Ornate: A WC to Behold


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate” I am sharing with you the indulgence that is Helen Dillon’s downstairs WC as I think it fits well with the definition of ornate as “breathtakingly extravagant”.  For the non-obsessive gardeners amongst my readers I should explain that Helen is a well-known garden writer who lives in the suburbs of Dublin.  I blogged about a visit to her garden back in July which I visited as part of a garden tour to Ireland.


Being an older property, I am guessing Georgian, the downstairs WC is shoe-horned in under the stairs so is a tiny space with a sloping ceiling which means that I had to take close-ups rather than take a photo of the glorious whole.  I should say that Helen was very keen for us all to visit and see this space, in fact we were almost ordered to do so and I know from friends who have visited with other groups that this was not peculiar to our group.  If you can imagine a small downstairs WC with the basic facilities of toilet and small sink and then every bit of the wall and ceiling is covered in shells all in intricate designs then you are half way to imagine this extraordinary creation.  I have to admit that I found it a little intimidating and a little frightening as some of those shells are quite large and sharp-looking!


The whole creation had been commissioned some years previously and what was even more extraordinary was that one of my fellow tourers recognised the artist who it turned out was a friend of hers – small world.



21 Comments Add yours

  1. homeslip says:

    Once upon a time we were visiting a garden and my son found a small piece of blue and white pottery in one of the borders. When the garden owner realised he’d picked it up to add to our collection she said “Come with me”. We went into her house, up the stairs and into the bathroom where every bit of wall had been covered in a beautiful mosaic of the broken blue and white pottery that she had found in her garden. One day I may have enough to do the same!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      How lovely, I think it must take a huge amount of patient and imagination

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi RD
      You know I thought exactly the same but there is probably a cleaner!

  2. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Hi – I think this was a bit of a ’70’s’ thing.I used to have lots of shells in baskets – good dust gatherers – just dunck in water or hose off – plus I had a large bathroom mirror that I stuck a wide border of shells around. I had to leave it behind but still it looked good.

  3. AnnetteM says:

    Incredible – I am not sure it is to my taste, but at least it is a talking point and fits this theme very well.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Annette
      Definitely a talk point of our visit and then the next day we went to another garden which had a swimming pool and the shower area was also encrusted with shells by the same artist.

  4. I think the phrase “insanely awesome” just about covers it. As you say, not sure about practicality, but – WOW!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Rachel
      “insanely awesome” is such a good expression.

  5. Anna says:

    Oh I’ve come across ornate shell grottoes before but never quite in the same location as this is Helen. It looks most intriguing and beautiful but I imagine that it would be rather claustrophobic with the door closed.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      hi Anna
      I decided to abstain from using the facilities so I didn’t experience the closed door effect but I think it would be very claustrophobic. I liked it at first as it was so different but I couldnt live with it

  6. A very beautiful arrangement!!

  7. Linda says:

    Wow! That looks interesting. I love to see a shell grotto in an old house, but like the others am wondering about dust and sharp edges!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Linda
      Yes I agree all those sharp edges are a little intimidating

  8. Bipasha says:

    So intricate!

  9. Tony says:

    That does fit the bill. Beautiful photo.

  10. It’s really beautiful but it’s one of those things I enjoy in someone else’s home. Definitely a cleaning nightmare!


    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Caroline
      It is funny how we are all concerned about how difficult it would be to clean; we obviously all do our own cleaning!

  11. Wow, amazing response to the challenge. The colors are so rich and the detail so appealing to the eye.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Charlie
      Thanks I had forgotten about the photos until I went through the folders looking for something

  12. Cathy says:

    I wonder if HD finds it claustrophobic too and thus never uses this loo…?

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