It’s been about a month since we decided to renovate our 20-year-old bathrooms and we are going through something that is akin to the five stages of grief.
Except, instead of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, our process is more like decision, confusion, determination, submission and resignation.
The decision part was easy – the bathrooms are no less boring now than when we bought the place off the plan two decades ago. The difference is that we can just about afford to pay for make-overs.
Then came confusion – if we are going to change the bathrooms, what are we changing them to? The walls and floor are covered with two-inch square dark grey matt finish tiles. All that grout!
I had a clear idea – I wanted pale green coloured glass on every wall, some new fittings and tapware, and a rainwater shower, plus charcoal or slate tiles on the floor.
I also wanted one of those hose attachments that you often find beside the WC is Asian hotels, that blast out a powerful spray of cold water.
When I travelled to Vietnam (which I did as often as possible, pre-covid) I used mine as a very effective alternative to a toilet brush. N, our toilet reno guru, says some people use them for much more intimate parts.
In fact, research on the internet reveals that Australian backpackers call them “bum guns”. Not for this little black duck. That’s a wake-up call I really don’t need.
By the way, did I say we have two bathrooms? Mine is basically the guest bathroom and the other one is the en suite – it’s nearest to the bedroom, so guess who got first dibs on that.
At first we were only going to do “my” bathroom, the guest loo, but that changed as soon as I started picking out tiles. “You, know, if we’re doing one, we may as well do them both ..’
Of course. Makes sense. It only costs double, after all. So the decision is made and I start pricing glass walls. Holy guacamole! There goes the budget, not to mention the time frame. Tiles, are obviously the answer. Maybe. Maybe not.
And so we enter phase two – confusion. What kind of tiles, what colour? Same on the walls as on the floor? What about a feature wall? Sink – round or square? Vanity or no vanity. Taps in the wall or on the sink? Chrome, stainless steel or black?
And then N observes that, according to the woman in the tile shop, if you introduce a third colour, it makes the room seem smaller. Are black and grey colours? Aren’t they just tones? Does the third colour rule still apply?
Finally I settle on charcoal grey slate tiles on the floor and three walls and a feature wall of black gloss Kit-Kat tiles which, disappointingly, turn out to me neither wafer nor chocolate.
Then there is S’s bathroom which has an actual bath. In fact, it seems like the bathroom has been built around the bath, so the bath has a room, rather than the other way around.
The bath’s shape is 165 by 70 cm and we can’t deviate beyond that without moving doors and removing walls. Oh, and S wants a free standing bath rather than the built-in (built on, more like) one we have and she’s muttering something about corrugated iron on the walls to give it an Australian feel.
We toy with the idea of a corner bath but the lady in the bathroom supplier says N wouldn’t like it. Seriously. Some advisers worry about cleaning behind a free-standing bath in a constricted space; others suggest bathing with a mop close to hand.
We have just about settled on the tiles when The Builder (who used to play soccer professionally so he’s obviously going to get the gig) mentions Venetian Plaster. This is a textured coating that can be waterproofed and applied straight on to existing tiles (see featured picture).
No ripping out walls and it’s only about three or four times the cost of tiles so … sheesh!
At this stage, confusion reigns. I have decided on large 60 by 30 charcoal tiles on the floor and feature wall, with the other three walls in pale green Venetian plaster. This will all be set off by a rectangular sink, an offset split level vanity and cupboard, and a Japanese space-age bide-let toilet.
S has gone for a pale grey plaster wall, a back to the wall bath that we can’t actually see because it’s only available on the internet, cement coloured floor tiles that run up a feature wall, a small rectangular sink built into a vanity, and she’s keeping the existing WC.
Almost none of these options will survive the next phase – the transition from confusion to determination.