Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Loos - Big Job



My guest bathroom. About 10 years ago, when my husband was laid off from his editing job in TV (for the third time) but with an option to move to the Toronto station in Scarborough, we brought the real estate agent in to appraise our suburban bungalow. She looked at our house and said right away, "first thing that guest bathroom must be renovated.... You can do it yourself for about 1,000."

Well, my husband got his job back and the bathroom, which had dark green tiles on the floor, many cracked, and a bottle green bath and sink (so seventies)never did get renovated. We've been using it as a cat bathroom.

For years we contemplated a quick cheap makeover for it: merely replacing the floor tiles, vanity and toilet and perhaps getting someone to spray the bath white. We started on that path last week, but suddenly the project became much more complicated and expensive, not a unique situation, for sure. We gutted the bathroom and prepared to put in a new shower --and it will all cost much more than 1,000 dollars, even though my husband is doing the work himself - with some help.

Not only that, but the downstairs bathroom is being redone, as the plumbing had to be changed anyway.....and if you are going to open the ceiling..... So it goes.

I got caught up in all this, too, largely because I had spent some time looking at other people's bathrooms on a London Real Estate Website. I got hooked on this weird passtime because I find it fun looking at average 4 bedroom two bathroom homes like mine, that sell for 20 or 30 times the price of my house.

These London folk have more MUCH MUCH money than me, but their lifestyle is essentially the same. They buy the same organic chicken and local veggies, they listen to BBC radio four. And frankly, from what I have observed, they have no more, no less taste in decorating than I have. Indeed, the most nicely decorated homes I saw were in 'cheap' Acton, not Kensington. But that's my opinion.

But their bathrooms are all very very nice... the fixtures almost uniformly white. Marbly walls. The vanities with the sink overhang very popular, and oddly that is what my husband chose for our bathroom. (I wasn't so sure.)

(My fantasy bathroom is 'art nouveau' style, with scallopped sink (no longer in style) and jewelled Lalique style cabinet doors.

Of course, many of these London loos on the Real estate website might have been recently renovated in order to sell, but frankly, if your house is worth 5 million pounds, you can afford 10 thousand for a new bathroom. This has nothing to do with Flo in the City, a story I am supposed to be editing, except it's hard to work with all that banging going on.

And all that the cursing. (Our house, apparently, seems that it was made by two different people, one lazy person who cut corners and one perfectionist who double re-inforced everything.) I cursed a little yesterday myself, when my husband refused to put on safety glasses while prying tiles off the wall, and they exploded all around his head when the wall finally came loose.

"You're an editor," I wailed. "You need your eyes." Today he is wearing safety glasses.

Tighsolas had one bathroom upstairs, and in the 60's, when Flo and Edith moved back after retiring, they needed to have one put in downstairs, so the great nieces chipped in.

Not one Nicholson letter contains a hint of toilet activities. Well, they were prim and proper in those days. I do have a doctor's prescription from 1896, and it says take a pill and then go to 'closet'. Water closet. WC.