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When A Bathroom Remodel Turns Into Something Else Entirely

| 8/28/2018 7:04:00 PM

Large scale house renovations are not for the faint hearted. It’s hard to avoid some interruption to ‘normal’ life, even if it’s just the tradesman’s dusty size 11’s trampling up and down the stair carpet. Or the ubiquitous builders’ radio. Or the doors left constantly open. Most especially in winter. If you really want to up the ante, tackle the kitchen or the bathroom, the most disruptive projects of all. And if that’s still not enough adrenaline to satisfy the ultimate decorative thrill seeker, take on all of the above in an ancient house.

Pic 5 Bathroom remodel
The Bathroom. The old ceiling turned out to be too weak and had to be removed. At this point, ‘first fix’ plumbing had just begunPhoto by rusty duck

But for all of its stresses and strains, for me anyway, old house renovation is exciting. It’s all about the discovery. The peeling back of the layers. Think about it. If a house is 500 years old, just how much has changed since the way we lived back then? And as their lives became increasingly sophisticated, successive generations added their own modifications to the basic structure of the house. Partitioning of rooms to fulfill different functions, the addition of fireplaces and ranges for cooking and, ultimately, the incorporation of ‘modern’ conveniences like water, drainage and electricity.

Pic 6 Bathroom remodel
Smoke blackened beams and thatch. Photo by rusty duck

In the course of renovating an old house we open up a window onto what has gone before. Taking down our bathroom ceiling opened a window on a completely different world. The original cottage would have been little more than a single room with a basic hearth in the center of the floor: a fire to provide warmth and a means of cooking away from the worst of the winter wet. No chimney, just maybe a small opening in the roof to let out some of the smoke. But we can see how murky the room must have been from the soot deposits still remaining on the inside of our roof.

Simple living, medieval style. And thank goodness we don’t have to go to quite those extremes to get back to basics today. It couldn’t have been very healthy!  

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