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.

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Jewellery Organisation without a Scout Knots Badge

JO 5

Every woman has been there … you are rushing to leave the house, last thing is to throw on a quick necklace to finish the look, only to discover that the one necklace that suits this outfit has become entangled in every other decent chain you own. The only detangled choices are some plastic thing you got free with a magazine that the other necklaces don’t want to be seen dead next to, or a nineties number that really should not see the light of day again. In panic I inevitably shove the whole tangled mess into my handbag so I can pull them apart on the bus, but this leaves me with one, probably bent, chain that I want to wear and fifty extra swirling around the bottom of my bag, causing unnecessary weight and coiling like a boa constrictor around my purse and phone.

 

After one particularly irritating incident where the bus journey was not long enough to detangle the one chain I wanted, I swore I could come up with a better storage solution that shoving all my costume jewellery into a box under my bed. And I did. I invested in two simple jewellery holders from Pennies. They were two sided, had little pockets and could be hung up. Alas, as Roy Walker would say ‘it was a good answer.. but it’s not right’.

They were too small to fit all my jewellery in one pocket each, so I ended up putting two or three pieces in together, which inevitably tangled up together defeating the point of the change, or one big piece hid a small piece and I forgot I owned it. Also, being two-sided meant that I never looked at the pieces on the reverse side, and ending up wearing the same pieces time and time again.

 

So, I decided I need a customised solution… a jewellery organiser that would hang on the back of my closet door and display all my jewellery at once, without allowing it to become entangled … queue the DIY music (vaguely similar to the MacGyver theme tune played on homemade bag pipes – music that inspires you to finish whatever you are doing fast so that the horrible sound will stop).

C31. JO 3

You will need;

  • Sewing Machine, thread, needles, scissors
  • Cloth – light but durable. I chose cotton.
  • Cloth – smaller piece to reinforce top of organiser. I chose canvas because it is strong and I had some already left over from another project, but you could chose anything that can withstand weight.
  • Ribbon
  • Buttons – large for preference
  • Hammer and Nails (for the strong) or Staple Gun (for the clever and lazy)

C31. JO 2

How to;

  1. First things first, get out the sewing machine, blow the dust off it and check it still works.
  2. Select a fabric. I have a box where I store random pieces of fabric that I use for this type of situation. You will need something light but durable – I choose an old sheet that I had chopped other pieces from.
  3. Measure the door that you are going to hang the final piece on (and, I say from experience, don’t cheat and just measure the door closest to you at the moment – not all doors were created equal). Add 5cm around the boarder to allow for hemming.
  4. Cut fabric to size. I doubled the measurements and folder my fabric over to make it twice as thick. This is only necessary if you have a lightweight fabric.
  5. Hem 2cm around edges.
  6. Take stronger fabric and sew it to top of organiser – this will prevent the lighter fabric from tearing under the weight of jewellery.
  7. Take ribbon and lay them out across organiser to choose positions. I placed my ribbon with a 1cm gap at the top and graduated this to a 3cm gap at the bottom to allow for different sized jewellery. I also took the opportunity to recycle pieces of ribbon that we used in the menus for our wedding. Waste not, want not.
  8. Pin ribbon in place.
  9. Now, starting at the top of your sheet, sew across the ribbons from top to bottom at even intervals (depending on the size of your organiser). This will give strength to the ribbon and stop it from sagging in the centre when you add the jewellery.
  10. Sew some buttons if you like so you can hang rather than hook some pieces.
  11. Measure against door to double check size still correct. Hem boarder to give finished appearance.
  12. Nail or staple to door, ensuring that the top and sides are very secure.
  13. Hang jewellery and voila, the ability to get dressed and accessorise without earning your Scouts Knots badge.

C31. JO 4

 

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

Sales Season & the Elusive Matching Pillow Case

 C30. pillowcase 3

Sales season has started, and, if like me your household budget dictates that you must wait for the Sales to update things like bed linen, then this is a time of rapidly fluctuating emotions.

The excitement of the potential finds as you make your way to the department store nice and early. You have probably being doing recon missions over the previous few weeks, so you know what they had in stock and what might potentially be in the Sale.

The moment of ecstasy when you find the bed sheet that you are looking for in the correct size and colour marked down to €5.

The moment of horror when you realise at there are no pillow cases to match.

You frantically search again, scanning all piles, looking under and behind stands where experienced savvy customers may have hidden gems until they get a chance to come in and purchase them. Hawk-eyed you look at what the other customers have in their hands in case one is holding the elusive treasure unbeknownst to themselves, and might choose to put it down at any stage, giving you a chance to swoop in. In vain you might even try and ask the staff, who look at you like this is your first tour of duty and say ‘everything we have is out’.

What do you do? It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, a crossroads in your story:

  • Do you leave the bargain sheets behind, because really they are useless without matching pillow cases?
  • Do you buy the sheets and then search every other branch of the shop for the coveted cases, which takes HOURS and you may not even find them?
  • Or do you simply buy an extra sheet and make your own pillow cases at some point?

If you chose door number three then here are some helpful instructions:

C30. pillowcase 1

You will need:

  • Sewing machine, thread, needles, scissors etc
  • Sheet from which pillow cases will be made.

In terms of bang-for-your-buck the Single Flat Sheet is the best choice of sheet, because it is usually the cheapest of the set and at 260cm*180cm if will give you 5 pillowcases. The Double and King Flat Sheet will only give 6 pillowcases, there is more waste material and they are usually more expensive than the Single.

 C30. pillowcase 2

 

Process

  1. Cut a rectangle 170cm*50cm
  2. Hem the short sides top and bottom 0.5cm
  3. On the right side of the fabric fold the top down 20cm and fold the bottom up 75cm. Pin in place. This is the shape of your pillowcase. Now turn inside out to begin sewing.
  4. Hem 1cm down the length on either side. Double hem to add strength.
  5. Voila, one matching pillowcase.
  6. Repeat for the number of pillow cases you need.

 

C31. JO 1