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The “winkel” (wet room)

This project was to renovate our utility room on the ground floor that we call the "winkel" (the shop) into an accesible wet room. I started it when Rob was in ICU, against all advice from many who had no right giving advice about it. I can't say that was the easiest time to do a big building project, but on the other hand, it was also a good diversion for me, and something I felt I could do to help him.

It had always been a multi-use room for pet feeding along with housing our heating and water system, recyclables and "stuff". It was also a place Rob liked to go to get away from it all. Although the room was in a bad state to begin with, Rob had already started the renovations by fixing the door, window, wall and painting on one side. In keeping with the feeling with our very old house, I wanted to keep the colours as Rob had chosen, which are similar to it's orignal colours going back a few hundred years. I also wanted to make it not feel too "handicapped", which I knew Rob would not like.

Gratefully, our family and friends helped by funding the building work after I had bought most of the materials (see below). In Holland you can get funding from the government with renovations like this, but it is a long drawn out process. We never received any compensation from the government, even though I had them inspect the room beforehand. That was because they said it was already done, and therefore they did not need to do it (strange logic!). In some ways that was frustrating, but on the other hand, we did not need to do it in the way that they do things: it would have taken about 1 year with a lot of organising, and would have been done with very basic ugly materials and been very handicapped looking.

There are a few things I would have done differently, like lower tipping mirror and under-floor heating (I think there was a technical difficulty, but can't remember in the chaos). Otherwise, it has worked out very well. The room is still used as multi-use room for pet feeding, etc., and it's great to have a room we can just hose down to clean. Other than a shower chair, there is not one piece of handicapped equipment in it! Below are some pictures. The final pictures were taken the day I presented it to Rob. We have since taken off the bows and added a shower chair and nice stainless grab bars mounted on the floor by the toilet and shower.

I don't know what we would have done without it. On his first visit home, Rob could have a hot shower with all of the necessities -- I can't tell you how important that was. Overall, we are really happy about it and use it daily.

With all of our thanks...

We want to thank all of you for helping us to renovate Rob's "winkel". It has really helped for Rob to be more comfortable.

Rob's wonderful sister Anne helped me start out the project by buying Rob a really cool shower with water jets. From there it has become a real project with my brother Santi helping me pick out tiles and our good friend Peter who is a builder who helped me to lay it all out along with doing almost all of the work on it.

I want to especially thank Dave and Ruth (Ellyn's parents) for giving us the money to do the building work for this project. I'll be trying to pay them back as I can, but I absolutely know this would not have been possible without their help. Just buying all the materials broke my piggy bank!

  • Dave & Ruth Larson
  • Anne & Mick Struebel
  • Santikaro Larson & Jo Marie Thompson
  • Tom, Luke & Oliver Struebel
  • Sue Bender
  • Joost & Marja Verhoof
  • Dave & Sandy Bender
  • Mike Larson & Linda Schwartz
  • Peter Kaagman & Bea Oostens (for all the extra's Peter is doing while building the "winkel")
  • Paul & Jean Bender
  • Dorette, Joost, Kiki, & Jimmy Dings
  • Caro, Martin, Jacques & Max-Martin Wenger-Sherrie
  • Jimmy Toohey
  • Claire & Simon Quinn and Martin Rees
  • Anneloes (for help in placing things), Rob & Koen Vermeer (for all the help with Jansen and many other things to make this all a bit easier)


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  1. avatar

    What a wonderful blog. So much encouragement and love when reading your posts! Rob should be an inspiration to all of us!

  2. avatar
    Kath & Cyril

    hi ellyn and rob,
    It was lovely to hear from you i tried to send you a text when claire visited but it wouldnt accept.
    glad you had a good birthday and it sounds as if rob is on his way to a long recovery,but it doesnt matter how long as long as he gets better AND HE WILL you are a lovely couple and both curil and i wish you both all the best and to rob a speedy recovery lots of love cyril and kath xxxx

  3. avatar
    Paul & Jean

    We’ve been following your updates regularly & have been thinking about you often. There’s nothing so draining as being at the hospital whether patient or partner/caregiver. So Paul (the techie of the 2 of us) finally went on your site but had some problems so didn’t end up leaving a note. (His excuse was Sue didn’t either–they both have empty spaces by their names!) So here are our wishes for Rob getting out of the hospital soon (if you can call 8+ weeks soon) so you both can get back to enjoying life with each other.

  4. avatar
    Lanie Demas

    Dear Rob & Ellie,

    Best, best wishes for a recovery that brings you both good health and happiness for the next 50 years (and beyond).

    Lanie & Damon

  5. avatar
    Tom, Luke & Oliver

    We, Tom, Luke & Oliver have just donated 50 euroos to Uncle Rob’s “winkel” project. Mum did not tick the recognition box so therefore we decided to leave this reply! Good luck!

  6. avatar

    Hi Ellen,

    Funny you should mention that. Rob received a super-duper iPod as a gift from my brother Mike. I have started to download a lot of music and also a few audio books. It’s nice to have the links in Dutch where I can find more, because the Apple store mostly has English books.


  7. avatar
    Ellen van de Woesstijne

    Dear Ellyn,

    I have read your blog en was shocked about what Robert and You had to go through. It made me realize that the days must be awfully long for Robert. I was thinking that maybe ebooks (luisterboeken) could be a way to alleviate this (http://www.biblioo.nl/, http://www.luisterrijk.nl/ )

    Sterkte, Ellen

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