We have, at last, an upstairs bathroom! What began life as a temporary green house for sowing seeds, then became a spare room for guests, then a bedroom for our two children and finally, it has evolved into a family-sized bathroom, complete with composting toilet.
Inspiration came from various images found online and we loved the idea of ‘old meets new’. It’s a rustic bathroom with a touch of modernity, maybe not to everyone’s taste, but certainly to ours and I’ll explain why in the rest of this post.
We had a blank canvas to work with and since we had no intention of installing a flush toilet, we were not restricted by waste pipes. There was plenty of room for a bathtub, but this is an unnecessary luxury for a house that’s trying to save water and be eco-friendly so was never on the agenda.
Here is a list of our initial requirements:
- a compost toilet (due to the success of our downstairs composting loo, it was a must for upstairs, even if it’s a bit more effort to empty the bucket!)
- a walk-in shower (for the ease of showering the kids and a luxury for us, when you have been brought up showering in baths)
- rustic furniture (made-to-measure by Pete)
- rustic pipework for shower (copper or brass, for example)
- a rustic sink unit (wine barrel or wooden work bench)
- lino flooring (due to the uneven floorboards, tiling was never an option)
- house plants (to create a relaxing oasis and make the most of this rather large, south-facing room).
Here’s a look at some of the images that inspired us and how they are reflected in our bathroom:
Although all the shower components were purchased separately,
the walk-in shower, as a whole, is the most expensive item in our bathroom,
totaling nearly 70% of our bathroom expenditure.
I wasn’t willing to compromise on this particular ‘luxury’!
I loved the patchwork tiles as soon as I saw them in an online picture (see above)
and managed to track them down from a tile supplier in Toulouse.
They cost us more than we initially intended but we don’t regret our purchase,
at least not at the moment.
Perhaps we might in twenty years’ time when our children ask
what possessed us to buy such ghastly, out-dated tiles!
Our shelves are removable to provide access to the pipework in case of any leaks.
My dad did all the plumbing…so far so good!
SINK AND UNIT
I initially wanted to incorporate the sink into an old wooden barrel
(we even bought the barrel second-hand) but it would have been too high for the kids to reach
and so we decided on a stone sink, with a waterfall, bamboo-style tap.
The sink unit was designed and made entirely by Pete
and began life as an old fireplace mantel,
a beautiful piece of wood given to us by one of Pete’s friends,
who was renovating his house…I wonder if he regrets giving it away now!
We bought the mirror second-hand for a bargain 12€
and Pete framed it with pallet wood, before making my dressing table (his own design).
It is very large and extremely heavy, but our generous-sized bathroom can take it.
It’s just missing a stool. Hint hint!
The design of our second composting toilet differs from the first
as the sawdust is stored in a removable bucket, to the side of the toilet.
This means we simply remove the bucket and take it to the shed to refill it with sawdust,
plus the kids can reach it easier than the downstairs one which is built-in behind the toilet.
For added privacy, there is a screen with a floating shelf (for one of the plants)
and it hides the toilet from view when you walk into the bathroom.
I guess not many people have a toilet with a view!
I carefully researched plants that thrive in humid and light conditions
and this is what I came up with:
Areca palm – the largest plant in our bathroom which is very easy to look after and impressive to look at.
Aloe vera – a useful plant to have in the house (which I bought last year and brought up from the lounge).
Snake plant – a hardy plant that filters toxins from the air.
Peace lily – a striking flower that also purifies the air (it is not kept in direct sunlight).
Umbrella plant – it wasn’t chosen specifically for the bathroom but it was beginning to suffer in the lounge so I brought it up to the bathroom and it has since picked up.
Zamioculas (Emerald Palm) – my favourite plant that is nice to look at, easy to look after and doesn’t need much watering.
I am still on the look-out for a fern and an orchid, but I’ll see how I get on keeping these ones alive first.
FIXTURES AND FITTINGS
Once we had decided to get a black shower and black taps,
it seemed we needed a bit more black here and there to bring it all together,
so we went for a rustic lantern light and a cubic suspension light
(chosen because they both take E27 lightbulbs,
which we got for free earlier in the year from mesampoulesgratuites.fr).
The paint was chosen in accordance with the tiles, four different colours for four walls,
but a bit of thought went into them all the same.
The vibrant yellow represents the sun
and brightens up the bathroom with a Mediterranean feel.
The pastel brown wall represents the earth and soil
and reconfirms our connection to it.
The pale blue wall represents water
and the pastel green wall represents life (renewal, nature, energy).
So what exactly did it all cost?
Upstairs bathroom costs – Sep/Oct 2017
|Tile glue||Carro Discount||25|
|Patchwork tiles||Comptoir Toulousain Carrelage||204|
|Shower plug and overflow||Amazon||23|
|Sink tap, siphon and plug||Amazon||56|
|Large mirror||Le BonCoin||12|
|Black mirror and hooks||Ikea||31|
Labour (carried out at weekends by Pete) and all the wood for around the window, shower base, shelves, sink unit, dressing table and compost toilet was Free (with a capital ‘F’)!
A lot of thought went into this bathroom and I think Pete has done an amazing job. I particular love taking a shower while enjoying the view of the countryside. There are no curtains at the windows and no shower curtain to protect our modesty. Protect it from whom? Out here, in our countryside retreat, there is nobody. Just us, an average family of four, trying our best to live a happy, sustainable life, and my parents, who now live with us full-time and have at last started calling it ‘Home’.