Boxing in a bath

The days are gone when baths were tall cast iron structures with ornate exposed legs. Some period bathrooms can look good with cast iron baths too.

cast iron bath

The simple lines of a modern bathroom require the sides of a bath to be boxed in. Boxing-in a bath is a comparatively simple job and can be done with a wide range of tiles, plastic laminate, tongued and grooved timber boarding, or even gloss painted plywood.

None of these presents any serious technical problems. All these surfacing materials can be mounted on a simple but robust wooden frame fastened to the floor around the edge of the bath. The installation, however, has to meet various requirements. First, the frame must be strong enough not to warp-this is a serious problem in the steamy atmosphere of bathrooms.

boxing bath bathroom

The tendency of wood to warp in damp air can be reduced by painting all the parts with waterproof paint or varnish on all sides, so that the humidity of the wood remains constant. Second, it must be properly fastened to the surface it touches, so that it will resist kicking, blows from mops when cleaning the floor, and so on. The frame can be nailed to a wooden floor or it can be fastened to a concrete floor with wall plugs and screws, or with masonry pins. Nearly all baths have at least one side or end against a wall, and the ends of the frame can be plugged and screwed to this too. Third, the outer surface has to be reasonably watertight, so that water does not seep down behind it and under the bath where it cannot be mopped up.

This is simply solved by setting the panel about 3mm back from the outer lip of the bath, so that any drips from it run down the front of the panel instead of seeping through its back and rotting the frame. At the same time, the join between the bath and the wall should be sealed, either with a ‘bath trim kit’ consisting of narrow tiles with an L-shaped cross section or (more simply and cheaply) with the white or clear silicone sealing obtainable from any plumbing shop.

tiling bath bathroom

Fourth, the pipework under the bath must be accessible for maintenance. This includes not just the taps but also the trap in the waste pipe, which has to be cleaned out occasionally. The best solution here is to screw on the panels with ‘mirror’ screws, which have decorative covers on the heads so that you don’t have to disguise them. Don’t use too many screws; six or eight is ample for each panel if it has to be removed from time to time. (It is a good idea to inspect the floorboards under a bath for wet rot every few months.)

bathroom bath london

Designing Kitchens and Bathrooms

Defining a practical kitchen and bathroom

A practical kitchen can be defined as it marriage between the furniture and fittings and the structural reality of the room. Once you have a fairly clear idea of what is the best possible layout that will suit your kitchen, you can use a free design software online or the kitchen and bathroom supplier could offer you a free design. Our London Kitchen Fitters and Bathroom fitters will provide you with a kitchen or bathroom design. Then you can go on to selecting the furniture and fittings for the refurbishment.

kitchen extension plan

Choosing the furniture and fittings

As mentioned before it is not enough to concentrate purely on the good looks or otherwise of any particular items. When choosing furniture and equipment for your kitchen and bathroom, the first question you need to ask yourself is ‘will it work’? This is where ergonomics relates to the problems of design. To recap on this ergonomics can be defined as the relationship between man and machine.

Kitchens and kitchenettes in tiny spaces

In a tiny kitchen, every inch counts. Room for food preparation, cooking, washing up and storage is at a premium but too often such kitchens are badly designed, lacking storage space and with a thoughtless choice and siting of kitchen equipment. This can be infuriating for the housewife who spends much of her day there. With a little planning, however, a tiny kitchen can be made as pleasant to work in as any other kitchen.

small kitchen

Ideally, to make really efficient use of limited space you should start re-planning the room from scratch. Take a long look at what is already in the kitchen and the type of equipment you have there and you will probably find that much of the space is wasted. A hotchpotch of different-sized storage cupboards, for example, is a great space-waster. An old sink will have very little room below it for storage. A central table in a small kitchen will make traffic jams almost a certainty.

Planning the Kitchen layout

kitchen fitter London

With space at a premium in your kitchen, it is essential that you plan the room thoroughly. The best way to do this is to use a kitchen design software or make a scale drawing of the floor plan of your kitchen on a sheet of graph paper. Mark on it any architectural details plumbing, electrical points, windows, the door and the way it opens.

Next, cut out coloured pieces of card and mark them to represent the cooker, fridge, sink, cupboards and any other units. Lay these down on the plan and move them about to find the most efficient kitchen arrangement. Once you start doing this it will be easy to visualise how,everything can be fitted in, and how to save space.

Basic design

kitchens layout design

You will gain many ideas from working with your plan, but remember that there are basic design rules for kitchens, however large or small. There are three basic shapes for a kitchen plan-I, U and L shapes. Decide which one is right for your kitchen and fit in the units accordingly.

I shaped kitchen
An I-shaped arrangement is best for really cramped kitchens in passages and very narrow, rooms. In this type of kitchen, all the equipment and storage can be down one side of the room or right in front of you, making a neat and efficient line.
I shape kitchen design

L shape kitchen plinth lights and floor
An L-shaped arrangement is good for a rectangular room, or for part of a multipurpose room where the kitchen can be slotted into one corner. The L-shape can either be fitted neatly around the corner or, if space permits, one ‘arm’ can be left jutting into the room to act as a serving place or eating bar. But this arrangement is more suitable for reasonably big rooms.
L shaped kitchen

A U-shape can be used in square kitchens and is often best in a confined space because the equipment can be ‘wrapped’ around the cook, who stands in the centre and has everything well within reach.
U shaped kitchen

Work areas in the kitchen

Kitchen space must be divided into 4 work areas-preparation, cooking, serving and washing up even if there is a dishwasher. Within the framework of the I, U, or L shape, arrange these work areas in a natural progression, so that you don’t have to keep doubling back on your tracks when working in the kitchen. For example, you should place the fridge, food storage cupboards and mixer in the food preparation area. Keep pans over or under the sink as they usually need water in them before being put on the stove.

In a tiny kitchen, it is essential that there is a storage place for everything. Items that can’t be stored will simply be left cluttering valuable work surfaces. So plan your kitchen to the smallest detail to allow as much working space as possible to be left permanently free. When you have planned your kitchen to your satisfaction, you can start fitting in equipment and storage units to suit the work areas.

Units and Cabinets

You can save a great deal of space by using every inch of wall space from floor to ceiling for storage cupboards. The base units, the tops of which provide a work surface, should all have sliding doors. These take up a lot less room than I- hinged doors. Base units should stand on a recessed plinth. This will not only make unsightly scuff marks less conspicuous, but will also increase the kitchen floor area slightly, allowing you to work more comfortably as you can get your toe s under the working surface. One problem with base units is that manufacturers standard sizes will rarely fit snugly into a tiny kitchen.

You can build cupboards to your own sizes, or you can use open shelves, cheaper for someone on a small budget to bridge gaps between units. The top shelf should be level with the other work surfaces. Corner units are particularly important as there is often wasted storage space here in badly designed kitchens. Corner cupboards with plenty of shelves will gain valuable space.

Over the base unit, shallow midway units, about l00mm and l52mm deep will give ample space for jars or tins of food, but leave plenty of working room underneath. Over these units, hanging cupboards can run right up to the ceiling.

Kitchen Sink

kitchen sink double

A modern stainless steel sink is shallower and therefore less space-consuming than the old-fashioned ceramic sink. If the sink is set into a work-top you can save a lot of space. Draining racks can be set on either side of the recessed sink hung on the wall behind it or placed on a tiled window sill over it. Even in a tiny kitchen don’t stint on the size of the sink as this is one of the items in most constant demand in a kitchen. If you have a large family a double sink is well worth considering even in the smallest kitchen. It speeds up washing up, and has many other uses.

Waste disposal in the kitchen

A waste disposal unit will take up far less space than a waste bin, though a cheaper and equally space-saving alternative is a rubbish chute set into the wall near the sink. Rubbish can be ‘posted’ through a trapdoor on the kitchen side and falls straight down into a dustbin outside. There should be a hinged flap on the outside wall to prevent draughts and the walls of the chute should be tiled to permit easy cleaning.

Kitchen Cookers

A split-level cooker takes up more space than an ordinary cooker unless it is carefully placed. If you can find room for this arrangement however, the hob and the oven don’t need to be next door to each other. This is useful if, for example, yon can make use of an old fireplace.

cooker hob oven in fireplace

The fireplace can be removed and the hob set into the chimney on a fitted unit with cupboards beneath. The oven can be placed near the serving area or on the other side of the preparation area. The door opening should be taken into account when placing the oven. Also don’t put the cooker by the floor because this can be unsafe especially with small children around.