Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The UK - What's Changed Since 2006?

My book "Rules, Britannia" (see left) came out in 2006. As with most traditionally published books, it was actually finished a good 18 months beforehand, meaning that the information therein dates back almost 8 years now. Although that information is mainly about the British people, habits, customs, language etc. there are obviously a few more tangible discussions of houses, schools and the like.

My how some things have changed.

I wrote then, that many Brits still had carpet in their bathrooms. (Don't forget, I don't stay in hotels when I'm in the UK, but travel round the place visiting friends and family. I probably see more examples of houses that most Brits do in a year, and I travel the length and breadth of the country!) The reaction from most American readers was a resounding "Eeuuww", and a few gasped  "That's just flat out wrong" - mainly Americans who lived in London and had never ventured outside the M25. Admittedly, in 2004-5 there were more tiled bathrooms in that region than around the country but I did warn my readers that the book wasn't a guide to London.

Now, when I'm over there, apart from one older relative who still has carpet, everyone's now gone over to tile or laminate. There's something really warm and cozy about thick carpet in a bathroom, but the reality is that you have to rely heavily on bathmats, which then have to be hung over the bath to dry out, and there are huge tellings off if someone puts a wet footprint straight onto the carpet. (Come on - we've all been there.) My mother did mess around with carpet tiles for a while in the early 2000's but with four grandsons that's just shifting the furniture around on the Titanic really. (I drafted this before seeing the Russell Brand documentary on addiction, where he uses this phrase BTW.)

More and more people are going for sumptuous under-floor heating, but I would imagine unless you're gutting your house or being able to build one from scratch, it's not very cost-effective or easy to install in your average British house.

Anyone out there still doing the carpeted bathroom floor thing?


  1. Our house (built 2001) in the US had carpet in the master bathroom and we were stunned (the other three all had tile.)

  2. I saw a few nasty flats in my students days that had carpet in the bathroom and that was particularly unnerving.

    I went to a fast food place here in the US yesterday that had a carpet floor too - that really surprised me actually.

  3. Oh this one took me back! My aunt had carpet in the bathroom - and we all have always lived here in the States! I'd almost forgotten about that. I remember even as a small child thinking that couldn't be a good idea.

  4. I don't think I've ever seen it in the 22 years I've been in the States, although some of the compensating bath rugs are almost the same as carpet.
    I have to admit though, apart from the cold (if you don't have the underfloor heat), it's pretty dangerous to be stepping out of a shower onto a tile floor. There are tiles specially designed for bathrooms (less slippy) but I'm not convinced you still can't crack your head. That's why we have all those commercials about people who fall and can't get up. :-)

  5. My parents in Yorkshire still have carpet in the bathroom. I prefer carpet in there to be honest. Rather get out of a shower and step onto carpet then a cold tiled/plastic floor and feel it being a little slippy.

  6. My flat was built in the '60s and has linoleum in the toilet and bathroom, but I have been in many hotels that have carpeted bathrooms. I always found the concept very, very odd. And wrong.

  7. I think most people in the UK have moved to tiles/lino now. I haven't seen bathroom carpet since my gradnparents' house in the 80s. Wooden floors are also a lot more common in the UK now, and uncarpeted stairs.

  8. I am from USA. I know this is not a popular viewpoint but I very much like carpeting. I no longer have it in my bathrooms or of course my kitchen just because it is easier to keep tile clean in these areas. In the rest of my house, living areas and bedrooms, I have carpet. It just seems cozier, warmer, and quieter than wood floors to me. I know that will be a negative when we eventually sell the place but I hate always thinking about resale value. Sometimes one just has to do what makes her comfortable in her own home.

  9. My parents still have carpet in their bathroom, and their downstairs loo - in fact, almost their whole house except for the kitchen, and it was only a few years ago that that finally got tiled.

    It's quite revolting, particularly round the loo, if there are men in the house (or indeed women, I guess) whose aim is not quite what it could be. And most especially if the loo lid is not put down before flushing as a matter of course (leaving it up is a Big Sin in my house). Eww.

    Our house had a carpeted bathroom when we moved in in 2001. It was one of the first things I ripped out. Unfortunately I replaced it with cheap vinyl, on the grounds that at some point we'd be getting a new bathroom fitted and we'd put decent flooring down then. 11 years on it's still the same old bathroom with the same cheap vinyl, now covered with various brown spots from hair dye (which somehow gets UNDER the plastic mat I put down - how does that happen?), so it looks dreadful. But at least it is clean, even if it doesn't look it.

  10. One of my pet hates,though have seen two country pubs near here with carpet right up to the actual toilet *gag*.

  11. The carpet was ripped out of the bathrooms in my house a few years before I moved in. I would never go back to it, and yes, underfloor heating would be wonderful! I remember being in a very nice gym where the changing rooms all had under floor heating which meant you didn't have so much of the wet floor everywhere from everyone coming in fromt he pool or showers. It was LOVELY. Heated towel rails in a bathroom are nice too, but now I'm going off on a tangent.

  12. Lived in London my entire life, and have only seen carpet in a bathroom once. The house that I moved into when I was a kid in the early 2000s. My mum and dad ripped it up and put lino down straight away! The house had been owned by an elderly woman before my parents bought it, and it looked as though it hadn't been redecorated in decades. I still remember the lovely floral wallpaper that adorned every wall.

    Great blog by the way!


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