One room becomes two: the ensuite is shiny and new

For anyone who’s visited our house, or even read this blog, you might recall we had a very strange en-suite. It was long and thin, far too big (lengthwise) and quite a bit mouldy.

It was so green and awkward, with the loo in such a place it couldn’t be plumbed in (so as a result it was a very noisy macerator toilet…which was not pleasant), there was a tiny box-like shower, a floor I couldn’t get clean and it didn’t even have a door so we could shut it all away.

It was a happy day when we ripped out the toilet and sink, but it was another 18 months before we could actually get to do the work needed to turn it into anything you would be happy to spend time in.

Here is what it looked like when we moved in:

LOVELY en-suite (note: will not be green in future)

Here’s what it looked like when we ripped out the plumbing (and what we lived with – albeit a cleaned up version – for many, many months):

And it's gone!

And here’s what it looks like now – after turning one long room into two! A bathroom, and a wardrobe…

IMG_0436 IMG_0434

We always thought the en-suite was bigger than it needed to be, and planned to split it in two so we could build in some much-needed storage into our bedroom.

You might ask why we didn’t have it the other way round, and of course, we would have loved to have had the bathroom at the front with the window, but alas, that was not possible. The original worry we had when we saw the very original macerator toilet was that because our bedroom is at the front, we might not actually be able to plumb a toilet in. But, our builder was not put off and hoped that if he could get it as far back as possible, he could just about get the height and angle he needed to plumb a toilet in, essentially right in the middle of the upstairs.  And hence how we ended up with a window in our wardrobe (soon to be covered with a blind, fear not).

The reason we’d put this job back a bit, was due to the reorganisation needed to make the structure work. Because next to the where we wanted the bathroom to be, was the back bedroom – which essentially had to be taken apart in order to put the plumbing in. And then rebuilt. So – there was yet more dust.

Here’s the ensuite from start to finish…

Et Viola

It’s the one job we’d been most worried about, but I think it’s maybe the one that we are now most happy with. Now I stare at the clean lines and nice, bright space and have almost forgotten the mouldy green walls. It’s a real treat to have all my clothes in one place for the first time in over two years. And we have more than enough room in both rooms – and doors to close them all away!

Of course, we are not finished – now we have three bedrooms to be plastered and decorated…yet more skirting boards to add, doors to strip and paint, colours to pick, carpets to lay…but, for now, our main structural work is done in the house. For a long time we shouldn’t have to take any more walls down, or floors up…or put any more plumbing in. This is PROGRESS!

I have to recommend a few places and people that made the process easier:

  • We got all our bathroom fittings from TJR Bathrooms on Romford Road, just over in Manor Park. They were fantastic. For the downstairs bathroom we bought everything online, and then waited for various different delivery schedules, had no customer service and probably didn’t save any money in the end. At TJR they gave a great discount and got everything delivered to themselves first, checked it all and then once it was all there then delivered to us. The Sottini tap we chose was going to take too long to come so they recommended another similar one from Kohler. When there were any problems they identified them first and then replaced them, and kept us all up to date in the meantime – we couldn’t fault them. It was a great example of why shopping locally can be the best.
  • Yet again, our favourite tiling website came up trumps. Walls and Floors do next day delivery on sample tiles, which means you can get a few different things and end up with something you never thought you’d like – just as we did! I would definitely have turned my nose at the ‘wood-style’ tiles we ended up with if someone told me about them, but when I saw them online, I thought they were worth a look. Both me and my partner almost didn’t want to admit how much we liked them when they first came, and even my builder was like – “I would never have picked these, but, yeah, they’re REALLY nice”…I feel like we’re in a spa with a wooden deck – but slip-free and waterproof!
  • We love our builder. He’s helpful and ambitious, but also has a very high standard of his own. Lots of people always ask me for his details, but he’s insanely booked up with other jobs right now and only likes super local jobs that he can cycle to (he lives in Leytonstone). Obviously happy to pass on details but won’t post them here so get in touch if you have time to wait for him and live nearby.

And so, now we wait for the plasterer to be available to skim all the bedroom walls, then the decoration can begin upstairs. I’m hopeful to be done by Christmas, but as ever, I can’t imagine it!

It’s like when we first moved in giving ourselves that Christmas deadline, but thankfully this year we’re not hosting 11 people…

So, as it normally takes me about three months between posts, I’m hoping the next time I write, I’ll be saying – Merry Christmas, look at all my lovely bedrooms…(A Girl Can Dream).


Bathroom under construction: the foundations

So spring is upon us (as much as the weather doesn’t want us to believe it) and we are finally a few weeks into our bathroom reconstruction.

I say reconstruction as it really is that rather than renovation, in that very little that was there before will remain. Including four levels of previous flooring (!), the bathroom layout and a frustratingly too high window.

We are lucky, in that we have a separate toilet in the loft, and a shower cubicle in what’s left of our ensuite. So, we are surviving through the concrete, plumbing and dust. I would say we are approaching the halfway point…I hope.

So this was where we started:

Old bathroomAnd here’s the progress so far (click one to launch gallery)…

Basically none of the sexy stuff yet but actually the really important stuff is done. I missed out the day that our builder laid out our new bathroom suite with bits of the old one to find that if we had the sink we wanted, paired with the bath we wanted you might have to wash your hands from the bath…so we had to make some changes to our choices…

Instead of completely freestanding, we picked this Clearwater modern bath instead – which sits flush to one wall (to give us more space) but still has the desired effect, and I love it (well, I hope I will).

In place of our swanky sink (boo hoo, I am still sad about that…) we are going for a smaller traditional sink from Heritage, and matching toilet (our desired toilet was also too big…).

Our tiles were an easy choice, thankfully. Floor: Grey City Limestone Matt Tiles. Walls: White Gloss Smooth Brick Tiles. Fantastic service from Walls and Floors.

Next week: window gets finished, wall tiling starts…and our builders’ wife likely goes into labour, so we will be taking a rest for a week or two!


In other news, this month I’ve been reading:

A Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins. This thriller has dominated the charts here and in the US. I was definitely gripped throughout, but I did see the ending coming
– (For work) The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, by debut Jo Cannon, which we will publish next Spring. To say I loved this was an understatement. Very Mark Haddon-esque. Look out for it next year!
– (Again for work) – Nelly Dean by Alison Case – out in August. Wuthering Heights from the servant’s perspective. This is superb. The most fantastic voice – reimagined gothic fiction at its best. Don’t miss it.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Bought this on a whim after seeing great reviews following the film – found it compelling, inspiring, emotional and made me want to go off and trek through California for a year!
– Currently reading – So, You Have Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. Fascinating exploration of public shaming including through social media.

Until next time…

Complicated bathrooms and building sites

It’s a happy day in E7. Today our slightly odd en-suite was mostly ripped out. I say slightly odd as the loo in the en-suite was a Saniflo toilet. This is one of those loos that doesn’t need to be plumbed in, and has a macerator underneath it. It’s a solution for spaces where you can’t make your bathroom waste pipe reach the soil stack, without making major alterations to your house. However, as we found when we moved in, our one was very loud (not ideal in the middle of the night) and quite smelly. We are lucky to have a main bathroom downstairs so we haven’t been using it since we moved in, so when we had a plumber coming to do a few other bits we decide to get rid of it!

The ensuite before
The ensuite before

And it's gone!
And it’s gone!

We’ve been consulting with builder and plumber friends and they think we should be able to plumb in a toilet, its just going to be a bit tricky as we need to run pipes underneath another room. Or raise the floor a little.

Luckily, this is how the other room looks at the moment:

Not too much problem disturbing this room
Not too much problem disturbing this room

This did have a fitted wardrobe at the end until today and a lot of leftover pipes from an old boiler, so our plumber has been working out which ones he can remove or take elsewhere. The plan, in the near future, is to try to run our waste pipe under this floor (our spare room) and out the back. At least the floor already had to come up when we rewired, so the disturbance has already been started, and we don’t need to use this room for a while (sorry would-be overnight guests!).

The current en-suite is long and thin, and we are hoping to split the room into two, and use one end for a wardrobe, and the other end for the bathroom, moving the toilet as close to the back of the house as we can (which should mean it ends up just behind the wall in the picture above where all the pipes are). We have some complicated decisions to come about where to put doors, whether to change windows, and exactly how much hanging space we need in our wardrobe area – but that is the fun part to come!

For now, we no longer have an old Saniflo in our bedroom (essentially, as the en-suite never had a door) and while our house is becoming more like a building site as the days go on, it all still feels like progress.

In the meantime I will be dreaming of the massive luxury of having space to hang clothes and being able to go for a quiet wee in the middle of the night without waking the neighbours.