Bathroom Project Part Two: Painting Walls & Tiles

Topics: DIY, Bathroom

bathroom project
The dreaded ‘before’ pic


As discussed in Bathroom Project Part One, there is always one room in a second hand house which tells you the previous owners were possibly colour blind and usually it’s the bathroom. Our previously loved home is no different. The bathroom we inherited was decorated in ghastly pink paint work matched with snot green tiles – one word ‘horrific’. Aside from the décor, the room had other issues: there was no storage, the shower was one of these hoses attached to the taps that you have to run around under to get wet, there was very little light, there was a leak at the bath taps and the wind tunnel caused by the draft from the ill-fitting vent was perishing mid-winter.

Having resolved the shower, leak and wind tunnel in Part One, the next step was to change the colours.

The colour choices of the previous owners, pink and green, while fine in theory, in reality were a daily assault on the senses. The tones selected did not work together, and both colours clashed with the grey floor tiles. Having successfully avoided the need to replace the wall tiles in Part One, I decided I would paint the existing ones rather than replacing them. I also decided that replacing the floor tiles was an unnecessary expense, and decided to use these as the base of my design.

The floor tiles were a slate grey colour, which made me decide that I would like the bathroom to have a masculine, utilitarian feel to it. As the bathroom is small I wanted to give the impression that the wall opposite the door appeared to be further away than it was. In order to do this I needed to choose a dark colour close to the door, which in theory in your mind’s eye pulls these walls closer to you as you walk in the door and a pale colour for the far wall, as pale colours give the impression of perceptual space, and thus the wall appears (again in theory) to be further away from you.

Bathroom Paint test

For the dark hues I choose to test a teal colour I had recently fallen in love with and a daring dark grey. As I do for wall colour choices, I purchased a tested and painted a big blob on a space on the wall at eye level that I frequently walk by or see, and left it for a week, to make sure I was not going to change my mind after painting the whole wall. As the family got used to the colour choices and they were debated over dinner, I cracked on with painting the tiles.


Bathroom Paint Tiles v2

I decided to keep the tiles simple, and chose to do them in white; partially because white is my favourite colour, partially because I think it lends itself to the masculine, utilitarian feel I was aiming for and partially because I already owned white tile paint from painting the kitchen tiles downstairs.

I started by removing all the hooks, shower heads, cabinets, whatever was attached to the tiles that could be removed – going around things carefully is so much more work that simply removing and replacing afterwards.

Next I cleaned the tiles thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly. I washed them with jif and dried, then bleached them with an old toothbrush and then cleaned them with sugar soap. There can be no residue of any sort on these tiles when you start painting, if there is, it will show in relief in the paint and cause chipping of the paint further down the line. Time invested in this deep clean will be returned tenfold in the quality of the end result.

Next I painted the tiles with a white primer, carefully avoiding both dribbles (by not overloading the brush) and cohesion patches (by making sure the tiles had no residue). Make sure you work the primer into the grout and every corner.

Before leaving the primer to dry give it a look over to ensure there are no imperfections and no dribbles. These are quick to fix while the primer is wet, but if you miss some and the primer is dry, just sand them down with fine sand paper and touch up as appropriate.

Although most primers only require one coat I did a second because I was covering dark tiles and I wanted a very crisp look.

Once the primer is dry add a layer of tile paint. Tile paint is an oil based paint like gloss paint and behaves the same way, so paint one side from the top to the bottom before moving on, because the paint will get tacky as it starts to dry.

Again I did a second layer of tile paint to ensure there were no shadows creeping through from the dark tiles underneath. Also because I went from left to right with the first layer, I went from right to left with the second. This means that the last place you did with the previous layer when you were tired, is now the first place you do refreshed and refocused for the next layer.

Once dry replace fittings.


The family decided that the grey actually worked the best, so while I had the paint brushes out, I painted all the walls grey.


Bathroom Grey
Nearly dry grey walls



Next stage is to get the furnishings and final touches – See this in Part Three



Guest Blog: Tim from Modernize with Ways to Maximize Space in a Small Home

 Image Credit:

Image Credit:

Topics: Interiors, DIY, Storage, Small Space


Today we are very fortunate to have Tim Smith with us from Modernize, a company dedicated to helping you make your dream home a reality, to give us some hints, tips and tricks on making the most of limited space. Take it away Tim….



Ways to Maximize Space in a Small Home


While the size of the family home has grown over the past few decades, those who live in apartments, older homes, or are downsizing, need to make the most of their space. Aside from modern freestanding homes, many other situations will encourage economy and space management to get the most from your resources. Read on for a few practical ideas to get you started on your quest to maximize your space.



Your Furniture is Not a Family Member

Many of the modern pieces of furniture are designed with those larger spaces we talked about above in mind. Great overstuffed couches, chairs that take up the same area as your breakfast table and offer less seating, bits of relatively useless furniture that just ends up wasting space. Chuck it. If you’re downsizing, unless you have a genuine attachment to a specific piece, get rid of it. Furnish your new space with furniture that fits. Older pieces you can find at antique markets usually will fare better in a reduced format than the all-new-and-improved combo deals large furniture stores have on offer.



Climbing the Walls

While you won’t want to clutter up the walls too much in a smaller space, they can be useful for mounting more than artwork. By finding the studs (a matter of moments with a stud finder) you can anchor hanging mantels or proper hanging bookshelves to the wall to hold more weight. Use the space above and behind the couch for a bookshelf or for holding essential objects to your leisure time like remotes, video games and movies.


This logic can also work for kitchen areas and home offices. Wall-mounted bookcases, shelving and even light organizational materials can help maximize your functional, usable space. And since flat screen televisions have become increasingly available, their price has come down. This not only allows you to mount your set on the wall, it will also eliminate any actual need for an “entertainment center.” This is often one of the big space-eaters in the modern home.


Think Up, Not Out

If you have a limited space, furniture and appliances with small footprints are going to be your favorites. Stand lamps are excellent for areas where side tables may not fit but you still want light. Likewise, in your closet, if you have a vast collection of shoes with which you don’t want to part, consider organizers that mount to the interior of the door or the back wall of the closet. Also, make sure you stay on top of your wardrobe — don’t keep clothing you never wear. Donate or sell it. You’re not using it, so why is it using space you need? As well, shelving that has a tall, narrow profile or is designed to stand in corners (one of the most overlooked spaces in a room) can come in handy in both your living and sleeping spaces. As well, it can help you maintain a tidy office area if you work at home.


Clean Drawers

A last note: make use of drawer organizers. Know what’s in your drawers and maximize their use. The same can be said of cabinets. If you have overly deep built-ins, consider a dry-erase list mounted on the inside of each door, so you know what you have.
There are a number of awesome ways you can maximize your use of a small space. While the ideas put forward above are just the tip of the iceberg, you’re definitely encouraged to get out there are see all the great concepts being developed to help homeowners make better use of less.


Tim Smith writes for Modernize, a company dedicated to helping you make your dream home a reality.


Bathroom Project Part One: Getting Started

bathroom project

Topics: DIY, Bathroom


There is always one room in a second hand house which tells you the previous owners were possibly colour blind and usually it’s the bathroom. This tiny space is where people are encouraged to let their creative side free and go a little naughty with their colour choices when they really should not. People think they are selecting bold prints with contrasting colours and dynamic textures (all the guff you hear on these home make-over programmes), when in actual fact the end result resembles something from the darker parts of Trainspotting.



Our previously loved home is no different. The bathroom we inherited was decorated in ghastly pink paint work matched with snot green tiles– one word ‘horrific’. I give the previous owners the benefit of the doubt and say it is possible that the colour of the paint looked different on the sample, but there is no excusing the tiles, I can only assume they were on sale.

Aside from the décor, the room had other issues: there was no storage, the shower was one of these hoses attached to the taps that you have to run around under to get wet, there was very little light, there was a leak at the bath taps and the wind tunnel caused by the draft from the ill-fitting vent should have had a road sign to warn people not to get blown off course.

The only positive things I could say about the room was that it had good space and the white goods were a good colour: white.

When we initially moved in I thought something needs to be done with that bathroom, but daunted by the challenge, I made my way around the house decorating every other room instead of it. Finally 5 years later, it was the last room to do. I could no longer avoid it.

Having removed the Ensuite shower from our room, I decided the first thing we needed to do in the main bathroom was to install a power shower. There was no point in decorating the rest of the room if the shower fitter then needed to remove tiles or plaster board to fit the shower, so by rights it needed to be done first.

Bathroom Before Shower

We were gifted a power shower by my very generous mother-in-law (now you know what to get the couple who have everything, it was one of the most useful gifts we ever got!) about 3 years ago, but not able to fit it myself and not really knowing how to go about getting it fitted, it sat in my attic while I procrastinated. Finally with no excuses left I began to ring around. Eventually I found a company that supplied the showers, but they only fitted them officially if the shower was bought from them, however unofficially one of their fitters was happy to do a nixer. It took him only a few hours to hook it up, and the result was a real life changer. I cannot believe I spent 5 years putting it off!

Once the shower was in place, the next thing that could require the tiles to be removed was the leak from the bath taps. In order to prevent leaks springing between the edge of the bath and the wall, the last row of tiles holds in place a small lip which curls under the bath edge. This is then sealed with putty. So if we needed to remove the bath to repair the leak, then we would need to remove the last row of tiles, in order to allow us to remove the bath. (It’s ok, I did not know any of this either, my Dad explained when I asked him to come around and look at the leak).

An investigation of the leak revealed that the leak was coming from the point where the bath and wall joined behind the taps, the putty seal had disintegrated. Now, by rights, if a professional was coming in to fix this leak, they would by default do a professional job of it; remove tiles, bath, replace tiles, refit bath, seal the whole lot up again, all while the cost kept racking up. My Dad, with many years of experience under his belt, suggested that before we* (*read he) tried all that, how about we try just putting a huge lump of putty over the problem area to see if that could plug the problem. If it didn’t work, we could just remove it and fix the problem the long way. So he put the putty in place and we waited to see if the leak disappeared. Several showers later, with no evidence of drips coming through the ceiling downstairs, we declared the short cut a success.


Bathroom Vent

This left the last ‘structural’ issue: the wind tunnel. Now, to be clear I am not normally in favour of plugging vents. These are safety features required by law for a reason, and removing one is the equivalent of removing the safety switch from a lawn mower or gun. However, in our bathroom, which measures a mere 3m*4m, there are three orifices through which oxygen can enter and carbon dioxide/monoxide can leave (the vent, door and window), so I didn’t think it was a massive issue to bring that number down to two.

I decided to use expanding foam for this task because it fills the void with a nonporous substance, but it is not permanent. So should we decide to sell the house in future, or if we need to open the vent for some other reason in the future, this will be possible without much work.

I removed the front grate of the vent, gave a little clean (but being terrified of spiders not too deep of a clean) and then sprayed in the foam. The thing to be careful about when using this foam is that it will continue to expand through every open space. So, if you fill the vent entirely from front to back, the foam will go through the grill of the vent in the exterior wall, and this will look terrible from the outside. It is easy to fix, you just need to get a ladder tall enough to reach the vent and cut it off from the outside, but, most people don’t have a ladder that will safely reach this height. So the best thing to do is just be careful how you use the foam. Try to put it just to the front of the vent, and only fill about a third of the hole. You can always top up the foam when it hardens if needed.

Once you have sprayed in enough foam, to prevent it bubbling out of the vent in the interior, place a sheet of cardboard or paper over the orifice, held in place with masking-tape. Leave the foam overnight to harden. The next morning the foam had pushed the cardboard slightly away from the wall, leaving the foam layer slightly proud of the wall. To remedy this I simply cut a sliver off with a carving knife, the same way you would cut a slice from a loaf of bread. I then replaced the vent to cover up the unsightly foam.


Stage two of the project will be selecting the colours to paint the wall and tiles.

Win a Stove worth €799!



Guest Blog: Mark from Heritage Stoves (with a competition!)


As autumn leaves start to fall and the chill of winter looms, it’s time to think about heating our homes. More and more people are turning to multi fuel stoves as a cost-effective heating solution, as they burn inexpensive fuels like smokeless coal, seasoned peat briquettes and eco-friendly dried wood.


Mark Dineen from Heritage Stoves, Irelands leading supplier of Multi Fuel Stoves, has kindly put together some useful tips that ought to be considered when purchasing a stove, and some advice on the best type of stove to suit your needs.


AAAANNND … (drum roll please) …. he brings with him an awesome competition to win a Belleek 11.5kw room heater stove worth €799! How exciting. More details on how you can enter below. But first ….


A Guide to Multi Fuel Stoves


Before you rush out and buy a hot new stove, here are some points to consider:


  1. Make sure you ask a professional to clean your chimney/flue before installation. Clean your chimney at least once per year particularly prior to reusing your open fire or stove.


  1. Consider the style of stove that you prefer. Stoves can be inset, double sided, or freestanding; room heater or boiler stove (more about these choices later). Also, some stoves are available in a range of enamelled colours, adding certain “wow” to any living space.


  1. If you are considering burning wood make sure you have a plentiful supply. Consider the environment and use wood from a recyclable source. Many suppliers sell wood from managed forests helping the carbon cycle and thus our environment.


  1. Fuel should be fully dry for maximum efficiency. Fuel with high moisture content can result in a build-up of tar in both the stove and chimney, which could ultimately shorten the life of your flue and appliance.


  1. When placing fresh fuel into your stoves firebox, cautiously open the door, as air rushing in can cause smoke to leave the chamber, riddle the grate to reduce ash build up, place the new fuel on top of the embers.


  1. Avoid allowing a build-up of ashes in the ash pan, as doing so will result in the grate burning out prematurely. Clean the ash pan daily and regularly check inside the stove to ensure there is no build-up of ash or soot, particularly around the flue collar.


  1. It is a requirement that adequate air ventilation is provided to ensure plenty of air for combustion, if a vent does not exist in the room where the stove is being installed, one must be provided.


  1. DO NOT burn rubbish and household waste or plastic in your stove. Burning plastics can create caustic fumes that are harmful to people and their lungs. Also, the soot created from burning garbage can be very sticky and cause rapid buildup of creosote and other deposits in the flue. This makes cleaning the chimney more difficult and sometimes more expensive.


Which stove will serve you best depends on your home and needs


  1. Room Heater Stoves

These are a cost effective method of delivering sustainable, dependable heat all year round and if fuelled with wood, are an eco-friendly low carbon heating system. They are safe and easy to use.


  1. Inset Stoves

These are best way to utilise your existing fireplace. Inset stoves are tidy and inconspicuous and do not impose on your living room space. They add character and charm to your home by maximising the efficiency of a stove while retaining the cosiness of your fireplace. They are particularly recommended if room space is limited.


  1. Boiler Stoves

A duel-function stove which provides you with home heat and domestic hot water, they offer practicality, efficiency and economic value, while creating an aesthetically pleasing addition to your home decor.




*** Competition Time ***

Black Belleek Enamel 1200px


To celebrate winter, Heritage Stoves, Ireland’s leading supplier of solid fuel stoves, is offering A Home Made By Committees’ readers the chance to WIN a Belleek 11.5kw room heater stove worth €799.


All you have to do is Like this post and share or retweet this link, and, drop an email to letting us know, if you won, where you would install this stove and why you would like it. Humour, as with all things, will be king here, unless you have a particularly heart-warming tale. Closing Date 20th October with the winner to be announced on 24th of October.


Heritage Stoves, one of Ireland’s leading suppliers of multi fuel stoves, offer a wide range of appliances to suit your needs. For more information and a list of stockists nationwide visit



Upcycling: Tee-Shirt Cushions

C29. t-shirt 1

The style of my office is eclectic and offbeat. I created a bench of sorts from storage boxes and wanted some cushions for the top that suited the style of the room (funky, rocky, edgy, everything U2 are not) but didn’t break the bank (because cushions of these sort can be crazily expensive).

At the same time I was trying to de-clutter my wardrobe as we headed from summer back to winter. There were a few tee-shirts with either great images or slogans that I didn’t want to throw out, but at the same time really could not be worn anymore.

The two problems led to a beautiful solution: upcycling the tee-shirts to make customised cushions.

Note: I was also updating my husband’s wardrobe who still doesn’t see the problem with wearing tee-shirts with holes in them. I don’t know why men’s tee-shirts are generally cooler than women’s but they just are. I spotted a few in his pile that he could live without and would make awesome cushions – finders, keepers (or more accurately: finders, cut-up-until-no-longer-wearable-as-tee-shirts, keepers)

C29. t-shirt 2


For this project you will need

  • Sewing machine, thread, needles, scissors etc
  • Backing cloth – I upcycled an old sheet and used this
  • Old Tee-shirts
  • Cushion stuffing. I actually recycled a flat pillow I was going to throw out, but you can buy this in Hickeys or the like very cheaply.

C29. t-shirt 3

The process

  1. Decide the size of cushion you would like. This will be dictated by the size of the tee-shirt you have; bigger the tee-shirt the bigger the cushion – that is why men’s tee-shirts are so useful. The measurements below are for a finished cushion about 45cm*40cm. I was going for an unfinished look, the beauty of which is that the is that the measurements do not have to be too exact here.
  2. Cut out 3 squares about 45cm*40cm from you backing cloth. I had a piece of cloth that was 137cm*77cm, so I just cut this into six equal parts – waste not, want not. They ended up 47cm*40cm.
  3. Cut out design from tee-shirt. This can be any size so long as it is less than about 40cm*35cm. This will leave enough room for the boarders.
  4. Place the tee-shirt section between two backing sections. Pin in place
  5. Sew around the boarder of the piece of the tee-shirt you want to be seen.
  6. Cut out front facing backing cloth to reveal pattern (love this reveal moment!).
  7. Take third backing square and sew a 1cm double hem around the edge. Don’t worry too much about being perfect – it is meant to look rough. Remember to leave a gap in the bottom corner to add stuffing.
  8. Add stuffing. Sew gap closed
  9. Voila – customised cute cushion

C29. t-shirts 4



C29. t-shirts 5

Entertaining on a Budget


Someday I will have a house built for entertaining. That is what I covet in a house, a lovely open space for the throwing of dinner or cocktail parties and a kitchen with a very big cooker. I remember a scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks is dealing with a client (he is an architect if I remember correctly) and she is a little freaked out as her kitchen may not accommodate a fridge big enough to take platters if she was throwing a party. I think we are meant to take Tom’s side in this scene and find the lady a wee bit mad in her pestering of poor bereaved Tom however I know where she is coming from. That is the only scene in that movie that struck a chord with me, I too have known the pain of trying to fit too many things into a tiny fridge. Fridge Jenga I call it and it is a pain.

When you live in a rented house with a tiny kitchen and small rooms entertaining can be difficult but it can be done. Forward planning is the thing. I have managed to squeeze 12 people in to my wee dining room and feed them with great success.

The first thing to do is make a guest list. Sit down and think how many people you can realistically fit in your space. If you can’t fit everyone around your table then think buffet or drinks and nibbles.

Then plan your menu, be realistic about your budget. Do not go broke feeding other people. You should also be realistic about what you can cook in your kitchen. You don’t want guests arriving at your door to find a host seething with suppressed rage because you have spent all day in a hot kitchen goddammit and everything has gone awry. Look at cooking times. See how many rings you will need on the stove, how many things will need to go in your oven. Time everything, if you are planning slow cooked pork but you also want roasted vegetables will this work if you only have one oven and you need it at a low heat for the meat. I am deeply envious of my Mum’s three oven range and her five ring hob, I could go mad in a kitchen like that but I have to work with what I have and what I have is a 50″ wide single oven.

This might seem elementary but you should also look at your cooking equipment and your serving dishes, cook with what you have for what you have. If you have one pot and one frying pan then choose your recipe accordingly. The thing to remember is that your guests, if they are right thinking people, will be happy to have been invited into your home and given a meal, they are more likely to be interested in the conversation and the craic than in the actual food. I am not saying don’t try to impress to the best of your ability but you should not make yourself miserable by trying to produce something amazing that while not beyond your capabilities as a cook is beyond your current resources.

Invest in a few things. I have been buying plain white plates and side plates from Dunnes Stores over the past few years. They are cheap and as they keep the same design, easy to replace if you smash one. You don’t need to have matching plates, mismatched plates can look great on a table just make sure you have enough for all the guests. The other thing I invested in was a €50 folding picnic table, this little gem slides neatly in behind our couch when it isn’t being used. Our actual dining table is small and round and just about fits four people but it does fit the dining room. When it is up the picnic table takes up the whole room but since it is only for a few hours it’s grand.

Instead of investing in a proper tablecloth as these can be ridiculously dear I went in to The Woollen Mills, now alas closed, and invested in a few yards of fabric. I got a very inexpensive length of cotton gingham that could be boil washed in case of wine or food spillages for less than €10. Folding chairs are always useful if you have the storage space. Never be afraid to borrow from people if you know they have a few bits you can use. Just make sure to return everything in good nick. There is nothing worse than loaning something only to have it returned damaged or worse still, not returned at all, do not be that person.

Use your imagination and be creative with what you have. I have quite the collection of glass candle holders and yogurt jars that I have carefully cleaned and now use for deserts. A friend kept bringing fancy lemonade in pop top glass bottles when they visited and these have also been scrubbed clean of labels and I use them to serve water. Any interesting jar is kept for flower arrangements. I will gratefully accept things I like when people are doing clear outs, I am not too proud to take used things, one man’s rubbish is another treasure.
Make sure your house is tidy before you start cooking. Once you are deep in dinner prep you will not have time to hoover or mop floors. Clean your bathroom, for the love of all that is holy please do this, put out clean towels, light a scented candle and put some flowers in there. People will be in and out of that room all night so make it a nice place to be.

Clear your entertaining space, move stuff in to bedrooms if needs must. People should feel free to move about without fear of tripping over clutter. This will also make your room look bigger. Set up a drinks station so people don’t keep wandering in to your tiny kitchen, you will need all the space in there for cooking.

Do buy some flowers. Virginia Woolf got the opening of a book out of the importance of getting flowers for a party. Don’t break the bank but go to Aldi or some other reasonably priced store and buy a few bunches of flowers and then break those bunches down and fill a few jars. Raid your garden, if you have one, for some foliage. Dress your table, light some candles put on some music and create the mood.


It isn’t important to have the most expensive cheese or wine or the best plates and crystal. Good food, well cooked, even if it is just a bowl of pasta and whatever wine was on special offer that day, served picnic style on your sitting room floor will make your guests happy as long as you present it with confidence and grace.



Let me stress that I am not a bully. I have never intentionally harassed or bullied anyone in my life. On top of that I have received my fair share of hassle for defending someone else by standing up to their bullies. However, I must be truthful and say from the start, that this is an article about a plan that was conceived and executed with the sole purpose of mocking something else; something that has never offended or hurt me in any way, but only because I saw a weakness and pounced. I’m not proud of the initial intention, but there we have it.


The victim was Hotpress Magazine. An innocent publication, of some standing nationally, which covers diverse and interesting topics in the genres of music and politics, and does so in a professional and comprehensive manner. So far so good. What could my problem possibly be?


It’s the name. The name is terrible. Now I know where they were going with it: Hotpress – hot of the press, new and cutting edge, dynamic. And I know how hard it is to come up with a good name for your work (see title of blog). But at the end of the day, it’s an Irish magazine for Irish people, and there is only one thing that Irish people associate with the word hotpress and it is not a Music and Politics Publication, it is the big boiler in your house that heats your water and warms your clothes. Nothing could be less rock’n’roll than a bloody big boiler. I’m sorry but that’s the harsh truth.


So in order to mock this in my own little way, I brought the two of them together- what if my hotpress (the boiler)released a self-titled publication for other hotpresses? What would the headlines be? What would be their specific area of interest? What would be breaking news or cutting edge?


The result: a hotpress door with aspirations of journalism.




Decoupage (and not décolletage which is a very different thing – still fun, but in a different way) is the act of gluing little bits of paper to objects with a glue that turns transparent when dry. I thought this would be an excellent way of making a door which looked a little like a pop magazine cover (and a little like a threatening ransom note – just so Hotpress Magazine know where they stand).



  • Old Magazines
  • Paint & paintbrush for background colour
  • Decoupage glue
  • Varnish to finish
  • Space to lay a door down on the ground, and be able to leave it there for a few days



If you have to buy the magazines this could get very expensive – I had my friends and family collect them for a few months and very quickly I had more than enough.

The decoupage glue is really expensive – I used decopatch that cost me e7 for 70g (a tiny pot) but in saying that, I did the whole door for about half a pot, so the stuff really spreads.

It was the cost of the decopatch varnish that pushed me back to B&Q for ordinary varnish. I double checked on the back of the door that clear varnish meant clear – sometimes it can have a slightly yellow hue.



HOURS. Hours and hours and hours; the cutting of the letters, sticking them all on first with blue-tack and then with the glue – hours. I did not do this project start to finish in one sitting as you will read – most of it was done in spurts in front of the telly over a few months.


The Work:

  1. I started by taking down the door, being careful with hinges and screws as I would need these to put the door back up later.


  1. I drew a rough outline of what I wanted to have on the door – this let me know what letters I would need from the magazines. Mimicking Hotpress Magazine radio ads I decided upon:

“2013 Edition of Hotpress Magazine Issue 505

Readers Inane Views on Life, Drugs, Sex, Church, Law, Society, Welfare & Cutlery”

  • From Lovely Lacies to Skid Row: Underpants a gritty reality
  • Construction Underwear: How to build up your portfolio
  • Arranged at Birth: Twin Sets on Predeterminism, Partners and Parents
  • Custodians of the Fun Bags: Bras tell an uplifting tale of life up top
  • Disappeared Partners: Socks tell a harrowing tale of separation, abandonment and loss
  • Life in the Barracks: Toilet paper on waiting for deployment to live combat
  • High Impact: the rise and fall of cheap suspenders
  • Power behind the throne: Hot Water Tank tells of life in the system
  • Cleaning up their act: Towelling in today’s political theatre
  • Airing their laundry in a half-way house: hoodies try to change perceptions
  • Fresh Starts & Scraping the Slate Clean: Hot pants dish the dirt on festival season


I also needed a political message. The hotpress with its principle role in laundry and household chores is a female dominated space. Despite this being an era where gender roles are often mingled and, as blur would say, boys can be girls and girls can be boys, 80% of household chores are still carried out by women. What could best represent my discomfort and yet resigned acceptance of this fact? A modern version of a Sheela-Na-Gig, that’s what.


Sheela-Na-Gigs are found in Ireland in prominent positions on Medieval Churches and Castles. In a society which is often assumed (perhaps incorrectly) to have been male dominated, these crude carvings of women exposing their vulva remind us that real power is often wielded invisibly. Society is made up of two halves, there have always been two genders, and while outward appearances can suggest the dominance of one, what goes on behind closed doors (or in this case behind 3ft thick stone walls) can reveal a very different reality.


So to represent this I chose a collection of women who in their own way represent this idea of unexpected power.


  • Jackie Onassis – often assumed to be the weak-willed wife of a cheating president, however this woman continues to have an influence on the decorum of women in the media today
  • Alien Queen – self-explanatory, while representing the outside influences of powerful women on Irish society
  • Super Woman – again, in a time when women were told to ‘shut-up and sit down’ this crime busting female was out there doing the business (albeit in scantly underwear)
  • Queen Elizabeth – despite her role as a mere figure head, she has resounding influence in the society which support her
  • Sluts – like it or not, these manipulative be-atches can wield incredible power in certain communities
  • Maggie T – like her or hate her, she was the first and so far only female Prime Minster. You have to respect that.
  • Kate Middleton – again often seen as the quiet, dutiful wife, but while she hold the baby, she holds the King. I think there is more than meets the eye here.
  • Mummified Cleopatra – again, a power house in her day, whose legend is still with us
  1. Once I realised how big a space a door really is in decoupage terms, I decided to paint it a background colour to fill in some space and to allow the decoupage really stand out. I choose a new-fangled paint I found on one of my many trips around B&Q that was silver and was meant to look like it was hammered when dry – very rock and roll I thought. Unfortunately it just dries silver. Yes if you look really, really hard you can see the hammered impression, but not if you just walk by the door. But still I liked the silver colour so it stayed.


  1. I started cutting out letters and pictures from the magazines


  1. I stuck them all in place using blue tack, so I could get an impression of how everything looked before committing to it with glue


  1. Put back up the door to live with the draft version for a few days to make sure I liked it.
  2. Days went by, and then weeks. We had a good few visitors over to the house and all commented that while it looked great (what else were they going to say with me standing right there) they found it hard to read. I took the feedback on board and had a little think. I realised that it would be easier to read if there was a break between the different headlines.


  1. I started to move the letters down to give the headlines the break.


Move letters down to make space
Move letters down to make space
  1. Once finished I lived with this for a few days, which again turned into months, then I decided that it was time to tackle the glue.While the vast majority of images and letters were from glossy magazines, some of them were from newspapers and some were laser-ink printed – I was not entirely sure if these would run when I applied the glue …. Only one way to find out.. They were fine (breath sigh of relief).

Hotpress10. And finally I varnished to seal it all in for years to come.