Before and after: From boring bathroom to Oriental oasis

The owner researched relentlessly to achieve this unique Japanese-inspired look in her small bathroom

before and after images of white bathroom makeover
(Image credit: TBC)

‘The existing bathroom wasn’t unpleasant, but had been a “make-do” solution,' says Helen Swan, the owner of the now-transformed space. 'I’m not the sort of person who wants everything off-the-peg,' she admits. 'Plus, I was aware that this would probably be my last bathroom for this house, so couldn’t help feeling emotional about it.

Helen is heavily influenced by Japanese design, both in her interior style and in her jewellery. She designs bespoke pieces, which you can see on her website, Helen Swan Jewellery, and wanted her bathroom to reflect those tastes.

'When I started doing my homework, I was overwhelmed by the amount of choice,'says Helen. 'There’s so much choice nowadays – so if you want to get it right, you have to do your research. I was after a unique look, so visited many showrooms and sat in lots of baths.'

When Helen finally found a bathroom showroom with pieces she loved and a helpful designer, she was happy to put herself in their hands. 'The CAD drawing supplied was really helpful and I was even able to have the asymmetric plinth I wanted for the basin made bespoke.'

white bathroom with bathtub and black washbasin

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

The old bathroom was a quick, low-budget fix that Helen and her husband had installed in the 1990s. This time, they were able to indulge in simple but striking fittings, highlighted by a dark grey feature wall.

Get the look
Buy now: Victoria + Albert Mozzano freestanding bath, £2,560, Sanctuary Bathrooms
Buy now: Similar Colours Bathroom Grey Slate soft sheen emulsion, £15 for 2.5ltrs, B&Q

white bathroom with bathtub and black washbasin

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

'Putting the mirror on the wall behind the basin and the mirrored cabinets opposite have made the room seem so spacious,' says the owner, who hates clutter. ‘I like everything to be hidden away,’ she admits.

Marble mosaic tiles add luxe texture in the display recess below those cabinets, which are from Ikea. They've then been given bespoke mirrored doors.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar Godmorgan wall cabinets, £150 each, Ikea

black washbasin with bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

The owner was looking for a black basin but fell for the grooved matt finish of this charcoal-grey design.

Get the look
Buy now: Jakarta countertop wash basin, £450, Bagnodesign
Buy now: Metreaux mono tall smooth bodied basin mixer, £385, Bagnodesign

white bathroom with steel towel rack and toilet

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

Because the bathroom is narrow, the owner chose a wall-hung, short-projection loo and bidet to save vital inches of space.

white bathroom with potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

Pot plants are mounted on bamboo boxes to perfect their proportions against the window frame.

Get the look
Buy now: Dragan four-piece bathroom set, £9, Ikea

bathtub with bath rack and towel

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

The beautiful curved bath rack adds an element of wood to this simple, minimal bathroom.

Get the look
Buy now: Victoria + Albert Tombolo8 oak bath rack, £264, Park Street Bathrooms 
Buy now: Similar Supima Cotton face cloth in Citrine, £4, John Lewis

white bathroom with steel towel rack and black washbasin

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

For a seamless effect Helen has chosen the same tiles for the flooring and the wall behind the wc and bidet.

Get the look
Buy now: Kaleido Blanco wall tiles, £26.30 per sq m, EMC Tiles

The fitting only took two weeks, as the couple kept to the existing layout, and cost £5,600, including the design.

“I wanted a forever bathroom with no regrets, which is why I put so much thought into the detail and layout,' says the owner. 'I think this simple, ergonomic design is a thing of beauty.'

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.