We’ve lived in our home for three years now and for some reason, our bathroom has been at the bottom of the DIY to-do list since we’ve moved in. I think we both knew it’d be a big project to tackle and we’d put it off as long as possible, but in summer this year I decided enough was enough and it was time to upgrade the space. Here’s what we were dealing with before:
As with all of my projects, the first thing I think about when it comes to design is how the space will be used and how we’ll want it to feel – and the finished ‘look’ falls into place naturally at the end. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a good bubble bath, and my end goal when designing this space was the vision of me in the bath with my favourite book and a glass of wine. Perhaps this was why the project had taken so long – for years, I was never really sure about what I wanted the final result to look like, but after lots of samples and much deliberation, I finally picked the dark, navy theme we’ve opted for.
Thinking about design
If you’ve ever seen my home, you’ll know that my design choices are often a little ‘out there’ and for this project, I knew I wanted something bold and interesting. The bathroom itself is a really small room, and I wanted to choose a scheme that’d be high impact despite the small space. I started by collating a number of colourful wallpaper samples from the amazing Lust Home and bright, unique tile samples from Topps Tiles and pairing them together to find my perfect match. Here are just some of the combinations I trialed:
As soon as I saw the navy Catania tile next to the blue ‘Whale of a Time’ wallpaper, I knew I was onto a winner. I ran plenty of polls on Instagram, asked lots of my family and friends and opinions were pretty much 50/50 – some LOVED it, others loathed it, but after sitting on my decision for a week or two I took the plunge and placed my order.
Ordering a suite
Next, we began to look at bathroom suites. Because of the existing layout of the bathroom, there wasn’t much we could do in terms of moving things around, so we debated keeping our existing fittings and hoping that redecorating around them would do the trick. For years, we’d contented with a cheap and ugly shower curtain and I had in my head that I really wanted a modern looking shower screen. Unfortunately, our existing layout meant that the edge of the bath sat bob-on with the window, so a shower screen wasn’t feasible with the space we had, and eventually we decided that if we were going to invest this much finance, time and energy, it made sense to invest in a whole new suite. I found a wider than standard bath on Victoria Plum (with the shower screen included, no less) and after measuring up, we found a way to make it work – hurrah! It was an added bonus that the bath itself was wider, longer and ultimately more comfortable.
Whilst we were browsing, we also selected a standard toilet (nothing to see here, folks) and a standalone basin that we wanted to use in an up cycling project to create a custom vanity unit.
The rip out – and where it all went wrong
Up until this point, our project had been relatively smooth sailing. I had planned the rest of the renovation pretty much hour by hour, and had every day planned to precision with the whole project estimated to take a maximum of two weeks. I was so pleased with myself and my organisation skills, and Guy and I began to prep for the next stages by taking off the bathroom tiles (walls and floor) ourselves to save some cash. A few days before the tiler was due to arrive, I realised I’d totally forgot about one of the most important elements of the whole process – actually ripping out the existing suite. Fortunately, I found a last minute plumber through TaskRabbit and organised a skip and we were good to go. He came on the Monday, the job was completed (including the installation of the new bath to be tiled in), and the tiller was due to start on the Wednesday – happy days! And then – things started to go wrong…
I won’t bore you with the intricacies, but if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know the month that followed was absolute hell. Delays in deliveries meant pushing tradesmen back and unforeseen issues (like needing to replaster) set things back by days and weeks. By pushing one tradesman back, it meant the other could no longer facilitate and we went round in circles of stress for a long while after. Fortunately, the tiler we found was absolutely incredible – he worked around us as much as he physically could and event spent Sunday mornings on the job (and consoled me crying once or twice – oops!). A few weeks later (which felt like months when we didn’t have a working shower and had to manually flush the toilet), we were close to completion and I must say, everything started to feel so worth it.
The custom vanity unit
For around three months prior to actually starting the job, I’d been searching for a vanity unit to use in the bathroom. I wanted something small enough to fit in, but big enough to provide ample storage, and I wanted something that looked modern yet traditional. I trawled every bathroom website under the sun, including second hand sites, to no avail. Eventually, I found some amazing sellers on Etsy who provided custom build units, but the prices were well out of my budget (some started from upwards of £800) and they required plumbing into the walls – something we just weren’t prepared to do.
Fortunately for us, Guy’s Dad is actually a plumber by trade and agreed (read: was unwillingly forced into) helping us make one of our own. I found a perfectly sized unit on eBay (it actually used to be a chamber pot) for just £40, and the basin on Victoria Plum, and one Saturday afternoon, we got to work cutting in, removing shelves, varnishing and building the perfect design – and I am so happy with how it all turned out. You can watch more of the process here.
Finally, we had the fun part like fitting in our shower, plumbing in the bathroom radiator and styling up the spaces with some funky handles and hooks from Plank Hardware. Guy helped me make some custom shelves which I’m using to store my skincare (there’s lots of it), we added in some matching towels and voila – the space was finished!
The project went way over my initial budget but for those interested, the total cost was:
- Tiles – Larvik™ Coffee Tile from Topps Tiles, 20 tiles (equivalent to 4.05m2, plus 10% to allow for cuttings/wastage) and Catania™ Blue Tile, 349 tiles (equivalent to 15.7m2, plus 10% to allow for cuttings/wastage)* – £1,016.82
- Wallpaper (Whale of a Time by Lust Home)* – Two rolls, £84
- Manual labour – Rip out and reinstall of new bath – £426.86
- Manual labour – Tiling, plastering, boxing in etc – £960
- Toilet, Victoria Plum – £145
- Toilet fitting pack – £28
- Basin, Victoria Plum – £83.99
- Bath, Victoria Plum (with shower screen included) – £259
- Taps (bath, shower and basin taps), various – £250
- Unit (ahead of upcycling), eBay – £40
- Skip (for removal of old bathroom) – £170
- Handles and hooks from Plank Hardware* – £55.80
- Venetian Blinds, Blinds2Go – £30
Total Cost: £3,548.65
The finished result:
*Some items in this article were gifted or discounted in exchange for coverage on my blog.