So Near And Yet So Far..


Apologies for absence. Again. Life’s like that at the moment.

I can’t find the words to describe the last couple of weeks. So I won’t. There was originally a Brexit analogy in here but given how that seems to be going this morning it would indeed be tempting fate. The things that I thought were fraught with danger, like relocating the bath from its summer-long residence in the garage at the top of the hill, went far more smoothly than I ever dared hope. Others, well not so much.

The only major thing left is the installation of a wash basin. Easy you might think? Well, no. We’ve just sent the second made-to-order unit back to Italy for replacement. So near and yet so far.

If you decide to save money (ho ho) and project manage the work yourself then the burden of sourcing everything falls upon you. And it doesn’t stop at the obvious things, like the bath, the loo, the basin, the tiles etc., it’s every bloomin’ detail in minutiae. The hinges for the doors, the mechanical gubbins that work the shower hidden deep within the wall. The downlighter fittings. Warm or cool light? Angle of the beam? Tilting or fixed?



Remember the pee light? The night light that was supposed to discreetly illuminate a tiptoe to the bathroom but instead chose to proclaim one’s mission to the world in a burst of high strobe disco lights? Well now it works. The unit’s driver was indeed at fault and a new one did the trick.

But the story was never going to end there was it. We may have the light, but how to turn it on? In the UK standard light switches either need to be outside a bathroom altogether or the light be operated by a pull cord, thus avoiding any possible contact between damp fingers and electricity. I didn’t fancy the cord. And Mike turned a funny colour when I suggested channelling wires into the recently lime plastered and decorated bedroom walls. It would need a more innovative solution.

Enter, briefly, the PIR. The Passive Infrared Sensor. In theory then, no need for a traditional switch at all. Just walk into the bathroom and the pee light would turn itself on. Simples! Well I’d spent weeks trying to find the right one. If not months. Thank goodness google is free. Sort of. Google may have tracked every move I’ve made over the last ten or so years and probably knows me better than I know myself. But at least they haven’t sent me an invoice. Yet. The trouble is PIRs need to be placed in full view if they are to work and, frankly, they aren’t the prettiest things. Which pales into insignificance when we delve into the mechanics of how they actually do work. On installation of the PIR one is required to set up a time delay, i.e. the interval between the light being triggered (turning on) and the light then automatically shutting itself off.  So how long is long enough? You can see where this is going. And there would be no scientifically controlled timings of nocturnal visitations, thank you very much. It was bad enough having to be ‘measured’ for the wall hung loo.

The thing with the PIR is that it’s all a question of compromise. Leave it set for too long and the light will continue to glow (through a glass door in our case) even after the night rambler has returned safely to bed. But set it too short and risk being plunged abruptly into darkness. Which is why the location of the PIR might prove so critical after all. Not waving but..



One last ditch dive into google came up with the solution. C’est voilà! A touch switch with the front surface comprised of a single, impermeable sheet of glass. Said to withstand 97% humidity and suitable for Bathroom Zone 2. Yes, the electrician would happily install it. Neat huh?



The challenge posed by the doors was even trickier. Given the proximity of the main entrance door to the shower area I wanted the door to be set back within the frame. That’s not a problem with a standard glass door bar handle but being the sort of girl who values her privacy in the bathroom I wanted an actual lock. Normally a door lock would be aligned to the edge of the door frame, not sit within the middle. Otherwise the bolt could drag across the door lining and damage the wood.

Cue yet more late nights nestled up with Messrs. google. This girl knows how to live let me tell you. But the answer is so often out there if you can spend the time looking. The most frustrating thing is usually knowing the right question to ask..



Inside the lock keep, buried into the doorframe, there lies a magnet.



As the door closes, and the lock passes through the door frame, the bolt remains retracted until it reaches the dead centre of the door recess.. level with the magnet. The magnet then pulls the bolt out of the lock and holds it in place. There’s a soft click to prove it’s engaged. Pushing down the door handle releases the bolt and there’s a privacy knob so the handle can’t be operated inadvertently from the outside. That’ll do nicely.



Four months to reach this point, not to mention over a year of advance planning. Almost as long as Brexit. I remember saying at the start of the bathroom work that I’ve never felt a sense of foreboding so strong. Next time I say that will you remind me to take better heed?


2018-11-15T11:16:46+00:00November 15th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. justjilluk November 15, 2018 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Hard work and looking good. I have removed the lock on the bathroom door! I have a silly fear of being locked in…..

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      The claustrophobic aspect of this bathroom, certainly in its old incarnation, always gave me the same thought. Fortunately there are two doors. I would be very unlucky if both locks failed simultaneously!

  2. Heyjude November 15, 2018 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    It looks like a luxury boutique hotel bathroom and those teal/copper tiles are gorgeous! I think I would need help getting in and out of the bath tub though, lovely as they are they do take a lot of water to fill. And have you considered taking up a job as a bathroom project manager? I am sure you have all the credentials for the job not to mention list of suppliers.

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      I think it will be quite a while before I can face doing a bathroom again!
      The bath is a lot smaller than you might think. The proportions of the room, especially the low ceiling, make it look larger than it is. The sides are quite thin though so it is probably roomier inside than the old bath which was over 10cm longer.

  3. Tracy Perez November 15, 2018 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Stunning. I love modern look in an old house.

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 8:51 pm - Reply

      Thanks Tracy. The minimalist style works really well in an old house. It lets the building speak for itself. Bathrooms are a little more difficult.. modern day comfort requires a long list of essential fixtures and fittings!

  4. grammapenny November 15, 2018 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    i hope you have filled that tub and soaked and soaked and soaked the cares away

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 8:52 pm - Reply

      Not yet.. the water is still off. But I have named the day!

  5. wherefivevalleysmeet November 15, 2018 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    It looks lovely and as time passes the problems with the pee light etc will simply fade away into a distant memory – I wonder if the same will true of Brexit too.

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 8:57 pm - Reply

      It looks like Brexit is going to do such damage whichever way it goes it will leave a legacy for many years to come. So sad and so unnecessary.

  6. Linda from Each Little World November 15, 2018 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    It’s all gorgeous. But having done two bathrooms with a contractor after we went around to shops and realized the enormity of doing it ourselves, I do feel your pain.

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      A bathroom is a massive job. The kitchen was much easier, as so much quicker. This week we saw a builder and briefed out the next project.. two rooms at once this time. I must be stark staring mad.

  7. TextileRanger November 15, 2018 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    It looks awesome — so streamlined and easy to clean!

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      That was exactly the idea. Bathroom cleaning has to be my least favourite job!

  8. karen November 15, 2018 at 5:28 pm - Reply


  9. karen November 15, 2018 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Sorry for the testing message. I’m finding it difficult to post on your comments section. The bathroom looks really glorious Jessica. So luxurious. Worth all the hard work and research. All the best. Karen

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      I’m really sorry you’re having problems with the comments box. If you could let me know what the problem is I’ll do my best to fix it!
      I’m just relieved that the bathroom is almost finished now. The disruption and never ending problems get to you after a while and there have been times when I have definitely fallen out of love with it. I’m sure that will all change when I get a chance to actually use it. Thanks Karen.

  10. ginaferrari November 15, 2018 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    Oh, but it does look so beautiful and elegant!

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gina. I just hope everything works!

  11. Kris P November 15, 2018 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Congratulations on the hard-won progress! I must admit that your posts continue to scare the heck out of me as we move closer to kicking off our kitchen remodel, which is already much more than that (involving an earthquake retrofit of our foundation and a new HVAC system among other things). The city is still deliberating on approval of our proposal to push out one section of wall but we’ve already got an architect drawing up plans based on the assumption that approval will be forthcoming – someday.

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      Retrofit of a foundation? Now that would scare me. In our previous house we had to replace the sole plate. In a medieval timber framed building they just laid a bit of tree trunk down on the earth to act as a foundation and needless to say they tended to rot. For a while the bottom couple of feet of every wall consisted of air and acrow props. Birds flew through and all the pipes froze. At least you won’t need to worry about that last bit!

  12. wherethejourneytakesme November 15, 2018 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    Looking good Jessica – it will all be worth the agro and hassle when it is done and you are relaxing in that bath – hopefully not in the dark.

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      I could always go properly medieval and have candles.. a useful back up if the LED strip lights don’t work.

  13. Sarah November 15, 2018 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    It looks wonderful, all that time with your google has paid off. It definitely pays to have some sort of light while visiting the toilet during the night, my husband fell down the stairs in the cottage we were staying in Devon a few months ago! Sarah x

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Oh no! I do hope he wasn’t hurt. It’s always difficult in a place you don’t know. In that situation even more important to have lights.

  14. plantbirdwoman November 15, 2018 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Looking good. Ah, the joys of home remodeling. Here’s hoping that your project as well as Brexit has a beautiful conclusion!

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      The project has a better chance than Brexit!

  15. janesmudgeegarden November 15, 2018 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    The bathroom is so smooth and streamlined-a triumph! There’s a lovely contrast looking from that modern luxury out to the soft warm glow outside too. Such luxury. Wonderful!

    • Jessica November 15, 2018 at 9:37 pm - Reply

      The bright orange carpet in the corridor outside will go eventually too, along with the several layers of wood chip paper on the walls. If we’d had the money I would have gutted the house and remodelled it before we moved in. As it is we’re doing it room by room so we can live in it at the same time. It’s not the best way.

  16. germac4 November 15, 2018 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    As others have said … your bathroom looks wonderful .. all that time with Mr Google paid off. I love the idea of the pee light & also the nifty lock on the bathroom door & indeed two doors out of a bathroom…. always good to have a fall back position!

    • Jessica November 17, 2018 at 5:16 pm - Reply

      A fall back position is always a good idea! In practice we’ll probably never actually use the privacy lock, but having a handle and latch at least means that the door will properly close.

  17. Diana Studer November 15, 2018 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    Our lights are a very low tech version. Two lights, two switches outside. A soft light for me to bath by (and your etc.) And a bright trio around the mirror.

    • Jessica November 17, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      Soft light is lovely in a bathroom. I also put in a second ambient circuit for just that reason. Relaxing bathing.

  18. Beth @ PlantPostings November 16, 2018 at 12:19 am - Reply

    I really like the touch switch, and your bathroom looks amazing! And the tiles, as we’ve said before, are fabulous! So much detail and so much work, but it looks like it’s finally paying off. Well done!

    • Jessica November 17, 2018 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks Beth. The tiles were a gamble but they’ve paid off. It’s a shame really that the bath now covers up so many of them!

  19. bittster November 16, 2018 at 1:20 am - Reply

    I think I see a bit of light on the horizon, it looks amazing so far, and such attention to details! It really respects the character of the building yet is entirely modern. I have to admit though that I’m glad it’s your project and not mine… and did I see that you’re already planning your next projects!? Always something 🙂

    • Jessica November 17, 2018 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Yes, we’re gluttons for punishment. I’ve got to the stage now where I’ve had enough of living with builders, nice as they are. I just want it done. So we’re getting our skates on.

  20. Peter Herpst November 16, 2018 at 5:24 am - Reply

    Oh my, what a long and frustrating process. I wish you many, many years of enjoying the gorgeous result. I’m worried about the door lock. What if, heaven forbid, someone falls in the shower? Is there another way in or a way to unlock the door from outside should help be needed? (Old people like me like to worry.)

    • Jessica November 17, 2018 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      There is another way in. And also a way of undoing the lock in an emergency. The pictures show the outside face of the lock. The knob which locks the door for privacy is on the other (bathroom) side. The button with the slit across it that you can see is the release, operated by a coin or something similar. I know what you mean about liking to worry. I’m there. With bells on.

  21. Linda P November 16, 2018 at 9:49 am - Reply

    So glad you’ve solved all your bathroom design problems with lots of patience and internet research! It all looks wonderful. The only plumbing we’ve had to deal with lately is replacing a kitchen tap unit on our return to the UK. The hot water lever came away in my hand early one morning and couldn’t be fixed. Hot water began to pour out and couldn’t be stopped until the hot water was turned off. Thankfully our plumber soon fixed it and serviced the c/h boiler at the same time. As for door locks I have a phobia about being locked in a small WC especially ones where people can’t hear you in an emergency. Knowing you I’m sure you’ve thought of everything re all your design issues. Enjoy!

    • Jessica November 17, 2018 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      That is the last thing you want to happen when returning after a holiday. I’m glad the tap was rapidly fixed!
      Yes, the door can be opened from the outside in an emergency. In practice the only time we’d probably use the privacy lock would be if there were other people in the house. The magnetic catch is enough in itself to ensure that the door closes firmly.

  22. Caro November 16, 2018 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Like you say, it’s all about asking the right question of Google. Well done for perservering – for how many sleepless nights did your brain mull over the pee light and door lock problems?

    • Jessica November 17, 2018 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      Too many. There’s always something to mull over on a big project such as this. It’s when the nightmares start I know it’s all got too much!

  23. Sue Garrett November 16, 2018 at 11:55 am - Reply

    You found some very innovative solutions.

    • Jessica November 17, 2018 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      Needs must. Nothing in this house is ever straightforward.

  24. hb November 17, 2018 at 6:52 am - Reply

    One sees an exquisite project and has no idea of the agony involved until it is explained. Thank you for detailing your experience. The light switch is perfect, as is everything else (save the missing basin). So very true about asking the right question. Searching for “bromeliad nurseries San Diego” found nothing, searching on “retail bromeliad nurseries San Diego”, and there they were.

    My own bathroom remodel began Tuesday. Won’t be nearly as interesting as yours. So far…they are still doing the demolition, but the damage from the leak is not nearly as serious as I feared, a huge relief. They will be doing demolition for two or three more days before the reconstruction starts. Our bath didn’t even have a door, which is another reason, besides the leak, that we are remodeling. It was Trendy for the type of house and layout in that era not to have a door on the bathroom. INSANE. I’m getting my door, finally!

    • Jessica November 17, 2018 at 5:49 pm - Reply

      I’m glad your project is underway at last.. it’ll soon be over now and in time for Christmas!
      The main entry door was one of the biggest problems here. It used to be a part glazed 80’s style door with a horrible net curtain over it. Being a room with no window it did help let in natural light but it was still an eyesore. The etched glass frameless door gave me a modern alternative while still letting in the light. And it works well being so close to the shower as any water that gets that far will just run straight off it.

  25. offtheedgegardening November 18, 2018 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    It look gorgeous, and its not even finished!

    • Jessica November 18, 2018 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gill. One day we’ll get there. Dreckley, as they say!

    • Jessica November 18, 2018 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      It had to be easy to clean, number one priority. The modern minimalist look gives me that, but the blue tiles stop it from looking too clinical. Thanks Jackie!

  26. Jacqueline Mumford November 18, 2018 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    It looks amazing Jessica ….. my favourite part are the distressed blue tiles at the back of the bath …. they are stunning …. a brilliant choice. The shower and everything looks so ultra modern and beautiful. XXXX

  27. snowbird November 18, 2018 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Oh…there’s always something for sure! Looking FAB though!xxx

    • Jessica November 18, 2018 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      It never ends does it.. Next house is going to be a new build. I’ve decided.

  28. Cathy November 19, 2018 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Another well told tale, Jessica!

    • Jessica November 21, 2018 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cathy x

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