Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Before and After Bathroom

So here it was, left, our cottage bathroom, about fourteen months ago, and there it is now.

And yes, that is the lavatory that you can see perched in the middle of our much loved Victorian cast iron bath, in the 'before' picture. It even has ball and claw feet - the bath, I mean, and not the loo. Bathroom renovations are horrendous to live with and this one involved moving all kinds of plumbing about, rescuing some rather nice vintage Laura Ashley tiles, that we didn't want to lose, and replacing our tired old flooring with ceramic tiles. The Edwardian sink had a crack in it, which became terminal as soon as it was moved - but we found a reasonably priced (and suitably old fashioned) replacement from a company called Screwfix.The sink taps too came from Screwfix, and cost so little that I couldn't believe they would work - but they have, and they do, and they also look suitably vintage. The bath stayed, of course, although it had to be moved, a major undertaking. My husband spent hours and hours on his knees, doing the floor, and we spent January and February 2006 trotting along to the cottage next door for showers. (Bracing!)

This was the start of a year long period of renovations for us. We've proved that you can make a vast difference without spending a fortune and we've learned a huge amount in the process. In fact in the course of the year, we have sometimes realised that we knew more about some of the projects than the so called professionals. This is alarming and reassuring at the same time. The single piece of advice we could give to those embarking on this kind of project would be to learn all you can about what you are going to do - even if you are going to be employing somebody else to do it!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Tartan Quilt.

It's in bad condition, the backing cloth - a big printed paisley - almost in shreds and even the front is sadly faded in places. But I bought this fascinating old textile at auction today - a patchwork quilt, constructed of pieces of tartan cloth, which are said to be pieces of kilt which date from the First World War, and which were worn by soldiers of the time. The cloth is fine wool, and I wonder if some of these tartans date from the nineteenth century - people would often keep kilts for many many years. There is a thistle emblem embroidered in the middle. I've never seen anything like this before, but there is something indescribably evocative about such pieces of textile history - as though events themselves were somehow woven into them - their emotional charge is unbelievably powerful.