Love shelfie

love shelf

shelfieFive years ago, D and I moved into this, the first home we could properly call our own. I was pregnant with Austin; the house was a bit of a state, after having been rented out to short-term tenants for the best part of ten years. (Bits of it still need attention. Doesn’t it take aaaages to get round to any home improvements, when you have two children under the age of five?)

The bathroom was the first place we tackled. And, to help us, our kind-hearted friend Tam, a fine-artist-turned-builder-craftsman, offered to convert one bedroom into the bathroom of our dreams.

IMG_0256crop2Tam knows how to add features that bring out the character of a place, and of the people who live in it. As well as coming up with the idea of an illuminated shelf above the toilet cistern, he talked us through the pros and cons of our different design ideas. We ended up with a cast-iron rolltop bath that was large enough to house both of my baby bumps (with room to spare); and a shower cubicle into which you could just about cram two baby giraffes.

shower enclosureIMG_0238cropOur  bathroom – despite the fact that, five years on, it could now do with a lick of paint to freshen up the walls – is still my favourite spot in the whole house.

bathtime picturePropped up by some of my lotions and potions, is a picture of one of Austin’s very first bathtimes (and yes, we did bathe him in a washing-up bowl. We stopped short at using a scrubbing brush, though….)Elephant & CastleThis shot was taken from inside a condemned Council building in Elephant and Castle. Our good friend Rupert (who, just before D and I got together after a skiing holiday, was my confidante about how much I fancied this man) gave it to us as a present, on one of our anniversaries.

IMG_0264cropI picked up the vintage Pears tin plate on a Christmas shopping expedition to the South Bank. The heart is cut from slate formed in Wales (where I grew up), and was given to me by an old family friend one Christmas. I bought the bowl in a small local gift shop; the shells inside are from Deal, where D and I went for our last day out to the seaside as a twosome, in the late summer of my pregnancy with Austin.

booksAnd finally: the books. The Michael O’Brien/Tom Waits volume featuring shots of homeless people, and David Shrigley’s Red Book, were presents from me to D. The Ivor Cutlers are from his youth. Europe Without Walls and Make Your Own Damn Art were given to me by old University friends. I’ve only ever skimmed through the Tate magazines, but I can’t bear to throw them out. They are sent out to members of the Tate, and remind me of those days pre-children, when I had the time and freedom to make regular visits to one of the best museums in the country.

So, there you have it. Our bathroom shelf, spinning a yarn about our past and present.

There’s a footnote to the story of this shelf. While Tam was building the bathroom – at a cost much less than even mates’ rates, with energy and input well above what you normally expect from craftsmen – there was a hiccup in the proceedings. On a few occasions, Tam turned up late; there was even a day or two where he didn’t show up at all. We found out that the reason for these slips was his meeting a beautiful woman named Poppy, and falling in love.

This, of course, all takes a bit of time. Who wants to be installing the plumbing when you could be staring into the eyes of your new-found beloved?

Tam and Poppy now have a gorgeous toddler, and were married a couple of weeks ago. They held one of the most splendid of wedding receptions I’ve ever been to, in a warehouse in south London.

love shelf

Let’s hear it for love. And for light-up bathroom shelves.

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  1. June 6, 2014 / 10:10 am

    Wow! I think I have fallen in love with your bathroom, it’s just amazing! & I really love that picture.

    It has also made me realise what an embarrassment our bathroom is, the dominant theme being gaudy plastic on the cusp of mouldy and papers that should have been recycled a long time ago …

    • June 6, 2014 / 7:07 pm

      Ha ha well you should see our kitchen – that won’t be getting a look in on pinterest, I can tell you that much! I’m glad you like the bathroom though – I think I’m a bit in love with it myself.

  2. June 6, 2014 / 1:05 pm

    That is an amazing bathroom. And how do you have books in there without them getting warped from steam?

    • June 6, 2014 / 7:06 pm

      Thank you! When I saw your comment I rushed off to look at the books – and they’re all unwarped, despite having been in there for yonks. The shelf’s next to a window, so perhaps that helps?

  3. June 6, 2014 / 1:10 pm

    This is gorgeous Nell and so ‘you’! I love the paint colour in your bathroom – teale blue is one of my favourites. Great to have a friend give sensible and stylish advice isn’t it? Gorgeous 🙂

    • June 6, 2014 / 7:04 pm

      Yes, it really helped to have Tam’s advice and expertise. We chose the colour scheme, fixtures and fittings etc, but he helped us decide what would work and what wouldn’t, and came up with some innovative ideas. The main thing, though, was that he gave us the confidence to go for something a bit ‘different’.

  4. June 6, 2014 / 4:46 pm

    Oh, I love your bathroom! We’re in the process of (touch wood) buying a huge old wreck of a house and it has the biggest master bathroom I’ve ever seen… I can’t wait to redesign it and have the bathroom of my dreams 🙂 Love that your bathroom holds such memories x

    • June 6, 2014 / 6:58 pm

      Good luck! Bathrooms are a lot of fun to design.

  5. June 6, 2014 / 5:23 pm

    I love the light up on the shelf – and everything on it. It’s wrong that I want to come and use your loo now so I’ve an excuse to read those books isn’t it?!

    • June 6, 2014 / 6:58 pm

      Haha well I would say that I don’t blame you, and that I could sit for hours reading the stuff on our shelf. But sadly the children never let me stay there for long enough!

  6. June 6, 2014 / 8:23 pm

    I LOVE your shelf, and in fact your whole bathroom. The colour is really pretty. I totally get what you mean about not getting round to DIY when there are tiny ones in the house, we had a loft conversion done when I was pregnant with our second last year and it’s still not fully decorated six months later…Urgh.. Have a feeling my six month old will be leaving home before it gets sorted!

  7. June 6, 2014 / 10:40 pm

    What a gorgeous bathroom. I have a similar bath which I adore; it’s so good to have a bathroom that is special. I love the fact yours tells so many stories about your lives and that it played a part in a love story.

  8. June 6, 2014 / 10:49 pm

    Wow – your bathroom is just gorgeous. Our bathroom was meant to be fabulous but has never quite pulled it off!

  9. June 8, 2014 / 10:23 am

    It looks lovely.
    I like the light on the shelf, really great touch

  10. June 8, 2014 / 3:44 pm

    I reckon I am probably Quirky Chic too, love the mix of things that tell a story, natural things and gifts. What a lovely bathroom, ours needs some love, love what you did with yours. PS Good Luck with the insect hotel, if you attempt one!

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