Reformatting Banksy

It was the bathroom project that would not end. In the length of time it took me to complete the work in this bathroom, away from the project I got pregnant, had a baby and returned to work. However, good work takes time, and this was the final flourish.

In case you have forgotten the regeneration of this bathroom from sticky pink to masculine grey involved Getting StartedPainting the Walls & Tiles and Adding Soft Furnishing and now in part four, I am adding back a little decoration to make this room less utilitarian.

For this project you will need

  • a poster of a familiar picture,
  • plastic frames (i used these from Ikea)
  • rules, set square, pencil and scissors

The idea is to rearrange a familiar image, the way a Rubik-cube is rearranged in the middle of a game. People viewing the mixed-up image will unconsciously try to rearrange it to make sense in their minds. There were toys like this in the 80’s/90’s called sliders.

Inspiration

I sought a familiar image that would fit my grey colour scheme and urban theme and found the Banksy picture of a maid sweeping dirt on a pathway underneath a wall.

Maid in progress

As the bathroom is a wet steamy place, the poster pieces will need to be encased in plastic, this is what the frames are for, and these are what will dictate the size the poster will be cut up into.

To decide how many frames I would need I laid them out on the wall, empty for the moment. I could of course measured the space, decided on the space between each, and calculated how many frames I needed, but this way leaves no room for mathematical errors.

The image I have works best if certain parts are whole, so for instance, I don’t want the maid’s face in two frames. To ensure this did not happen I laid out the frames on the poster and marked the layout.

Once the layout was established I measured the poster and laid out the grid using the ruler and set square. I then cut the poster into squares.

Each square was encased into a plastic frame which was then sealed with glue to help prevent the water getting in.

I then laid out the pattern of the image rearranged on the bed, to get a feel for how it would look.

I then stuck the frames to the wall. These hanging frames conveniently have a hole top and bottom so I choose to nail them to the wall, but you could use no more nails or something like that instead if you preferred.

And there you have it the final flourish in a bathroom project which is finally finished!

Maid in progress 2

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Bathroom Project Part Three: Soft Furnishings, Storage and Final Touches

Topics: DIY, Bathroom

 bathroom project

 

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 matched with snot green – 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 in, Part Two, was to change the colours. Now in Part 3, the final stage, it’s time to make this bathroom the throne room it should rightfully be.

Bathroom Grey

 

I started with storage. As you can see in the before pictures, previously storage in this room consisted of a wire rack beneath the sink and a towel rack beside it. This always made the room look messy because everything was on show, and, unlike the perfectly manicured bathrooms in the sales catalogue, in my bathroom the bottles are not all the same size or conveniently the same colour. However, the rack sufficed when we were just two, but now that our family is getting bigger, items that belong in a bathroom that I may have previously stored elsewhere must be returned and in general we will have more things in the bathroom.

The requirements for the storage was simple – I wanted enclosed units and as many of them as I could fit, without placing them unreasonably high. I also wanted to tackle the lighting issue with these units. Having ruled out under-shelf lighting because I was nervous working with electricity in the bathroom and didn’t want to pay an electrician, I settled on everything being mirrored. This meant that at least what light did come in through the window and from the ceiling light was bounced around the room for full effectiveness.

Initially I began my search with my old favourite, the masters of the small living space, Ikea, but I found their pieces either too big or too expensive. A scan of Woodies and B&Q gave the same result, however Argos came to my rescue. I managed to get two tall boy units small enough to fit in the space between the bath-and-toilet and then the toilet-and-sink. I also purchased three hanging units to hang on the wall at the end of the bath. Although as no trip to Ikea is ever wasted, I did pick up five hanging rails for towels (four for storing clean bath and hand towels , and one for the hand towel currently in use).  I also picked up a mirrored unit for over the sink.

Bathroom storage

Next thing I sourced was the shower curtain. Standard shower curtains are 200cm length, and even in Ikea, where everything is designed assuming it will be placed in a high ceilinged Swedish home, the longest was 200cm. I wanted a shower curtain that was at least 220cm length, because I wanted to hang the shower rail at ceiling height, thereby making the room appear taller ( or at least not making the ceiling appear lower because the rail was in eye line). A search of EBay found such the item, and in a very plain white. This meant that when not in use, I could tuck the shower curtain into an old elasticated bracelet and hang it from a hook stuck to the tiles, behind the tall boy. This prevents the curtain screening parts of the room, which makes the room appear smaller.

Bathroom Curtain and Towels

As with most bathrooms, the only soft furnishings are the towels. I was fortunate to be decorating at the time of a 70% sale in House of Frasier and made a killing on some luxury grey and white towels. These I hung in a checker-board fashion.

 

The last piece of decoration to be added was a Banksy poster above the toilet to add a splash of colour, which will be in Part Four.

 

 

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

 

 

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.

 

Before

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.