Bathroom Makeover, and Nightmare!

We have a Victorian house rental property that ticks along quite nicely, and we had the loveliest tenant for a few years who really looked after the house.  However he moved on recently, buying his own home, so we had a 2 week turnaround to sort out the house ready for new tenants. I usually re-paint walls, varnish the floors and generally have a good tidy up ready for the new occupants.

But this time the bathroom was looking dated, and water seemed to be leaking where the previous house owner had installed wooden bead board around the end of the bath area.  This area frequently got soaked, so it seemed better to replace it all with tiles.  The window also needed replacing, so this seemed a good time to get it all done whilst the panelling came down.  I plan to move to this house in a few years, so decided to use my favourite tiles ahead of schedule, and was expecting to upgrade the sink, taps and flooring when I arrived in the future.  All I needed now was good quality fittings and watertight application!

So I got in some builders to re-tile the shower and bath area, replace the sink and window and re-lay practical vinyl flooring.  A few days to get it sparkly and new… or so I thought.  At that point the horrors started…..

It turned out that the previous homeowner had added the panelling and current tiles on top of a layer of older tiles.  Water had been slowly leaking for years under the bath onto chipboard flooring that had swelled like old cereal, plus up into the original plaster walls under the layers of tiles and wood.  Even the floor joists were soaked.  As my builder took off the old layers, the walls pretty much fell off, taking them right back to the original lathe and plaster structures.  We also found a chimney breast and fireplace opening with a piece of wood holding up the entire structure!

I nearly had a heart attack!  I had to call in a surveyor to check the fireplace was safe, and it had to be blocked up fully.  The costs were escalating as we were now going to have to lay new joists, floors, plasterboard, plaster and so on, and then on top of all of that the builder boy that I now call ‘The Wrecker’ stepped back a bit too fast and……

His foot went through the joists and ceiling below, leaving me with a rather large hole in my dining room.  I seriously was not very kind to him when he did this, and should have asked if his leg was OK, but instead some rather choice phrases came out!  He took it well I thought…..

So now the house was filled with dust while I was supposed to be redecorating each room and re-varnishing the floors ready for my new tenants.  So that was put on hold while they got on with the bathroom. It has been tiled with white metro bevel edged tiles using a dark grey grout, modern taps and shower, a new window with privacy glass, a clear glass shower screen and grey slate-effect lino on the floor.  If this is not watertight I will cry!  I was going to use a dark grey paint on the walls, but frankly after having to wait for plaster to dry and do mist coats I have lost all creativity and will to live!  The walls for now are brilliant white, and it is a bit stark, but I think I need a rest!

Here is the final result after what stretched into 8 long day of chaos, sorry I could not get a wider shot.

I have 2 days left to clean/paint/varnish the rest of the house before the tenants move in now that the dust has settled.  I also have to paint the new ceiling that was installed downstairs where ‘The Wrecker’s’ foot came through, yuck….my least favourite job in the world.

My lesson has been learnt yet again that old houses tend to be held up by either wallpaper or tiles.  It is now Easter weekend, so on Sunday once the tenants are in I shall eat a lot of chocolate to recover from the shock both from my hours of labour and costs to my wallet.

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Fireplace Makeover – Slate paint effect

Musings occured over the weekend over how to attack the reproduction pine fireplace surround in our dining room, see last week’s post, and I finally stopped procrastinating today and got on with the job.

I used chalk paint as it is really easy to manipulate when watered down in a dark grey and a white, and by wetting it with a damp brush you can work the colour and tones until you are happy with the results, plus I use a clear wax to finish and protect the surface.  Here is the before and after picture:

Slide1The process is really simple, and you can always go back and paint over bits if you are not happy with them.  The gallery here shows you how to paint this slate effect.

  • You will need dark grey chalk paint, white paint, brushes, water and finishing wax.
  • I keyed my mantlepiece top before painting as this will be a heavily used area.
  • Paint the whole mantlepiece in a dark grey.
  • While this dried I had time for a very nice Cappuccino, delicious!
  • I then used a plate as a palette, and put some white and grey either side.  I then dropped water in the centre, and started to work on the mantlepiece using a brush and dabbing/splodging grey, white and water to create a cloudy effect on top of the base coat.  This paint can dry out really quickly on the plate, so keep adding water to keep it liquid.  It should look like mottled, cloudy grey tones, and work the paint in well to avoid brush marks.
  • You can also use a sponge if you want to dab on the paint, again as it dries so fast use small circular movements to blend and hide the initial sponge marks.
  • Cover all areas in this cloudy effect and leave to dry.  It will look quite pale and dusty when it is dry, but do not worry as adding the wax at the end darkens it back down.  Check you have covered all areas, and if you need to touch up do it now.  Leave for an hour or so so the paint really is dry for the next stage.
  • Finally using a brush or old cloth, work clear wax into all areas you have painted.  Brushes are good for getting the wax into nooks and crannies, and I prefer a cloth for large flat areas..  Leave to harden off for 20 minutes, and then buff to a smooth sheen.  I used two coats on the top of the mantlepiece for added protection.

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I am really pleased with the results which are much punchier to the eye, and wonder why I did not do it earlier.  I was not sure about the all gold mirror above when it was finished, so slapped some black acrylic paint on parts of it to bring it into line with the slate look fireplace.  Much better….

IMG_0783paint mirrirfire and mirror

Raring to go… next projects plans

My over excitement at recent transformations knows no bounds, and I am planning new makeovers, (and trying to work out which one I should do first and stop procrastinating and just get on with them…).

The Fireplace:

I have a working fireplace in the dining room which has a lovely cast iron insert, but a really uninspiring reproduction wooden surround.  I am planning to modify it with paint to look like slate.  The room is very neutral, with handpainted pale furniture so I think the surround needs a bit of darkness to create oomph.  I read once somewhere that Nicky Haslam, (genius), always has black somewhere in a room to ground the eye, and it is a great tip that I have followed ever since.

photoI have been looking for various ways to create slate trompe l’oeil via paint effect books, but most just have marble and sandstone effects, so I think I am just going to grab a slate tile and use it as my inspiration.  I did use once the textured stone paint on a fireplace, and although it looked great it is really hard to clean the mantlepiece shelf as it becomes rough and a magnet for dust.  So slate it shall be, and I can always try another effect if it does not work, such is the beauty of paint!

Wardrobe:

I picked up, nearly 18 months ago, a wardrobe in a junk store for £40 as it has potential and nice carvings.  The veneer has started to bubble in a couple of places, so it needs some TLC and is begging for a makeover.  It has been sitting in a friend’s garage since I bought it, and I have finally got it into the house ready to begin its transformation.  I think I shall be going for a wallpapered and painted effect again, and found some great bargain wallpapers down in Cornwall at Trago Mills last weekend.

Progress will be shared… procrastination must end!