28 February 2009

bathroom progress

Up early today for Rob the plasterer, who this week has done the ceiling and walls of our third bedroom plus the walls on the landing and down the stairs. It looks great and makes such a difference.

Unfortunately Dom got caught up early on removing the radiator, skirting, light fitting in the bedroom before Rob could plaster, and then he went out for plumbing supplies, so progress on the bathroom in the morning was slow.

In the meantime, I chose and ordered a towel radiator and blinds. We are going for white powder coated aluminum venetian blinds for the bathroom window which should be waterproof enough to cope with the shower spray. We always order our blinds from web-blinds.com which is the web arm of Hilary's Blinds. Any size you want, good range of colours and styles to choose from, quick to deliver and very reasonably priced.

At around lunch time we made the fatal error of 'popping out' to B&Q, Wickes, Tilemates and Screwfix and even though all these shops are in probably no more than a 10 mile radius, the traffic was so bad it took us 3 hours to get round. Very frustrating.

We did order our tiles, shown below, but as we were due to go out with friends in the evening, Dom had little over an hour to get any work done.


27 February 2009

like christmas

Our Grohe goodies arrived today. Well they arrived yesterday in fact, but the neighbours had them. Great service. We ordered from www.h-i-e.co.uk. Best prices on the web for what we wanted and our local plumbing supplier couldn't price match anywhere near. It's a shame, as we'd like to support local businesses, but when the difference is hundreds, the web makes too much sense.

Grohe goodies arrive

23 February 2009

buying the brassware

We are definitely aiming for a premium look to the bathroom and we're not afraid to splash the cash to achieve it. Yesterday we ordered our Grohe brassware comprising bath/shower thermostatic mixer valve, basin mixer tap, bath spout (to come out of the wall rather than having conventional bath taps), cistern unit, flush button wall plate and a shower hose and rail.

Grohe is an award winning brand and their Tenso range is our favourite - clean lines, slight curvature - very tasty indeed.

Grohe Tenso brassware

22 February 2009


First job this morning was to get the new bath in place so Dom could accurately measure up the boxed-out area at the tap end of the bath where the shower pipes were going to be hidden.

Bath was carefully removed from packaging, legs unscrewed from their packaging position, plastic housing for legs screwed into wooden frame, metal leg put into housing at tap end of bath, metal leg put into housing at bottom end of bath… wait a minute, leg has been pushed in as far as it will go and screw hole in leg does not line up with screw hole in plastic housing, therefore screw cannot be secured and leg is useless.

Cue lots of swearing.

We’ll have to ring the bathroom showroom first thing tomorrow and they’ll probably refer us to Ideal Standard. What a shower.

Anyway, not wanting to be held back Dom carried on regardless and started building the boxed-out frame. First he needed to move the bath pipes to the side so he could get the frame in position and re-plumb them so they could still be used for the shower.

Then he started constructing the frame.

So far so good.

Building the frameThe part-constructed frame for concealing shower pipes

21 February 2009

getting plastered

Rob the plasterer came round this morning. Three cups of tea and a beef sandwich later, the ceiling was smooth and the window reveals were neatly boarded.

While Rob was here, Dom went off to Gurney and White for plumbing supplies, then I went to Tilemates and brought back four tile samples to muse over.

During our Friday evening bathroom planning session we had made some more design decisions and realised that we needed the new bath to be able to move forward with the job this weekend. The suite was not being delivered until Monday, but as the showroom was in Hounslow we could make the hour long drive round there today to pick it up. So that's what we did.

Two and a half hours later it was 5pm(these things take so long!) and Dom carried on working until late in the evening: removing the old bath; moving the sink out of the way and re-plumbing it for use; and getting out the angle grinder to take off the last of the tiles that had been behind the sink pipes. It was now a blank canvas for the morning.

Freshly plastered ceilingBlank canvas

15 February 2009

peach destruction

This morning we did MORE thinking and re-thinking about the bathroom: planning, drawing, measuring and agonising over how we could overcome our furniture problem... then finally we had a breakthrough.

We are now abandoning the idea of using furniture to conceal the sink pipes and cistern and will instead conceal them by fully tiling that area. We had become hung-up on using furniture because of the storage, but in considering alternatives, we realised that the pain wasn't worth the gain, as we wouldn't actually achieve much useful storage space.

As well as the tiled toilet and basin area, the new plan involves boxing out the length of the wall above the sink and toilet and behind the shower. At one end this will conceal the shower pipes, then in the middle over the sink and loo we will put a large mirror (with room behind for heating if desired), and at the other end we will build a flush door in the mirror to give a cabinet just deep enough to house all our bathroom utensils.

Once we had this plan clear, it was as if we had pushed the big red start button. Dom could now get on and do some of these jobs straight away, so it was time to get cracking (literally).
First it was off to B&Q to buy plasterboard, board adhesive, wood for batoning the boxed out wall, a dust mask, protective clothing, buckets, plaster stirrer and as we saw it, a combined shower extractor and light.

Then it was back home to destroy the evil peach room.

Dom put on his protective gear, armed himself with his mini angle grinder, shut the door and went in for the kill.

A few hours later and the toilet is gone, the carpet is out, the sink and bath are loosened and the necessary tiles have been sawn off from the wall complete with their plasterboard backing. It is now pretty much a blank canvas, ready for us to make progress in the evenings this week.

14 February 2009

suite talkin' on valentine's day

We spent a wonderful Valentine's day trawling the local bathroom and tile shops - it was so romantic!

No seriously, it had to be done, and with our end of March target at the forefront of our minds, we knew that we needed to make decisions on supplies and quick.

Bathstore proved fruitless, Wickes also. At B&Q we bought wood stain and a piece of wood for testing (in case our search for dark, almost black furniture is not successful and Dom has to make it bespoke). Then onto Tilemates in Crayford where we found a gorgeous marble mosaic tile for our feature wall and took a sample board away of a large oblong travertine-look tile - I'm aiming for a natural stone spa look.

On our travels we came across a bathroom showroom called Raymac, and investigated furniture there to no avail. Then we made it to Beautiful Bathrooms in Welling where we found the perfect coloured furniture, perfect fit, but wrong matching sink and no way of adapting it. We did spot a sink and loo we liked though, and have since come home and placed the order for an Ideal Standard Concept Sphere basin, wall hung WC with soft close seat, and a matching bath.

Our final stop of the day was Sidcup Tile King, where we think we have found a better travertine-look tile and have ordered a sample to be in on Tuesday.

Seven hours later, back at home we've tried out our wood dye, ordered the full bathroom suite and Dom is now carrying on with the kitchen tiling - cleaning the tiles of excess cement, before being able to grout.

Ideal Standard Concept Sphere basin, wall hung WC and bath

10 February 2009

bathroom planning

Tonight we began planning the bathroom. The impetus is my family coming to stay for my birthday at the end of March. Can we tear out the whole bathroom and finish it in less than 6 weeks (taking into account we are away skiing for a week somewhere in between)?

This is as good a time as any, and we can't leave it much longer, it is now 20 years old with the most disgusting peach suite and tiles, and a grimy peach carpet! YUK!

Things to do? Well...

- first we need to have a plasterer come in and skim over the Artex on the ceiling
- we will tile over the tiles rather than rip them out, (apart from around the window where we will need to completely remove to stop encroachment)
- we need to choose wall and floor tiles and a new suite, (I'm thinking a calming limestone spa effect and a white suite)
- we already have a fantastically powerful shower, but we need to conceal the pipes so the wall will have to be boxed out here
- then we're keen on a concealed toilet cistern and concealed sink pipes so we are planning to build a frame to house a wall hung toilet and a semi-recessed sink (if we could find a ready-made unit to fit the space we would use one)
- toilet and sink need plumbing in
- bath needs to be plumbed in, tiled and sealed over a weekend so we don't lose the ability to shower for more than a day or so
- wall and floor tiling needs to be completed
- towel radiators need to be re-hung and re-connected to central heating
- not to mention accessories, shaving sockets, mirror, extractor fan, lighting...

We have approximately 108 hours if we work 12 hour days at the weekends and 144 hours if we can manage 2 hours a night after work for an average of 4 nights a week!

We are not averse to getting people in such as tilers and cabinet makers, but organising and briefing these people also takes time.

Some inspiration...

09 February 2009


Mmmmmm, the house is filled with the delicious aroma of baked granola. The staple breakfast dish in our household is plain yoghurt, banana, fruit, nuts and seeds, so making a granola with all our sprinkles in it will save us precious seconds in breakfast-assembly-time as we are rushing to get out of the door in the mornings, and it tastes good too.

The recipe is from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food, but there are loads of granola recipes on the web - it's pretty basic stuff.


08 February 2009

kitchen tiling

Good progress on the kitchen tiles made this weekend. They are on, all but a handful, so the next job is cleaning, then grouting. Let's hope this is the start of a DIY roll!

I spent the weekend sewing three curtain panels into one. It was good to get back on the sewing machine.


04 February 2009

blogging: i have company

Despite being very proud of where I work and what I do, I made the decision long ago not to use this blog to write about my life at work. Why? Well, I have a healthy fear of being dooced,
dooced: to lose one’s job because of one’s website
but I'd also like to think there's more to me than my job, and it's that part of me that I want to write about. However, fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

The company I work for has, in the last year, set up an internal company blog, (on its intranet). I like to think that it was influenced by a presentation I made to the MD at an innovation day at the end of 2007 at which I argued the case for the company to utilise the power of the blog.

The blog has proved quite popular. We currently have around 10,000 employees and of those probably around 2,000 have the ability to post. Strangely enough, I was reluctant to do so at first: I wanted what I said to be worth saying.

But now, I don't have a choice, as the MD has just asked me to be a regular guest blogger. So, I find myself in a situation I never expected. I always intended to keep my work life and blogging life separate, but it's work that is now bringing them together.

Now, I have professional obligations, I will actually meet my readers, what I say will be scrutinised and commented on by my colleagues, *shudder*. I wonder, could I be dooced for doing my job? I have been trusted with a fairly free rein and my employer has proved it is not "blogophobic", so hopefully not.

But there's no denying that the pressure is on, and I really need to think of something decent to write, and this is not the time for writers block.

03 February 2009

peter is dead

He suffered from a degenerative disorder known as melting. It was all quite sudden. He looked weak when we left for work this morning, and was unable to stand up straight. His condition worsened throughout the day and when I found him, he had lost his head. It was too late for a transplant, there was nothing I could do.

R.I.P. Peter. Have fun in the big snow covered garden in the sky.

Peter is dead

02 February 2009

snow day

The deepest snow I can ever remember was in 1989 or 1990. I remember it because I was only 11 or 12 years old, a pupil at Coates Endowed Middle School, Ponteland, and the snow on the school field nearly came to the top of my wellies. I remember everyone making snowmen in break times and falling in the snow to make snow angels. Since then, every time snow has been forecast, I have always hoped for it to be as thick as that year, but it has never materialised. Until today.

After nearly twenty years of waiting and hoping, the snow is coming down so thick and heavy that the whole of London has come to a stand still and joy of joys I have been prevented from making it into the office. Dom is stranded too.

That doesn't mean we can't work, because we can work remotely on our laptops, (which, of course, we have been doing very diligently), but it does mean that in our lunch break we have been able to go out and play...

Starting the roll in the back gardenSteady...Welcome to the world snow manDom and the snow manAnd now, I would like to introduce to you, Peter the Snowman.

My name is Peter!