I had the most glorious time this last Christmas holiday. Being invited to spend a whole week with a family who own a historic cottage with origins that can be traced back four hundred years. I have to say I was slightly anxious about my habit of knocking things over and my general lack of co-ordination when thinking about joining this family. I know them to be very kind and thoughful – and not in the slightest bit clumsy.
I was shown round the cottage by the youngest member of the clan. With immense pride I had the guided tour, which incuded a very old bathroom – now just for show. Happily the cottage included a super duper bathroom and my bedroom had a small ensuite. Neithern detracted from the cottages’ heritage and beauty one iota. The mix of old and new was carried through by absolute craftsmen – a fantastic job all round.
Gosh how this family would miss having our large well appointed bathroom and a certain couple would hate to have to dispense with their modern sate of the art ensuite facility in their bedroom. The very thought of going back to sharing one bathroom between 5 or 6 every morning does seem unbelievably chaotic in this day and age. Yet it isn’t all that long ago tha we did all gratefully share one bathroom. This was in itself a great improvement on our grand paretns’ days when they would have been grateful to enjoy an indoor toilet, and utter bewilderment would have ensued if anyone had push the average grandfather into an upstairs bathroom with running hot and cold water AND a flushing toilet!
Today we can enjoy such wonderful luxury in the bathroom department. Fitted cabinets to hide the junk, all kinds of shower designs including wetrooms with no cubicles for the shower. Sheer magic!
I had been helping a very elderly lady with her poorly son – he had multiple illnesses over the years and was awaiting another major operation. I had spent many days nursing him and keeping him as clean and dry as possible. This involved visiting their shared bathroom. Huh – such horrors should not be seen by any one not of a strong constitution. It was so ghastly – lots of pots and potions, half used containers spilling over. Grime everywhere and hard water deposits gumming up the shower and generally unhygienic and unappealing. Once the patient was in hospital I managed to pursuade his mum to allow an age charity to send in a hit squad to rip out their old bathroom and replace with huge walk in shower with push button controls, easy to clean plain tiles, raised toilet and a heated towel rail. Oh the difference these have made !
It can be all too easy to get a bit carried away when we start the annual spring clean that so often drifts into a decorating frenzy. Usually something will have been broken during the preceding 12 months and when a full inspection of the area needing decorating takes place, these irritating little problems manifest themselves. My own magnificent bathroom and ensuite rebuild was triggered by one shower head splitting and me not getting the correct sized replacement – simple as. In frustration I rang the son in law of a pal, a known plumber. It went from there. Instead of just fixing the shower, he pursuaded me to look at modernising the whole bangshoot. My arthritis had been the cause of the broken shower, so he showed me new push button shower operations, easy to clean cubicles, whirlpool baths and wonderful lever operated taps. My joy is unending even years after his spectacular designs came to life!
Whilst away on my summer holiday travels I found myself watching a particular lifestyle tv show from Canada. A couple of brothers come in and do up a family home to raise it’s sales value so the family can move on up the chain. The formula is much the same – the property is unbelievably crowded with furniture and toys; the decor is sadly mismatched etc. etc. The brothers do of course bring the place up to very modern and fabulous standard — particularly the washrooms. I am fascinated why in the US and Canada, they have two wash basins in a cabinet with worktops – it’s called a ‘vanity’ over there. I do have very modern bathroom and ensuite in my house, having seen a fabulous showroom near my office. I have loved the transformation every time I use either off them and love showing them off to visitors. Kitchen and reception rooms next!
I have a chum who is about to buy her first house after many years of sharing with relatives. She’s not a youngster by any means but has a private income and a small fortune set aside for this very task. I’m not sure what has now prompted her to take the leap of faith, maybe realising that she needs to gain independence from a group of family members who never let her think for herself! Anyway I went with her to look at bathroom cabinets and towels etc. It was fabulous fun. We then stopped in a traffic queue right outside a premier bathroom showroom – that was it. Of we had to toddle, round to see the most exsquisite bathroom settings – fabulous basins and taps set into neat but functional cabinets with worktops aside. Shower cubicles that can be opened and closed with the tip of a finger. Electronic showers . . . . . . absolute luxury.
In this extreme heatwave we are experiencing, it can be very tempting to use water for all the things we think are very important. I know someone up the road who, despite their protestations, must be watering their front lawn – it is an unreasonably bright shade of green when absolutely everybody else’s is brown bald and dead. It now sticks out like a sore thumb and the neighbour is feeling smug – until she notices that even her best pals are shunning her. soetimes vanity gets in the way of common sense. I also know a couple of pensioners who won’t hear of having a shower installed. They have always had baths and won’t be changing to these new fangled things. I cannot get through to them how much easier getting clean is with a walk in shower, than clambering up over the side of a bath. And the water savings alone make your eyes water!
I’ve been assisting the volunteer team at a small country house near me. The house itself has been open a long, long time and it offers a rather snug but attractive reception rooms aswell as the bedroom of the last totally independent and very gracious tenant. I was lucky enough to be invited to pop up for a quick glance round the other week – as I’d arrived for duty earlier than planned. I was greeted with a rather under-whelming display of mirrored cabinets and doors, behind which were the bathroom fitments of the said gracious and immensely rich American tenant. I was really surprised at the lack of elegance – it wasn’t ugly but not at all the beautifully luxurious set up I had expected to reflect her handiwork downstairs and which allowed her to become known as a Doyenne of the English Country House style of home decor! Time for a bathroom studio refurb me thinks.
I have recently been involved with helping my somewhat aged aunt, who is also my godmother – and not the fairy kind. The dear lady has always been an absolute stickler for cleanliness. When I took her to lunch to celebrate her 90th birthday, she unwisely chose the fish main course – what seemed like hours and hours of the most appalling and distressingly runny tummy involved me having to experience the horror of her bathroom. A really small, grim and badly laid out loo, basin and corner shower, all crowded with mobility aids, stools etc. etc. I was horrified, particularly as the only loo is that one upstairs. I eventually got home and have since seriously revelled in my two fabulously modern, clean, stylish bathrooms. I have loved and cherished them all the more, even though I had them installed some 12 years ago after looking in a bathroom studio window when stuck in a traffic jam!
There really is something rather special about having a new bathroom fitted into any home. My own abode is a modern executive 4 bedroomed detached – usual estate by a well known developer. Of course these days they can’t build them quite as large – space and land being a premium now. So I thoroughly enjoy the fact my bathroom and ensuite were in a decent sized house to start with. The rooms themselves are only modest – the feeling in the early 2000s that more room for moving about downstairs and in the bedrooms was essential. Couldn’t swing a cat in my original bathroom. I had these changed though to incorporate a much larger kidney shaped double shower unit, and by sensibly rearranging the basin and toilet, have now got cabinets along back wall with these essentials nicely fitted in. I have downlights throughout too. It gives me a thrill each and every time I use my ensuite.