Mad About . . .

Five Ways to Revamp Your Bathroom

11th April 2019

And so we come to the next updated part of my mini-series Five Ways to Revamp a Room (rapidly) although if you have other rooms that I haven’t featured then do get in touch in the comments below and we can always tackle spare rooms, playrooms, downstairs loos and dining rooms should you wish….

This week it’s the bathroom and I’m sharing some pictures that were taken for the Soho Home website a couple of years ago.

Soho Home - kws bathroom landscape

The first thing you need to consider when doing a bathroom makeover is are HOW YOU USE THE SPACE and I’m well aware that the average bath in the UK is something ridiculous like 6ft by 8ft – I’ll just pause while all the Americans pick themselves up off the floor and shake their heads in bafflement. Yes that’s right. Tiny. Now, clearly mine is bigger than that. That’s because we took out a bedroom to create a really big bathroom, but I’ll say this once and for all; it’s not how big it is, it’s how you use it. By which I mean; do you use the bath? Because if you don’t then think about getting rid of it and installing a big shower instead. As long as you keep the plumbing in the wall then if you sell the house and people don’t like it then they can always put the bath back in on the basis that bathrooms and kitchens are the two rooms that people are mostly likely to do up.

pink bathroom with double shower via strutt and parker

pink bathroom with double shower in house for sale via strutt and parker

And the other thing that I have suggested to clients before is the double shower as seen above. Clearly this house has a bath too although I think that’s a small one (1500 instead of a standard 1700) but that shower is great for two people at the same time. Now that could be two small kids – imagine speeding up bath time –  as well as two time-pressed adults.


I also feel strongly that you should decorate your house for the way you live now and not for the mythical person who may or may not buy it in a few years time. My mother is a case in point. She redid her bathroom ten years ago. She had already stopped having baths, finding them tricky to climb in and out of, and only showered. The result is that she has a bath that has been used once – by my 13yo – a tiny corner shower and a basin that’s so small I hit my head on the tap every time I use it. She would have been better off losing the bath and making everything else a little bigger. And remember when it comes to resale – you might lose the families with young children if you have no bath but you’ll gain the downsizing pensioners.

Soho Home -KWS basins

While we’re on planning the room; f you can fit two basins that’s a bonus – one less shoving match to have in the morning. If there’s no room for that then find the longest one you can  – you might just manage to squeeze two people cleaning their teeth at once. Finally wall-mounted basins and loos are better in small spaces. The more floor you see the bigger the space will look.

vintage basin on trestle via knight frank

Now I appreciate planning a refit might not come under the remit of a rapid revamp, but we did part of our bathroom when these pictures were taken – replacing the shower and building the counter under the existing basins without changing anything else – so I don’t think you need to rule out changing part of the room if it makes it function better for you and your family.

Soho Home - kws bathroom chair

However, in terms of small changes with big impact, then next thing on the list is definitely STORAGE. It is a truth universally acknowledged that you have more stuff than you will a) admit to b) need and c) actually use. So first things first – sort it out. Get rid of the things you don’t need and don’t use. If it’s not pretty then get a bathroom cabinet. The first rule of storage is when you run out of horizontal space go vertical so use the walls.

Put the pharmaceutical stuff in a cupboard and the pretty stuff on a shelf. We use the long shelf between our basins as underwear storage so, when it’s not being photographed, it has a row of baskets with socks and pants in. We also tuck all the spare bottles and deodorants and stuff in there but, crucially, they are in plastic Muji storage boxes so that it still looks tidy.

Soho Home - kws shower

Once the storage is sorted – and be ruthless – then it’s time to look at what in any other room would be called the soft furnishings – TOWELS. When was the last time you had new ones? While you’re at it treat yourself to a new bath mat. Of course these things are necessary, but they also bring colour to a room so it’s way to decorate the space a little more. They also help acoustically – all those hard surfaces can make a bathroom really echo but towels will absorb some of the sound. If you keep spare ones in here then make sure the colours are working and roll them up on a shelf so they look good as well.

Next up, think of your bathroom as YOUR SPA and invest in a few pretty storage jars so that even if you buy in bulk from the supermarket you can decant it into nice bottles. Yes it’s a five minute faff, but if it makes the experience more pleasurable then it’s worth doing. After all, isn’t that part of the joy of the hotel bathroom – lots of lovely toiletries that you want to take home with you? Exactly. Think about the elements of the luxury hotel bathroom that you enjoy – fluffy towels, nice shampoo, a shelf to rest the glass of wine and space for a radio and bring them into your own bathroom.

Soho Home KWS Bathroom towels

Lastly, PLANTS are another good way to soften the space and the hard lines. Many plants like it hot and steamy and if they don’t, or you don’t have natural light then fake it. In the image above the plant to the right of the image is fake and the others are real. If you have space for a little stool by the bath to rest your book or your glass of wine then bring it in. A touch of vintage is another great contrast to all that white sanitary ware and cold metal taps.

So there are 5 ways to revamp your bathroom. I haven’t talked about lighting as that’s a bigger job but you can read my post on how to get the lighting right in the bathroom here.

And, as I said at the top – well done for making it down to the bottom by the way – if you want to talk about other rooms then let me know in the comments below. You can also mix and match lots of these ideas between rooms of course.













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  • Innermost 17th April 2019 at 9:46 am

    You have highlighted some great features.
    Water on the floor drives me crazy. Water absorbent mats are a must for me. In addition, the bathroom should be properly lit. I look forward to some amazing lighting solutions for the bathrooms in your next post, by the way, what about pendant lights over plants.

  • Sam – Dove Cottage Blog 16th April 2019 at 9:29 am

    That pink bathroom is amazing! Really helpful tips.

  • Anna 12th April 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Lisette Dulux has a range of paints that offers a really durable finish, perfect for front doors.

  • Sarah 11th April 2019 at 10:49 am

    I’ve read your posts on bathrooms and found them to be really helpful. I now know what I want to do which is fantastic as I am often plagued with doubts when doing a project. If you could also do a post about dining rooms, I’d be hugely grateful!

  • Birdie Simmons 11th April 2019 at 10:35 am

    Hi Kate
    I am a regular reader of your blog and often listen to you podcast. My husband and I have been renovating a property for the past 5 years!! A slow remodel to say the least!! I am a fan of a trough style sink with two black taps and would like to put one in in our en-suite however the only trough sinks I can source are in America. We live in Norfolk and was wondering if you have a source closer to home. I very much like a rustic style ie copper and slate tiles are planned. Any help would be much appreciated.

    • Polly 12th April 2019 at 10:18 pm

      Hi Birdie, sorry to jump in on your post but we have just put a Lusso Stone resin trough style sink in our bathroom with black taps and it looks incredible – I’m so pleased with it. Take a look at their website there are some gorgeous things. Polly

  • Lisette wybourn 11th April 2019 at 7:35 am

    Hi Kate, given the weather is getting a bit warmer and nights lighter, could we move outside and look at front doors. Can’t decide what colour to do mine, and as always would love to know your take on this

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 11th April 2019 at 7:51 am

      Hi Lisette, there are some outdoor posts coming up but I hadn’t thought about front doors. I would say apply the same principles as you do inside. Choose a colour that makes you happy and whether that’s a shiny black gloss like Downing Street or a bright pink like Mary Portas it’s up to you. As long as it goes with the brickwork. And it doesn’t have to be the same colour on the inside as the outside either.

  • Denise 1st June 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Take it back – they do look like they are tiled, presumably as splash backs. I’m too short to try this!

  • Linda 1st June 2017 at 11:59 am

    First, I just discovered your blog and am very taken with it. You say that the average UK bathroom is 6 ft by 8 ft and that Americans are laughing about this. No. The average American bathroom is about 6 ft by 8 ft too unless you have a house or major addition built in the last 25 years or a “McMansion” in which case the main bathroom will be large and other others are likely to be 6 ft by 8 ft more or less. Older houses have small bathrooms and small closets–unless people have taken a spare bedroom to make a big bathroom as you have done. I had no space in which to expand unless I lost two closets which are more valuable to me than a large bathroom. I live in a town with lots of houses built in the late 18th to middle 20th centuries and we have LOTS of tiny bathrooms in expensive houses, but this is typical of other places too.

  • vicki 1st June 2017 at 11:57 am

    Oh the towels. Ours were a wedding present some 7.5 years ago and we’ve never bought new ones. However they are starting to get a bit raggedy but still perfectly decent. I’m having an internal struggle as to whether to buy more or hang on a bit longer. It’s a real challenge for me!

  • Ana 1st June 2017 at 10:43 am

    Your bathroom is beautiful! We’re planning on redoing ours this summer. Which stores would you recommend for materials? I love your tiles, taps and wash basin, did you buy the wood beneath it or had it made?! Anyway, it looks amazing and definitely putting plants in ours 🙂

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 2nd June 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Thank you! So – the wood was from retrouvius – it’s reclaimed laboratory worktop and the builder made it from a drawing I did. The tiles are from Mandarin stone. The basins and taps were from Bathstore – not going with a wholehearted recommendation on that one I’m afraid. Try Aston Matthews.

      • Sue 11th April 2019 at 2:46 pm

        We had to rip out an entire limestone shower because had changed the size of a washer which had failed and couldn’t/wouldn’t supply one to fit. Cost of the washer was less than 20p. Complete indifference on their part, much mayhem on ours. Never ever again. Go more upmarket. It’s generally worth it in the long run

  • harriet 1st June 2017 at 9:05 am

    Ooh I love those towels, Kate: where did you find them? I’ve just gone from a very greyish mauve colour (sounds putrid but really it wasn’t) from Fired Earth to F&B’s Yeabridge Green. Wondered what on earth I was letting myself in for while up the ladder but now it looks fab, if I do say myself (and a great backdrop for pictures). Yes, I like pictures in the bathroom – just nothing too precious. So I think Stiffkey Blue will look amazing and completely transform the space into something much cosier and very chic. Go for it!

  • Emily 1st June 2017 at 8:54 am

    Perfectly timed post as I am going to tackle painting my bathroom this weekend!! (Going from a very sterile bright white to Stiffkey Blue… excited but nervous!)

    The mirrors above your sinks are confusing me though… are they tiled at the bottom and only the top half is mirrored?

    • Denise 1st June 2017 at 3:45 pm

      The mirrors are reflecting what’s on the opposite wall, I think. Kate?

    • Karen 6th June 2017 at 10:20 pm

      My entire living room is painted in stiffkey blue, I get (good) comments about it all the time…don’t be nervous, you’ll love it! Enjoy!

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