Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Dalmatian bath: Pomona's cottage gets a makeover, part 1

It's been All Go at the Cottage this week, the Lady Decorators are arriving on Monday, there is a man in my bathroom huffing and puffing and making a lot of noise, and the Fly Lady has flown out of the window. What can one do when the contents of Zone 3 are cluttering Zone 5, and yes, we did it on purpose . . .

How did those spots get there?
First casualty of the upheavals is the Dalmatian Bath - twenty-five years' faithful service and the Dalmatian finds itself on the lawn in the company of a Little Stranger. Yes, I do feel guilty, but the depredations of unknown visitants hurling hard objects at speed onto the surface enamel has ensured that the quantities of 'not me, guv' Black Spots and surface crazing are incompatible with the Shiny Standards now upheld steadfastly in this abode. (I say 'unknown visitants' advisedly, as when the said Black Spots appeared so mysteriously, it always turned out that no member of the household ever had any knowledge of the manner of their coming into being, in fact, they had not been into the bathroom for days, weeks, a month of Sundays? What spot, oh that spot, oh not me, guv, oh no . . .)

What have you done to my friend?
And so the imminent arrival of the Lady Decorators is preceded by our Friendly, Local Plumber with a heart of gold and an infinite supply of local gossip, head-shaking advice, and roll-ups (or is it rollies?), who comes out on a Saturday at very short notice in return for a couple of cups of coffee, a pound of sausages and an exceedingly small amount of Cash.

Accusatory glance from dog sitting on Dalmatian spots in an economical bath
If you are planning on doing a bathroom on a budget, forget the DIY warehouse where there is no one to talk to you, and also the discount bathroom warehouse. The plumber tells us that these places tend to sell poor quality imported baths which look good on the surface to a layman, but are not hardwearing, and even the permanent half-price clearance 'bargains' will be two or three times more expensive than from a trade supplier. Get your bath from a builder's merchant - a basic unbranded white bath (ours is made of pressed steel, I am told). They are very reasonably priced at around £100 (we said no to handles and dimples, although sometimes I feel that I am headed that way, such is my physical state), and the tap fittings are standard, so we were able to reuse the taps (which are not 25 years old).

Economical taps (very shiny)

Again, the most economical way to source taps is to go to a plumber's merchant which supplies the trade - there are always lots of jolly types to help and advise you. Don't buy the very cheapest - these are a false economy as the poor quality will not stand up to much wear and tear, but you can always find some in whatever style you like, which are robust but not over-priced, by looking through the trade catalogues and picking the brains of the jolly chaps behind the counter. Hugely expensive does not mean hugely hardwearing or best quality - like so many things, you pay extra for famous names, and if you have decided that you really must pay several hundred pounds for taps, there will be a manufacturer with some ready for you at your price point.

I rather like this one
Be careful about buying continental taps, and this is a point worth checking: in many countries water is at mains pressure (which is high), so their taps have built-in pressure reducing valves, which works well for them, but not if you live in an English country cottage where the effect is to reduce your kitchen hot water to a pathetic trickle. (It took quite a few £50 bills from a variety of 'helpful' plumbers before we finally learned from our Friendly Local Plumber that the Italian taps which came with our Habitat sale kitchen would never, ever work properly for that very reason.)

Bathroom waiting for Lady Decorators

So after those handy hints, I can tell you that I am taking a big step on the paint front. I have always been one for a bit of Colour in my life, but after many years of blue woodwork in the bathroom, I have decided that it is going to be painted All White. I can't do anything about the blue tiles, but I feel like I need a bit more light in my life, and the window is small and north-facing, so the reflectiveness of the white will improve the light levels (and help my ageing optics as I peer into the mirror with trowel of concrete in hand ready to fill in the cracks in my visage). The tiles are pure bright white, so the combination of powder blue and white tiles precludes paintwork in one of the dirtier whites - it would just look, well, dirty (and so, possibly, would my face), so maybe not.

Shades of white
There is also the question of the bath surround - the burnt orange pine was toned down with a bit of distressing on the last makeover (so you can tell how long ago that was), but I am on a campaign to banish the orange hues which pervade the house (I will tell you more about the orange next time) and there is nothing for it but All White. 

A basin just like mine in a Cabbages and Roses bathroom
PS The Head Chef tells me that he is going to paint the scullery while the Lady Decorators are here, along with five bookcases and a dresser. He has even bought the paint. I am wondering how far he will get and whether the Lady Decorators will have to be invited back to finish off . . .


Caroline Lovis (Redneedle) said...

Chatting to tradespeople, choosing colours, planning and preparing, there's nothing quite like a makeover project is there?

Katy Cameron said...

Looks like lots of fun, fancy coming and giving my bathroom a makeover next? ;o) Do we get to lay bets on whether or not the Head Chef will complete his project without the help of the Lady Decorators? :oD

Kay G. said...

I love those blue tiles myself.
The bathroom in white and blue will be lovely.
Blooming hard work to re-do, isn't it? It will be worth it in the end. Good luck!

Lucille said...

White is the way forward. I'm a fan of Timeless White. My decorators sulked when I bought F&B and said it didn't 'lie'well so I had to get them some Dulux.

Frances said...

Folks who are contemplating home renewals, particularly those involving water sources, will surely benefit from this post, Pomona.

Your plumber's a gem, giving you such practical advice.

Your eye and taste are impeccable. (I am not much of an orange fan, and do look forward to your eventually treating us to an account of your acquaintance with this hue!)

Thank you for the profile hint. Think I've got it sorted now. xo

ted and bunny said...

well you'll be all set for steaming hot baths to ward off the winter chills!
It's going to look realy good...bright and fresh and completely un-orange, which can only be a good move!

Helen Philipps said...

Loved the tale of the Dalmatian bath, Pomona! And how I love make over projects....some F&B paint always works wonders I think, and your bathroom will look fresh and beautiful...the blue tiles will look so fresh combined with the white paintwork too and give rather a Cornish feel.
I also adored your coat in the previous post and would love one like it!
Helen x

Annie said...

Those unknown visitants get everywhere ... they certainly visit here quite frequently ;D
White is always a good thing, I totally agree. So I'm not quite sure why I've just bought 'Pale Gold'* paint for our friendly neighbourhood P&D, who arrives with his brushes on Monday to decorate the living room!
Your bathroom is going to look so fresh ... can't wait to see it in part 2 :D

*Not a hint of orange about it, honest.

Amy said...

Oh remodelling fun! I love the dreaming and planning but not the mess it all takes. Hang in there!

Thistle Cove Farm said...

And it will be so beautiful when it's completed!

Cheryl said...

When we moved into our cottage, I painted walls yellow, blue, lilac and ox blood red. Fifteen years later, the windows have not grown bigger nor the ceilings got higher. Limited natural light means all walls are back to white. We went down the Italian bathroom route too. Love it, but it did have its hiccups.

Keep focused on the end result. Makes all the disruption easier to ignore.

Indigo Blue said...

Do what we did.....hand over the keys and disappear for several days while the work is done. We pooped back and then went away again. Albeit and enforced absence but it did make the upheval less of a porblem. i will go with white too. I shall post an after picture of our bathroom/shower room next week as I return to my neglected little blog. Love the blue and white china!

taylorsoutback said...

Visiting your cottage is such fun...even in the midst of a redo...whites...soothing & yet illuminating.
Living in the Northwoods with our own well, I also understand those water pressure folks don't understand!

I still remember in our first house cooking most meals in an electric skillet set up in the living room and doing all the dishes in the bathroom down the hall...while the kitchen was being gutted. Remodeling makes one a stronger person!!

greenrabbitdesigns said...

I hate decorating and you are so right, it really does mess up your zones!!!
Vivienne x

Mrs. Micawber said...

I quite like those pale blue tiles ... and that faucet in the picture as well.

It's a funny thing about orange - so cheerful in fabric or in small amounts on dishes, but dreadful as a shade for wood.

I wonder if UK plumbers have the same reputation as US plumbers - that of wearing pants that sag too low behind, leading to the infamous "plumber's crack"? (Sorry but I had to ask.) All in the name of widening my knowledge of other cultures.

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Ah, friends reunited - we have the dalmation bath twin/doppleganger here at the Lane! We said it would have to go when we moved in and yet it is still here, all cast iron and permanent! I know just what you mean about light levels and optics, so dull to have ever worsening sight, pardon the pun! Happy decormaration as we call it!

Sarah x

Menopausalmusing said...

I roared with laughter at the description of how you arrived at the name of your bath. I live next door to a Lady Decorator and she dreads being handed F & B paint because of how much harder it is to work with. A wonderful, informative and funny post! :O)

Barbara said...

Your makeover sounds good though I have to say I did like the white and blue in the B & B bathroom.

I am sure you are right about the DIY stores cheap offers.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love the photos of the dog in the bath

I agree entirely, the showrooms full of elegant bathrooms with continental plumbing are to be avoided at all costs. Good choices you've made!

Piers said...

Photos looking good - the bath makes for good lighting on the Little Stranger! I like photos of the dogs :)

Nicky said...

I'm into painted wood to banish the orange glow too but sadly I don't think it would be tolerated! Also want to banish dark, dark oak under paint - maybe losing that battle too!


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