Restoring an old cottage...

Tag: bathroom (Page 1 of 2)

The Most Glorigeous Bathroom in the World

Welp, it’s pretty much finished: behold the fruits of about two years’ labouring. We LOVE IT. The shower is amazing, like standing under warm rain. The cubicle is huge; you could have a party in there with at least five people comfortably.

Here’s what we’ve done since we finished and fitted the oak door…

  1. Fitted an octopus hook just outside the shower cubicle to hang towels so they’re easy to grab without dripping all over the floor.
  2. Fitted a drunk octopus hook on the back of the door for dressing gowns.
  3. Fitted the towel rack above the radiator (just got to learn how to fold towels all fancy like a posh hotel or an Instagram influencer).
  4. Made little shelves from scraps of oak and fitted them inside the boiler cupboard. On the right is all the cleaning products, away from any electrics. On the left is a shelf full of loo rolls, which we buy in bulk from Who Gives a Crap because they’re super-ethical and they wrap their loo rolls in funky paper. Just inside, below any switches, is a shelf for the electric toothbrushes.
  5. Re-spoke-shaved and sanded the door because it swelled and started sticking.
  6. Took the shower controls apart to find out why we couldn’t change the temperature and realised we’d been flannels, and fixed it so we can now have showers of variable temperatures.
  7. Got my Vogue mirror reframed and hung it.
  8. Wallpapered the toilet alcove wall in the most incredible Oceania wallpaper from Mind The Gap. We only used a tiny bit so watch out for us papering more of the walls in this elsewhere in the house…
  9. Bought our Big Boi plant from my friend Steph’s shop Löv-Leaf and he looks amazing.

We do still have a few things to do:

  1. Make a mirror out of bits of oak to go behind the sinks.
  2. Make towel rails out of scraps of copper pipe, to fix to the sides of the sink unit, so we don’t drip all the way over the floor to the towel rack.
  3. Add a little trim to the cupboard corner.
  4. Touch up a little paintwork here and there.
  5. Add architrave to the doorframe to tidy it up.
  6. Find some amazing artwork for one of the walls. I have my eye on a piece in a local art shop.
  7. Find a chair to put clothes on and so the cats can sit and watch us have a bath like the little weirdos they are.

But it’s pretty much finished. We’re delighted, and super proud of ourselves, and we love it in there.

Next project: turning the Rayburn Room into a cosy games room. One day it’ll be a library, but first we have to do the building work when we extend and build a new kitchen. Which will hopefully be next year!

We Made A Door!

This post is all about making oak doors.

But before we dive into that, we wanted to share the finished shower cubicle — because we finally grouted the tiling and silicone sealed all around and it looks flipping lush.

Oh — and Joe used leftover oak skirting boards to finish the ends of the stud walls, and they look beautiful too.

Ta da!

Okay, onto doors.

Now, the bathroom is along a tiny corridor because the fireplace and chimney take up a lot of space between the two parts of the house. We decided to put the door at the bathroom end, because there was already a doorway there.

A long time ago now, Ken built us a new doorframe and we asked him to keep it wonky, like everything else. With hindsight, this may not have been the most sensible request — although it does look charming.

We asked the guy who made our staircase and all our windows (and he’s making new front doors for us) for a quote for the bathroom door — just a simple oak plank door, nothing fancy, and the quote came back at £653 + VAT.


Not saying it wasn’t worth it — Kelvin does beautiful work — but it was much more than we wanted to pay for a single interior door, so we looked around at pre-made doors. None of them really looked up to the standard we wanted.

“Well, it’s a simple oak door,” we said. “How complicated can it be?”

Turns out, not complicated — but extremely fiddly. We can see why doors are expensive things because it’s not so much the making of them, but the fitting of them.

The process was really fun though and we’re super proud of ourselves. Here’s how we did it:

  1. Went to Ludlow Salvage and bought £200 of 25mm thick oak boards, and chopped them up so they were a little longer than we needed them to be.
  1. Bought some plastic clamps and borrowed a router from Joe’s mate who is a chippy and set everything up on the table in the garden.
  2. Cut the planks to roughly the correct height (at the highest corner — remember the wonky doorframe?) and thoroughly sanded and spokeshaved and chamfered the edges.
  3. We used the borrowed tool to create tongue and grooves the length of the planks, which was nerveracking but SO much fun, then whooped with delight as it all fitted together beautifully. We laid pennies along the tongue and groove gaps as an expansion gap, and clamped it all to the table.
  1. Cut the spare planks into three ledges to tie the door together and support. Some people recommend gluing it all together; we decided not to do that because it can explode with movement and that sounded like more drama than we fancied. So we went old school and screwed it all together.
  2. We drilled holes so we could sink the screws, then cut little cores from spare oak to fit into the holes and hide the screws. We stuck them in with wood glue, lined up the grain, then sanded them smooth. Looks pretty good!
  1. When the planks were fastened together and everything was sturdy, we took the door upstairs, stood it as close to the doorframe as possible, then drew around the doorframe onto the oak to create a template to get the shape as close as possible.
  1. Then came the endless and verrrrrry careful cutting, shaving, sanding, fitting, cutting, shaving, sanding, fitting, repeat ad nauseum. Finally got it into roughly the right shape and size.
  1. We treated it for woodworm (more on woodworm later) and then oiled it with Osmo and left it for a couple of weeks to go on holiday, perform on trapeze, and generally be busy.
  2. We bought some hinges from From The Anvil, who make gorgeous ironmongery, and a latch which Vicky hated so it’s going back and we’ll get a different one that meets her exating requirements. It was at this point we discovered the merits of vertical doorframes, because although the door fit perfectly, it wouldn’t open wide enough to let us in, because it was opening downhill and the bottom was getting stuck on the floor.
  1. Cue much swearing and faffing and pondering. In the end, we decided to chisel out a space in the doorframe and countersink the top hinge, and pack out the bottom hinge, thus making a vertical door in a wonky frame. We also took a couple more millimetres off the bottom corner of the door. It now fits perfectly. Behold!

We are so delighted with it — it looks AMAZING and we’re really proud of ourselves. We’ll definitely be making the rest of the internal doors ourselves, partly because we want to spend the money elsewhere, and partly because we really enjoyed the process.

There are few things quite as satisfying as making something useful with your own hands.

Mental health tip: go make something with your hands. Paint or write or draw or carve or make a table or a door or something. It’s magical.

The Endless Tiling

“Let’s create a niche in the shower!” they said.

Narrator: they should not have created a niche.

The tiling of the shower cubicle is, finally, nearing an end. Except we’ve run out of grout with the final few tiles and corner crack to go. Which really is a suitable thing to happen given how inept we’ve been with the whole thing so far.

It started with the niche.

We didn’t want those wire baskety things in our shower because Vicky is a snob and thinks they’re skanky.

So a niche it was.

Then Vicky found The Most Expensive Shelf in the World, so now we have a very complicated niche and a cool shelf. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Back to the beginning.

The Tiles

After at least 14 different tile samples, we finally decided on these:

These are much more gorgeous in real life.

They come in random packs and deciding where to place them became a fun game. We bought a load and then they sat there in the bathroom for literally weeks as we procrastinated on actually sticking them to the wall.


Because we were scared. Joe has never tiled before, and Vicky hasn’t tiled in about 15 years. And never textured tiles.

So our friend Jodie came round with her tile cutting machine and pointing finger, and made us begin. (Thank you Jodes!)

Jodie, wearing paint-covered grey clothes, kneels on our grey slate shower tray holding a tile, and Joe slathers tiles in adhesive from a bucket.
We get by with a little help from our buddy Jodes

I actually love tiling. It’s super zen squishing them into place. The cutting was no problem either because I didn’t do it, Joe did. And he did an amazing job, whilst hating every moment of it because he can deal with loud noises and my brain can’t.

We got so excited about the tiling activities that we just tiled right up to the niche without stopping to consider whether we should.

We made a grave error.

The niche itself was no problem, we built it out of Wedi boards which are magical. But tiling the niche? That required more thought than we gave it, and more planning, and more general common sense, which is in embarrassingly short supply anywhere within three metres of Vicky.

So we tiled up to the edge of the niche, and then thought about the corner trim.

Public Service Announcement: this is the wrong order to do that in. Do not do this. Get your trim first, then do the tiling, so it all fits.

What followed was a nonsense of epic and needlessly expensive proportions.

The Niche Trim Shenanigans

Because the tiles are thick and have unglazed edges, we needed to hide the edges. So normal tile trim wouldn’t work. We wanted anthracite grey tile trim to go with the grout, the shower tray, and the general ambiance.

But because we needed a really big wide trim to hide all our mistakes, all we could find was school-changing-room steel, which looked, frankly, gash.

What we needed was T-trim because it’s the only thing wide enough to cover the edges.

So the search began, and eventually we found some floor edging trim that actually looked great. And it was an acceptable colour. But we didn’t buy enough of it because… well. I think I’ve explained why.

So we did three-quarters of the niche trim, and then it sat there for another week.

Niche with missing trim from the top.

Eventually, another shipment arrived — this time far more than we needed, and we finished.

And so our niche looked like this:

Ungrouted niche looks pretty swish with its ludicriously expensive trim.
Not worth the faff.

It does look pretty swish but was it worth the trouble? Absolutely not.

The Most Expensive Shelf in the World

While searching for tile trim, I got distracted by other cool stuff, some of which was this funky steel shelf that gets grouted into the wall between the tiles:

The world’s most expensive shower shelf in the corner casts cool shadows onto the turquoise tiles below.
Does look cool tho

And yes that is how much it cost.

It’s super-thin, powder-coated texture with funky slots for drainage, and it just looks aces. Really easy to fit. I want another one now to put high up and put a plant on. Joe says no but I’ll just order one at some point and then fit it and he probs won’t notice.


We finally did get around to the grouting, after procrastinating on that by going to London to see our friend Edd and Cirque du Soleil for the weekend, but we almost finished it today.

Except for the bit at the top and the corner, because we bloody ran out of grout. Joe says they were 150g short of 5kg, so I’m wondering if I can complain about it and get some free grout. I’ll report back if I remember to do that.

Joe wears an orange fleece, back to the camera, and kneels in the shower cubicle grouting the turquoise textured tiles.
Looks aces!

Still to do…

So yeah, we’re almost done in the shower cubicle. Still no idea what we’re doing about the shower screen, but we’ve decided it needs to be floor to ceiling to prevent Joe from bouncing water off his head into the rest of the bathroom, and it needs to be a fixed pane and a sliding door because we’re worried about water sloshing everywhere.

We haven’t siliconed around the ceiling or around the shower tray yet either. And we haven’t fitted the shower rail riser yet, or finished plumbing in the secondary shower head, or fitted the shower control plate. But we are nearly there, and it’s gonna look amazing.

The Holy Bathtub of Dreams

Vicky has always wanted a beautiful, freestanding bath, and so we embarked on a quest to find the perfect tub.

We quickly discounted copper because we don’t have a spare bazillion pounds, and we weren’t sure about a claw-foot bath because of the gubbins underneath. Then, we discovered Lusso Stone and their stone resin bathtubs at much more reasonable (but definitely not cheap) prices.

A mix of old lime and rustic oak and sleek modern furniture would look great, we thought, so we chose a bathtub that looks a little bit like an egg.

It’s the Lusso Oasis Mini made in white stone resin, matt smooth finish, and the ends are slightly higher than the middles.

It’s 1,550mm long (rather than 1,790mm) because I’m short and feel like I’m going to drown if my feet can’t rest on one end while my head is on the other.

Then we chose two matching Soho countertop basins in the same material to go onto the upcycled sideboard we found in a local junk shop. More on that shortly.

Both the bathtub and the basins have white click-clack push wastes, so no dangly plugs.

Lusso kindly threw in the waste traps for free too.

They look amazing.

Getting the thing upstairs was quite an adventure involving a group of our friends and a lot of swearing and giggling. The bath sat in our living room for a couple of months until we’d finished putting the floor and plumbing in, then we couldn’t put it off any longer.

So Joe, Josh, Dan, Jade, and I manhandled it into the hallway, up the stairs, and into the Wonky Room.

Spot the helper elf
Many people and a bathtub in a very small space. PIVOOOOOOTTTT!

The only casualties were Josh’s trousers, which split up the back, and a tiny chip out of the bath plinth — at the back, luckily, and which I glued back in anyway so it’s invisible.


A few days later, Joe and I shuffled it into the bathroom and popped it onto pieces of timber and towels so we could get underneath and fix all the waste plumbing together.


This was a massive pain because we couldn’t get the waste to stop leaking.

After a lot of messing around and trial and error and an enormous amount of silicone sealant and plumber’s mate, we finally fixed the leak — and settled the bath onto the floor. Where it looks stunning.

Isn’t it glorious

What was urgent was Vicky having a bath before Christmas.

The only thing left to do is pop it back up on a timber again so we can stick some silicone sealant on the base, to stop it moving around when it’s empty. But that’s not urgent.What was urgent was Vicky having a bath before Christmas.

Which she did.

Behold the Christmas Eve bath. Hurrrah!

Obligatory legs in bath pic


Approximately 387 years after starting this bathroom project, the Stone Room now has a proper floor!

We laid marine ply over the joists as a subfloor, and then had a good old think about what to put on top. It being a bathroom, it’s gonna get wet (or at least damp) so we needed something that could cope with that.

Bamboo was an option, so was oak or another timber, and we considered tiles or laminate or lino.

We don’t like laminate or lino, and decided against tiles because we didn’t want them to crack as the house moves.

In the end, we chose engineered oak: about 5mm of solid oak on top of ply. It stands up well to temperature and moisture fluctuations, and looks exactly the same as solid oak. We bought random lengths in rustic grade, with tongue and groove, from Good Bros Timber near Leominster.

Lovely piles of floor all sorted neatly. Guess how many times we moved it all around…

The bathroom isn’t quite square, despite our best efforts (nothing in this house is square), so we weren’t sure where to start laying it, and dithered for a while until Vicky made the unilateral decision: we’re starting in the tunnel just outside the room. So we threw a few boards down to do some measuring and make sure that, as far as possible, we’d start with a full board along the wall.

Careful measurements and a giant finger

Cutting the boards to fit the tunnel was pretty fiddly, and we added some battens so we could create a neat step later on.

But we did it, it’s neat and tidy, and then we were motoring.


We used secret screws — countersunk screws screwed in at an angle into the tongue, to hold the boards down and prevent creaking. And we used odd offcuts of floorboard as knockers, to keep the tongue and groove tight and minimise gaps.

Helpful labelling.

We did our best to leave an expansion gap of around 10mm all around the edges of the room, but some of them were a bit tight. Hopefully it’ll be fine.

There were some fiddly bits — we had to cut holes for the radiator plumbing, the bathtub waste pipe, and the sink plumbing and waste pipes. We’ll do the bath tap holes from below later.

We cut holes using a hole saw or a spade bit set, depending on the size we needed, which does a really neat job. And thankfully our measuring was accurate and everything fits. Hurrah!

Precision engineering, that.

It took us about three days to lay the main floor, on and off. Then another half day to add the trim around the edge to hide the expansion gaps.

We made our own tool to cut the beading at angles, rather than buy one — but quickly realised our home-made tool was a bit crap. So it was off to B&Q again to buy a proper one, which worked much better.

Covering the gaps with a proper tool.

This was a right pain, because we don’t have skirting boards, just lime plaster. And lime plaster does not like having stuff knocked into it. We found some oak beading from B&Q which is actually really nice, and did our best to mitre it neatly — although, as already mentioned, nothing in this house is square. We were a bit miffed with the small gaps but honestly the next time we walked in, we didn’t even register it. We’ve bought some Osmo paste to create a resin to fill them in. If we remember.

I did Osmo the oak beading though and it matches the floor now, and looks lush.

Looks pretty good yeah?

Then we No More Nails-ed it to the wall, with the odd little tack into the floor to hold it still. It looks ace.

Let There Be Lights!

Next up was the lights, which was also a bit of a faff.

Modern spotlights have quite narrow bezels, which was a bit of a problem. Not the plasterers’ fault — just awkward.

We’d left the lights dangling rather than cut through the plaster afterwards, but with hindsight perhaps it would have been better to cut through. We were worried about damaging the plaster and cracking it.

However, when we came to fit the spotlights, the bezels weren’t quite big enough in some cases to cover the holes.

So we went on a search to find larger spotlights or bezels we could retrofit — in the end, Screwfix came through and we’re pleased with the result.

The spotlights look great and didn’t cost us too much in money, just a bit of faffering in time.

Smart spotlights, grumpy Joe

Then we fitted the wall lights, and Vicky decided she didn’t like them in the bathroom after all. They’re lovely (they should be, they were very expensive) but very big.

They’re IP rated so they’ll make great outdoor lights for the new front porch, so not wasted.

But it did mean finding a second set of lights for the bathroom wall.

Etsy came through with a simple wire cage and fancy lightbulb — they’re not the most expensively made things in the world, but they’re sturdy enough and look great.

Brassy cage-style light fitting with squirrel cage bulb against white wall.
These glow beautifully. Terrible for makeup. Great for cosy baths.

The light switches, on the other hand, were expensive and feel like they’re made of cheese. So we’ll see how long they last!

Again, though, they look fab, and we’re super happy so far.

Bathroom Walls & Windowsills

A few weeks ago, we had the plasterers in to lime plaster the bathroom walls. They also offered to fit our oak windowsills as part of the service, so we agreed.

Wish we hadn’t, mind…

The plasterers did a beautiful job of the plastering, and we’re really pleased.

We wanted curved window returns, and smooth as possible everywhere else (given that it’s lime and a very old house, we weren’t expecting or wanting perfectly modern smooth).

Isn’t it beautiful?

Beautiful plastering gloriousness

The windowsills, though, were another matter.

Honestly, I don’t know what goes through people’s heads sometimes — what they think is acceptable, and what they think their clients will think is acceptable.

We bought a great big chunk of green oak from Ludlow Salvage, which is gorgeous, and our plan was to cut it to size and fit it in the windows.

So we explained what we wanted to the plasterers, had a chat, and they said no problem. Off they went.

I checked in every now and then cos I work in the garden, but didn’t want to be an annoying hovering client.

Should’ve hovered.

Because instead of doing what we would have done — scribed the edges of the unplastered window returns to get a snug fit before the plastering was done — the workdude guessed.

We assume he guessed, anyway, because the fit wasn’t anything like snug on one window, and he just flat out cut out a big square chunk for the other window.

And the plasterers didn’t plaster over them to cover the gaps.


And on the other one, they filled the hole with plaster. Good lord.


Massive eye roll all round.

Sloppy AF.

Lime plastering is enormously expensive, so we did not find this amusing, especially given we absolutely could have done a better, neater job of this ourselves.

After much arguing and withholding of balances, they eventually came around and did an appalling job of “fixing” it.

They tried to argue that the wood was “inadequate”, whatever the hell that meant. At this point, I got Joe to do the talking because the usual Men Talking Down To Women bullshit happened and honestly it’s exhausting and I had a lot of sharp objects to hand, so I couldn’t be bothered.

Whereupon we did some more arguing and withholding of balances, and generally grumbled about standards and wasted time.

And eventually they did an acceptable fix. It’s not ideal, and we’re still pretty annoyed, but at this point it was dimishing returns.

I know most people won’t notice, but I do, and it’s like a gnat bite. Unimportant but irritating.

Still, it looks flipping gorgeous now because we sanded the sills until all the watermarks and saw marks were gone, and gave it several coats of Osmo oil, and now they glow in the sunlight.

See the little piece in the left hand corner they cut and glued in? YES SO CAN I EVERY DAY

Sloppy workmanship aside, we’re deeply happy with this room so far!

We’ve painted the walls and ceiling in Flutterby chalk paint by Earthborn, and it looks gorgeous.

Advanced Shower Tray Engineering

We’ve done some painting! Which feels a lot like Making Progress.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves because we’ve done lots more than that.

We’ve finished the structure of the shower cubicle!

The Shower

For the ceiling, we decided to use waterproof panels in white, because they’re really easy to fit and keep clean, and easy to cut to size. We chose Multipanel.

We cut it to size, squirted high-grab adhesive on the back, and pressed them into place:

Ceiling panel with zig zags of adhesive ready to go up.
Adding adhesive to the panel

We put pressure on with a complicated arrangement of leftover cork panels to avoid damaging the panels and long battens of wood and leftover floorboards to help hold it all in place while it dried. Worked a treat.

Stud wall visible beneath ceiling panel, held up with cork and pieces of wood to brace.
Not how the pros would do it, but it worked pretty well

Once the ceiling was up, it was time to fit the waterproof Wedi panels to the stud wall frame. We chose Wedi boards because we wanted something that’d be super waterproof and easy to tile onto.

We cut the boards to size, and fitted them butted up against each other, with Wedi sealant between the joins to ensure no leaks.

The boards fix to the stud wall with screws and washers, which we then painted over with liquid membrane to prevent any water seeping through, and also painted over all the joins. We’ve got tons of the stuff, so we also painted the entire subfloor with waterproof membrane too, because why not?

You can see we’ve also fitted the shower head into the ceiling, as well as the extractor fan and spotlight. We cut round holes into the board for the shower valves to poke through as snugly as possible, and are pretty pleased with ourselves at how neat they are.

Grey Wedi boards lining a shower cubicle. All joints, screws, and floor painted with pale blue-green liquid membrane.
Sealed and fitted Wedi boards

Using the Wedi boards, we cut smaller pieces to create a wall niche in the shower for bottles and stuff (see above). It’s really nice to work with.

The Poo Pipe

When we were away in Canada, our neighbour Graham (who is a builder) put a whacking great hole in the side of our house and poked a poo pipe through it, then ran it down the outside wall and into the main sewage pipe. He also dug a trench and put in a new manhole cover for us.

I don’t think he enjoyed that very much, but we are paying him so that takes the edge off. It’s why we didn’t want to do it ourselves…

So, we now have the toilet waste plumbed in, which was a big job we were a little anxious about.

Speaking of big jobs we were anxious about, we’ve also fitted the shower tray.

The Shower Tray

The shower tray weighs approximately 5,273 tonnes and is made of stone resin. The instructions say to lift it up and gently drop it into place.


Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) we’ve built the shower area so precisely that there was definitely no room to “gently drop it into place” so we had to be creative.

We mixed up sand and cement in a 5:1 mix and added water until it was the consistency of mashed potato.

(Vicky’s aside: this gave me immense anxiety because one person’s perfect mashed potato is another’s sloppy disgusting mess. Is it fluffy? Is it smooth and creamy? WHO KNOWS? In the end we decided on our perfect mash and it seems to have worked out fine.)

Whiskey—our little grey cat—thinks every receptacle of water is hers. Here, she’s leaning right over the edge of a bucket to drink water out of it.
Whiskey supervised the whole process which is why it worked so well

Then we spread the base onto the subfloor, which we had painted with the same waterproof stuff we used on the Wedi boards. Rather marvellously, we managed to get the cement pretty much bob on level, so we felt smug about that.

Joe uses a spirit level to check how level the cement base is.
Looking level!

Next, we took some leftover 15mm plumbing pipe to use for runners. Imagine how they built Stonehenge with log rollers? Well, that was our idea for sliding the shower tray into place. There’s no way we could lower it in from above—it’s enclosed on three sides, with not enough room even to slide a piece of paper between the end walls and the tray.

Instead of rolling the tray along rolling pipes, we made little rails from the pipes, and then pushed the tray along them, into the cubicle, and then slide the pipes out afterwards to allow the tray to settle on the cement bed.

Using pipes to slide the shower tray into place onto the cement bed

Again, it was perfectly level all the way around, and there was much rejoicing.

If you want to see us in action, here’s a video:

Next time: the walls and windowsills…

Odds, Ends, and an Actual Floor

We’ve not made much progress since Christmas, but we have done a few odds and ends.


We’ve been meaning to make a little shelter to sell our eggs from for ages, because otherwise people tend to wander into the garden and walk into Vicky’s office while she’s working.

So we used some left-over fibre roof tiles, some odds of batten, and a couple of chunks of joist, and created a snazzy little egghouse.

Random pieces of wood and a couple of roof tiles ready to make into an egg shelter

Bits and pieces

There’s enough room for an egg holder, some egg boxes, and a honesty jar.

Shelter with egg box and jar inside, and words on the top: Dingle eggs £1.20 for 6

Yum yum

£1.20 for half a dozen eggs, half the proceeds go to the British Hen Welfare Trust, which is where we go to rehome ex-battery chickens.


There’s been a gaping hole above the tunnel from the living room to the Rayburn Room for aaaaages.

We finally got around to building a frame and whacking some wood-wool panels up there ready for plastering—eventually.

The tunnel all panelled over with fairy lights

Tidy tunnel

The Rayburn has left the building…

We knew we wouldn’t be using the old oil-fired Rayburn anymore because we recently switched over to gas, rather than oil. It’s not worth converting it, so we’ll probably get an electric Aga when we do the new kitchen.

Joe advertised the Rayburn on Facebook, and a couple came to pick it up—and we got 150 beans for it. Winning!

Manoeuvering the Rayburn using rollers and muscles and hope

Pretty heavy. Rollers were useful.

Looking forward to turning the Rayburn Room into a library, and installing a woodburning stove in the fireplace.

Empty fireplace

All ready for plastering, beautifying, a new hearth stone, and a woodburner

Oh and a proper solid floor

And finally, having spent months wobbling around on bits of shaky plywood and OSB, and wondering if Joe would put his foot through the floor again, we decided to lay a proper subfloor.

We had a little help from Kenda and Mike to get started:

Joe on left and Mike on right, putting noggins into the floor

Men doing manly floor things

The rest of it looks like this only without the gaping holes:

Marine ply screwed to the joists, with insulation visible beneath

The beginnings of a solid floor

And now the whole floor is screwed down and solid, and you can jump up and down on it and everything.


Walls on Top of Walls

The room that will become our bathroom is on the first floor of the Victorian stone portion of the house. The stone walls have been lime plastered in the past, patched with gypsum plaster, and then skimmed with gypsum, painted, wallpapered, painted again, and generally added to over the years.

As we’ve taken layers of wallpaper and paint off, we’ve had a bit of a conundrum: plaster has come off in places too, which is pretty common in old houses. Plus the tops of the walls, where they disappear into the ceiling, were a right mess.

Old walls with plaster crumbling

Messy messy walls

What to do?

Do we patch the holes and skim over?

Pull all the plaster off and start again from scratch, filling in all the big holes?

Or do we build a new set of walls inside the old walls, leaving the surfaces as-is, and have a more-or-less square room?

Vicky was in favour of pulling the whole lot off and starting again; Joe was in favour of building a framework inside the walls.

In the end, when faced with the magnitude—and dusty mess—of basically pulling down the walls, we decided to batten the walls and put up wood-wool panels ready to take lime plaster.

Battens going into the wall to hold the wood-wool panels

Battens going into the wall to hold the wood-wool panels

Our main concern was losing too much room area by effectively bringing in all the walls by a couple of inches each—but it’s a large room.

How We Did It

We bought a whole bunch of 38 x 18 mm battens from B&Q, and fastened them to the walls as a frame. We measured the frame so that the wood-wool panels from Ty-Mawr would fit neatly to them.

This was actually a monumental pain in the butt because it involved masonry drills and not really knowing whether or not any of our plans would actually work…

Writing on wall reads: Vicky + Joe made this bathroom Winter 2021. It was both fun and a right pain in the arse. S0 WHY HAVE U TAKEN OUR WALLS DOWN?

We really did have a right old time with this

We piloted through the battens to prevent them splitting, then used a masonry drill bit to put holes through the plaster and into the solid stone of the wall.

This proved super-irritating because quite often we’d miss a stone, or it would shift, or the gods of renovations would just be in a bad mood that day. It was a trying time.

Once the holes were drilled, though, we screwed the battens into the walls using 120mm concrete screws. That frame is solid as a very solid thing.

We were genuinely worried we were not going to be able to find anything to work on those walls, and that we would end up having to pull all the wall surfacing down and start again. Thankfully, though, the screws held and we were able to start fixing the wood-wool panels thusly:

Wall, battens, and the first wood-wool panel screwed into the bottom of the wall

First panel goes on

These lining panels are simply screwed into the battens using wood screws and big plastic washers to spread the load and prevent the screws being pulled through the panel. They’ll take lime plaster beautifully. The room already looks vastly different:

Room’s looking swish and ready for plastering

Room’s looking swish and ready for plastering

Looking much tidier

Looking much tidier

One of things we’re pleased with is the main window, which was a right mess. The window “ceiling” was pretty much open to the eaves and we were losing loads of heat, so we stuffed a bunch of insulation up there, then built a mini-frame with battens to hold the wood-wool. We had to make wedges because the window slopes backwards, and we needed to leave as much of the oak windowframe visible as possible to allow as much light in as we could:


Then we fixed the wood-wool panels and now a multitude of horrors are hidden, the wind no longer whistles in, and it’s tidy tidy tidy:

Fully paneled window return

Look at that! Out of sight, out of mind…

We’re pretty chuffed with the result and we’re excited to see how the plastering goes.

The room still feels pretty large for a bathroom, it’s much warmer, much more soundproof, and it’s definitely going to be easier to work with.

We’re getting quotes for plastering to be done for us because we don’t fancy plastering the ceiling and dealing with the loft hatch. The plan is to have softly rounded plaster around the window frames, and oak windowsills, which we’ll need to install before any plastering is done.

Then we’ll be creating a waterproof shower cubicle by building a stud wall and lining it with specialist tiling wall panels and a ceiling panel that are all fully waterproof—then tiling it.

More on that next week…

Oh—and also!

Ken came along and built us a new doorframe:

A wonky old doorframe made from bits of crappy leftover wood scraps

Before: wonky and saggy

New oak doorframe

After: beautiful wonky oak doorframe

You may be wondering why we didn’t just straighten up the top of the doorframe. Which is a reasonable question.

You can see the stonework above the doorframe—there was no proper stone lintel, and we didn’t fancy taking out that structural stonework to make the doorway higher. And to level it below the stone would mean an extremely low doorway for Joe to limbo through. So wonky it remains. Much like the rest of the house.

Then we had a quote for an oak door from the guy who does our windows (who is amazing) and we laughed and laughed and decided a summer project for us would be to make our own oak door because how hard can it be?

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