Starting as I mean to go on with the first renovation project of the year already done. Actually it was started last year and it was a rather accidental refurbishment if I’m honest. When we moved in we painted tiny (and I mean tiny – I’ve got friends who can’t fit in here) everything in blackboard paint and let friends and family draw what they wanted.
To start with it was all piles of poo and huge exclamation marks from the children. Then a friend who’s a graphic designer came for dinner and the following morning (after he had disappeared rather more times than it was polite to mention) we discovered a huge drawing taking up one wall. That remained for about two years while naff jokes and erudite quotes appeared round the rest of the walls.
But over the last few months I had begun to feel bored. The chalk left dust on everyone and the walls had become dusty grey rather than sharp black. It was time to think about a change. But the main problem was the basin. We had a tiny, ugly one that the builder had picked up for about £30 and there was no hot water.
We needed to find another tiny basin and they’re not easy to come by. I had seen them around for £250 but that’s just the basin. By the time you add in the taps – and you have to have the right taps – and the waste you’re looking at the thick end of £550 and that’s without delivery. And that was out of the question.
Then on one of my casual wanderings round the internet I spotted one on eBay for £150 all in. There was a small chip in one corner but at that price I didn’t care. In the cart it went. Operation downstairs loo was GO.
But when it turned up it wasn’t white it was cream. Either the vendor had neglected to mention that or the images were over exposed or we hadn’t read the small print. Caveat Emptor and all that. Especially when it comes to buying second hand.
A few days later I received an email from Farrow and Ball saying that my bathroom had been chosen to be in their new ebook of 50 Fab (that’s Farrow & Ball) homes and there was a prize to be had. Now it was starting to look interesting. I have loved this Lotus wallpaper for years and I knew instantly that that was the plan. We had some left over Railings gloss from another project and suddenly the decor was decided. Even better, the lotus wallpaper is a sort of dark cream/bone colour that matched perfectly with the new basin.
The builder installed a dado rail as a divider between wall and wallpaper and the room was almost done. The next step was the floor. It was yellow rubber which I had always hated but worked with the chalkboard. There were no floorboards to expose but I felt instinctively that wood was the way to go. Over the last year I had read a lot about vinyl but wasn’t convinced. Surely it was just plastic and nasty.
Well I contacted Amtico and asked if they could send me a single square metre – that’s how small the room is – so I could check it out for real – and for you. And I like it. It’s warm, non-slip, easy to clean and it looks great. I would definitely use it in a bathroom and perhaps a hallway too. So that has been a great discovery and I shall come back to them in more detail in a couple of weeks as I went for a fairly traditional finish because I had busy wallpaper but there are some great patterns and designs to choose from.
So the room is finished. Apart from one small detail. The loo is glaring white. Any ideas? I looked at getting a vintage seat that would cover the whole of the top but they are around £450 which is too much for a loo seat. I think I will just have to get a wooden one and not mind about the white strip at the back. What do you think?
And while you’re doing that bear in mind these suggestions for small spaces:
- You can afford to be dramatic. It’s small and you aren’t in there for long.
- You can perhaps afford to go luxury as you won’t need much of the material
- Dark colours work well in small spaces – see above – do the ceiling as well
- Gloss works well in a loo – especially if you have boys but also as it can look like lacquer
- This is the room to have fun with.
A final word to any of you who do have a Barbican basin. Did you know it came with a built-in loo roll holder underneath? No nor did I until someone pointed it out to me. Mine has the holder intact, one of my instagram followers immediately substituted a pencil. It turned out that lots of us didn’t know that. So I’m telling you now.
And for more inspiration on fabulous downstairs loos do have a look at Brian O’Tuama Architects who seem to have made it a point of principle to include one fabulous loo per project.