her thoroughness. She palpated my legs to see how far up the swelling went, and it goes above the knees. She told me to rest as much as possible with my legs elevated to help the venous return – fat chance! There’s still far too much to do for me to take as much rest as I want or need!! It hasn’t been quite so bad today so hopefully it will improve in the coming days.


  1. All the fittings in your new bathroom etc look very stylish.Amazing to think all the main jobs are almost finished.
    Its been great to come along on your building reno's journey.
    Judy x

  2. Great to see it's getting down to finishing touches Shoshi. I've been thinking of you and wondering how it was going x

  3. Maybe a gentle massage would help with the legs? ...And if it didn't help with the legs it would at least keep you still for a little while!!
    :) So happy for you that things are coming together x

  4. All looking great! You must both be so pleased with the results! and you have had good weather to do it all in!

  5. You must get those legs elevated as soon as you can girl!

    Sounds like you are close to finishing...can't wait to see the finished photos!

  6. GOrgeous! I'm so excited for you to be ALL settled! Good luck with the last of the work.

  7. what a lot of work to move. sounds like you may have over done it a bit. it's all coming together great. you're going to need a holiday when you are finished.


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