Updated: Nov 22, 2020
“It’s honestly the last room we shall be decorating, so just patch it up!”
These were my last words as we embarked on finding the reason behind a saucepan size stain on the kitchen ceiling.
At this point we had been in the house for five weeks, we’d already forked out for a new boiler (mega flow - boiler goals right there), which, in the process had blown up the external gas meter. Plus the unprecedented amount of rain, had created a truly unique water feature in the living room. So as you can agree renovating a small shower room was not up there on the priority list.
I know you’ve all been there, looking at a new house renovation project is just…well daunting - even for an interior designer!
3 things run through your mind:
I honestly don’t have the time to plan the shower room design, between clients and kids.
When will I ever have the cash to be able to renovate this shower room.
Let alone manage the bathroom installation and why oh why didn’t we buy a new build!
Several strong words, slammed door discussions and we decided that, its not something we can ignore. So we set about chipping off a tile in the shower to find the source of the leak (I should add, my husband is not, blessed in the art of DIY but was genuinely thinking his tin of grout and sealant would save the day). Confession - now I did video this moment, as it was horrific and hilarious in equal measure.
As we removed the tiles in the shower the most horrific smell - think old plant water that’s been sat in the vase for 10 day, rank Swiftly followed by the collapsing of the wall behind the tiles!
Time for a re-think…
this was not going to be a patch it up and move on to pretty things job, this was a whole new bathroom… one we didn’t have the time, cash or energy to do.
Preparing the space
“Smash it all out” was our decision after 2 weeks of back and forth debates. This is the kind of DIY he loves to do. So out went the remaining shower wall, tiles, plasterboard and the shower tray. Removing the old 80s sink and let the supporting timber dry out was our master plan. As luck would have it, this room sat right above the new boiler hot water pipes, so these acted, as under floor heating and within a week the wall was dry.
Before looking at the pretty design elements on this shower room we sat down to think about how we were going to use this space. Primarily it would be a guest bathroom but due to its close proximity to the garden and a rather dilapidated 70s style pool, it had a bigger job to do.
BIG SHOWER kids were going to be piling into it after a day in the pool and we figured overnight guests would not use a bath (good job because space did not permit such luxury). Largest cubicle that would fit in the space was a 1100 x 900, measuring up I said “this means the basin and vanity unit is going to have to be smaller than the original.
VANITY UNIT STORAGE as guests would only be adding a small wash bag to the space, a full drawer system vanity unit was an unnecessary expense. I’ve planned for a shelf with deck mounted basin, but I knew I still had to source a budget “wow factor” basin.
TOILET again with space at a premium a compact loo was the best solution. If I could make it a wall hung concealed cistern toilet this would create the illusion of more space as the majority of the loo is concealed in the wall with only the flush pate on the front, and the pan floats above the floor.
LAYOUT options were limited and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it so, we just opted to upscale the shower cubicle head and control unit and scale down the vanity unit and the toilet.
Right, lets finally start some mood board chat. I have this thing for tiles, no I really do, I collect samples and I have been styling and curating tile combinations for years.
I ordered up the bathroom product, booked in the plumber, then started playing with wall and floor tile combinations. I knew I wanted to create a stripe, but I wasn’t sure on a complimentary floor tile, terrazzo was too busy and not romantic enough to pair with the masculine stripe, while plain old marble or porcelain was just too obvious. Until one very wet, sourcing trip to ca’pietra in Chelsea, I was complaining about the weather and I rested my umbrella on a pile of tiles for clearance, only to look down in some kind of magic moment to see that the nijar tile. That was it! Thinking Id lost the plot I begged Chris in the store for a full size sample and wrestled it back to Surrey on the train.
The installation was fairly straight-forward, as the room was a blank canvas and our plumber who had fitted the new boiler was back to fit the shower, toilet and basin. We has planned out the shower niches and the narrowest cistern we could get away with to save on those all important inches. All in all, it took five days to fit the plumbing and sanitary ware, ready for the tiler.
Monday came and so did Bogdan our tiler, The stripes we needed to create for the shower wall, were made up of the Topps tiles Artisanu in cream and sage and I had been rather particular on the grout to ensure this matched with the sage tile.
Bogdan suggested we start at the top of the shower wall with the full tiles, to ensure the cut tiles would then all be at the bottom of the wall, where the wall meets the shower tray. This seemed to go to plan and took around two days to complete.
The tile trim around the windows ledges proved more difficult as apparently the walls weren’t level, so he had to cut the tiles into different lengths to counteract this, I just supplied more coffee and left him to it.
7 days later, and out emerged Bogdan in a cloud of tile dust, “your crazy tile room, is finished”
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
We created is an eclectic shower room that embraces all my loves in design, clean linear lines, romantic vintage accents that sit amongst a backdrop of satin slipper by Farrow & Ball.
The finishing touches came in the form of wall lights, Jim Lawrence, antique brass scalloped wall lights. Having checked their suitability for bathrooms I knew placement was key and that having them above the basin would be fine as it was far enough away from direct water access, no splash zone. Rather an extravagance, but hey, what Id saved on the vanity unit I felt was worth it for these lights. In my option they are the glue that binds the space - they connect the whimsical floor tiles to the brassware.
Art was a simple affair, as again I’ve always got a full basket in my online Juniper print shop. There flight print really encapsulates the mood of the room.
What had started, as a “patch it up” shower room became an eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary influences. I’m so pleased with the space and now look back and laugh at us with our tin of grout and sealant thinking this would take us a few hours one Saturday in November. In reality we will love this room for years so will all our guests.
That’s all folks! I really hope you found the piece interesting, and as always I’m happy to answer any further questions you may have or head over to email – emma@EmmaMerryStyling .All images & mood board copyright are owned by Emma merry styling except where noted. Please make sure you credit and link/tag if you use them. Thank you x