REVAMP RESTYLE REVEAL: My Family Bathroom Update
When Bianca Hall and I decided to embark on Season 3 of Revamp Restyle Reveal, I knew exactly what room I was going to do. Ignored by the children unless they were desperate for the loo, abused by the cat who used the window as access to the house and home, it appeared, to the entire cast of Arachnophia, the family bathroom was in dire need of some TLC. It was painted by the previous owner in a fetching shade of what could only be described as poo brown, with a huge cupboard that housed things that no one either wanted nor needed but couldn’t be bothered to take to the tip. The shower was a pressure free zone, the bath a no go area due to the faulty plug which required either a screw driver procedure in order to empty the water or your nails, a task which nearly always ended in me ruining my gel manicure by plunging my hands into cold water after the children would simply leave the bath full rather than attempting either of these options. Updating it to a usable state was an absolute no brainer.
It has to be said that had I thought a little longer about what updating a bathroom involved, I may have thought twice. The last time that I’d designed and put in a bathroom was when Max was one, back in 2004 in a thirties semi in Caversham. The plaster was so poor that the room had to be taken right back to brick and it took nearly seven weeks from start to finish. I don’t remember it as being a particularly fun experience. I fell out with the tiler who told me in no uncertain terms (whilst calling me ‘sweetheart’) that to use grey grout on brick metro tiles would make my room look like a public convenience. The project finale was a torrent of water coming through the hall ceiling (thanks to a dodgy pipe) whilst we were in the living room watching The Bill, resulting in the said metro tiles having to be removed and relaid. The only small satisfaction was that the tiler was forced to do the grey grouting that he hated not once, but TWICE.
When I started planning the family bathroom, I thought very carefully about the focus of the room. One, it needed to have a wet room area - my three children spend ridiculous amounts of time in the shower and a bath just wasn’t required. We already have two other baths in our house - one in our ensuite bathroom and one in the guest annexe above the kitchen - so I wasn’t worried about devaluing the property by removing one. Two, it needed to be easily cleanable - I didn’t want the whole glass shower screen water mark thing, my idea was to have a static wall that was fully tiled for ease. Three, it needed to have storage - with two teenagers, our supplies of toiletries are akin to a small branch of Superdrug so it needed to be hidden away but easily accessible. And finally, but mostly importantly, four - it needed to be of a timeless design that wasn’t going to date. This project wasn’t going to be cheap - it required the professional services of a builder, an electrician and a plumber over the course of four weeks - so I wanted to avoid being trend led on my choice of decor. Once done, it was done for good so I needed to be savvy in my choices.
So what did I do? Or more to the point, what did the building team who worked with me on this project do? Here’s the low down of how it all went.
Planned It Out
The first thing I did was to take to Pinterest, the mainstay of all good revamps. I immediately realised that if I took out the large double cupboard at one end of the room (originally a boiler cupboard), I could add a good three foot on to the length of the room. This would be perfect for a long double basin vanity unit, stretching from one side of the room to another. At the other end of the room was a bath, a toilet and a small cloakroom sized sink. I drew out my plan, placing a dividing wall in between the toilet and the wet room area. I spoke to Mike and Mick, a building team that I trusted and booked in Tim, a local plumber that I’d used many times before and who also happened to be the Dad of one of Leo’s friends. I covered off the electrics by recruiting Christian, brother of Miles The Worlds Best Decorator, who specialises in smart home solutions and is full of clever small space ideas. Team in place, we set out the project programme and scheduled everyone in.
Figured Out The Problems
After the sanitaryware was removed and freecycled (someone collected it all the same day), the tiles came off and the floor started to come up. It soon became apparent that this was going to be problem. The floor had been covered at various different levels four times and in order to get it back to basics so that we could start to make it good, it all had to be removed. This wasn’t an easy job and was massively hard labour wise, with buckets of concrete being shifted up and down the stairs to the skip over the course of two full days. Once it was all finally up and the boards were bare, the plumbing was put in place and the floor was then levelled. Whilst this was going on, the cupboard was also demolished, exposing an additional foot of ceiling height and a fair amount of damp. A false ceiling was put in and the wall was treated before the whole room was completely replastered. This included where the tiles originally had been around the bath, where it was all removed and reboarded to make it fully secure.
Created The Wet Room
The wall was built using plasterboard. The wet room floor was put in - this came from soak.com and it formed the base of the space. At this point I have to admit that when I decided on a wet room, I really had no idea whatsoever of the work that was involved. I’ll be writing a blog about it at a later date as it’s way too much info for now, but suffice to say it’s not simply sticking in a shower tray and being done with it. In order to hide the shower plumbing, another false wall was put in place so that everything was flush to the wall. I chose the Matte Black Round Concealed Thermostatic Mixer Shower Kit from soak.com which was simple and sleek, in a colour that would contrast well with the rest of the design. Mike created a built in a shelf area within the wall where toiletries could be place and we backed this with the Yoga Penny Porcelain Mosaic in White from Ca Pietra as a contrast. We needed some sort of step that would stop the water escaping so they designed and built a marble tile covered ledge using the Long Island Marble Honed tiles, also Ca Pietra. Perfect.
Tiled The Floor & Walls
The floor was covering in Yoga Penny Porcelain Mosaic in White from Ca Pietra which worked perfectly in the space. These tiles come in large sheets so were easy to install and ridiculously tactile to the touch - I was immediately obsessed with them. For the surrounding wall tiles (used in the wet room and behind the toilet and vanity), I chose the Avebury Ceramic Milk tiles in White, again from Ca Pietra, which we stacked horizontally. The wall tiles were grouted in white and the flooring in Anthracite which looked super effective. Because a fair amount of the wall was plastered wall, we needed to think about skirting. Mike cut down the Long Island Marble Honed tiles from Ca Pietra which worked perfectly as an upstand. They used Anthracite sealant around the floor to tie in with the grouting.
Built A Vanity Unit
The vanity area was 190cm across so wasn’t a standard size. We wanted to create as much storage as possible so we bought three kitchen cupboards and Mike adjusted the height of them so that they’d work for the space, attaching them to the wall approximately a foot and a half off the ground. I had excess cupboard doors remaining from my recent kitchen revamp so again, these were cut to size so that they would fit the cupboards. They used extra pieces of wood to fill in the gaps at the side so that it looked sleek and fitted. I found a local stonemason who had a piece of offcut Carrara marble in the yard. For £220, it was a dream vanity surface and was ideal for the purpose. It was put into place and we added two Alicia Countertop Basins from soak.com. I chose the Iker Black Wall Mounted Basin Tap from soak.com which correlated with the shower set and tied it all together. These were fitted behind a false wall and the whole lot tiled over. A shaver socket was placed in the cupboard so that the children’s toothbrushes could be plugged in for charging without looking unsightly on the worktop. Two Modern Streamline Wall Mirrors from West Elm finished the area off beautifully.
There were already spotlights in the ceiling so we replaced these with LED ones and added the Manrose Chrome LED Extractor Fan from soak.com above the shower area. Christian put these on a sensor which means that the lights will come on when the kids enter the bathroom and go off when they leave, thus saving my vocal cords since I spend much of my time shouting at the children for wasting electricity. I wanted something impactful above the vanity so I chose two Jazz Double Wall Lights from David Hunt Lighting which are perfect for the space and add a touch of luxe to the room.
Created Extra Storage & Plant Space
The Lyon Wall Hung Toilet unit was installed from soak.com and a false wall with a ledge built around it, another excellent way of creating extra storage. We added plywood shelves, again created from the left over kitchen doors, above to the level of the top of the shower wall. It was all coming together brilliantly. The shelves and the shower wall ledge were both perfect for plants which had arrived from Dobbies Garden Centre - bathrooms are ideal for greenery and the ledge means that trailing plants should thrive. I also used the shelves for hand towel storage, adding in the colour with the Organic Luxe Fibrosoft Blush Pink Towels from West Elm.
Warmed It Up
There was previously one useless radiator in the room which was directly under the window. This was removed and freecycled and replaced with two slim Traditional White Towel Radiators from soak.com, one on each side of the room. As I write this, the room has only been operational for a day but already they are a total revelation - they have a rail to the front which means that it’s easy to hang and dry the towels. They also match the rest of the radiators in my home so blend in brilliantly.
Painted The Walls & Woodwork
The very unattractive brown was replaced with Architects White from Zoffany - a clean white that worked well with the tiles and the overall theme. The ceiling was done in eggshell to reflect the light as much as possible. I painted the woodwork in Bone Black which is also a Zoffany shade, an off black that was particularly effective on the window frame and tied in the colour scheme. The window is an original sash so painting it in a contrasting colour really made it stand out.
Upcycled A Display Cabinet
By removing the huge double cupboard, I’d reduced the amount of space I had to store linen and tiles. I picked up an old mahogany 80’s display cabinet from the Furniture Warehouse for £30 and upcycled it using Sanderson French Rose paint and Aesops Fables wallpaper. You can see and read what I did and how I did it by reading my blog post here. I’m really pleased with it and it sits happily on the landing next to the bathroom, a perfect fit.
Brought In The Tech
My children are constantly taking their phones into the bathroom to play music whilst they’re doing whatever they do in there, so when Sonos came on board as a sponsor it was a perfect opportunity to add this into the space. The Sonos One is not only operational from their phone so they can play what they like, but it also has the Alexa function so it is voice operated too. The sound quality is fabulous and not only that, it’s white so it totally ties in with the scheme and blends in beautifully. How did we fit it? We added a hidden shaver socket and used an adapter to plug it in with a hole so it could be wire free on the shelf. A genius idea from Mike the builder. The only downside is that I now have to listen to my son’s Grime choices at far higher quality than before. The Dyson Pure Hot & Cool Air Purifier also was added into the space - super clever, it purifies, heats and cools the air and removes odours, gases and 99.95% of gases which was great during the decorating process.
Accessorised The Space
After a month of building work, we’d reach the fun bit. I added bathroom accessories from West Elm, including the Modern Resin Stone Vanity Set in white and brass, keeping with the theme of the room. White and pale pink towels worked well, together with an Open Weave Zigzag Hamper which should stop the children (hopefully) throwing them on the floor. Beautifully scented Modern Elements Candles in alabaster from West Elm kept the scheme working by tying in with the upstands and the vanity top, finished off with the Cashmere & Fig hand wash and hand cream. Loop Wall Hooks on the back of the door were ideal for three Geo Waffle White Cotton Robes and a Pure White Ceramic Planter become home to a large Monstera from Dobbies Garden Centre. The room was complete.
It’s taken the full four weeks to finish the room (literally to the final hour) but it has been so worth it. I’m super happy with the space, it’s everything that I wanted it to be and I’m bloody furious that my children are going to be using it and not me. I did, however, pick up some learnings from the experience, mostly that if you are gutting a bathroom and redesigning it, it’s important not only that you have a good building team but also that your builders have got a real interest in making your space work. From the marble step to the music option, through to the hidden shaver socket, it was the extra things that they came up with that have made it work so well.
I also found it interesting that despite throughout the first two weeks of planning I was absolutely insistent on bringing in the pink terrazzo and blush penny tiles, I just couldn’t make the mood board blend. I tried and tried, desperate to include them, but it just didn’t gel. I finally realised that it wasn’t working for me as it didn’t fit with my core style - white walls with layered tones on top. The moment I swapped out the pink for the white, it clicked into place. The basics are neutral, but I can add colour or take it away as I wish without any hardcore cost involved. Bathrooms are such expensive rooms to install that it’s absolutely imperative not to be swayed by trends when you are in the planning stages - once it’s in, it’s not coming out for a while so go with your gut instinct and try not to be influenced.
The only one who’s not happy with the new room is the cat, whose access window is now well and truly shut thanks to the addition of a new cat and dog flap in the kitchen. Thanks so much to my building team, Mike, Mick, Tim and Christian who have created the Bathroom Of My Dreams (for my kids). MASSIVE thanks to our fabulous sponsors without whom this project wouldn’t have got off the ground, to everyone who posted to our #revamprestylereveal hashtag and joined in with the fun and finally, our amazing team of bloggers who have showed what can be done with a bit of creativity and an awful lot of hard work and enthusiasm. Bring on Season 4!