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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.