Take a walk on the wild side with this dramatic downstairs toilet makeover

Animal-print wallpaper, pink wall panelling and sleek black fittings were order of the day for this clever homeowner

small downstairs loo with pink wall panelling and animal print wallpaper
Image credit: Laura Chapman
(Image credit: Laura Chapman)

Cloakrooms and small loos can often feel a bit unloved, but they're also a great place to unleash your creativity and go for a bolder scheme, which is exactly what this homeowner did. 

Faced with a design from its previous owners that wasn't to her taste, she decided to completely transform it with some downstairs toilet ideas, changing the existing aquarium theme to a stylish scheme.

Wild downstairs toilet makeover

When Laura Chapman from Cambridge moved into her house back in 2016, the downstairs toilet was one of the rooms she remembers most. 'It was hilarious,' she says. 'The room was painted in an “under the sea” theme, even down to the floor tiles being sand colours and the ceiling having clouds and seagulls painted on it! There was also a disco ball that spun when you turned the light on so that the light on the walls looked like bubbles under the sea.'


before shot of a downstairs loo with painted fish

(Image credit: Laura Chapman)

Not only that, but as the last owners had wanted to make the house as light as possible, they'd installed a 12-panel glass door. 'It wasn't ideal for a loo,' says Laura, 'as it wasn’t even frosted. We changed it pretty quickly.'

The rest of the design, however, was left for a few years, so Laura's children could enjoy it. 'The kids were young and we knew they’d love it,' Laura recalls. 'Plus we thought it may encourage them to use it and wash their hands, so we left it. It’s always been a fun room that they could show their mates.'

loo with octopus motif

(Image credit: Laura Chapman)

Even the loo itself was included in the theme, with a painted octopus design taking precedent on the back wall.

Roll on a few more years and it was time for the aquarium theme to go…


small downstairs loo with pink wall panelling and animal print wallpaper

(Image credit: Laura Chapman)

Gone are the fishes and blue walls and in its place is a colourful yet grown-up scheme. 'My vision was an amalgamation of things that I’d seen over the years but I hadn’t had a room in which to try them,' says Laura. 

'I’d renovated every room in the house before this and really wanted to include some wall panelling ideas  – so why not in the loo? It’s the only room where I think you can go mad as you’re only in it for five minutes and guests love it!'

With her carpenter neighbour helping with the work, Laura had a new ceiling fitted ('in order to fill the cavity with insulation as it gets so cold in the winter') and a new vinyl floor laid. 'I painted the wall panelling between the days our neighbour was installing the sink and loo, then my mum and I hung the wallpaper,' says Laura. 

'It was my first time wallpapering and the paper I chose from Lust Home was so thick – it was a very steep learning curve, but actually, the perfectionist in me quite enjoyed the task. The satisfaction of getting a pattern match is second to none.' 

downstairs loo with sink and black tap and animal print wallpaper

(Image credit: Laura Chapman)

Having chosen her wallpaper, Laura decided to use the same pink colour in the pattern for the paint, so had it colour-matched. 'The whole house is in the same palette of pastel pink, grey and denim blue, so of course, this room had to take on the same vibe but in a bolder fashion,' she says.

When it came to the sink, there was one very important requirement: 'I made sure I looked at the drip factor,' she says. 'I can't stand a sink that lets the water run over the sides and onto the floor. This one has a rim all the way around it.'

Having spent around £3,350 on the makeover, Laura has some advice for anyone looking to update their downstairs loo. 'I’m so in love with this room now,' she says, 'and although the black tap looks fabulous, we live in a hard water area where limescale is a huge issue. I’ve trained my family to dry the tap off after each use and, after six months, it still looks brand new.

'It's worth investing in some plain white flannels and using them to dry the hardware off after every use  – and you can use them to buff mirrors and shower screens, too.'

Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at lauriedavidson.co.uk