Rainshore update – problems with the bathroom

posted in: Designing | 17

Maybe I am overstating that – “problems with the bathroom” – but Nick has been fretting about the design of the bathroom, and this week we resolved it.

Below you can see a photograph of the room ready to get what it needs to make it into a bathroom. You will see that we now have a house that has electrics, plumbing, plaster and whitewashed. Yea! That is progress and overall once a home is plastered it feels like it’s nearly finished. Like when you sew up the side seams of your dress, put in the zip and try it on. Of course there is still so much to do (facings, lining, hem etc) but you have the form completed and you can try it on. The house is like that now. The next stage will be the floors, skirting and staircase as the woodwork goes in.

So what is the problem with the bathroom? The problem goes back to our design. Most of the homes on the estate are designed for holiday use and lettings. The design maximises the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to give maximum letting flexibility. We didn’t like this approach. We found the bedrooms too small and the bathrooms too large and plentiful. Nick and I use bathrooms mainly for washing etc and, given my daily gym trips I use the shower twice or three times a week. Nick is a bit OCD about personal hygiene and often showers twice a day. I know you are thinking “too much information” and “I hope she is not going to talk about toilets”. OK I won’t. But when you are designing a home you really need to think about what matters to you, how you use space and facilities, where you want your wow factors, what you use storage for, how you want the house to flow. So, in the planning, we talked a lot about the bathrooms (and bedrooms) and how we wanted to use them.

Rainshore bathroom
Problem Bathroom

Rainshore has three bathrooms, all very much smaller than on the original plans. They are functional rather than having the Wow factor.

Now, as you know, I work in property development and wow-bathrooms are all the rage in London. As we build small flats on the whole (land in the capital is eye-watering expensive), often with internal bathrooms (ie no natural light) we have to work quite hard to make them look attractive. Here is an image from one of our new developments in the Royal Docks (Newham). This is not my personal cup of tea, but it shows that modern bathrooms are both fairly large, often include a bath and use interesting and attractive materials. In fact due to disability regulations often the bathrooms are designed so they can be used by a wheelchair user, leaving the bedrooms and communal areas rather small and restricted. I have a bee in my bonnet about how much space we give to bathrooms. So our bathrooms, at Rainshore, and in our current flat, are as small as you can make them, with a focus on functionality.

Notting Hill Housing Royal Albert Wharf
Notting Hill Housing Royal Albert Wharf

So back to our “master bathroom”.

We knew (as well as a WC and WHB – toilet and basin) we wanted a double shower, to allow for shower sharing. Again this maybe too much information but even if you are dedicated to privacy having double the space in the shower is nice. But we wanted two shower heads with two independent sets of controls. He likes very hot, I like hottish. And my showers are shorter as I don’t wash my hair everyday. (See what I mean – it is probably very tedious for you to read this stuff). We also wanted to turn on the water without getting a wet sleeve. The shower heads are recessed into the ceiling so all you see is chrome circle with tiny holes and the water comes down on your head from above (if you stand directly underneath). So all this was considered by us and our architect.

As we went on Rachel (the architect) suggested we put a bath in too. Sometimes you want a bath, sometimes visitors want a bath, sometimes little kids come to stay and need a bath, occasionally crafting activities need a large vessel. OK. So we decided to include a bath. So two showers and a bath were designed. Here are the plans.

Rainshore Master Bathroom Plans
Rainshore Master Bathroom Plans

This week we decided on the type of bath that will go into the back of the bathroom. After lots of mind changing we went with a free-standing bath. This will sit at the back of the space and the two showers will be set in front of it. They may splash a bit onto to the bath, but we think there is enough space to minimise this. It would be possible to have a shower while someone was having a bath, if you wanted. We have specified neutral white and off white wall and floor tiles. And then Nick chose a mirror from the Arts and Crafts period. Together I think these two features give us sufficient “wow”.

And just because you have been very patient here is a picture of my sewing room. It’s going to be magnificent.

Fabrickated Sewing Room
Nick and Nathan in the Sewing room


17 Responses

  1. Sweatyknitter

    I read this blog with appreciation. After looking for two years at new house designs that all had a large, deep tub-with-water-jets, I finally just started saying, “No, we’re not Romans” – undoubtedly confusing some of the realtors and designers. (“She doesn’t sound Italian.”). So our master bathroom is being built to our specs: no tub! We’re putting in a tiled walk-in shower with a slanted floor. (I learned houses have to be raised to accommodate that.). Guests will just have to use the front bathroom with its a tub/shower combo. 🙂

    • fabrickated

      How funny – about not being Roman! I like the wet room idea – stepping up into a shower tray seems so ugly and awkward. My disabled Mum can’t get into the shower even though if she could it would be a lot easier than the bath.

  2. Stephanie

    So funny! Such a lovely place, Kate. Like you, I don’t see the point of a large bathroom. I spend a minimum of time therein, although I do love a very hot shower. I used to think that large bedrooms were not very useful though and now I have one and I love it so I take that one back.

    I had to laugh when you made the point about Nick being OCD about personal hygiene. So is G! I know that they are both foodies, too, whereas I think you are a bit more flexible about eating, as am I. With G. I always wonder where he has disappeared to and when I can’t find him I can be pretty sure that he is in the bathroom.

    I can imagine how excited you are about how your new house is progressing.

  3. Anne

    Exciting! Your new sewing room looks fabulous even now. Can’t wait to see the finished deal.
    When we bought this house we had a shower in the bedroom itself which I hated. The previous owners had been unable to fit it in the ensuite bathroom as they had a huge tub with jacuzzi taking up room and water. I hated that too. Some rearranging (a lot), knocking down and building walls, changing entry positions etc, we now have a bathroom to suit us – it does have a bath and a separate shower. No jacuzzi though with a new boiler etc we could maybe have filled the bath they had previously!

    • fabrickated

      It seemed to be a bit of a fad – jacuzzi baths… I have tried them in hotels and so on and found them unpleasant. It’s amazing how fashions change. I remember living in a house with a wash hand basin (pink or green) in each bedroom. And bidets in the bathrooms.

  4. Annnieloveslinen

    Making the space work for how you plan to use it makes perfect sense, space does not equate to function and I’d rather have a bigger communal area than bathroom.

    Your sewing room is heady stuff, I’m interested to see how you plan to use that space.

  5. neucarol

    An interesting conundrum here in the US–buyers request/insist on having a bathtub while owners seldom use them unless they have young children.
    Wow Tub!

  6. Mary

    So glad you put the photo of the sewing room last as my eyes were blinded by how amazing it looks and would not have been able to read on! I’m with you on small efficient bathrooms. I’ve been in homes where the master bath has lounge chairs and coffee tables like you are going to hang out. Our home (which we did not build) has a huge spa tub in the master which I have not once used in 10 years. It does nicely fit my clothes drying rack as there is no laundry room. Obviously the architect was a man!

    Your new home is going to beautiful and you will enjoy all the perks of the design thought you are putting into it.

  7. Jennifer Miller

    First of all….WOW! I’m with you on small bathrooms – and yours will be especially fabulous. Since ours is an old Arts and Crafts home, I love the mirror in the bathroom and agree it is the perfect melding of style. Just loving the progress tours of your lovely new home. Ooooh, thank you for the glimpse into your sewing room-to-be.

  8. Joyce Latham

    Just stepped out of the car, returning from our road trip…home and directly clinking on the post of Rainforest update….wow, so exciting to see the plastered walls, I’ll be back for a re-read as soon as I get settled in . fUN FUN FUN!

  9. SJ Kurtz

    This comment is titled: Please learn from my remodeling mistakes, because it’s too late for me.

    Our huge jacuzzi-size bathtub is much bigger than our average-size gas water heater. Four inches of hot water is not a bath. Hadn’t thought it through, and ensured we could not add a larger water heater by our clever removal of one of the ventilation chimneys. A point of service heater is also not possible, due to wiring issues (stuck behind that tres chere tile).

    It makes me sad to look at it. I had such hope for it. In addition, it’s too tall for me to step into as a shower now. Even though we remodeled that room from top to bottom twenty years ago, I anticipate tearing it all out (at least the tub end) to replace it. I may use the tub as a planter in the yard. Or as a small boat for my Viking funeral.

    Downlighting / can lighting is really pretty poor lighting. You get pools of bright light rather than a general effect, and forget trying to tweeze anything on your face if you have it in the bathroom. Indoor photography is not very good as a result (that’s why my blog is so lacking in photos of me in the clothes).


  10. Joyce Latham

    All so exciting! It all comes down to personal taste doesn’t it….but super exciting to be designing for yourselves. Keep the up dates coming!

  11. ceci

    After last summer devoted to remodeling one bathroom I am convinced that thinking and re-thinking and thinking again is critical to success.

    And this STILL sounds pretty big? Do you have glass (or something) doors between shower/tub and sink/toilet? And do you step up and over into the shower? We ended up (in a much smaller bathroom) with a floor to ceiling glass brick wall between shower and toilet/sink and an unshielded (no door or curtain) opening between shower and toilet. It works fine, we are not kids and don’t squirt shower water out of the shower space. Also no tub, which everyone told us would doom resale, but I was tired of stepping into a tub to stand there and shower and no one except seldom visiting children had taken a tub bath in years. Our other modification, which worried the contractor, etc, is a large enough sink to bathe our small dog, who is the only family member not well adapted to showering. We love everything about it (especially the heated floor, do you do heated floors there?).

    Oh, and what is a “laundry maid in the ceiling” – sounds intriguing!

    Enjoying your building adventure so much more than my own!


    • fabrickated

      Thank you for sharing your interesting experiences Ceci. I loved reading about your remodelling adventures.

      Yes there is a glass partition and towel rail between the shower area and the WC/WHB. The floor is flat with a slight dip to drain the water away. There is an opening (door way, no door) into the shower but the shower heads are shielded. And yes! We have underfloor heating – an absolute delight in cold weather. The laundry maid is a rack, or wooden frame that is hauled up to the ceiling on rope pulleys. You put your wet clothes on it and they air dry. I was brought up with these rather than tumble dryers and we always have them. Practical, economic and ecological.

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