Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Curious Incident of the exploding toilet and the bathroom makeover

One of the hardest things to come to terms with as a single parent, is the amount of times that you have to unblock a toilet. Had I known the regularity, I may have chosen to stay married.

But instead, I blew up the toilet.  

Let's be clear on this, it wasn't intentional but following a pragmatic decision to get hardcore with a bathroom that had been the bain of my life for the last few years.

The bathroom started out well, just £100, a bit of MDF and some gritty determination saw a bathroom transformation that served it's purpose for a few years. The financial overstretch in buying the village pub left us with a renovation budget smaller than most people spend on a week in a villa with a heated swimming pool. If it didn't come from Freecycle, Gumtree or Ebay - it didn't get past the front door. And from a functionality perspective, the bathroom did what it needed to. Aesthetically, it looked positively homely, just so long as you bathed by candlelight.

The trick to my current bathroom design is to spend no longer than 2 seconds looking at the detail or bathe by candlelight. Just remember not to overfill the bath

Let me explain life as a single divorced parent. Remember those days when there was someone to clear up the kitchen whilst you put children in the bath? They are over. You cook whilst they bathe. You know when it's time to get them out of the bath when the water cascades through the ceiling. Which happens several times. Over time the bath drops a couple of cms and the sealent no longer fits. 

Don't try applying it with your finger nails, the result is aesthetically compromised and it's not water resistant.

Limestone is not mattress resistant. I wish I had known that.

Children of single mothers tend to climb into Mummy's bed in the middle of the night. And then you realise that the warm feeling you experience isn't love but a small boy wetting your bed. And Tempur mattress's are VERY absorbent. Take my advice, NEVER try and rinse out a Tempur mattress in the bath. What is already heavy mattress topper soon becomes a three tonne dead weight that takes 6 leather belts and three people to drag out of the bath and down the stairs. And it cracks tiles.

Always use childproof hinges. Or don't have kids 

And small boys do not shut hand made MDF cabinet doors, they lean on them, they spray toothpaste and water over the paintwork. Eventually the doors drop, the paint wears off and the MDF swells and that is all before we venture into what they do with toilets.

Paint effected MDF is not child proof. 

And so we get to the curious incident of the exploding toilet. I'll leave out the leaking cistern and the ext-husband and his failure to create a removable panel. And I'll miss out the bit in which I spent 4 days assuming the dripping was a leaking roof until I finally realised that it wasn't actually raining outdoors. We shall skip to the worst part of being a single Mother - unblocking the toilet.

And boy did I try it all: coat hangers, toilet plungers that guarantee splash back and eventually pressure washers (messy). So when I returned from a holiday to discover that a teenager hosted a party and the toilet had been blocked for a week, it was time to get hardcore.

So on the recommendation of the man with the brown coat in the local hardware store, I poured Sulphuric acid down the loo. On reflection, it was a mistake. As I watched the nuclear cloud mushroom out of the loo, I realised that prudent people read instructions. Realising just how dangerous this situation had become, I covered my face in transparent nylon in a bid to get to the window, the mixture of acid and 'blockage' began to seep from beneath the loo. This was bad news. It took several changes in nylon headwear and three cartons of bicarbonate soda to neutralise this toxic substance.

The severity of the reaction had split the loo and melted a hole through to the floor, through to the kitchen. On a positive note, it cleared the blockage.

So just last week, I had a new loo installed but in true single parent 'think in the moment' style, I forgot to allow for the size of the previous loo. I'm calling it a design feature, an inbuilt ventilation system. Who am I kidding.

So when I stumbled across a competition earlier today from The Big Bathroom Store to win a Bathroom Make Over, the timing could not be more perfect. So I am writing a blog, creating a dream bathroom on Pintrest from their online store, in conjunction with Tile Mountain and I am dreaming of a rather nice new bathroom. One that does not reflect life as a single mother.

And here is the thing about modern bathrooms - they are modern. Gone are the days when a bathroom space should be merely functional, we all want spaces that are aesthetically pleasing as they are functional. When you have had a stressful day - you need a spa like experience, not a nervous breakdown.

So clicking through the pages, I have chosen ranges that I can imagine relaxing in, tiles that will stand the test of time and create heritage in keeping with my old beamed bathroom. A perfect bathroom for a single mother is not white tiles and über modern - the aim is to create a sense of well being, not more surfaces that have to have finger prints removed from every five minutes. The classical styling of a freestanding bath can work as well with contemporary furniture as it does with more historic lines.

Modern manufacturing creates instant heritage with the freestanding Winchester Suite & über stylish Skyros Delft Tiles 

The Premier Ryther Double ended Slipper with Skirt Bath is a contemporary take of a classical design. The perfect partner to Craquele glaze tiles. This combo had got relaxation and romance written all over it 

Still under suites, my wild card is the Black Wood Levity furniture suite. Contemporary wall hung in wood veneer would work well in my bathroom, complimenting the beams and adding visual floor space. There are a host of freestanding baths available on the site but this furniture is the statement piece. And from my perspective, clutter free creates harmony.

Ribera slate effect wall tile is the perfect back drop for the Black Wood Levity bathroom furniture suite 

And it all ends with children because perhaps in a strange way we reap what we sow. Perhaps in giving birth to so many, so certain to destroy my finances and my bathroom, that they could ultimately be the very reason that I get my own sanctuary.

And if I do, I am purchasing a very large bathroom lock and giving them a bucket and hosepipe.
There is nothing quite as heartening than a sense of harmony.


Go to Tile Mountain for check out floors and walls
And head to for a host of bathroom suites

Disclaimer - this is an entry into the Dream Bathroom competition in conjunction with Big Bathroom Shop and Tile Mountain.  The dream is still very much my own :)

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