Little bog,Little bog o’horrors.Little bog,Little bog o’terror.Call a cop.Little bog o’horrors.No, oh, oh, no-oh!
Yeah. This is where we were just a few short months ago – stuck with a gross loo and a bath that could make a grown man gag. Luckily, after a deep clean, what had felt like a sick joke was revealed to be a pretty decent little bathroom with relatively new fixtures. We then set out to make it, not just liveable but pretty, on a minimal budget and armed only with my painting expertise and James’ endless trust in the power of DIY.
|This photo was taken on the day we first viewed this old house. Something needed to be done. Fast.|
I know. And don’t even get me started on the Asterix-stickers… for shits shake.
This was my check list for the project:– re-attach a few cracked tiles below the bathroom mirror– patch holes in the plaster and a few on the floor– Replace the mirror – it was damaged as well as ugly– fix or replace a broken shower head– attach a rail for a shower curtain– patch holes on the door and adjust the fit (the door did not close properly)– Sort out all grout lines that have been painted over with that gross green gloss– replace the toilet seat with something more comfortable– create storage for toiletries, towels etc.– paint the walls, plumbing, tub surround and all trims– Patch up the paint in the ceiling above the bath/shower– attach a new towel rail closer to the bath/shower– remove old towel hooks that were too far from the bath/shower– decorate like a boss
We did not have a set budget, but incredibly I ended up spending less than 300 euros on this update, bulk of if being the cost of paint. As there was no plumbing or electrical work for the time being, I was able to do all of it myself, thus avoiding to pay for labour entirely. Because we had to complete the painting while using the bathroom and wait to get the paint delivered, the whole process took a couple of months. It could have been a week’s project for somebody with the materials at hand and another shower to use but taking it easy gave us time to think what we really wanted from this mini-renovation; what was necessary and what was not.
The paint I used had to be oil based in able to adhere to the old gloss base, so I picked self-undercoating Dulux Trade Eggshell in Brilliant White for the long walls, and Dulux Valentine Laque in Sage 4 and Framboise 2 for the accents. We were in luck to have a friend pick us up some British paint as it can be silly expensive here in France. Some say it’s not the same stuff either – and they are right; most Dulux paints sold in France are adjusted to the French taste in both colour and composition. They are also largely made in France, therefore different from the ones sold in your average building supply store in the UK. Not available beyond the French-speaking market, the Valentine gloss with a satin finish was pleasant to use and dried pretty quickly.
|So the painting begins…|
|The clean and neat AFTER shots. I am very pleased how it all turned out.|
|This unit used to be in our kitchen, now it hold all of our toiletries and a formidable stack of towels. Not a shabby space for a spa day.|
|The mirror is not currently fixed on the wall, but rests on a shallow marble self above the sink.|
|Finlayson towels – this pattern is called Elefantti and it was designed in 1969 by Laila Koskela.|
|The light box in situ in our boho bedroom.|
|Our DIY lightbox made of a screen used in textile printing and our bed, made with textiles I printed as a teenager with this very same screen.|
|The light box comes with a remote dimmer and an off switch – lazy sleepers dream!|
Having needed some space to live, our first task upon moving in was to clean enough floors to fix ourselves a temporary living room, a bedroom and a kitchen. The house had been derelict for just over ten years and everything was, understandably, dirtier than a blind mans toilet. Cleaning the kitchen floor, rocking the beautifully moody encaustic tiles shown above, was a piece of cake: It turned out, most of the tiles cleaned up well with just a drop of PH neutral dish soap and were, rather surprisingly, not in a desperate need of resealing.
The case of terracotta tiles found hiding in our bedroom and the lounge, however, was a different matter entirely. Having been in a need of a sealant and re-grouting, somebody in the 60’s (curse these people to hell) thought, either, that repairs were too much work or just preferred more of a contemporary no-maintenance material. Luckily, instead of lifting the tiles and the sand-cement they were laid on, the homeowners leveled the floor by covering it entirely in lime and installed a carpet of linoleum straight on top of the compacted lime dust.
Of course, a no-maintenance material does not exist – except in the dreams of salesmen and lazy homeowners. Easy to install, easy to care materials such as linoleum, vinyl or laminate do not need maintenance at first and clean with ease, but after a decade or two, depending variables such as the quality of the product, general wear and exposure to the sun and moisture, even the toughest of these materials will age ungracefully and will need to be replaced. The wood imitation-linoleum, laid on top of our century old terracotta tiles, had faded, bubbled and cracked so badly under the blazing sun of Mazamet that it was taken straight to the tip. It did not adhere to the floor at all, implying that it was never properly fastened to it’s base or the glue holding it had dissolved a long time ago.
Turned out, taking off the lino was the easy part…
It took the both of us, me and my husband that is, two days to scrape off the packed lime dust on each floor. Sometimes the stuff came off in big sheets, but more often than not, it needed to be chiseled off one tiny chip at a time. To save our little Henry the Hoover from clogging up, we swept the dust by hand before revving up the vacuum – in hind sight, I firmly recommend wearing a mask for these types of jobs… safety first boys and girls! You don’t want to be digging out dust from your nose like I had to.