Before and after: Be inspired by a coolly classic bathroom update in this Edwardian home

Shagpile carpet, vinyl wallpaper and polystyrene ceiling tiles were all design ‘features’ of this bathroom, which in its former state hadn’t seen an interior update since the 1970s! The bright pink curtains and carpet, floral print wall and old-fashioned high-level cistern looked out of place in the Edwardian house they were a fixture in, so it was only a matter of time until the owners decided to give a it a serious overhaul. The aim was to turn it into an elegant, contemporary bathroom; a ‘wonderful place to relax and escape the daily stresses.’

The key – apart from stripping out all the outdated fittings – was to  get the new layout right. In order to do that the couple ‘created digital floor plans and used a laser measurer to work out all the odd angles.’ Moving the toilet and cistern, and replacing them with a far more modern design, was at the top of the list: ‘the bathroom isn’t very large, but doing this gave us space for a walk-in shower,’ they say. Smart planning was essential from the very beginning, as was being savvy with the budget. ‘We had a budget of £5,000 and did all the planning ourselves, learning new skills along the way. We got a tiler in, though, which cost just over £900.’ One of the main saviours was the donation of a bath tub – one set of in-laws was renovating their home and gave it to the couple. Luckily, it was the perfect size for the space.

With the bathtub sorted, the owners chose statement furniture and everything else was designed to fade into the background. The deep-green and crisp white furniture has a smart, sophisticated look that’s far from the shocking pink decor it replaced, and the classic-looking fittings sit well in the Edwardian property.

As the most integral part of the bathroom, a largest chunk of the budget went on this furniture. ‘Our biggest spend was the vanity unit,’ they say. Aware that this was the lynchpin of the whole space, they knew they had to get it right.  ‘We initially painted it grey but it didn’t work with the beige tiles, so we redid it in dark green.’

A classic white Belfast-style basin breaks up the deeply coloured run of base units, for a crisp finish. Originally, the couple had their sights set on marble countertops for the vanity unit, but in the end they opted for quartz instead. ‘It’s more durable, which is a boon in a bathroom where the surfaces get so much use,’ they say.

Although the fitted storage takes up a large proportion of the floor space, it does keep the space tidy. ‘It brings an elegant, luxurious feel to our small bathroom,’ say the owners. In addition, the dark colour against the mirrored wall behind it has a positive impact; it’s a cost effective way to make the space feel larger!

In terms of making the most of limited space, the heated towel rails/ radiators also had a subtle impact.

The fact that narrow towel radiators can be fitted almost anywhere in the bathroom did not pass the owners by. In a small space such as this, where wall and floor space is at a premium, ‘it makes the most of an empty corner at the end of the bath,’ say the owners. Bold patterned towels bring a little energy, and modernity to the serene space.

Other modern elements, such as the chrome mixer tap and accessories, sit side-by-side with the traditional fixtures and fittings.

The couple love period homes, but consciously added modern details into the mix so that their space doesn’t feel like a time capsule. ‘We tried to think outside the box with every decision we made, always asking ourselves whether or not something was really the best option,’ they say.

This mission to get every single detail exactly right extended to the placement of the shower. ‘We even stood in the space that we’d allocated for the shower and imagined reaching out for the shampoo bottle to make sure the layout was spot on,’ they say.

With the sizing and placement agreed, they fitted a moulded shower tray and tiled over the top to create a contemporary wet-room look. Clear glass screens enhance the sense of greater space in the bathroom, too.

A backdrop of pale sand-coloured tiles was used throughout to warm up the contrasting monochrome scheme. Again, this was a decision made with the aim of helping make the small room feel more spacious. Combined with the dark green and mirrored surfaces and the white sanitaryware, these warm neutral tiles certainly have the desired impact.

Alasdair Macintosh

With the project complete, the couple readily admit that doing the work themselves wasn’t plain sailing. ‘The plumbing was tricky and there was a weekend when the shower kept leaking,’ say the couple. ‘It was a low point and we even considered giving up and selling the house! We got there in the end though.’ Going for a classic style means the bathroom’s style is sympathetic to the Edwardian home and, in the end, it all came together beautifully.

Shopping list

Vanity unit, £670, Roper Rhodes

Similar mirror, £180, Bathstore

Similar toilet, £315, Wainwright Bathrooms

Similar toilet unit, £170, Victorian Plumbing

Similar lighting, £149, Made

Towels, from £14 each, John Lewis

Shower screen, £320, Wainwright Bathrooms

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