Case Study - updating a bathroom
Graphic designer Louise and Martin, an accountant, turned their “florid Victoriana” bathroom into a stylish, calm retreat.
“The old bathroom looked like a boudoir in a bordello,” recalls Louise, saying it nearly put her off buying the semi-detached house in London although it had been the pride and joy of the previous owners.
“Pink walls covered with decorative coving like white cake icing and cherubs above the sink. The fittings were florid Victoriana with faded gold taps and a giant enamel roll top bath stood in the middle of the room painted in gold and maroon. It was totally out of keeping for an inter-war, bay-fronted semi.”
With their three children grown-up, Louise and Martin decided to focus on creating their dream bathroom. They began by stripping the space right back. All ceiling arches, coving and cherubs were removed.
“The original bathroom was connected to the separate toilet with an 80s style arch plus more coving and part of the next-door bedroom had been annexed to provide extra floor space for a shower cubicle.
“But the shower was dark and narrow, resulting in bashed elbows while the large sink was tucked next to it away from the natural light with a heavy mahogany mirror between dusty, chubby cherubs.
“I always promised myself a modern, streamline bathroom.”
Updated roll top bath
Although they designed the new space themselves, the couple called on the help of a local builder to manage the £12,000 project. He organised an electrician, a joiner, a plasterer and a tiler.
The next stage in the renovation work was removing the tiled stud wall of the old shower. This made space for a walk-in shower of twice the size. They moved the sink to the opposite wall, so it had more natural light.
They kept the old enamel, roll-top bath but repainted it cream with silver feet and relocated it under the window, so it took up less space. Large, floor-mounted taps added a designer touch.
The couple had a heated towel rail plus a large, vertical radiator installed for comfort and extra heat as the bathroom has two external walls.
The wall-mounted sink had a mirror cupboard above and spacious drawer below to hide away clutter. “We aimed for better use of the space and lots of storage,” said Louise.
The old bathroom had a Victorian-style toilet with high water closet and pull chain. “We replaced it with a toilet and bidet with enclosed fittings which afforded a good-sized shelf and storage cupboard above,” said Louise.
The updated bathroom
When it came to the look of the space, the couple were keen to create a calm atmosphere, combining contemporary streamline fixtures and fittings with natural materials. The colour scheme is cream and silver/grey.
Large, stone-effect, grey ceramic tiles were used in the shower enclosure and lower walls with a pale, toning paint above. The old mahogany-stained floor was replaced with solid bamboo flooring.
“It’s relaxing and practical. A calm, well-organised family bathroom,” said Louise who likes nothing more than to unwind in a candle-lit, bubble bath.
Any tips? “Don’t bother with big, floor mounted taps. Wall-mounted are less hassle and more modern looking. Keep enamel baths because they are very comfortable to lie in and retain the heat of the water nicely.”