Bathrooms in a block of flats

Refurbishing Bathrooms in a block of flats

Refurbishing or Remodelling Bathrooms in a block of flats in London, is notoriously difficult. The concrete floor and ceiling stops the bathroom fitters and installers from running pipes and wiring inside them. This is for safety reasons, you can’t chase concrete floors, ceilings, etc because they are part of the structural fabric of the building, boxing in the pipes is the best solution.

Small bathroom ideas for refurbishments

Small bathroom ideas for refurbishments

In London, most bathrooms are very small.If you can’t remove walls to make it bigger, colour and style is the key. And the quality of the materials used for refurbishing the bathroom. In the pictures below, the bathroom tilers used marble tiles on the wall and granite tiles on the floor. The plumbers then installed a Jacuzzi style bathtub and plumbing fixtures to complement the bathroom.

This is a typical small bathroom in a London home.

small bathroom refurbishment idea

The bathroom basin is a wall hung type, making the floor space bigger.

small bathroom london floor tiles

This is how the old bathroom looked like before refurbishment

old small bathroom london

For small ensuite bathrooms, click here : Building an ensuite bathroom

en suite bathroom london

Layout of Kitchens

Layout of Kitchens
kitchen layout

The work in a kitchen, though of course differing in detail from home to home, is basically the same, following a fairly constant basic pattern. Space must be allotted for storage of food (perishables in the refrigerator deep freeze, vegetables fruit in a ventilated cupboard or larder, and dry canned goods in a cupboard), and for preparation which usually involves sorting, washing, and cutting.
kitchen design layout

For maximum efficiency a well-lit flat work surface near to the sink is ideal, possibly with a wooden cutting board close to hand. Space and facilities for cooking will also have to be provided. The cooker should have a hard working surface next to it—preferably on either side for greater manoeuvrability. You can cook on a conventional combined cooker, or the oven—as is increasingly popular —can be separated from the hob-unit, and mounted conveniently at eye-level. Once cooked, the food is then served, usually on one of the work surfaces adjoining the cooker. Serving hatches are best positioned above or next to this dishing-up worktop.

For cold meals and sweets the food is prepared and dished up on a convenient work surface and passed direct to the servery. After the meal comes the most unpleasant part of what is usually a pleasant occasion— the washing-up. So it will be convenient if the sink is near the servery. If you happen to have a dishwasher, this could be well sited near to the sink whether it is a floor or work-top model. The final stage is the stacking of the clean dishes and cutlery. Most people consider the best place is close to the sink—unless of course it is priceless china to be put on display. But often crockery and cutlery are just as handy housed near the dining table, ready for table-laying. If some meals are eaten in the dining room, and some eaten in the kitchen, perhaps at a breakfast bar. then you will have to choose between the two. If you have one ‘best’ set and one ‘only-for-the family’ then you can keep your formal things together, or, if your dining room is some distance away from the kitchen you might find it best to duplicate your sets anyway.

Fitments, kitchen units and cabinets

There is a wide range of storage cabinets available today, from the inexpensive whitewood types without backs and with unsurfaced tops, to the more highly finished types with hardwood carcasses and laminated working surfaces. Similar cabinets are also available in stove-enamelled steel sheet. (Handymen should have no difficulty in constructing their own kitchen fitments, which can be especially useful if your kitchen is a peculiar shape and difficult to fit with standard sized units.)

Colour will always be perhaps the most personal aspect of design, but it is worth remembering that combinations of white and blue tend to give a chilly effect to the room, whereas yellows, oranges and reds have a decidedly warmer effect. If your kitchen enjoys long hours of sunshine or if you do a substantial amount of cooking it probably will feel over-heated towards the end of a day. This is where choosing the ‘cooler’ colours is particularly helpful. Conversely, a pokey kitchen that rarely gets the benefit of sunshine will look more welcoming if it has the warmer tones on at least some of its surfaces.

But over-strong, or over-emphasised colours can ruin the ‘homeliness’ of a kitchen, just as much as a chilly look. White fitments usually look very smart against some strong primary colour in the wall or floor covering. Or the main surfaces of the room can be painted white or neutral, and the fitments can carry the stronger colour. It is always difficult to visualise your kitchen from colours in a catalogue, so, if possible, visit a large showroom which will give you a good idea of what your dream kitchen will look like in ‘real life’. Kitchen fitments are produced in standard ranges, which usually incorporate a limited choice of widths and varying arrangements of drawers and cupboards. Most of the better quality ranges also include special corner cabinets. Shelves often come unfixed so that you can arrange them to suit your height, and most manufacturers produce special cabinets to house refrigerators, oven units and their hobs in the most popular sizes.

If you find – possibly because your kitchen is a peculiar shape – that the standard units will not fit neatly together, then this is a good opportunity to add an extra work surface by running one between two fitments or over the tops of several. Widths of units may vary, but their heights do not. Floor units are around 915mm (3ft) high which is a height that most people find useful—that is, as long as you are of average height.However, the Kitchen Fitters and Installers, can adjust the height.

The standardisation of height helps both the appearance of the kitchen, and its overall efficiency. Frequently the worktop itself, which continues across the top of several units (such as floor cabinets), is especially made from a single piece of laminate-faced blockboard, thereby avoiding joints in the surface. And the sink-bowl can be let flush into it , instead of having the sink-top interrupting the surface and looking ugly. As well as looking neater, this continuous surface is easier to clean, and therefore more hygienic.

Wall units are also made to standard heights, although because they come separate f r om the floor units you can fix them at various heights to suit yourself. This is particularly useful as the space above a singleheight unit is usually wasted and ends up as a mere dust-trap. You could try fixing wall units between the ceiling and the lower units to make optimum use of your wall space. But do remember that there should be a gap of not less than 460mm between the work surface and the underside of the first wall unit.

In deciding on the layout of your kitchen, you should allow adequate space for circulation, preferably for more than one person to move around in so that a toddler or chatty neighbour is not continually under your feet. Analyses of movements in average sized kitchens have shown that many miles are travelled in any given day. Often a large percentage of this distance could be avoided by simply re-arranging the fitments – it would obviously be a help if they were not several yards apart or hidden away in nooks and crannies. If you bear in mind the typical work-sequence as given above, then providing an efficient layout should be no problem.

It is a good idea to walk through the various stages of preparing a meal to discover the fastest route round your kitchen. Remember, all that is needed is enough space for two people to pass between one unit and another. More space than this will only cause tired feet.

Eating area

Many families find it convenient to eat snacks and quick meals in the kitchen itself. On one hand it is practical to reduce the distance involved in carrying food dishes to and from the table. On the other, it does not contribute to the enjoyment of a meal if the debris involved in its preparation is always arrangement where the distance from the kitchen is kept to a minimum, and the kitchen itself does not obtrude. There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved. First, you can manage this compromise—if the shape and size of the room lends itself readily to it.

As you are starting from scratch by refurbishing the kitchen it should be easy to plan this sort of shape. The remaining small rectangle can be used as a service lobby or for storage. In other cases, the extension could be the main kitchen, and an existing small room be converted into the eating area. Second, in a long, rectangular kitchen, especially if there is a door about a third of the way along one wall, the smaller end can conveniently be used for eating. Third, if you want to cut off the kitchen even more from view, you can use a projecting cabinet as a divider. And instead of the upper cabinets being fixed to the wall, they can be held in place by steel corner or angle brackets, leaving an open space above the work-top for serving.

If the wall and floor coverings change where this fitment projects, then so much the better, because this in itself will indicate subtly where one area ends and another begins. A fourth and more drastic way of separating the two areas is to alter the floor level. This is easily done when in the process of adding an extension, but as a general rule, changes in floor level are not a good idea, especially in functional rooms like kitchens where it might be difficult to see the drop of level when carrying a tray. If, however, you do decide to change your floor level, an eating area with its floor about 305mm (1ft) below that of the main kitchen can look attractive, and separate the two areas most efficiently.

It is better to have the eating-area floor lower rather than higher to reduce the view straight into the kitchen. And there should be at least two steps—as one step can be easily overlooked. There is a danger that the ceiling may become too high in the eating area, due to lowering the floor levels. Tn this case you could install a false ceiling which would give an added feeling of individuality to the eating area and improve its proportions. If this solution appeals to you, but you find that the steps present a problem, then you could achieve the same effect by using a short ramp.
kitchen false ceiling lights

The gradient should not exceed 1 : 8 so, for example, a 305mm (1ft) change of level would need an 244cm (8ft) long ramp. If space permits this could be very effective, especially if a run of floor cabinets is positioned so that it masks the rough edge of the ramp farthest from the wall. Blinds can be used to emphasise the difference between kitchen and eating areas. Venetian blinds, for example, could be fitted to a divider or a free-standing panel and form a false ‘window’ separating the two spaces as effectively but less permanently than a wall. Spring-loaded roller blinds are available in fabric or specially treated paper—both in a range of bright colours and patterns.

Alternatively you could use horizontally sliding doors hung on a head track. A lightweight door runs easily and silently on this type of overhead track. Stale food smells can be especially off putting if the kitchen doubles as an occasional dining area. You can eliminate them by using a small extractor fan in some convenient position between the cooker— the main offender—and the eating area. These fans are usually fixed to an external wall, collecting the air directly from the room and discharging it into the outside air. Some models can be fitted to a fixed glass pane in a window instead of on to a solid wall.

You could also fit the fan in a concealed position, with a duct connecting it to the room or to the outside air. More elaborate but more positive in action, are the fans fitted in or connected to a hood over the cooker. But they may not be quite so effective with cookers having high-level grills. Some types of hood incorporate a renewable filter to collect the greasy fume.

Showers or Baths

Showers or Baths

Showers have many advantages over baths:
• they are hygienic as you don’t sit in dirty, soapy water and you get continually rinsed
• they are pleasant to use. Standing under jets of water can be immensely stimulating, especially first thing in the morning
• they use a lot less water per ‘wash’ than a bath, which saves energy and is also an advantage where water softeners are in use
• economy of hot water usage means that at peak traffic times there is more water to go round
• showers take less time, they don’t have to be ‘run’, and users can’t lay back and bask, monopolizing the bathroom
• easy temperature adjustment of a shower gives greater comfort for the user and lessens the risk of catching cold in a cold bathroom.

Shower Location

You don’t have to install a shower over a bath or even in the bathroom. An en suite shower in the bedroom is one alternative site, but landings and utility rooms are another possibility. Provided a supply of water is available, the pressure head satisfactory, and the disposal of waste water possible, a shower can provide a compact and very useful house improvement in many parts of the home.
en suite bathroom

According to the study, the average eight-minute shower used 62 litres of hot water, and some power showers can use up to 136 litres, compared with an average bath’s 80 litres. These findings have been widely reported – in the Daily Mail, The Independent and the BBC, among others.
Regardless of whether you choose to shower or bath, there are simple ways to save yourself time, water and money. For example:

Fill up baths with just the amount of water you need – no need to fill right to the top
Install a water efficient showerhead – many are available for less than £30 – and the savings on your water and energy bill mean you’ll get that money back in less than a year
Take a shorter shower – by cutting two minutes off the time you spend under the water you can save about 40 quid off your combined energy and water bills annually if you’re on a water meter. (And imagine what you could do with the extra 12 hours of time this would save you every year!)




Showers are part of the modern bathroom, and can be fitted over the bath to save space, or in a separate cubicle.

Water Pressure for Showers

The most important requirement is that the hot and cold supply pipes to the shower must be under equal water pressure. With a cylinder storage hot water system, whether direct or indirect, hot water pressure comes from the main cold water storage cistern supplying the cylinder with water. The cold water supply to the shower must therefore also come from this cistern (or perhaps from a separate cistern at the same level);

it must not be taken direct from the cold water main. It is not safe to mix, in any plumbing appliance, water which comes direct from the main and water coming from a storage cistern. However, quite apart from the important question of legality, it is impossible to mix streams of water satisfactorily under such differing pressures. The shower will inevitably run either very hot or very cold, depending on which stream is the high pressure one. The cold water storage cistern must also be high enough above the shower sprinkler to provide a satisfactory operating pressure.

Best results will be obtained if the base of the cold water storage cistern is 1.5m (5ft) or more above the sprinkler. However, provided that pipe runs are short and have only slight changes of direction, a . reasonable shower can be obtained when the vertical distance between the base of the cistern and the shower sprinkler is as little as 1 m (39in). The level of the hot water storage tank in relation to the shower doesn’t matter in the least. It can be above, below or at the same level as the shower. It is the level of the cold water storage cistern that matters.

There is yet another design requirement for conventional shower installation which sometimes applies. This is that the cold water supply to the shower should be a separate 15mm branch direct from the cold water storage cistern, not as a branch from the main bathroom distribution pipe. This is a safety precaution. If the cold supply were taken as a branch from a main distribution pipe, then flushing a lavatory cistern would reduce the pressure on the cold side of the shower causing it to run dangerously hot. For the same reason it is best for the hot supply to be taken direct from the vent pipe immediately above the hot water storage cylinder and not as a branch from another distribution pipe, though this is rather less important. A reduction in the hot water pressure would result in the shower running cold. This would be highly unpleasant, although not dangerous.

Shower Mixers

Showers must have some kind of mixing valve to mix the streams of hot and cold water and thus to produce a shower at the required temperature.
shower mixer

The two handles of the bath taps provide the very simplest mixing valve. Opening the bath taps then mixes the two streams of water and diverts them upwards to a wallhung shower head or rose.
shower head

These very simple attachments work quite satisfactorily – provided that the design requirements already referred to are met. However, it isn’t always easy to adjust the tap handles to provide water at exactly the temperature required. A bath/shower mixer provides a slightly more sophisticated alternative operating on the same principle. With one of these, the tap handles are adjusted until water is flowing through the mixer spout into the bath at the required temperature.

double shower cubicle

The water is then diverted up to the head by turning a valve. Then there are manual shower mixers. These are standard equipment in independent shower cubicles and may also be used over a bath. With a manual mixer the hot and cold streams of water are mixed in a single valve. Temperature, and sometimes flow control, is obtained by turning large knurled control knobs. Finally, there are thermostatic shower mixing valves. These may resemble manual mixers in appearance but are designed to accommodate small pressure fluctuations in either the hot or cold water supplies to the shower. They are thus very useful safety devices.

But thermostatic valves cannot, compensate for the very great difference of pressure between mains supply and a supply from a cold water storage cistern. Nor can they add pressure to either the hot or cold supply. If pressure falls on one side of the valve the thermostatic device will reduce flow on the other side to match it. Thermostatic valves are more expensive but they eliminate the need to take an independent cold water supply pipe from the storage cistern to the shower and can possibly reduce the total cost of installation. Bathroom fitters and installers will find the best plumbing solution. Where a shower is provided over an existing bath, steps must be taken to protect the bathroom floor from splashed water. A plastic shower curtain provides the cheapest means of doing this but a folding, glass shower screen has a much more attractive appearance and is more effective.

Electric showers

You can run your shower independently of the existing domestic hot water system by fitting an instantaneously heated electric one.

There are a number of these on the market nowadays. They need only to be connected to the rising main and to a suitable source of electricity to provide an ‘instant shower’. You are recommended to have these installed professionally by a professional plumber or bathroom fitter.