-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

cottage: bathroom

Here's the email conversation with Dad about the bathroom area of the cottage plans.

Dad's commentary (Feb 26):

Alan has shown a bifold door to the bathroom, but I ruled it out of hand and want a door opening to the wall opposite the linen press or a cavity slider going into the space of linen press. I much prefer the leaf opening door for regular use and display of leadlights at this very busy area: With the light of the baywindow behind it and the relative gloom of the linen press passage (if the light is not turned on) the door will be glorious. Especially if it is one with a high and low leadlight like the one between Dawn's kitchen and lounge.

Open this door and look towards the bathroom. You will see steps leading upstairs. These are apx 700 mm wide, and there are 3 steps before the winders start. You then wind up to 6 steps, encircling a central pole so you are now facing the opposit direction and take 3 steps further up and arrive on the leve where a bath awaits you (providing Dave has heated the water overnight by stoking the old stove to keep it ticking over during the night.)

Alan has casually drawn in a handbasin in the loft. This is a good idea, but not where he drew it, but on your left as you stand at the top of the stairs. Or just a series of shelves could be put here or a small piece of furniture. Someplace to keep towels etc. And a radio!!

In front of you is the old clawfoot bath rescued from oblivion and given the prospects of many years of comfort-giving. Turn to the right and go to the towards the big windows in the gable, trailing your hand along the 1 m high balustrade and handrail that prevents you falling when sleepy into the stairwell below. As you approach the end of the loft you will come to a wall only 1100 mm high and peering over this little wall you can look at the shower below and the handbasin. This open area can be populated with ferns and potted plants of various descriptions. Air rising as it will naturally from the cool areas below will come upstairs with warmth and moisture (if shower is used). This air will be able to be left to circulate upstairs or vented by a ridge vent. This vent will be operated simply by a screwing mechanism and can be left open to varying degrees, of closed in winter when warmth is needed for comfortable bathing.

Going back downstairs turn to your right and stand beside the stairs facing the baywindow. To your left there is a short section of wall which encloses the toilet area. This toilet area has a wc which faces towards the baywindow. No door on it, but it could have a door, or concertina wooden door set. I actually have salvaged from the roadside such a set of doors.

There is a handbasin, or vanity or whatever comes to hand for washing hands, that is under the bay window to the left, and a showering area to the right. This area will be open, not enclosed. One can have a rice paper blind standing for some added privacy, or not as one likes on the day.

My reply (Feb 26):

I most definitely do not want a sliding door on the bathroom, I'm guessing this is what you mean by cavity slider? I don't know what a bi-fold door is, but it sounds like something equally flimsy, with hinges in it. I am really fussy, I want it to be a solid proper door, opening inward perhaps so that if someone is on the toilet having entered from the bedroom it provides a big of a privacy shield if someone accidentally starts to barge in from the hallway. (nb: I'm not fussed about whether it opens inward or outward though... I just realised further down you had a reason for it to open into linen press space)

I love your idea of having the stained glass window in the door to catch the light. I already have one that could work; I was going to use this in the new house but can always keep an eye out for another.

In terms of the bathroom layout itself, I am OK with it as you have it drawn provided that there is enough space to walk to the toilet without having to squeeze past stairs. I guess this is why you were suggesting the door open into the linen press area rather than into the bathroom. I like the shape of the steps, part straight, part winding, they are lovely.

My only slight worry with this layout is that entering the room from the hallway near linen press might feel like quite a zigzaggy path to get to the toilet? But I can't think of an alternative. I was thinking about it being maybe with the stairs to loft starting running along the loft wall side (ie: rotated 90 degrees), but then realised that would mess up the shape of the loft. Unless the loft had a kind of U shape, with sticking out bits at either end? Hmmm.

I don't think the toilet needs a door on it. What are concertina wooden doors? Are they like the door between Gran's kitchen and lounge, except in wood not plastic? If so, they sound really nice, but not for the toilet... would be better suited I tink to the door between the kitchen and pantry in the new house?

I love the idea of the showering area being open. We stayed in a hotel in Sri Lanka that had an area like this, it was wonderful.

And thank you, you've also just given me an excuse to think about planning a screen!... one of those lovely ones that is 3 panels and hinges. I wouldn't have it being rice paper as that would not do well in the wet, but I could get some lovely fabric that wouldn't get wrecked by water splashes, and use that instead of the rice paper. It's the kind of thing that is a lovely ornament too, and you can always fold it up flat and stand against a wall when not needed.

I don't think I need a handbasin in the loft. I can just use the tap on the bath if I need to get water. I'm not going to be brushing my teeth up there. I love the idea of having shelves, space for music, candles, plants... This will become a real sanctuary, I can see it now.

It is good that there is the balustrade. We will have to think carefully about what we make it out of. Perhaps that is the place where we should use the antique copper/iron bits we bought last year? This link has pictures and measurements. I don't think we should use the oak railings there, as want to keep them for the new house and they'd get damaged by water, but there isn't really a place in the new house for the metalparts, and they seem like they'd be well suited to a bathroom, similar vintage to the clawfoot bath too. What do you think? These are already in Australia, they're packed in those old luggage trunks that were in the first batch of stuff we sent back.

I love the idea of having ferns etc in the open area. Basically I love how spacious this area feels, it will be wonderful. If we make sure there is a powerplug up here (need it for radio/CD player anyway) but also near this open area, then in winter we could also have a small fan heater standing there if it was cold... it'll be well out of the way of wetness if we put it way back against the edge. You can get some lovely ones here, like the one we have in our conservatory, that look like they are real fires (I mean really they do... ours has fooled several people!). We could even have a comfy chair up there, like one of the Lloyd Loom nursing chairs I've got. It's small, low, and surprisingly comfortable.

Having some kind of vent / opening window / way to keep heat from blasting in during summer will be very important. Also, I think it needs careful venting somewhere so that we don't end up with a mildew problem from the shower, up high on walls like in Gran's kitchen. I don't want to block it off at loft level though (as Mum suggested), that would spoil the view and the whole feeling of the place. We can always invest in proper fitted conservatory blinds for it if it was a real problem, or rig up some kind of sail effect, but hopefully if heat rises and we can open the windows then it should still be OK at ground floor level even on the hottest days, so you can just avoid having a bath then if needs be! Most often I have baths in winter rather than summer anyway.

Dad's reply (Feb 27):

We agree on the door opening into the passage for the linen press onto the wall opposite. And stained glass!!!!

The wall portion beside the toilet will be left without a door, but will be the storage place for the free-standing blinds you are going to have to shield from the shower when you need them. This wall will keep barging eyes from surprising the toilet user, and the master bedroom door will serve from the other direction.

There will not be any sense of zig zag in entering the bathroom as there is plenty of walkway. The stairs are going to be built by a loving father as a present for a loving daughter and son-in-law, and no cost for labour will be recorded. I will scan some spiral stairs I built for Ailsa years ago. But also I will do some sketches of my ideas for these stairs. Talk more about this when you have the sketches. But the stairs will be open backed, that is will have only the tread to walk upon in the right place as all stairs. But you can see through them to the bay window. This is to achieve a sense of openspace. The ceiling, over the passage of the linen press and toilet is only 7 ft high, and the stairwell and baywindow area ceiling is the roof over the loft.

I will be making the treads out of half a log, flat up to make the stepping surface. All polished and attached to steel support by straps and screws painted black. All will be seen and as a feature. The handrails will be of whole saplings with the same style of support. The lining of the walls in the stairwell will have palings to dado height and then plaster. In the wet areas of the shower will have miniorb colourbond, and tiles over the handbasin. The wall above the window and up to the hand rail will be miniorb, and the top of this wall will have a large shelf for placing potplants.

Your balustrade bits will be perfect. I will add extra steel or wooden balustrades to make it legal as the spacing is regulated.

There will be plenty of power whereever. I think a computer up in the loft would be a nice effect, as you can listen on line, or work there if you want. It will not be a hot area when finished. The side walls are 1700mm high and the height to the peak of the ceiling will be over 8 ft I think, without taking out the scale rule.

I even toyed with the idea of having an outside deck to retreat to which could be access easily from the portion of loft floor that goes towards the gable end window. I would just have to cut into the roof about 1 metre, and provide a small deck and doorway to get to it and presto we have a little fresh air outlook. This can be done anytime, and need not involve the council now if you like. But it is not an expensive idea to implement. It could be the way to gain an easy access to a platform atop the house that would be priceless as a lookout over the valley below, but all unnecessary as the veranda will be quite high enough until trees grow up around the house. I do get carried away with my ideas and forget there are 30 acres to buffer you from someone building up and blocking your view from the veranda.

My reply (Feb 27):

Thank you so much Dad, it sounds fantastic...the bits I understand anyway, I don't know what miniorb is! I especially love the idea of the handrails being made of saplings, and the steps themselves being parts of logs.

Not sure about having a permanent computer up in the loft area, but certainly power will let us take up a laptop for playing music etc. We could also have it propped on a table playing TV or something if you wanted to watch (I can see Dave in there having his long soaks, watching Collingwood!)

I love your idea of the little roof-deck, just as a little private tucked away area. Yes it is a luxury but if it doesn't cost too much then why not. I would have more plants up here, of course, and the telescope could be there too sometimes. It'd also be a good place for hanging out wet towels from the bath to let them air. Most important though, I don't want it to ruin the line of the roof.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the mini-orb Dad is talking about is corrugated iron but with little ripples, not the bigger ripple stuff youuse on roofs. (That used to be spelled rooves!) Very trendy in certain typles of building, and sometimes used for kitchen cupbard doors (in or on a timber frame), shower walls and so on. Years back they had to use it and everyone ripped it out as soon as they could afford modern tiles and such!