Mad About . . .

Tiny Bathroom Makeover

19th May 2021
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Finally the bathroom reveal which, as is often the way, despite being the smallest (ok second smallest) room in the house has been the most expensive and tricky to get right. When we moved in 10 years ago it was the only bathroom. There was a bath along the window wall with a shower over, a basin and a loo. Which, I get, is what you need. But it was so tiny (around 2m2) that you mostly had to dry while standing in the bath as the floor space was tight. And the door opened out over the step and I was constantly in fear that a small child would come barrelling out and knock a smaller child off balance and tumbling down the stairs to certain death. I’m a catastrophist what can I say.

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com; ostuni terrazzo and bamboo wall tiles by Otto, toilet by Duravit

So before I explain what we did I’m going to say that I should signpost this as my Wednesday Ad break as, as part of my collaboration with Duravit, they provided the loo, basin tap and shower attachments. The tiles are by Otto Tiles and we paid the installer RK Bathrooms and bought the paint from Little Greene. The shower screen and basin were re-used as was the radiator which was sprayed to match the paint.

Well the first decision, as you can see, was that we took the bath out and decided to make a wet room with a generous shower instead. None of us are particularly bath people and it made sense to have a spacious and joyful shower rather than a cramped experience that was neither a luxurious bathe nor a generous shower.

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com: duravit toilet – me by philippe starck, bamboo tiles by Otto Tiles and Ostuni floor tiles

I should say we did this first with a shower tray and a sliding door and it all quickly became hard to clean and a bit, well, yuk. So then we had it tanked with a shower tray under the floor and it became a wet room. Only we didn’t think we could afford/justify underfloor heating and figured it wasn’t that important. And I tell you all this so you can learn from my journey if you are in the same position.

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com; duravit shower fittings, tiles from otto tiles – bamboo white and ostuni terrazzo

Turns out that hard water (London), black tiles (I was going through my hotel/ Japanese Onsen phase) with no heating to dry the leftover shower water meant a lot of limescale and staining. Add two growing teenage boys in to the mix and once again this room became shabby fast. And that’s before I mention the builder (the previous builder not the one who did this) who was a little too zen in his approach to tanking and siliconing and the leaks that ensued more than once, staining the kitchen ceiling below and leading to that room needing to be redecorated as well. There was also a leak in the roof (bad flashing) which meant that after a year of heavy lockdown use this room was tired, shabby, and leaking above and below.

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com: towels from la redoute, bamboo white tiles from otto with terracotta grout by mapei

This time we wanted to get it right. Underfloor heating was on the list. I can’t tell you whether it will be expensive to run because we’ve only had it a week but oh it’s lovely. And the water evaporates fast. The layout didn’t change as there was basically nowhere to change it to but there is room to come out of the shower and, well, dance while you dry, as the builder said. It’s not a jive but you can shimmy about in a towel.

We also bought an anti steam mirror – essentially it’s attached to the light switch and heats up when you have the lights on. I couldn’t decide if this was a ridiculous indulgence or a cool gadget. In fact with two shaving age sons it’s cool and useful. And we had some leftover floor tiles so we decided to use them up by making a frame for the mirror.

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com; the anti-steam mirror is perfect for small spaces

The wall won’t take a wall-mounted loo which I love for both hygiene and floor space so this, designed by Philippe Starck for Duravit, is a traditional version, but that’s old Victorian houses for you. We had planned a storage niche between basin and mirror but when the wall was opened there was a maze of heating pipes, joists and some bricks. It would have cost several hundred pounds to sort out so we re-used the glass shelf we already had and it was sunk into the wall so there are no visible fixings.

The Duravit shower head and hand attachment are classic but cool. I like the round valve as bathrooms are so often full of straight lines and hard surfaces and a few curves where you can get them is great.

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com; toilet by duravit, paint by little greene, toiletries by officine universelle buly 1803

Now the tiles. I have resisted the mad trend for terrazzo without really knowing why I was so against it. Then, when I saw these, I understood. Terrazzo is floor. I don’t want a duvet or a lamp or a cushion. I want a floor and perhaps, at the outside, a worktop. Once I understood my resistance, this Ostuni version, with its shades of pink was an easy choice. This room is also next door to my office – they share a mini landing – so it made sense to use some of the leftover paint on the threshold and window. We also had the existing towel rail sprayed and the existing basin painted all to match (I re-used and re-purposed as much as possible in this room).

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com: shower fittings by duravit

From there it was a short step to using matching grout for the bamboo tiles. It’s called Terracotta by Mapei should you wish to try it yourself and it highlights the darker shades in the floor and brings the space together. I was also determined to use dark grout – partly for soap staining reasons and partly because I wanted to emphasise the wonderful curved lines of these tiles – which are like a classic subway with a twist.

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

Finally the wall colour. I had planned for this to be the Arras but that felt too much. Then I thought I would use the leftover Ferdinand from my office (but that went to the kitchen ceiling). I wanted a disruptor colour and then when I was making my son’s bed before he came home for a weekend visit from university I noticed he had stolen my brick red Nolli plug and contrasting ocean green lead. I was in the paint shop an hour later. It’s Little Greene Aquamarine Mid.

The final touch was the brass handles from Dowsing & Reynolds (bought) which double up as a hand towel hook and a way to pull the door shut. This is a standard door that we cut and half and added hinges by the way. There is nowhere for a sliding door to go – unless it is inside the room which would make it even smaller – and a narrow double door would block the entrance to my office. This seemed like the best solution ten years ago and having discussed it for longer than a cup of coffee with the builder remains the best solution. You can see in the picture below how it opens over the step.

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

tiny shower room makeover by madaboutthehouse.com

I bought the towels from La Redoute and the toiletries are by Officine Universelle Buly 1803 which has possibly the most beautiful packaging I have ever seen. I was sent these as styling props for this and some filming I am doing next week.

So there you have it. I hope you like it. I have been told by a French designer that it’s very French, by an Italian that it has a touch of Milan and also that it’s a bit Wes Anderson. I’ll take all of that. And the final proof? Well it must be good because the 17yo is very clean these days.


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  • Hamish Patel 22nd May 2021 at 9:14 am

    I have been told by my builder that underfloor heating can’t be laid to the tanked shower area. Did you manage to or do you just rely on the the surrounding heat to help evaporate the water?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 23rd May 2021 at 2:29 pm

      yes – it’s not in the actual shower area but the rest of the floor is warm and there is a radiator and an anti steam mirror so it all helps. Also it’s a tiny room so it’s probably even more efficient.

  • Mela 20th May 2021 at 8:03 pm

    Nailed it. Again! Agree about the terrazzo too – just because we love something doesn’t mean we want to see it on everything!! And yes the to European/Wes Anderson vibes – I’d take that any day 🙂

  • Sylvia Wedge 20th May 2021 at 12:42 am

    A joy to view. Such practical advice for small bathrooms and the challenges to overcome while creating a visual delight. Great combination. Congratulations from Montreal.

  • June 19th May 2021 at 10:14 pm

    Hello Kate

    I live in a Victorian terrace (albeit in Melbourne so it’s a little more spacious) but I love your posts especially those of your house! Of course you probably chose to tile the side to tie in with the wall tiles but just in case there are others like us who would prefer to further minimise cleaning I have attached a picture of a back to the wall toilet we installed for ease of cleaning.


  • Marie Bunworth 19th May 2021 at 5:35 pm

    Super job Kate. Very Milanese !

  • Lindsay 19th May 2021 at 5:08 pm

    I love your pockets of inspiration, the plug & lead and those tiles are starting to grow on me. It looks great and all the effort you put in to pull it altogether.

  • Gude at Synsera Homes 19th May 2021 at 4:36 pm

    Love it! Totally agree with the Mediterranean vibe comments.
    I love the saga of how it has evolved and you’ve learned from mistakes to get to this point (the perfect bathroom?) and a big fat YES to underfloor heating!

  • Fiona Murdoch 19th May 2021 at 2:35 pm

    I love this post Kate. Thank you. I am planning to put in a new ensuite and your post has really set me thinking about what is possible. I had been wondering about painting towel rails and radiators. Do you have to use special paint / add something special to paint to make it cope with heat?

  • Michael D 19th May 2021 at 2:12 pm

    Using leftover floor tiles to make a frame for the mirror is my favourite thing I’ve read on your blog so far. Love it!

  • Patricia Hill 19th May 2021 at 12:55 pm

    This looks really great, and is an excellent use of a very small space indeed. But I have a question: What did you do about the lighting? Lighting can really make or break a bathroom experience. I don’t see anything around the mirror, and I think I see some small spotlights in the shower area, reflected in the mirror — but what about general lighting? You haven’t shown the ceiling — which is where the fixture must be. I’d love to know what you chose, and if you were able to combine excellent overall lighting without the hideous shadow-throwing glare of so many ceiling fixtures. Thx!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 20th May 2021 at 5:19 pm

      There’s not much to say about the lighting in here – there are the spot lights on the ceiling and that’s it. We haven’t changed them and they work perfectly well and don’t throw too many shadows. In an ideal world I might have added wall lights either side of the mirror as that’s the most flattering light to have (side light) but we had to stop somewhere and since this was about fixing leaks and roofs as a priority we didn’t add more lighting. This works fine for my teenage sons and there is a window so actually in the day time it doesn’t even need the ceiling light.

  • Carrie 19th May 2021 at 12:25 pm

    I turned a walk in cupboard into a really, really tiny shower room almost two decades ago in a house that predated indoor plumbing. Extractor fan, tick; underfloor heating, tick; wet room (Wedi) lining , tiled and grouted; silicon edge seals renewed 3 times ( they do discolour and wear so this is essential). Quality hardware and materials. It’s still in daily use and still pristine. Never any issues with mould or blackened grout. It just proves that No matter how good your decoration it’s what’s underneath that’s important.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 20th May 2021 at 5:20 pm

      So so true Carrie. Now that this has been stripped back and retanked and the roof fixed I’m hoping it too will last for many years.

      • Carrie 21st May 2021 at 12:18 am

        It will – and it looks fantastic! The last thing you want is to skimp on the prep , especially in a damp/humid room. All the decorating in the world won’t defeat the mould.

  • anna 19th May 2021 at 11:55 am

    This is a very well thought out and yes, Italian in style shower room. The way it has been put together is very Elle Decoration.
    Complimenti Kate!

  • michele 19th May 2021 at 10:33 am

    absolutely love it – so unique – can I ask where you got the towel rail sprayed please.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 20th May 2021 at 5:21 pm

      I’m afraid my builder took it off to somewhere he knows but I imagine you might be able to ask a local builder or bathroom company.

  • Susan Browne 19th May 2021 at 10:06 am

    It’s fabulous. I think it looks very Italian.

  • Sharon 19th May 2021 at 9:37 am

    Looks great – and you let the 17yo keep his bespoke 3-D printed toothbrush holder too!!

  • buttler 19th May 2021 at 9:15 am

    These small bathroom ideas go beyond making the most of the available space and prove that bold design elements can be right at home in even the tiniest rooms. Here are the best ways to turn powder rooms, half-baths, and just little tiny (sometimes windowless) bathrooms into less cramped, more enjoyable situations. Your small bath may just be your next favorite room.

  • Gudrun 19th May 2021 at 8:30 am

    This is so lovely, thank you for sharing. We have renovated to flats in Paris and both times removed to bath tub to have space for a lush shower. We have never regretted it.
    While looking at your pictures, I was wondering about storage. Are you fine with only the glass shelving? If so, kudos to you and your kids.
    I have loved looking at your blog posts. We have some retouching to do in our family home we renovated/redecorated 10 years ago. And I feel that my taste has changed and I find your posts very inspirational. I try to convince my husband to have more layers regarding upholstered items/carpets/furniture, more colors, more depth.
    Have a lovely day,

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 20th May 2021 at 5:23 pm

      Hi Gudrun, there isn’t much storage in here – this is partly a space thing but partly because it’s mostly used by my teenage sons – one of whom is mostly at university so the two glass shelves suffice for them. There are towel hooks but the towels mostly live on the floor of their bedrooms. And there’s a wall mounted wire caddy in the shower for soap and shampoo. If it was used more often – or in time – I may add a couple of shelves under the basin but this has worked out so far. Obviously it wouldn’t be enough for a whole family.

  • Karin 19th May 2021 at 7:38 am

    It looks great! Really love those tiles and great idea to paint underneath the basin. We’re currently redoing our tiny bathroom and have the same toilet issue, are considering the same Duravit one. Is it wall paint you’ve used on the door frame and windows? Want to do the same in our bathroom but unsure what kind of paint to use that could maybe also withstand some moisture. Our windows happens to be in the shower.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 20th May 2021 at 5:25 pm

      We used gloss on the window and eggshell on the door which works for wood. Modern emulsion is good for bathroom walls as it has a slight sheen to it. A window in a shower will come under a lot of pressure and if it’s wooden it will need regular maintenance and looking after. It’s probably the one place where a upvc window might be better. But if it’s well primed and painted and maintained then it should be ok.

      • Karin 4th June 2021 at 12:44 pm

        Thanks Kate!

  • Melanie lissack 19th May 2021 at 7:27 am

    Kate it looks great! I love how you’ve used the deeper colour in a way that isn’t overpowering by being on the walls. Currently doing our tiny en suite room after water damage so I know how stressful it is!

    • Siobhan Coyle 19th May 2021 at 9:43 am

      We’ve also done our tiny loo and made it into a wet room, as we have only one shower and with two teenagers it was a bit tight. We installed a loo that has the sink on the cistern so the hand wash water then flushes the loo and it also saves a lot of space!

  • Sofia Charalambous 19th May 2021 at 7:16 am

    Love the tiny shower room but where do you place your soaps and shampoos while showering?
    Would be a good idea to have a shower shelf!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 20th May 2021 at 5:26 pm

      There is a wire shower caddy out of shot that has two shelves and holds lots of soap and shampoo. It’s totally within arm reach and in the shower area.

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