Friday, July 27, 2012

Project W.C.

We decided to keep our first proper project on the house as simple as possible, no structural changes, no massive alterations, to ease ourselves into the renovations. So we tackled the smallest room in the house, the upstairs WC.

I should mention here that as we have a topsy-turvy house- as it is built into a hill, you walk in upstairs where all the living areas are, and then go downstairs to the bedrooms and main bathroom. This does have one great advantage in that the living room has an amazing picture window looking out across the stream and farmland beyond. But it does tend to make people confused when you talk about the rooms.

Starting point

As you can see, the room is rather outdated and tired. The loo and sink are actually in pretty good shape (and white), so as we are on a pretty tight budget we decided to keep those, and to just brighten up the room with a facelift.

Removing the sink

First tasks involved taking as much out of the room as possible and removing all fixings. This took longer than we expected as we had to working out the plumbing, and what we needed to turn off where, to stop the water supply to the sink. Unfortunately when the house was plumbed, the plumber didn't bother putting valves into the pipes close to any of the outlets so it was a game of turning stopcocks off here and there to see what worked. The sink itself took a fair amount of time to remove and many trips to B&Q to get the right spanners (and a trip next door to borrow a tool from our neighbour who is a plumber), but at last it was off the wall. It's a tricky thing as it's small and the nuts attaching it to the pipes are in long narrow recesses in the back of the sink. And the taps were even more fun to detach from the sink, not helped by the fact that they had been glued into position!

Starting painting
Undercoat on

Behind the sink and toilet is a wooden tongue-and-groove partition, hiding the cistern and pipework. The wood was pretty dark, and made the whole room seem dingy, so we opted to paint it. With the taps covered in plastic bags against drips, and other pipes and the gas meter (what a silly place for it!) taped around, we got to work sanding and cleaning, and then painting. We used a white primer and undercoat in one, followed by two coats of 'satin rain' satinwood. It is now a beautiful pale grey colour.

The loo also has a set of hooks mounted on a wooden strip in it as we don't have another place to hang coats, shopping bags etc. The old hooks were mismatching and tarnished, so we took out the old hooks, painted the wood to match the other wood in the room, and screwed new hooks into it (good old Ikea).


After a bit, the whole upstairs of the house had descended into chaos with tools, sinks, taps, paint cans etc everywhere. But at least we were moving forward! After painting the woodwork we got to work on the walls. The entire house has been given a coat of magnolia paint just before we bought it, presumably to hide the mess left behind by a few years of tenants renting the place, but I'm not a fan of magnolia for every room. Instead we painted the room matt white, which made it look so much bigger and brighter. We also painted the brown wooden window frame with white gloss paint.

Three of the four walls in the room are hollow, so putting up fixtures proved to be a challenge. We bought special plasterboard screws that were quite a challenge to get in right (involving yet another B&Q trip to get a bigger drill bit) but at least the mirror is unlikely to come crashing down any time soon.

Varnishing the new worktop

The original worktop in the loo was a piece of chipped chipboard, with the screws to hold it in place rusting away on the top. We replaced it with a piece of solid beech (a leftover piece my parents had lying around that turned out to be the exact depth we needed). We cut it to length,with me sat on one end on the kitchen counter as we don't yet have a workbench, and then sanded it many times until it fitted exactly in the space. We then gave it two coats of clear varnish all over to seal it against any moisture.
Using the old lino as a quide

The next step was the flooring: out with the worn and stained wood-effect lino, and in with some pale grey and white squared lino. It took a bit longer to get this stage done as the town we live in doesn't really sell much in the way of flooring so we had to wait until we could go elsewhere to get something that we a) liked enough and b) could afford. Using the old lino as a cutting guide helped speed the process up considerably, but it's a pretty awkward space to lay lino in, especially when you want all the edges to tuck neatly beneath the skirting boards.

Laying the new lino...
...trickier than it looked

The internal doors in the house are all brown sapele doors. I'm not much a fan of them anyway, I find they make rooms look darker and they have no texture to their surfaces, and these doors were in an even sorrier state than most. But maybe I'll write about the doors another day. I will say though that replacing the door on the upstairs loo made a huge difference to the overall feeling of the room.

Chiseling out the doorframe for the latch and lock

Painting the door

And so at last we have a finished room. It took a bit more time than we thought (like every DIY project!) but we're really pleased with the finished effect. Overall the cost wasn't much, if you ignore some of the tools we had to buy which will be used again and again. Just a few cans of paint, the new taps, lino, a mirror, some hooks and a new towel hook and toilet roll holder.

Finished project!

Here are a few shots a bit closer in to some of the areas we changed. The new taps completely updated the sink, and adding a wide mirror to the wall made the room seem so much bigger. Lighter walls and floor, painting the window frame white and having a new white door brought the whole room together.

Much better!
White windowframe
New taps
New wide mirror

Looking at the pictures before and after side-by-side makes me appreciate the work we put into it. If we had a bigger budget we might have done things a bit differently, but just having a lighter brighter room makes all the difference to us.

and after!

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