Monday, 10 March 2014

Wash & Scrub Up: Fitting the New Bathroom

Spring has sprung, the Daffodils and Crocuses are out, the washing is hung on the line for the first time this year, plus we are doing some of our chopping and cutting of stuff outside and the birds are tweeting…It's so nice, and let's hope that is the last we have seen of the grim and very WET winter!  

As you will recall, I started our bathroom renovation story a few weeks back, then I kind of ran out of steam, and just couldn't get my arse in gear to finish up to tell you about the fitting and then about the decorating and furnishings etc.!  One of the many reasons I think I have been putting it off relates to the Reading area and its ridiculously hard water…I'm keenly aware we need a water softener installed, but they are about £600, and that's £600 smackers I just don't got!  If I had one, cleaning and polishing the copious amounts of chrome in the new bathroom for post pictures would be a much easier task (what can I do, I'm a slattern and cleaning is balls), so with a bit of free time this week as I booked some annual leave for DIY in other areas, I thought I would gird my loins and finally get it done, nightmare descaling and all!   

We covered the planning and all the kafuffle that that entailed here…when I left off we had our blank canvas, all freshly plastered, our bathroom kit was delivered, and we had our skilled tradesman ready to go…rock and roll!  Now for the fitting!

The first task was pulling up the wonky, woodworm chewed original pitch pine floor boards and replacing them with nice modern engineered hard board flooring & marine ply.  Destroying those original features is not really my bag, in fact, I'm spending a ton, putting them back, and if we wanted the filled bath with us fatties in it not to drop through the floor, and a level base for the new tiles they simply had to go!  We did save them for patch up jobs in the rest of the house though, those buggers are a pain in the arse to match exactly in reclamation yards.  

Next was the pipework, waste and inlets, and the frame work for the bath and sink unit, then the bath.  Next the tiles went up!  And it was then, it finally started to look like a bathroom.  The very last job, was the floor tiles.

As money, regretfully, was not in an unending supply, we made a few design decisions aimed at getting the luxe look for not a lot of dough!  First up, we went for a tiled bath surround, that was put on the frame above, and it looks way better than the plastic moulded panels that come as standard with bath tubs, we went with very the moderately priced metro tiles and gussied them up with some contrasting black grout.  We teamed this with a shiny chrome expensive looking 2-way shower, that was not all that expensive, and a bog standard glass screen door.  Incidentally, the bath screen and shower (and probably the tiles) cost the same as one piece of glass for the fancy pants Bette shower I showed you here.  

It looks great, however a word of warning, the scratch resistant polymer modern baths are made of are pretty underwhelming, and we spent  a bit extra on an alleged new fangled thicker, tougher material called Carronite, which was a waste of money.  Even though we have been super careful, the bath has suffered some scratches already.  It was a tough call though, as steel baths with enamel coating, are almost nonexistent now-a-days, and the ones that are on the market are VERY expensive, especially in the L-shape we wanted, we had to settle, but I wish I had spent the extra money to get what I wanted, which is a bath I could take a pan scourer to without issues, the below is not it, a stray painted fingernail will spell disaster as it scratches and the colour transfers really easily, I did it in the plastic bath downstairs, it has red streak that just won't come off.  

We opted for a double sink mounted on a frame to give us a shelf to keep all our gubbins on and to hide the pipework.  With some fancy looking sconces to boost the feeling of luxury, when in fact the lights were only £12 each from Ikea, we called it a job well done.  We also opted to spend a little more on tile trim, usually you get a plastic white quarter round, but we opted for shiny stainless steel square trim, which just looks a little more top shelf.

We opted for the under sink area to be left open, so it gives the illusion of more space.  The cabinet that the double sink unit can sit on looked cheap, and wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in a wet environment, there is a picture here of the offending item in the showroom.  My parents spent double what we did on their new bathroom and their cabinet trim peeled right off like hooker's knickers, which is no bueno!  Instead we opted for shiny traps as shown below.  The floor tiles we opted for are black and look like cast concrete, they have been laid in a brick pattern to mirror the wall pattern and contrast with the white.  To make it sleek, we kept our colour palette to just three colours, black, white and grey.  

For taps, we went plain chunky and shiny, with chrome pushdown plugs, to give the modern edge we wanted to the victorian-esque tiles.

I also opted to spent a little more money on the toilet!  Why?  Well I hinted to it above, I hate cleaning, and I especially hate cleaning bathroom nooks and crannies.  So I bought a toilet with no extraneous bits for muck to get in to.  Fancy!

Pipe Cleaning?  Nope!
Rim Job?  Not for me!
Anyway, you have some sneaky peaks at the finished room and some more in progress shots, however as this post is already has novel proportions, I think I'm going to have to come back to you all with a third instalment, the decoration and styling, you never know, by the time I get around to it, those last annoyingly fiddly jobs might be done too!


Monday, 3 March 2014

Oops I'm in the Middle East!

There certainly won't be any house related posts today as I'm far too busy doing absolutely nothing lounging in the glorious sunshine next to the Arabian Sea as this week I'm in the Sovereign Arab Emirate of Qatar.   

Intercontinental Doha
So idyllic, so peaceful!
The view from our room to the left!
This is the view to the right, that skyline is awesome!

Qatar is diversifying into tourism in a big way, and they are dropping big money to draw the crowd.  In fact, Qatar is slated to be the next big thing after Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, they have already bettered their neighbours by submitting the winning bid for the 2022 World cup, and you never know, they might get the Olympics too. 

Why am I here you may wonder, well good question!  My friend entered a competition in the London Evening Standard sponsored by the Qatar Tourism Authority, and she won, and as she's awesome, she asked me to come along for the adventure as I was all 'DIY and no fun make Eve a dull girl' I literally snatched her hand off!  

The trip included return flights, 4 nights bed and breakfast at the Intercontinental Doha, one of the nicest 5* hotels I have ever stayed in, and finally 3 excursions with Qatar International Adventures!  It's been amazing....the City is very impressive now, but there is new stuff flying up on every corner, and you can see there has been billions spent!  The architecture is stunning now, so wait till you see it in a few years!  

Bullet Tower with a crane, which is the national bird
of Qatar 
Tornado Tower
The World Trade Tower Doha

 There are restaurants, coffee shops, and shopping to die for in downtown Doha, plus some of the best luxury brand hotels on the planet.  Outside of the City, there is desert for miles and miles and massive sand dunes you can go dune bashing in…I have a bruised collar bone from that exciting adventure!  And as the 2 million strong population are only 3/4 non Qatari, and you can only own the lesser share in property here, they have built a man made Island just for the expats called the Pearl, which is the only place in Qatar that none Qatari nationals can buy property outright, it's got everything needed for the jet set lifestyle, Hermes, Fendi, Chloe, Missoni and of course a Rolls Royce and Ferrari dealership!  

We are having such a brilliant time here, so it's annoying we leave for London tomorrow afternoon, but we have seen the sights, we have stuffed our faces on amazing Middle Eastern food, we have eaten the best seafood of our lives and had a massage, life's very tough right now.  NOT!

As an aside; to counteract the eating of ones own body weight, washed down with a few glasses of vino at the hotel (hotels are the only place you can purchase and consume alcohol in Qatar) I did actually bring my work out gear as this hotel has an amazing gym, yoga studio, tennis & squash courts.  However, I was so busy checking out the Museum of Islamic Art's amazing I.M. Pei architecture and the amazing view of the Doha skyline, I fell down a 3 inch step and sprained my ankle!  Awesome, as now I have an airtight excuse as to why I have not set foot in the gym or on a tennis court, or in a spin class…..etc.!  

We save toured the city, seen the desert and it has been fab, we are now off to enjoy our last evening in Doha, so see you next week from the rain sodden UK!  Boo! 
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