A new bathroom

Finally, some pictures of what has stolen for my time and attention for most of January and a good part of February. Above are the tiny mosaic tiles above our new sink, against our one wall of wallpaper. The pictures don't show it very well, but although they are almost colourless, both the wallpaper and the tiles are very sparkly.

I never tire of seeing 'before and after' pictures on other people's blogs, so I thought I might share some of my own. Our bathroom used to be an odd 'L' shape and there was a small corridor to reach the bathroom, so we decided that we'd love to get rid of the pointless walkway and turn the bathroom into a nice big square.

Before - with pointless corridor
After - without pointless corridor
When we moved in we replaced the loo, bath and shower and stripped the walls, because they were the only aspects of it that we could afford to tackle and they desperately needed doing. Unfortunately, the old tiles leaked and the replacement bath wasn't properly installed, which meant that we never got to use the new shower as the water that leaked from so many places threatened to damage the rooms below. By December the sink leaked, the hot water tap had stopped working and the unused shower pump beneath the bath had to be disconnected from its leaking pipes, so when the builders arrived at the beginning of January we were quite delighted to see them.

Before - complete with ugly air vents and leaking tiles

Before - I always found the way these tiles had been put on to resemble a flight of stairs more than a little disturbing.

Unfortunately, once work began our bathroom looked like this for a very long time as our plumber became unwell. Bathing was primitive and came complete with bits of plaster and loft insulation floating in the water. Once the bath was removed entirely, more plumber illness followed and the children had several baths in the kitchen sink until the new bath could be plumbed in.

It also stumbled at this point for a long time too and I remember feeling that the new bathroom might only ever have a bath in it. The black paint is apparently known as Black Jack and stops any damp from penetrating the walls, but it made me think how much fun it would be to have a blackboard above the bath for moments of inspiration.

After - the bath is a funny one that is a square at one end to make it perfect for showering, but the cubicle doors fold back for bathing.

It took over a month to get to this point...but just like childbirth, the horror of bathroom installation seems to melt away once you have a lovely shiny new bathroom to use (or it did until I started looking over these pictures and then the horror all came flooding back to me).

And now the other side of the room:

We had open shelves that would be tidied about once a month and then get disrupted the moment we needed to find some Savlon and plasters in a hurry....but I think really the reason that our bathroom was so messy was because it was such a horrible place to spend time in that I felt uninspired to try to keep it tidy (this is unusual for me as I love tidying and cleaning). I feel most reticent to show you this picture...but it's impossible to understand why what we now have is such a great improvement without seeing how it truly was before. Brace yourself:

After - at night time

After - in daylight

There was even some bathroom sewing involved in the transformation. Curtains and blinds are perhaps the things that I most loathe to make. I don't even tend to consider the making of them as sewing; sewing feels like fun, where to me, making window coverings feels like torture. However, the quote for someone else to make two Roman blinds for us came to over £500...so it felt as though venturing into uncharted Roman-blind-making-territory was a risk worth taking at the prospect of saving so much money. Our local interior designers - who are utterly wonderful - helped me pick out some fabric on the basis of my tile and wallpaper samples. For a bathroom, silk can't be used as it's a mold magnet, but I was delighted with the fabric that they found for me, which looks silky and has a sparkly iridescent quality (this somehow isn't picked up in the photos), but isn't actually silk. I'm lucky that the town I live in seems to have lots of good shops filled with helpful people, so once I'd collected my roll of material, I went straight to the curtain-makers where they were able to give me all the advice I needed about how to make a Roman blind. They sent me off feeling like I knew vaguely what to do, with the instruction that I was to ring them if I got at all stuck - it's this kind of kindness that can give you the courage to have a go at something that you feel most uncertain about doing it (the lady also told me that if it started to go wrong, then I should leave it alone and go and have a cup of tea...and that if it continued to go wrong then I should leave it until the next day entirely). I've noticed that one of my friends who is a doctor never mentions that she's a doctor when she's having a crisis with her own children, as she thinks that people are more reluctant to offer their own advice or step in and help you. So in this case I avoided saying anything that might imply that I've actually sewn nearly every day for the last four years as I didn't want them to assume that I had even the most basic level of understanding when it came to blind-making, and thankfully their advice was invaluable.

So these are my first attempt at Roman blinds - I bought a cassette that goes along the top that holds a side-winder, which means that you can hoist these blinds up and down just like you would with a roller blind, without any need for trying to keep the strings nicely balanced or winding cords around cord locks when you put them up or down. You still have to thread and make them just like you would with a standard Roman blind, but using them once made is much simpler.

The whole family's delight over the new bathroom is hard to express: three of us can now gather round the big sink for teeth-brushing; there are so many shiny mirrored surfaces the Zebra-girl has found that she can even brush her teeth looking into the light pull; we can stay in bed for longer each morning now that we can have showers instead of baths (although we haven't - we have all become so used to getting up at 6.30 to dress in time for the arrival of the builders that we've somehow continued with this); and having a shower somehow seems so much less tiring than having a bath in the morning.

I spent much of December trying to decide on wallpaper and tiles and found it so helpful when people listed what they'd used (Flickr is an excellent source of bathroom inspiration). The paint that I've listed is amazing by the way - the finish is completely chalky and matt and yet it's environmentally friendly and has a stain-resistant and washable finish ideal for bathrooms and apparently even exterior masonry.

So here's my purchasing list.

Bath and Shower tiles - Matt Architecture - Fired Earth Basics Range
Above sink tiles - Malacassa mosaic tiles in Glacier - Fired Earth
Wallpaper - Harlequin Lalika Wallpaper Azita 60205
Blind Fabric - Clara in Taupe by Lorient Decor
Flooring - Cool Limestone from Amtico's Spacia range
Wall Paint - Shirting in Ultimatt emulsion by Little Greene
Everything else - Bathstore

Despite the fact that our builders were lovely, it's so nice to have the house back to myself and to be able to return to more regular sewing hours.

Florence x


  1. Heavens, yes - however house-trained your builders are, it is so good when they've gone!

    Worth the trouble though - it's looking great!

  2. er, would it be completely presumptuous of me to ask if I can come shower at your house? Or perhaps even set up a sleeping bag and live in your bathroom? Just let me know if I'm crossing any boundaries of propriety here.

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  4. It's really gorgeous! What a calm, elegant place to go through one's ablutions!

  5. Oh I love it!!!
    I remember when my parents redid a bathroom in our house when I was much younger--I told my mother I wanted to move my bed in there it was so fresh and pretty :)

  6. Adrianna, possibly not showering, but you'd certainly be welcome to come over for a cup of tea in the bathroom, which is where I nearly made one of my friends drink her tea on the day that the builders went home.

    Bethany - as teenagers my husband's friends regularly used to sleep in his parents' dry bath when there were not enough beds...I wonder whether our own bathroom will end up being used in this way. I think your idea of moving the actual bed in there sounds far more comfy though.

    Thank you so much for your lovely comments. x

  7. Looks beautiful!!!

  8. This is beautiful - LOVE the wallpaper and fabric. x

  9. Your new bathroom is hand-clappy beautiful. I have a diddy bathroom that frankly isn't big enough for me to change my mind... I am so happy for you that you now have this beautiful place to relax and recharge. And your blinds are fantastic, very chic. Em x

  10. Love your new bathroom - so grown up and glam. Do you mind me asking where you got the side-winder cassette thingy for the roman blinds? I'm about to embark on a similar project myself and was wondering where to source them? Thanks, Ceri.

  11. It's absolutely lovely!

    The side winder thing for the blinds is such a good idea; we've had some roman blinds for two years and my husband is only just starting to open them because he reckoned they were too difficult!

  12. what wonderful pearlescent beauty. We are in the middle of totally refitting our kitchen and are at the stage where we eat mainly takeaways and taste plaster dust with every meal. I hope it will be as worthwhile as your bathroom has become

  13. That bathroom is BEAUTIFUL! I would happily sleep there like crafthours said, let alone have a bath. I love the neutral colours in bathrooms. they soothe me. You have hit just the right balance with having "lustre" without making it look cheap or horrible, But then with your excellent taste anything else would have been unexpected!

  14. Ceri - I knew there was something I'd forgotten to list. Yes, I bought the Roman blind kits here: http://www.terrysfabrics.co.uk/prod/blinds/roman-blinds/cassette-roman-blind-track/

    The downside is that while it comes with instructions as to how to attach your fabric panel to the cassette, it doesn't give you any instructions as to how to go about making the fabric elements of the blind (sizes, hems etc). But this kit is so much cheaper than the ones available in the shops that it's a sacrifice worth making...it just means doing your research on that aspect first - the quality is fantastic. It says you can easily cut it to any size - but beware that because it's a very solid metal construction this does mean some substantial muscle power is needed behind your saw (my husband had to do this for me). I hope that helps.

    Oh you lovelies - thank you so much for your comments. And Catherine - I feel for you. I know what you mean about how the taste of plaster gets into everything.

    Florence x

  15. You must be so proud! It's beautiful :)

  16. Thank you for the link thats really useful!

  17. Oh my! How glamourous! I would love to brush my teeth in that bathroom.

  18. Oooh it's a thing of beauty, Florence. I love the tiles, and the blinds look very professional. Happy bathing. x

  19. I too had a pointless corridor leading to my bathroom so glad yuo were senisble enough to extend the bathroom into it. Enjoy your bathroom its lovely.

  20. Beautiful transformation!

    Those blinds are just beautiful! Thanks for the info on where to find the enclosed cassette. I have a few to make and that sounds like just what I was imagining.

  21. Those tiles above the sink are perfect! I was looking for something like that for when we eventually get round to doing our bathroom. I was thinking of mother of pearl, but the prices are insane!!

  22. it looks fantastic. clicked over from flickr, and man, i couldn't agree with the feeling that sewing curtains and blinds is inherently UN-fun. we have the same problem over here but even worse. each roman blind would cost $1000, and that is just for the most basic version. we have 6. so. thank you for inspiring. don't want to but can.

  23. I just came here to look at your roman blinds pictures - surprisngly we have the same thing with our bathroom. It is close to being finished and there are no leaks. Currently our showers are in the plastic shower curtain encased shower cubicle - in a little Dexter Morgan style so I know what you've been going through.


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Florence x