There was a time, long ago, when I just tinkered with interiors. I appreciated a good looking space but it didn’t consume me, it didn’t ignite great passions. My love was for fashion and it seemed like that was enough…
Then, around 9/10 years ago, my husband vanished one day. He was in the house, I was sure of that, but he’d vanished. I traced him, through the sound of scrapes and knocks, to a dark void above the bathroom ceiling! He’d crawled and clambered through a tiny gap above the water tank and was investigating a blank space he’d often wondered about.
The bathroom had a standard flat ceiling but above it there existed an unused triangular space between the ceiling and the roof. I believe he’d gone up there to investigate the insulation situation, or lack of it, in our freezing mid 1800s stone semi (actually half an old pub).Somewhat rashly, by the end of the day most of the ceiling had been pulled down. He’d just found roof struts and an exposed stone wall up there but he couldn’t bear to think that the space was being wasted. So the ceiling was opened up and a great filthy expanse loomed above us.
In the few years we’d owned the house we’d painted over some of the previous owner’s most garish wall decor, spread our belongings around and spent our time acquiring vintage oddments and clutter. This was the extent of our interior decoration. This, however was going to be no tinkering job; once the ceiling was down this was a commitment to hard labour, building maintenance and interior design.
This was a time before I used Pinterest or Instagram, I used to peruse my boss’s copy of World of Interiors over lunch sometimes so I guess that’s where most inspiration was gleaned at the time. Once I’d started to consider all the possibilities and challenges my head filled with interiors and it’s been an obsession ever since.
Luckily my husband is a practical kind of chap, originally a farmer, recently a landscaper, he was game to take on whatever construction elements we came up with plus some much needed remedial building work to the roof structure and stacks of insulation.
The following pictures are probably the best way to tell the rest of the story:Stripping back the ceiling, leaving only the rafters and a new expanse above. We considered stripping the plaster from the walls too but decided to let this be a natural divide in the room and edge it with timber mouldings.
Behind the ghastly collage wall we were delighted to discover a wood panelled wall.
We removed some of the ceiling rafters selecting a few to remain to create shapes and cast shadows in the otherwise open overhead space.Under the lino some of the floorboards needed replacing and the green really had to go.A layer of undercoat on the walls and it begins to look promising.
Farrow and Ball’s ‘Downpipe’ was just beginning to gain popularity, we love dark cosy spaces so we couldn’t resist. It was largely being styled at the time with florid pinks but I had picked up some splendid vintage mustard yellow velvet curtains at the local market and was keen to use these to add a touch of richness and luxury. The ‘Linenwash’ (Little Greene) ceiling added freshness and respite from the dark and drew your gaze upward.
We added a vast new storage cupboard above the water tank and a little cupboard accessible whilst in the shower so we no longer had bottles all over the side of the bath.
The sink and taps were reclaimed and we built a base to support them from an old table.The floorboards were painted the same colour as the wall then strewn with old rugs, the timber boards were not good enough to make a feature of so they blended into the background.
We added timber mouldings to the basic boxing in of the loo and boiler above, then replaced a small cupboard for accessing the cistern with a removable shelf for books and loo roll.
We clad the new ceiling in tongue and groove timber and patched up and repointed the bare stone walls.
We decided to leave the door in it’s original state; in a room so full of new paint we didn’t want to overdo it.
Unfortunately, once we’d lived with it a little while, we had to replace the original reclaimed sink. Below is the finished main wall of the bathroom (the same one as in the photo with pink circles and splodges), I think it was an improvement but I’ll let you judge for yourselves.
So this was our first big project but it was the encouragement we required to have the confidence to take on more and not be afraid of taking on bigger projects. Without this little bathroom renovation we might never have taken on our barn conversion and life would be very different now.