Old houses, repairs & renovations

Living in an old, draughty sea side house is blissful during summer. In winter, not so much.

In summer all you need is a quick shower after a salty swim, luke-warm water is a bonus not a problem. Come winter, with arctic winds buffeting the house, luke warm is barely enough to take the stinging chill out of the small porcelain bath upstairs.

We use the upstairs bathroom because it looks charming despite the fact the hot water heater (geyser) is barely big enough to make a cup of tea.

Every April, as we start lugging boiled kettles up the stairs to eke out a quick wash, we vow that this will be the last winter we suffer the indignity of shivering to get clean.  This last summer we stuck to that vow – sort of.

Six months ago, with Gavin home on holiday from Abu Dhabi, we set to work on the downstairs bathroom – aesthetically hideous but with a big geyser with lots of hot water. A massive overhaul and renovation was called for and we were fired up. We stripped all the old gray tiles from the walls and floor, removed the mouldy shower and . . . . well, and nothing.

Gavin went back to the Middle East, summer set in with its balmy, lazy days, and I really, really meant to do something about the bathroom before winter.

Now I have a Hobson’s choice, a bath in the pretty, white upstairs bathroom with two or three kettle scaldings or braving the scary looking ablutions pictured below. . .

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5 Responses to “Old houses, repairs & renovations”


  1. 1 Lisa April 28, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Oh, I can feel your pain! I’d brave it – anything for a good billowing cloud of steam on an icy day. I’ve had a solar geyser installed here. The pressure is bliss but the maximum heat setting is not exactly scalding. I fear for the deep dark depths of the Cape winter…
    But back to your renovation job: I can totally see it in lovely bright gleaming white: floor to ceiling in nice vertical glossy porcelain (surprisingly cheap at some of the discount tile places in CT). A few days of tiling and you’d be almost there!

    • 2 Jeannine April 28, 2010 at 2:25 pm

      I’m with you regarding the steam, and I do brave it. It’s not as frightening from the inside of a hot bath.
      Those dark Cape winter depths. . . it’s as if we don’t quite believe they exist isn’t it? I feel like the squirrel who didn’t gather nuts. The summers here are so blissful and seem to go on for so long – it seems winter will never come. Then it hits, is bloody cold, and lasts for months after you think it should stop!
      I love your idea of the all white – I was thinking of a Paris Metro look with smaller tiles.

  2. 3 shoreacres May 9, 2010 at 5:34 am

    Over here in this corner says white, too – with dove gray and citron as the accents 😉

    It’s hard for me to conceive of your winters being so cold. You don’t get snow, do you? I’d think not – too much water about. Or not. You may have cold water, like the Pacific.

    Obviously, I know nothing about your climate except the summers look divine. I’ll give myself a swat or two and go study up!

  3. 4 shoreacres May 9, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Oh! I forgot. When I used to go up to “The Place” in the woods, the shower was a nice-sized pump up garden sprayer. Worked like a dream, it did – and you could mix the water to the perfect temperature by heating some on the propane stove.

    The only problem was that the… um…shower… was a dozen or so flat rocks set about just outside the cabin. Never a problem with privacy, as there was just no one about. But in the winter? Oh, MY! Lucky the woodstove heated the cabin nicely!

  4. 5 Jeannine May 9, 2010 at 8:46 am

    It’s not really cold here by North American standards, but our blood has been thinned by long, hot African summers!

    If the sun shines in winter, which is does most days, it’s very mild and pleasant with temps in the early to mid 20sC by noon. The mornings and evening get cold though, dropping down to 5C. And on cloudy days, it’s cold and damp. That’s when we need the hot water.

    A woodstove sounds wonderful, I’d really like to get one. Might just do that this winter, pick up an old second hand one and put it in the dinning room – maybe after we have finished the bathroom. . .


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