Interiors Reveal: The Bathroom

When we first had our offer accepted on the flat, we knew that the first room we wanted to tackle was the bathroom - or more appropriately, the shower room. Ain't no room for a bath in here. In fact, it is such a petite room that the first round of guests all kept asking if it was the ensuite. Ha...

But of course, things never quite pan out how you plan, and we ended up decorating both the hallway and the living room, and styling the whole bedroom, before we even glanced in the direction of our neglected little bathroom. But eventually we pulled our socks up and got the room finished off - and even if I do say so myself, it's transformed.

Here's a little 'before' snap for you:

the style stories bathroom renovation.jpeg

As you can see, it's a small space, and the claustrophobic cupboards and lack of other storage weren't doing it any favours. It's windowless too, which is slightly less than ideal, and there were two dingy light fittings that just did nothing to bring any brightness to the space. Plus, the yellowing walls and even more yellow floorboards (just don't) really didn't fit in with the clean, fresh vibe that you want from a bathroom. It just didn't feel like a room that you could enjoy spending any time in.

Our plan of action was loose, but we knew that the end result needed to feel light, bright and breezy - a small room can still be a stylish one, after all. Luckily, the fittings were all fairly new and all looked perfectly nice enough (except the sink, more on that later), so it was just cosmetic work that needed doing - thankfully.

So before we get started on the details, here's some snaps of how it's looking now:

the style stories bathroom renovation
the style stories bathroom renovation

Firstly, Lewis ripped most of the cupboard doors off, to leave us with open shelving for display purposes, with the remaining two doors hiding the unsightly bathroom essentials, and the gas meter. We also replaced the handles on these doors - they had been weird, flat handles attached to the cupboard rims, so we swapped them for monochrome miniature knobs, which looked so much better. We also replaced the knobs on the main bathroom door itself with corresponding ones to tie in with the cupboards, and it's actually amazing how much of a difference such a small tweak can make.

And then there was a messy job - ripping off the 1990s frosted glass splashback, and the weird mirror/shelving unit built into the wall above the sink. It looked odd and it just didn't work, so it had to go. Unfortunately, ripping this off took half the wall with it - but what do you expect when you buy a Georgian flat, you do it to yourself etc.etc. We also replaced the truly rubbish lights, opting for a domed glass light fitting with daylight bulbs, which actually showed us that the walls were indeed white, not yellow, albeit a bit faded and dated. Who knew?

Then, after what felt like a lifetime (but was in fact just two months or so), we painted. There was only one option to lift the room: bright, matte white. We did the walls and all of the woodwork, and that in itself was a transformation. The plan after this was always to tile the lower third of the walls, with metro tiles and grey grout (so original right), but we kept putting it off - we couldn't afford to hire a tiler and neither of us fancied trying it ourselves.

But then Lewis had a brainwave, stemming from the dark grey and white Orla Kiely sinkware we had bought last year. So what we actually did was paint the lower third of the walls in a really dark slate grey to match - it was so dramatic and a little scary when we first opened the tin and stroked on that first coat, but we both love the finished result. I was scared to paint such a small room with such a dark colour, but it actually works so well to give the room some impact. And as there's so much white still in the room, the grey doesn't make it look any darker overall. Phew.

The next biggest thing was actually the last thing we did chronologically, but it makes sense to talk about it here - the flooring. As you can see from the 'before' snap, the floors were painted yellow and varnished, and quite scuffed, definitely not Instagram-worthy. We both really loved the idea of having some cool patterned tiles, but after costing it all up (and discovering how much it would take to level the floors first) we settled on the cheaper, easier option of laying cool patterned vinyl instead. Our bathroom floor cost just £25 and looks fantastic - the graphic monochrome print really makes a statement in the room, plus it was easy to fit and is very low-maintenance to look after. A win-win, I am so pleased we decided not to bother with tiling now - that goes for the walls and the floors!

After thinking we were all done and dusted, we then decided that actually, the big old round sink was a bit of an eyesore and just a little impractical in such a small space - so we shopped around in the January sales and found a chic little sink/cupboard unit for under £50. More space to move around and more storage space too, plus the shape just looks so much sleeker in the bathroom.

In terms of accessorising, it can be quite tricky to find grey/black bathroom accessories that fit with our theme, are small enough to fit in the space and don’t cost more than the bathroom itself, but I think we’ve gotten there. We decided to play on the grey/black theme a lot, to tie the floor and the walls together nicely - so we added black wire baskets from H&M Home to the shelves, to store beauty products etc., and chose only the fanciest bathroom products we have to put out on the shelves. Lewis added some of the monochrome miniature Penguin books we have too - mostly as decoration, but I argue that some guests might quite like to have something to read in the bathroom. As I said, we already had the grey Orla Kiely accessories in place, so when we found hand towels and flannels to match, we had hit the jackpot with the accessories, it all just ties together so well! I also found a dark grey bath mat in H&M Home, and towels to match too, so the scheme always matches even when the Orla Kielys are in the wash. The finishing touch (so far) is this super cool 'Ooh La La' print from Juniqe, which was a Christmas gift from my brother in law - the font looks similar to the pattern in the floor, and the monochrome design means it looks really Sixties (my dream aesthetic). 

We're still not entirely finished with the bathroom - we need to find a cool loo roll holder and towel loop (I have my eye on these Ferm Living ones but the price makes me want to weep), but it’s not really an urgent thing to say the least.

When you look at the snaps above, it's hard to believe that it's the same room for me - the dingy little yellow cupboard, totally magicked into a space that I'm always excited to show guests now, instead of making excuses to prepare them for a let-down. I'm so proud that we did it all ourselves (with the exception of fitting the sink, but hey - plumbers are there to be used, we're not going to pretend we can do a professional's job when we absolutely can't!) and that it was all our own vision. I'm also super proud that all of the changes came in at less than £150 in total - proof that redecorating really doesn't have to be expensive. You just need to be practical, dedicated to shopping around, and open to compromise and other suggestions in order to make it work.

What do you think of our bathroom's new look?