Replacing an Art Deco toilet

I’m lucky enough to live in a nice neighbourhood in Amsterdam dating from when the Olympics were last in town in 1928.  The style of the houses is the know collectively as the Amsterdamse school and is typified by an Art Deco and Expressionist theme – curves, use of repeating lines, horizontal ladder effects, extensive use of marble and occasionally opulent materials all go to give the streets an almost magical character if you’re a fan of the style.  These themes are continued in wood, window frames, chimney breasts inside the houses.

While our house is not amazing to look at from the outside it has some lovely detailing in plaster and wood, big single glazed windows and high ceilings which look fantastic but have of course made the place pretty cold and prone to draughts.  This goes double for the toilets which both are on external double brick, uninsulated walls that are tiled with a stone floor.  Having survived three cold winters with these toilets we (particularly female house members) finally have had enough of their cold beauty and I’ve plucked up enough courage to start to tackle them.

So prompted by impending Winter this weekend I’ve finally made a start on the first toilet with a view to improving thermal performance and make it reasonably modern looking while preserving its Art Deco heritage.  Here is a before photo:

Note the beautiful stone floor, the large amount of tiles, the precariously perched sink, the lovely window frame and the hideous glass above the door.  It’s a real mixed bag of a room and currently it’s very cold with no heating.  My plan is to put in a false wall with 2cm polystyrene insulation along with a free standing corner built floating toilet.  Finally we’ll cover that freezing floor with some thin space-age insulation I’ve found and on top of that some form of easily maintainable surface.  The sink will be replaced with something sympathetic but less splashy (see the current height of the tap) and we may even put a heated towel rail in there too.

So far, I’ve stripped the tiles and made a start on the plasterboard and insulation.  As it’s double brick I’ll have to watch the ventilation as the bricks will still need to breathe out the moisture they absorb if they’re not to freeze and crack.  I’ll be saving some of the original tiles for re-use.  A lot were already damaged and broken on the wall as they had been applied directly to brick in mortar and patched up multiple times.  Despite that though they seemed to come off easily enough…

Next week I’ll work up to replacing the toilet itself, mounting the new sink and finishing off the walls.  Then the part I’ll be really looking forward too is the detailing and seeing what I can re-use and save from the room, what I can improve.  The intention is of course it should be a lot warmer but I also want this room to become an updated version of its original intention.  If I can get it right here then perhaps I’ll get motivated enough to tackle the other toilet, the kitchen and the million other things that will then need doing.