It’s a funny thing how we are conditioned to be stereotypes and so generally find it hard to think outside the box. I am a thwarted interior designer, I would love to have been an architect or designer, but alas I was steered down a different route. Having said that I have been fortunate in having restored several properties however I still fantasise about a huge design commission, to be able to let my imagination run riot, I like to think I would have been ‘cool’ a leader of the field. Looking back to the three years of building that went into creating Bellaugello Gay Guest House from the abandoned farmhouse it had been, I think of myself as having done a good job, of being visually aware, at least when it came to envisaging completed spaces from what were then abandoned stables and sheds. Within a few moments of seeing the house it became apparent how the chaotic jumble could be divided to create five luxury suites for guests, each one with their own little curiosity and uniqueness.
As those of you who have been here will already know, I have certain phobias, some governed my restoration project. I frequently describe them when showing new guests round the property, I repeat myself, many of you must have heard them more than once; I’m not good with doors, I prefer open spaces, I dislike endless impersonal corridors, I want a place where I can sit outdoors in private, and I particularly detest small bathrooms, being especially allergic to shower cabinets. Who conceived the concept of the shower curtain? It is horrid, clammy, invasive, never clean, and that is even before you have inevitably dropped the soap and had to bend down to retrieve it and been enveloped by a cold clammy plastic. Acrylic shower doors are little better, their opening mechanism is invariably illogical, and anyway just how do you turn on the shower without at the same time getting soaked? Can’t be done. As a result the bathrooms in Bellaugello are large, generous spaces they are ‘wet room’ style. After all on holiday one has time to enjoy time spent in the bathroom. Holidays are not the time or place for a salutary splash of cold water over a face to wake oneself up before rushing off to work, instead the bathroom must be a place that is great and pleasurable, a place to linger and enjoy.
Some bathrooms at Bellaugello Gay Guest House enjoy a huge view, one is starkly white, another art deco style, each is different. I had such fun deciding on styles, colours, and sanitary wear. Floor and wall tiles were locally sourced, after all Umbria has a long tradition of ceramics and it seemed a shame not to profit from this resource. Two have floor tiles recuperated from the old farmhouse the interiors of which there was so little left. Some have two showers, why not? It is wonderful to shower with your man. Some of the bathrooms spill outdoors where I have put a second shower outside on the terrace, guys love the joy of showering in the ‘world’s largest bathroom’ and the views are great!
My thanks to Andy Dwyer for the photo.
Sanitary wear in the bathrooms is Italian, they make the best designs, and even now when I enter a bathroom here I am still satisfied with what I chose.
But, I question myself, why oh why did I not put urinals in every bathroom? I wish I had. Not only are they ecological, for the required flush is minimal, but they are really well designed for purpose, and for us guys they are a great relief. Nor are they a new concept. In every public lavatory (Gents’) that I have been in there have been rows of urinals of one type or another.
I remember from my days way back in London serried ranks of huge 19th century floor standing semi circular ceramic urinals, individually adorned with gleaming copper pipes, lovingly polished by the all seeing attendant, and crowned by a hissing overhead cistern. Memories of rural Ireland and Scotland in the 1980’s recall a half cut field drain sunk into a concrete floor, so often the ‘gents’ had no roof. Autostrade service stations festooned with rows of hanging bowls on two walls. Discos with almost waist high stainless steel troughs, so easy to miss, and nightclubs with a conveniently placed mirror. Even at school we had urinals, huge flat slabs of white porcelain that us boys pee’d against. We have all grown up with urinals, but why are they not specified in a bathroom for new private houses, guest houses or hotel room bathrooms?
Ok some have alarming auto-flushes, the slightest intrusion into the ceramic orifice resulting in a cascade of water. Some installations have modesty screens to divide the users, some not. I have yet to work out the reason why, be it cultural or otherwise. If needing a ‘pee’ us guys are accustomed to standing in a public bathroom fitted out with urinals, but I have rarely seen one in a private home or guest house, and I ask myself why not, and more importantly why when creating my gay guest house did I not include a urinal in the specification for every bathroom?