Tomorrow morning the plumber arrives to start work on our bathroom renovations. I’ve taken plenty of ‘before’ shots of what the room looks like, but they were so shameful that I think I won’t share them until I can also post a few of the work in progress.
It has taken a very long time to get to this point, so here’s a summary of what we’ve been through.
Firstly, it is very hard to get a plumber to come over to look at the work that needs doing. To clarify, it’s hard to get a recommended plumber to come over – all the good ones are very busy. This is discouraging as it makes you feel they won’t be willing to turn up to do the work either, but the one we’re using was recommended by some good friends who have had work done by him in the past, and we’re told he’s thorough, tidy and does a good job. Which is obviously important.
Secondly, it’s even harder to try to coordinate all the various workmen and tasks: at the start I made a list of the work that needed doing, and the ideal order in which it would be done. But now things are coming together in a different order, which means we’ll possibly have a couple of weeks when we have the new bath, sink and toilet, but have walls with no tiles on them (and no doubt they will look awful, because the old tiles will have been prised off). This is because we’re having the window replaced, but they can’t do that for a few weeks because we’ve ordered something fancy that has to be made in Italy (more on that below).
The finding and ordering of all the various components has been a complicated business, but everything is now ordered, and in most cases delivered. All we are waiting for is the floor and the tiles, but neither of those can be installed just yet anyway.
We’re having the Java sink and toilet from Wickes, with the Java tap on the sink and the Belmont taps for the bath (I love the Java basin tap, but the bath version would not have worked for us and so I’ve gone for something that’s a similar shape). All of these things were bought during the half-price sale earlier this year, so we paid half of what they are now selling for. (Though the sale period for kitchens and bathrooms seems to be almost neverending, so they will be reduced again in no time.)
The bathtub is by Ideal Standard, and we’re having one of those glass screens rather than a shower curtain – also by Ideal Standard. (Be warned if you are buying fittings for a bathroom that the glass screens cost a lot more than you’d think.)
I searched all over the place for an inoffensive light fitting – the rules on what lights you can have in your bathroom are very strict in this country, and also seem to mean you can only have ugly lights. I’ve gone for this plain but energy-efficient number – I tried to get this one from Habitat but am told it’s discontinued – although it is clearly still listed on their website… I think the one we’re getting will look OK though.
Above the basin I’m having very pale green glass tiles from Fired Earth (these were in the process of being discontinued when I ordered them). They are brick shaped and so should work well with the white ceramic tiles I’m having around the bath/shower area. The ceiling will be plastered over to make it smooth (it is swirly at the moment) and painted white, while the walls will be painted grey.
We’re getting an actual radiator in the bathroom (it gets VERY cold in there), and a little heated towel rail (yay!).
On the floor will be a wood-effect lino – it’s not going to fool anyone into thinking it’s real wood, but I think it will look good, and is a practical choice for bathrooms.
And for the window we are having a blind that fits inside the glass. As in, it’s a double-glazed window, and the blind is between the two panes of glass. This is ideal for us – the window faces the street and so we want to add in as much privacy as possible, but at the same time it’s in direct line of the shower and so any window covering gets covered in water and is vulnerable to mould and damp. The blinds are made by an Italian company, and have not added much to the price (about the same as getting a venetian blind fitted in the normal way). It’s operated by magnets, which sounds very futuristic. We had a play with a couple of window samples and they seem to work well. The window company are currently installing them at a special school for autistic children, who apprently have a habit of grasping at window blinds and pulling them down – so blinds they can’t reach should be safer for them.
We had three window companies come out to do quotes for a new window, and it seems that all opaque glass in the UK comes from one supplier, which means there is a very limited range of designs on offer. (Note to any glass worker people: there is a gap in the market here, people would like opaque windows with nice glass in rather than a choice of 12 different and very dated designs.)
Finally I’ve bought a cabinet, mirror and also a laundry bin (to fit in an awkward space at the end of the bath where there is currently a built-in cupboard) – these are all from John Lewis. The mirror’s not on their website, but the cabinet and laundry bin are.
I have kept track of everything I’ve spent and what all the items and labour costs were – I’m not sure if it’s tacky to mention how much it all cost, but I may share that information in case it’s of use to anyone else planning to replace their bathroom.
So here goes – wish us luck…