Not All Ducks Are Rusty..

How did that happen then? Could it actually be two months since a post last appeared here? It wasn’t meant to be this long a break and I really can’t believe how quickly this summer has gone by. If you’re in the south west of England you might be questioning the validity of the word ‘summer’ in any case. And with due reason. Even the rubber ducks have had their fill of the wet stuff now.

So where have I been? Well I’d love to be able to tell you that we’ve just returned from exotic travels to tropical climes but sadly the reality is far more mundane. I’ve taken on too much and have been racing to catch up. Still am. In particular, I’m bathroomed out. No project is ever simple chez rusty duck but this latest one is proving harder than most. Eight planning meetings to date. Eight. Then there have been the research trips. If there is a bathroom emporium south of Bristol that we haven’t yet found I would be truly gobsmacked. Some of them we’ve visited twice. A couple even more often than that. I’ve picked up so many brochures along the way that I’ve had to arrange them on the study floor in three separate piles.. to spread the weight over the ancient joists.



The bathroom is probably our biggest challenge so far. It is long, low, narrow and almost entirely devoid of natural light: there is no window. It’s a cave. Black would not have been my first choice of colour in such a situation but there we are. Back in the day the decor was further enhanced by a dark brown carpet which I’m afraid didn’t respond well to cleaning and has long since been bundled up and conveyed down to the dump. We’ve been walking on the bare boards (and the remains of the carpet tacks) ever since. In recent weeks floor interest has been bolstered with the addition of the masking tape. It marks out the new position of things which will move.

And so, much of the last couple of months has been spent looking into loos. And vanity units, baths, showers, taps and tiles. Quite a lot of tiles. For a little light relief, a few weeks back, I gave myself a break one night and started googling for holiday deals instead. Something to look forward to when bathroom related disruption will be but a distant memory (I hope). And that was when I knew I had completely lost it. Looking through those traveller photos on Trip Advisor I came across a bathroom shot, from the middle of the Costa Rican jungle as it happened, and was heard to exclaim in that semi-hysterical way known only to the true bathroom obsessional.. “Oh gosh that’s a Hansgrohe Axor Philippe Starck tap!!!!”



Technology has certainly moved on since I last considered bathrooms. Our bathroom installer of choice seems quite taken with those ‘Spa’ toilets, which offer the ultimate in hygiene care: a wash and blow dry to follow through. One of these contraptions even operates by remote control via a unit that for my liking looks way too much like a mobile phone. Surely no woman would ever have come up with that idea. Imagine the complications which could arise. Not least your Other Half going off to work, as mine most assuredly would, with the device tucked into his pocket. But perhaps we don’t need to worry after all because it seems between them the manufacturers have all bases covered. There’s also an App. Of course there is. Which means that if needs must a person could operate the facilities by using their own phone.. presumably hoping fervently that the wretched thing doesn’t ring just as they’ve initiated the wash cycle.

No, chez rusty duck will not be having one of those. App or no App. Quite apart from the risk of exposing one’s ablutions to the wider world there is the considerable cost. Spending (one penny or two?) a three figure sum on a loo is bad enough never mind parting with four. We won’t be eschewing progress altogether though for our loo will be rimless. Easy to clean apparently. Which pushes all my buttons. And it’s wall hung. But that’s a story for another time.



There is no way to make these shots look pretty, believe me I’ve tried.

The large cupboard will go. There is no need for such generous bathroom storage and the space could be much better used. The future of the main entrance door has been occupying my thoughts for months. The frosted glazing is useful because it does at least allow in some borrowed light. But I could never find an alternative glazed door that was suitably contemporary. Until, last year at a hotel in Sydney, the light bulb moment struck. Frameless opaque glass.



Now doesn’t that look so much better?



With a following wind the plan is to start work sometime late next month.

Through all the trauma of getting to this point there is one additional bit of intrigue that has kept me going. In taking the measurements prior to drawing up a floorplan I made an interesting discovery. The distance between the end wall exterior surface and the inner partition is over 1.2 metres (4 feet). That is one mighty thick wall. Especially at the upper floor level. More likely the partition conceals a void. And if there is a space behind that wall what could be hidden within it? Artifacts from a previous age. A time capsule. Ancient bones. Treasure?

Will we be opening it up to see what’s there? Just try and stop me.


2017-10-26T10:07:39+00:00August 16th, 2017|Tags: |


  1. justjilluk August 16, 2017 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Glad you are back, I was worried. Do not envy you but I am sure it will be super when done. x

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 8:36 pm - Reply

      Kitchens and bathrooms. The most disruptive rooms to do. Hey ho. Thanks Jill.

  2. annincumbria August 16, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I was thinking of you a couple of days ago and wondering what your latest project was, looking forward to your next post

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      There’s always something on the go. It’s dragging on though and next year I want to ramp up the house projects a bit, just to get it over and done with so we can then relax more and enjoy it!

  3. kate@barnhouse August 16, 2017 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Glad to see you back, Jessica, and so interesting to hear your thinking behind the many design choices. I think the dark wall tiles and opaque door are inspired choices for a windowless room like this.

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      The door will be a bit more opaque than the one I found in the CAD model! It needs not to be see through but still let in some light. Our bathroom man is getting some samples so hopefully we will be able to get the balance right.

  4. Lady Eve August 16, 2017 at 11:07 am - Reply

    In my world, my money is on a large but (fingers crossed) many-years-abandoned wasps’ nest and the semi-mummified remains of a wood pigeon that found its way in but never out again. That’s in my world! Hopefully you will find something MUCH more interesting and I look forward to hearing all about it. Good luck with the bathroom.

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Your world is very similar to my world. We found a very old bees’ nest in the bedroom when we did the similar exercise there last year so we have the T-shirts on that one. There will be spiders. And a few dead mice. Of that I am certain. Having witnessed the semi-mummified remains of a kangaroo a few months back I am ready for anything. Not many kangaroos in Devon though.

  5. derrickjknight August 16, 2017 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Now I’ve managed to stop myself from imagining the sight of you looking into loos, I wish you well with the project. Good to have you back

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      It’s not something I intend to make a habit of. Looking into flowers is so much more satisfying!

  6. surreycottage August 16, 2017 at 11:31 am - Reply

    You’re not wrong about the weather – we moved to our cottage three years ago last August 14th and it chucked it down for most of the month – a pattern that seems to have been repeated in subsequent years!
    it is truly amazing what one finds in these lovely old cottages; one look in what passes for an attic revealed ancient timbers with extra and more recent bracing, the unplastered cob wall which we expected to find in the 18th century bit and which (surprisingly) extends to form the rear wall of the mid-20th century kitchen and upstairs bathroom addition.Makes us wonder what was there before 1960! Didn’t find any interesting treasures though – just the usual massive Devonian spiders!
    Good luck with the bathroom – it’s going to look lovely when it’s finished!

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      For a couple of weeks recently, until we had guests and I finally evicted it, we had a mahoosive spider living under the fridge. It came out each evening just as I went in search of a glass of wine. They are big here aren’t they. I wonder why?

  7. Em Parkinson August 16, 2017 at 11:33 am - Reply

    Great idea! Black tiles are the spawn of the devil……xx

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      They are OK in the right situation. Like one of those light filled uber contemporary glass and steel jobs by the sea. But not in a cave.

  8. grammapenny August 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    oh i hear you… we have done many a bathroom renovation… much of it ourselves.. we did call in the cavalry for the plumbing and major electrical… ripped out walls, floors and took a sawzall to a fiberglass tub/shower unit.. that was extremely gratifying. and didn’t get divorced. planning is good… your design is lovely. walk in shower is very cool. i can’t wait to hear what’s in that empty space.. i think i would get a sledge and poke a hole in the wall right this very minute so i could peek! good luck the results will be worth it.. and the good thing about interior work is that unlike the garden, once you’re done fixing it up the weeds don’t come back

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      In our previous house there was a bricked up fireplace and we did just that.. made a little peep hole because we were too impatient to wait until the wall came down. The walk in shower is the only way for me, closed in ones are too claustrophobic. And you’re so right. No weeds!

  9. Caro August 16, 2017 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Mystery and intrigue – quite an enthralling prospect! Although I sincerely hope you don’t find that you’ve got to repair a 4 foot thick wall with traditional materials … I wish you luck and look forward to reading all about it.

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      That wouldn’t be funny would it. One of the hazards of delving into old buildings because if you find something wrong you have to repair it. The main reason why it’s impossible to get any work done on this type of project for a fixed price.

  10. Indie August 16, 2017 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Ha, that reminds me of when we were searching for lighting for our house, and we looked through so many catalogues that we could walk into a restaurant and identify where their lighting came from. That looks like quite the challenging space to renovate! Good luck!

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      I won’t be doing another bathroom soon. But then again perhaps now is the best time.. because I know all about it!

  11. Marian St.Clair August 16, 2017 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    I, for one, hope you find a hoard! You certainly deserve it after all the love you have lavished on your remodeling projects. Good to hear from you:^)

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks Marian. Cothay Manor has been on TV a lot here recently, in the drama series Poldark. It was lovely to see it again, inside the Great Hall as well as many sequences in the garden.

  12. Peter/Outlaw August 16, 2017 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    So glad all is well, if wet, at chez Rusty Duck.Your new loo will look fabulous and we all look forward to seeing what you find in the void!

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Peter. Knowing my luck there will be nothing in the void. Zilch. Empty. One day though..

  13. bumbleandme August 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Fab to hear from chez rusty duck! It’s been bloomin’ wet here in Wales too! Good luck with the bathroom, with that amount of planning and research, it’s bound to looks fabulous (and because you’re behind the wheels driving the whole thing!). Can’t wait to see he finished result. X

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      I found a live weather radar site last night and was watching the rain as it got closer and closer to us. After us it hit Wales so I know you’ve had it bad too. What I want to know is, if the Met Office can also see the rain coming, why can’t they get the forecast right?

  14. Anne Wheaton August 16, 2017 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Hope there isn’t a body holed up in there! Having just spent the morning looking at baths, I fear that we may be about to fall into the same bathroom pool of doom. Last time I looked at bathrooms it seemed so much simpler.Good luck with the work.

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      It’s the cost of everything too.. who knew it could be so much. Vanity units for a start. Hundreds of pounds just for one drawer? Why?

  15. Sol August 16, 2017 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    love a good renovation cant wait to see what it looks like and what is in the void, lets hope it is lots of extra space!

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      There speaks a serial renovator. It won’t be useable space unfortunately because the ceiling is too low. I’m tempted to put the new partition further back though if I can, get a bit more space behind the bath.

  16. Susan Carder August 16, 2017 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Lovely to hear from you. I’ve wondered what you must be up and so am glad that all is well, even if a little bit messy.

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks Susan. The mess is the worst bit. But it will all be worth it. I hope.

  17. Archie The Wonder Dog August 16, 2017 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    I hope there’s something fabulous in the void, just please, I beg of you, don’t take any photos of the spiders which will also be in there! Many thanks!

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      OK. No spiders. I promise!

  18. Denise August 16, 2017 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    When I had my daughter, getting on for 30 years ago now, the hospital had what I called an ‘airy bidet loo’ upon which one perched one’s tender undercarriage, did one’s do, then pressed one lever with the left elbow to receive a cooling wash, and a second lever with the right elbow to receive a warm blow dry. It was absolute bliss, saving all manner of abrasions on aforesaid tender parts from the alternative use of scratchy hospital loo paper. Now, I realise this may be too much information but if I could have one of those loos now, I bloomin’ well would! But not if it was wi-fi dependent. Not with our slow and dodgy connections anyway.

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      Well get thee down to Devon because I know a man who will sell you one. Just the same except that instead of elbows you have a mobile phone type gadgety thing in your hand.

  19. CJ August 16, 2017 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Ooh, how exciting. Although be careful, it might be the entrance to another dimension. The Costa Rican jungle bathroom tap identification made me laugh. But I do love the attention to detail that you give everything, you really are creating the most exquisite and carefully thought out home, it’s beautiful. Great idea with the door, have you found one yet..? Good luck with it all. And I wouldn’t like one of those do-it-all loos etiher. CJ xx

    • Jessica August 17, 2017 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      A wormhole in the bathroom, now that would indeed be exciting. What’s the betting that wherever it is on the other side it will be raining. Our bathroom man is getting samples of the glass for the doors. They will need to be specially made because neither of them is ‘square’.

  20. Sarah August 16, 2017 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    Your new design looks fabulous, can’t wait to see it! I’m amazed you could name that tap! Sarah x

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 11:39 am - Reply

      So far contemporary designs really seem to work within the old style of the cottage, their minimalism really brings the structure of the house to the fore. I hope I haven’t gone too far this time..!

  21. wherethejourneytakesme August 16, 2017 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Nice to see you back and hear about your plans. The new bathroom looks fabulous – I bet you can’t wait. If there was a 4 foot space anywhere here in our house we would call it another room! Intrigued to know what is there so don’t keep us waiting!

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 11:44 am - Reply

      If the ceiling were higher at that point I’d definitely be using it as a room extension. We’ll see what’s there. If it would be a dead space that just collects dust it will get partitioned off again. I expect that’s why it was done in the first place. 🙁

  22. An Eye For Detail August 16, 2017 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    Fascinating and fabulous!!! Oh what a difference. We are about to renovate (not total….no, has to be partial) our bathroom and you have given me some ideas. Many thanks! And best of luck with all this; can’t wait to see more!

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Oh, I don’t envy you Libby. I am dreading this job. The only bathroom alternative is an even tinier en-suite off my study, from when it was a guest bedroom. It has only a fully enclosed shower, barely large enough to take a human with their arms held down at their sides. It will do my claustrophobic head in.

  23. Anna August 16, 2017 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    Good to see you Jessica . A rimless loo – didn’t know that there was such a contraption! I shall have to pass on this snippet to himself for next time round. I wonder what’s behind those walls – have fun finding out.

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      To be honest a rimless loo doesn’t look that different from an ordinary one. It just doesn’t have the waterholes round the rim. Water swirls around sideways from the back and in the beautifully graphic language the Swiss use to describe such things it “ensures the removal of all adhesions”. Thank goodness for that.

  24. Jennifer August 16, 2017 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Good to see you, Jessica! I love your bathroom reno, how wonderful. I’m sorry it’s been so stressful. I’ve done one of those complete bathroom overhauls myself, and let me tell you…it’s not for wimps. I have always believed it was the truest test of our marriage that we have experienced thus far. Surviving it was one of the main reasons we knew we were ready for children, actually. Just an awful trial. Anyway, I shall look forward to your explorations behind the wall. I’m going to guess a time capsule, bones or buried treasure.

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      Oh no! This is going to be even worse than I thought it would be. 😉
      It’s supposed to take three weeks and in the meantime we’ll be using a bathroom that is smaller than a cupboard in most people’s houses. 21 consecutive, stressful, days that are guaranteed to start badly before they’ve even begun. I think I’d better move out temporarily..

  25. Kris P August 17, 2017 at 12:09 am - Reply

    Oh dear! I hope no skeletons fall out of that void, although I suppose they’d make timely Halloween decorations if you’re into that. (Halloween is a ridiculously big deal in the US – my favorite garden center is opening its very large Halloween boutique in 2 weeks!) I don’t envy you this project at all. I’m trying to get my husband to agree to a badly needed kitchen update but, even if he agrees, I fear I’ll regret it. People keep telling me that, while the process is indeed awful and inevitably takes longer than anyone planned, I’ll be very happy in the end – I’m just afraid my marriage might not make it to that point.

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      There are some retail places here that are even starting to talk about the C-word. I hate it. Quite apart from the ridiculous commercialism it foreshortens the year. I’m still hoping for some vestige of summer.
      I think the only reason our marriage survived the kitchen update was the fact that for part of it we were 300 miles apart. Me here and him at the other side of the country supervising my mother’s house move. I’m not sure who had the better deal actually.

  26. bittster August 17, 2017 at 4:54 am - Reply

    The after photos will be amazing I’m sure… it’s just the getting there, which of course I’m sure you know.
    What a relief to get rid of the black, almost as bad as the powder blue we were faced with!

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm - Reply

      Bathrooms date very quickly don’t they. At least this one was relatively new and everything worked. More or less. Hopefully neutral and lighter will have a longer shelf life. I can’t say I’ll be missing the black!

  27. Rosie August 17, 2017 at 8:52 am - Reply

    How lovely to see you back here, It seems that in your abscence from blogging you have become one of the country’s leading experts on bathrooms and bathroom fittings;)

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      I have said many times in recent weeks I won’t be doing another bathroom anytime soon. But perhaps now is exactly the right time..
      Thanks Rosie.

  28. Sue Garrett August 17, 2017 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Remote controlled toilets? The mind boggles.

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Apparently they’re all the rage in Japan. Saves finding space for a bidet.

  29. Caroline August 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Oh goodness, your home improvement posts are always so exciting! Imagine what you’ll find in that void 🙂 How has the bedroom refit gone? Did I miss the big reveal?
    Sending you good building vibes x

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:27 pm - Reply

      Thanks Caroline.
      The last bedroom post was here. I’ll do an update once the soft furnishings are done. I have all the fabric.. but no time!

  30. Linda from Each Little World August 17, 2017 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Having done two bathrooms I totally sympathize. In our case the rooms were smaller (yes!) than yours and everything had to stay in the same location. That said, the new tile, fixtures, vanities, lights etc. are all wonderful. We did our remodel in 2007/8 and a day doesn’t go by that we don’t enjoy those redone spaces so much. Given the amount of time that one spends in the loo, having a space whose practicalities and aesthetics are exactly what you want is a great boon.

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      It does make such a difference having rooms which work for you. We’re quite keen (well, one of us is..) to get on with the house renovation now. It seems to take so long to set up each project, waiting for all the different trades etc., and things drag on. The sooner we can get it all done the sooner we can really start to get the benefit from it.

  31. wherefivevalleysmeet August 17, 2017 at 11:03 pm - Reply

    Lovely to have you back in this space again Jessica – a wash and blow dry loo is just too much – whatever will they think of next.
    I sympathise as I am having a kitchen makeover starting at 8.00am tomorrow and already I am looking forward to it all being over.

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:40 pm - Reply

      Oh Rosemary, I know you hate having workmen in the house as much as I do. I hope it is going well. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most disruptive things but worth it in the end.

  32. Virginia August 18, 2017 at 6:20 am - Reply

    I couldn’t help but imagine the revenge possible with one of those loos, if you were in the middle of a very bitter divorce and got hold of that remote control!! It’s great to have you back Jessica. You will certainly deserve your holiday once the renovation is all finished.

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      Mike has already alighted on the devilish possibilities of sneakily acquiring the hand held device.. and as far as I know there isn’t even a bitter divorce pending. Well not yet anyway. Come back in a few weeks..

  33. Jayne Hill August 18, 2017 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Welcome back :). If it is any consolation, the north west hasn’t seen much that could be called ‘summer’ either – loads of flippin’ precipitation though!

    A 4 foot deep void sounds fun – I sincerely hope you don’t have the same experience as in a silly mystery I am currently reading where renovation of an old house unearths a body hidden between plasterboard sheets in a partition wall ……

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      Crumbs. That sounds a very smelly way of disposing of a body. I’ve always dreaded having a mouse find its way into a partition or, more likely, under the floorboards and being unable to escape.

  34. ann hyde August 19, 2017 at 9:20 am - Reply

    We found a very good bathroom place in Plymouth with showroom and helpful staff.

    • Jessica August 20, 2017 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      So did we, just last week.. I wonder if it’s the same one?

  35. CherryPie August 20, 2017 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    I like the proposed design, it looks light and airy 🙂

    • Jessica August 21, 2017 at 9:08 am - Reply

      If it looks like that when it’s done I will be very pleased. Light and airy is just what is needed! Thanks Cherie.

  36. frayedattheedge August 21, 2017 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    After years of climbing into the bath to have a shower, I am delighted to have a proper shower cubicle in my new bathroom …….. except that the wall panels (while easier to clean than tiles) are dark blue, so even on the sunniest of days I have to turn the light on!

    • Jessica August 22, 2017 at 9:41 am - Reply

      Dark colours really do suck in the light. Easy to clean sounds rather good though!

  37. hb August 22, 2017 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    I admire your patience; I would be insane by now deciding all that stuff. It will be beautiful. I thought you were outside gardening this whole time–hope you got some of the fun outdoor stuff done also.

    • Jessica August 23, 2017 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      I’ve tried to keep the sunny days free for garden stuff. There just haven’t been enough of them!

  38. Chloris August 26, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Goodness, what perfectionists you are. It will be wonderful and so it should be with the extraordinary attention to detail. I am intrigued with the idea of lavatory wash and blow dry worked by an app. Probably just as well to give that one a miss.

    • Jessica August 27, 2017 at 8:09 am - Reply

      My thoughts exactly!

  39. Brenda August 27, 2017 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    You are a brave woman, that’s all I can say.

    • Jessica August 30, 2017 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      The existing bathroom became an even better place to be today. There is now a small sample of innocuous looking wood perched atop the cistern. It’s supposed to be totally waterproof. But it smells of vinegar. It’s there to see if we can get used to it. So far the answer is no..

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