Wednesday, 9 January 2013

La Salle de Bain - Part 1 The Renovation

On first impressions the bathroom at La Petite Maison was fairly unoffensive. Small, or in fact miniscule it was but the white suite was functional and the neutral wall coverings screamed only of being drab and boring.

Closer inspection highlighted the cramped layout of the room, which the positioning of the door that opened from left to right into the centre of the room did absolutely nothing to help. Hmmmmm....... This room was not going to be sorted out with a straightforward redecoration.

The proposed extension also became a factor for the revamping of the bathroom due to the existing, unacceptable, dated and unaesthetically-pleasing single-glazed window being smack in the middle of where the extension wall would come. This meant that not only was a new window required, but also that it would have to be relocated. The solution was simple - we would knock down the non-load bearing block wall beside the bath, between the bathroom and little bedroom and put up a stud wall in it's place but further over so that this would increase the size of the bathroom.

When the wall coverings were removed it also became apparent that the plaster and condition of the walls was even worse than the other rooms - the room would need re-plastering regardless of the moving of any walls or windows.

The old suite was unceremoniously removed and with sledge hammer and man-power the block wall gave way without difficulty.  

A stud wall was constructed and the floor ripped up to allow new heating pipes to be installed and insulation to be put down. Holes for vents had to be knocked through the walls beneath the floor level. By this stage I was seriously beginning to question my sanity as everything we did just made things look ten times worse. In fact the house had gone from dingy and dreary to completely uninhabitable; the use of a bucket for a toilet did not make spending long periods of time in a very cold house an enjoyable experience. I was starting to wish I had never set eyes upon the place.

(Oh and I suppose I should just mention the trifling matter of having to move the sewer connection outside to make way for the new extension!)

The window issue had been an involved process. Unswerving in my insistence that the new windows would be of painted wood and of traditional style, there was a lot of debate about a suitable design before I reached one that I was satisfied would work. Eventually after hours of research, deliberating and discussion the design was finalised and the windows were commissioned. The estimate for delivery was between 4 to 6 weeks, which fitted nicely into our schedule for the work on the bathroom to commence.

Six weeks rolled into eight weeks and frustrations were evident with tempers becoming short and the feeling that work was stagnating. Eventually 3 months later and on the day that the bricklayer was due, the windows arrived. I must add that in a moment of insanity I had undertaken the task of painting the windows myself. An arduous task, as I had greatly underestimated the amount of wood in the windows and the number of coats of paint required. Nevertheless the task was completed and by the end of the day that the windows arrived from the workshop, the old bathroom window was removed, a new concrete head installed and the new leaded casement window was in place.

The new window in place with Acrow Props acting as supports until everything set

At last things were moving along again. Once the cement and concrete was set the Acrows were removed and new floorboards and window board fitted. With huge relief that we were moving forward once more, I placed some blue hydrangea heads from the garden into a jam jar and set them in front of the new window. My Much-Appreciated-Men-Folk shook their heads at this frivolous act of feminine folly, but the presence of those flowers did much to change the feel of the room for me and I was already picturing my decorating scheme.

Marine Ply was fitted to one side of the new stud wall (which will be alongside the new bath and shall be tiled) and then the rest of the room was re-plastered. The old door had been taken away and adjustments made for the new door to open from  right to left this time. A fairly straightforward job one might think! But no, as with most things in La Petite Maison it is not just as easy as it first appears. The old door frame and fixings had to be taken off, and then the light switch and electrics moved from one side of the door to the other. In the grand-scale of the renovations it was a fairly minor adjustment, but nonetheless it has made a major positive impact on the layout of the room.

Out came the paintbrushes and rollers again as after the floor was sanded, I primed the floor and painted the walls. A traditional style white suite was introduced - I would dearly have loved an old roll-top bath, but sometimes practicalities must come first, so I readily accepted the new mild-steel bath.

There is still some work (bath panel, skirtings etc) to be completed before the final coat of paint can be applied to the ceiling, walls and window and then I shall begin the lovely part and titivate the room with my "feminine frivolity". For the joinery work we need William, and this means We Are Waiting for William. William is a master joiner and when he is there he works at a wonderful whirlwind speed. Unfortunately due to his skills he is greatly in demand, which is why there is very often a protratcted wait between his visits.

I have the perfect fabric for the curtains and have based my colour scheme around this fabric.

The look and feel that I hope to create is French combined with a Cornish influence. So please do stop by again for a visit - when I hope to be able to share with you very soon the fait accompli.


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