Work in Progress - Small bathroom design
13 min read
Published 28 Jan 2021
I’m sharing another work in progress this month, a small but perfectly formed bathroom. Just like the last work in progress blog, the space is actually now finished but due to the current lockdown I can’t go to take the final photos. But I can share the design and some pics the clients kindly sent me with you. First up, why the clients wanted to make changes to the room, and the all important before pics.
This cool young couple had bought the house and been slowly doing it up room by room, and the bathroom was the last room left to do. Unfortunately, the previous owners hadn’t done a great job when they refurbished it, so some of the tiles were cracked, the lighting was terrible and the sink was too big. To make things worse, the bath wasn’t the correct type to stand in to take a shower, so it was gradually falling apart. It was also a pretty small room - 1.9m x 1.9m (smaller than the average UK bathroom size of 2m 43cm x 1m 83cm) and the room isn’t square, which made it even more of a challenge. The house is a Victorian terrace and wouldn’t have had a bathroom when it was built, so this room has been carved out of the third bedroom using the least space possible and creating the awkward shape. Here’s the original floorplan, and what it looked like when I went to see it for the first time:
During our initial consultation, I asked lots of questions and together we came up with a wish list for the room:
From looking at lots of inspiration pics, colours and samples, we came up with these style preferences for the room:
|So you can see, this small room needed to both work hard and look good, but I do love the challenge of designing bathrooms, and I knew that I’d really enjoy coming up with a cool design for my clients. I was really on board with the couple’s sense of style, as it meant that I could produce a design that was a bit different than the usual white tiles/grey floor and neutral decor that we often see in bathrooms.|
So I got cracking with the layout. I tried a few different positions for the bath to see if I could make better use of the space. The loo couldn’t really be moved too far, as it needed to stay on the only outside wall to connect to the soil pipe. It quickly became clear that the current layout was the best one, so I stuck with it. But I did want to improve the sink area - the current sink was far too deep and was squished into the corner of the recess, so it made sense to place it on a unit that would fill up the recess, giving the couple the space either side that they wanted. I really wanted to give them a vintage Mid Century unit to put the sink on, and I found some gorgeous original G Plan units which could be converted to hold a sink, but sadly they were just too deep for the space. If I’d used one, there wouldn’t have been enough clearance to sit on the loo without banging your legs on the cabinet! The solution was for me to design one, and have it made from teak, so it would look like a Mid Century piece. In the end, it was made from cherry wood because it is more water resistant than teak, but it looks similar and still has the same effect. I also found some perfect brass Mid Century style handles, and they helped achieve the look I was going for. The bespoke unit made the best use of space and offered lots of storage, whilst creating a focal point with the sink. I originally designed drawers for the unit under the sink but the overhang of the worktop meant the top one wouldn’t be easy to use, so we changed the design to doors instead. I’d also found a less expensive ‘off the shelf’ wall cabinet to keep costs down, but the couple weren’t keen on the bamboo in it so we decided to have one made by the builders to match the sink unit below.
Next came the search for the sink. I had to find a long but narrow sink to fit on the worktop in the recess, and make sure it was wide and deep enough to shave in. As I mentioned earlier, the couple were trying to avoid using more water than they needed to, so the first sink I found was too wide, as it would have taken a lot of water to fill it up. The next sink was better size, but when it came to be fitted the plug hole was too far forward and wasn’t actually sitting over the unit at all, so the plumbing underneath would be on show. I don’t know if you noticed in the design visual above but the worktop is a standard depth so we could fit a sink on it, but underneath, the cabinets are shallower so there is room to use the loo comfortably. This was my design solution to fit everything in to such a small area.
Even with all the technical info from the suppliers, we had to try two more sinks before we got the exact size and shape we needed - at one point I even nicknamed this project ‘the room of a thousand sinks’! Luckily were able to get the wrong sinks returned and refunded and the couple were very patient whilst all this was going on.
The next layout decision I made was to move the shower head to the opposite end of the bath, as the wall is taller here (so they would have more headroom). It also meant I could use some of the wasted space at the end of the bath to build a false wall to hide the shower pipework. The shower screen would also move to the opposite side of the bath, meaning the area around the loo would look more open and spacious.
I then decided to place the hand held shower the couple wanted at the opposite end of the bath to the fixed shower head, so that it’s not behind the shower screen and it could be used more easily. The couple were expecting their first child when I started working with them, so I was designing with young children and family life in mind when making design decisions. Small children need an easily accessible bath so that their parents can hold onto them when bathing them, so we discussed how having a shower screen would impact this. I suggested choosing a folding shower screen but the couple weren’t keen on the way they looked (nor am I, and I’m yet to find a folding one that looks good - if you know of one please let me know) so this was another factor in my decision to move the screen to the opposite end of the bath. The controls for the taps could then be placed with the hand held shower and the couple wouldn’t have to move the screen out of the way to fill the bath.
I had already decided to build a low false wall to hide the cistern for the loo and the rest of the pipework, as having a concealed cistern would make the room feel less cluttered and would make it easier to clean. I didn’t want the hose part of the hand held shower to dangle down into the bath as that would be annoying when you’re trying to have a relaxing soak, so using a hose which could retract inside the false wall made perfect sense to me.
This led me onto the tap placement, and another problem to solve. The bath is designed to be stood in at one end so you can shower in it, so one end of the bath is straight so you can stand close to the edge and get right under the shower. The other end of the bath is sloped so that you can lie back comfortably while bathing. Let me show you what I mean:
|I couldn’t place the taps at the sloped end because you could easily hit your head on them when lying down in the bath - not very relaxing! If I put them at the straight end where the shower is, they would be behind the shower screen again and not easy to reach when you want to fill the bath. My solution was to go for a bath filler and overflow in one, and place the controls for it in the false wall. So all I needed to do now was to find a bath with a central overflow (not at either end), with no pre-drilled tap holes, strong enough to hold a person standing at the shower end, and with one straight end for the shower. Oh, and it had to look good too! No problem! A designer look bath with a slim rim all the way around was what the clients wanted. I did a lot of searching and finally found the one above from Duravit.|
the new bath installed with the black overflow and filler in one
With all the technical issues dealt with, I could think about the style decisions which needed to be made. I found some gorgeous teal green tiles with a beautiful shiny glaze and a deliberately uneven colour and texture, which I loved. They were perfect for around the sink, and would add the splash of colour that the clients were looking for. I was then looking for some white tiles for the rest of the room, and decided to use the same white tile on the floor and walls to avoid making the small space look too busy. The floor tiles needed to be non slip, especially with a little one on the way. I found the stunning but affordable tiles from Topps Tiles, which would look so good when paired with black grout. I loved the graphic, grid like and slightly 1980s feel to them.
I mixed brass and black taps and fittings, as I didn’t want all the fittings to be black. Black fittings have been on trend for a while now, and the look has been quite overdone. I didn’t want this scheme to date quickly, so mixing in some brass kept the look fresh. I also chose a shower screen with a black border and fluted glass, to work with the other black items in the room and to be on trend but not too trendy. Whilst we’d been looking at inspirational images, I’d shown the clients a black ‘Crittall’ style shower screen, which they’d decided they loved and would prefer. I explained that these screens were definitely on the more trendy side of cool, and as they were very popular now, they would soon start to feel dated. But the clients loved it, so that’s what I sourced for them.
My visual for the bathroom showing the fluted glass screen
My visual for the bathroom showing the Crittall style screen
|The screen was quite pricey, and pushed the budget up quite a bit, but having looked at cheaper alternatives and found that the black lines were made with stickers, we opted for the expensive one which is made from metal. You really do get what you pay for! This had a knock on effect on the budget and meant that we swapped the expensive angled designer radiator (which you can see in my visual at the top of the blog) for a cheaper, straight lined one. But I think the replacement looks pretty good, and if it meant keeping the costs down without compromising on quality, it was worth it.|
here's the new radiator installed
With most design decisions made, I moved onto the lighting. I chose globe style statement lights for either side of the large mirror above the sink, making sure that they were safe for use above a sink. They are beautiful to look at, and provide the practical light that you need to shine on your face when using a mirror, and also give the sink area a touch of luxury. I chose warm white bulbs for them so that the space didn’t feel too clinical, and put the wall lights on a separate switch so they could be operated independently. We also settled on adjustable downlights in the ceiling, so the light could be directed where it was needed.
Here are some more pics of the finished room that the clients sent me this week:
The best part of all this work is seeing my design come to life and the bathroom being used. When the clients tell me that there are many things in the design that they just wouldn't have thought of themselves, and that they find little unexpected parts of the design useful it warms my heart. Since the bathroom was finished, the lovely clients have now had their baby and the bathroom is being well used. They tell me that the pull out shower nozzle next to the bath can be used to hose down most parts of the room and it has become invaluable for cleaning up the mess that babies can make!
Welcome to my design blog, where you'll see posts about anything from the projects we are working on, to the latest fabric and wallpaper collections, and 'how to' guides for all things interiors related. I love colour and pattern, architecture and old buildings, and I especially love the moment when you see something so beautiful it makes you take a sharp intake of breath.
Corduroy is cool again
28 Jun 2022
|A new fabric from Kirkby Design called Sculpt includes these deep pile cotton velvets which look just like large versions of corduroy. The look takes me right back to my childhood, and is very comforting. You can see the collection here.|
Colourful, wonderful boucle fabric
28 May 2022
|The trend for super soft Boucle fabric is still going strong, but up until now we've mostly seen it in creams and whites. One of my favourite fabric suppliers, Linwood, has produced a new colourful collection of 48 shades. It's a durable and soft fabric, and works particularly well on sofas and cushions.|
28 Apr 2022
|This month, we were pleased as punch to receive the Best Homes & Interiors award from the prestigious Cardiff Life Awards. Cardiff Life Magazine are well-known champions of our city, and the annual awards celebrate the best of Cardiff talent, so we are over the moon to be named 2022 winners!|
Morris & Co. X Ben Pentreath
28 Mar 2022
|The designs of William Morris have made a comeback over recent years, and now they have been given a striking makeover by interior designer Ben Pentreath. The Queen Square Collection has reimagined some of Morris's most famous fabrics and wallpapers in rich tones and vibrant colourways. You can see the collection here.|
28 Feb 2022
|One of my favourite design houses, Woodchip & Magnolia, have gone all out for the all over pattern trend and produced wallpapers and fabrics in the same prints, which I love. You can see the whole stunning collection here.|
New fabric collection from Prestigious Textiles
28 Jan 2022
|A new collection of sumptuous fabrics has just been released from Prestigious Textiles, called Monsoon. The collection includes tactile velvets, animal motifs, embroideries and beautiful sheers, so it's versatile enough to use anywhere in your home. If you'd like to know more about these fabrics, please get in touch.|
New reeded glass pendants from Mullan Lighitng
28 Nov 2021
|Lighting designers and manufacturers Mullan Lighting have a new range of reeded glass pendant lights available. These Mid Century inspired lights come in three shapes and four finishes, but the Nahla (the one pictured above) is my favourite. You can see the range here.|
Little Greene and Bert & May join forces
28 Oct 2021
Little Greene has announced a collaboration with tile brand Bert & May. The collection sees eight gorgeous Little Greene shades translated onto tiles, giving you even more opportunity to add colour, texture, and a mix of materials to every area of your home. I love this bathroom combination above, with the perfectly matched tiles and paint offset with touches of terracotta, mustard and oak. You can see the full collection here.
Dulux colour of the year - Bright Skies
29 Sep 2021
So, Dulux have announced their colour of the year for next year, and here it is! Bright Skies is described as the 'breath of fresh air' that we all need after being indoors for so long. What do you think? I'm reserving judgement at the moment. It looks a little cold in the picture, but I don't think the beige sofa and the styling are doing it any favours here. Maybe colour drenched (painted on walls, ceilings, trims and doors) and with some warmer burgundies and terracotta, it could be lovely. You can buy the colour here.
A new home collection from Paloma Faith
28 Aug 2021
|British singer songwriter Paloma Faith has recently launched her first collection for the home. It includes wallpapers, fabrics, cushions and bedding, and she describes the look as 'faded grandeur and retro maximalism'. The prints are everything I love - dramatic, colourful and fun, and you can see more of the collection here.|
It's all about soft yellows
28 Jul 2021
|I was watching an Instagram live post from The Little Greene Paint Company last week, and they were discussing a comeback for yellow. Now, as you know, I don't think you have to follow the trends but yellow hasn't been fashionable for a long time, so this sunny, uplifting shade is often overlooked. A warm yellow like Little Green's Carys (above) is perfect for cheering us all up, and you can buy it here.|
The cushion that gives back
28 Jun 2021
|Introducing the cushion that gives back, from homewares company Oka. They have produced this cushion in partnership with The Trussell Trust who support two thirds of the UK's food banks, and 100% of the proceeds from sales of this lovely green velvet cushion will be donated by Oka to The Trussell Trust. It comes in a range of other colours too, and you can buy the cushion here.|
A beautiful new tile collection inspired by the National Trust
28 May 2021
|Just launched, Ca Pietra a new tile collection in collaboration with the National Trust. Every tile has been inspired by one of the historic properties, gardens or coastlines looked after by the Trust, and a minimum of £10,000 from sales of the tiles will be given to the National Trust to help them continue their important work. You can see the collection here.|
Yummy new switch & socket colours
28 Apr 2021
|Did you ever think that your light switches were good enough to eat? I'm guessing the answer is no, until now. You can now buy switches and sockets in these gorgeous colours from the new Dowsing & Reynolds Cafe Culture collection. They come in luscious shades like Cinnamon, Caramel Latte and Whipped Cream, so you can tone, coordinate or contrast with your wall colours and make every part of your interior scheme look delicious. You can buy the gorgeousness from here.|
A sustainable fabric choice
29 Mar 2021
|A beautiful new sustainable fabric range from Clarke and Clarke has just been launched. It's made entirely from recycled materials so you can refresh your home with a clear conscience. You can have a look at the fabric here. Get in touch with me if you'd like to buy any of this fabric.|
Sought & Styled - Preloved items given new life
28 Feb 2021
|This month I want to highlight a business run by a very talented lady I met a few years ago (remember when we could meet people?) Not only is she a creative interior designer, she also runs an online shop where she reuses and repurposes anything from soft furnishings to larger furniture items. Everything sold is bespoke and unique, and is effortlessly waste conscious because it's being used again. You can visit her shop here.|
Do kitchen worktops bore you?
27 Jan 2021
|Thanks to a genius idea from kings of pattern Blackpop, you can now have one of their colourful designs on your kitchen worktop. They will put any of their funky fabric or wallpaper designs onto waterproof MDF to make you a unique worktop, or they can even make a design just for you. Chopping will never look the same again! You can buy the worktops from their website here.|
A Fresh Take - Cardiff Life feature
18 Dec 2020
|This month's issue of Cardiff Life Magazine is out today, and features an interiors special, because one thing this past year has made us do is take a new look at our homes and how we'd like to live in them. To see what I and other local interiors experts have to say on the subject, including a round up of the trends for 2021, have a flick through the digital mag here.|
An enchanting inaugural wallpaper collection from Tom Baker
26 Nov 2020
|This opulent and atmospheric wallpaper from Tom Baker immerses you in a world of tropical flora, fauna and exotic animals. With soft cool tones and hints of pink floral detailing, this is the perfect wallpaper to add a relaxing and exciting edge to your home. Find this enchanting collection here.|
A new shady collaboration between Matthew Williamson and Pooky
20 Oct 2020
|The humble lampshade is often overlooked, but with the new collaboration between Pooky and Matthew Williamson they won't be for much longer! Matthew Williamson has applied his talent to design a new range of Pooky lampshades. Whatever your taste, colour scheme or budget you will find the perfect lampshade for your home in this new collection which is now available. This spectacular new collection can be found here.|
Felt covered curtain poles
17 Sep 2020
Now you can add some texture to your window dressing with these Walcot House felt covered poles. The pure wool coverings come with a option for bronze or steel fittings and wide spans up to six metres. The curtain track is cleverly hidden within the wooden curtain pole and there's a choice of nearly 50 colours and textures. You can find out more here.
Please vote for my blog
11 Aug 2020
|I'm really thrilled to have been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog Award this year! If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to vote for me, I'm nominated in the Best Interior Designer Blog category, and you can vote for me here.|
Upcoming interiors trends from Love Rugs
10 Jul 2020
|Love Rugs, the people who know about all things rugs have just published a feature on the upcoming interiors trends for 2020. They asked six of the UK's top interior designers (including me!) to tell them what the upcoming trends are, and in particular the changes we will be making to their homes. The article can be read here, and if you'd like to have a look at the huge range of rugs they offer, click here.|
A new fabric collection from Linwood Fabrics
15 Jun 2020
|I love Linwood fabrics - they have a fab way of mixing colour and pattern into something really special, producing fabrics and wallpapers that make me want to coo. This new collection, available at the end of June, is just as gorgeous. It's called Kami, with the pattern inspired by a 19th Century document. The collection is a range of printed velvets, so perfect for upholstery and accessories like cushions.|
An easy way to update your kitchen
16 Apr 2020
|If you are looking to update your existing Ikea kitchen rather than replace it, Stockholm based company Superfront are here to help. They sell a range of fronts, handles, legs and tops to fit not just the Faktum kitchen range but also the Besta, Metod and Pax ranges - so you can customise anything from your sideboard to your wardrobe. These super cute round handles are part of their new birch collection, and the whole range can be found here|
Move over boring taps - colour is the new black
13 Mar 2020
|Colour has been taking over our kitchens and bathrooms for a while now (yay!), and has slowly been creeping into sanitaryware and fittings. These perfectly coloured mint green and pastel pink taps from the new Miami Colour Pop Collection from amazing homeware brand Dowsing & Reynolds are spot on and would look gorgeous in any kitchen or bathroom to add a shot of colour without overwhelming with sugary sweetness. You can learn more about this new collection here.|
Who knew a door stop could look this good?
19 Feb 2020
|Door stops are one of those little annoying things that we all need, but are not the prettiest to look at. Now London based Buster & Punch have turned their attention to the problem and transformed the humble door stop into something cool and covetable. They might cost more than your average one from a DIY store, but as you're going to see it every day, why not look at something beautiful? here.|
Wallpaper made of cork?
29 Oct 2019
|Sustainability and concern for our environment are key in the interiors world right now (as they should be). So when I saw that Monkey Puzzle Tree (a brand I admire for their sense of style and creativity) had produced this wallpaper made of cork, I was blown away. Cork is great for so many reasons - it can be harvested every nine years without harming the tree, is grown without the need for pesticides or fertilisers, has excellent sound and heat insulation properties, and is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal. This wallpaper has an A+ rating for emissions so it creates a healthy environment wherever it is hung. Add to this that the design was produced in collaboration with the talented Drew Millward who lives in my home county of West Yorkshire, and that it's called 'Hit The North', I was bound to fall in love with it. You can buy the wallpaper here.|
I'm in Cardiff Life magazine - again!
17 Sep 2019
Now that the summer is officially over and our thoughts turn to cosying up our homes for winter, I'm here to help. If you're in need of some inspiration, you can read all about the interiors trends for Autumn and how to work them into your home in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. Hear what I and other interiors experts have to say on pages 18-22. You can read the digital version of the magazine here.
I've been nominated for an Amara Interiors blog award!
6 Sep 2019
|Exciting news! My little blog (Design Insider) has been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog award! I'm so chuffed to be included at all, and not expecting to win, but if you enjoy reading my blog posts then please vote for me. I'm nominated for the Best Interior Designer blog category. Voting is open until the 11th of September and you can vote for me here.|
My kitchen project featured on the Artifact Lighting blog!
1 Aug 2019
When I designed the contemporary copper kitchen, I wanted to use some copper elements to add warmth and also to tone in with the pink walls and pale grey units. I found these pendant lights from a company called Artifact Lighting, and they are perfect because they add to the 'warm glow' I wanted to acheive. They also have a vintage look which contrasts nicely with the sleek look of the kitchen units. When the kitchen was finished I sent some pictures to Artifact Lighting, and they liked the kitchen so much they featured it on the blog page of their website.
You can read the blog page here
House of Hackney's first outdoor fabric
26 Jun 2019
One of my favourite interiors brands, House of Hackney, who are known for their daring and quirky prints, have just released a new fabric which is suitable for our door use. They took one of their designs, Palmeral, and reimagined it in a fresh colour palette of off white and green. This colour fast and water resistant fabric can be used for anything from outdoor cushions to furnishing yachts (if you are lucky enough to have one!)
My thoughts on the colour Living Coral in Cardiff Life Magazine
31 May 2019
|Hear what I and my fellow designers have got to say about Pantone's colour of the year, Living Coral, and how to use it, in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. The article is on pages 84-86, and you can read it here. Do you think you could use it in your home?|
Sustainability in furniture design
7 May 2019
|Sustainability is something that is becoming more and more important in interior design - not just where we buy items from and how far they've travelled to get to us, but also the materials that they are made from. Kartell, one of Italy's best known design brands, have just released the world's first piece of furniture made from a bioplastic called Bio-On. It's a fully sustainable version of one of their best selling items - the Componibili modular unit, and it comes in four delicious pastel shades. They may be 100% sustainable, but they are also super cute and bang on trend with this seasons colours. You can buy them here|
The latest trend in shutters
24 Feb 2019
Forget painted shutters - the new style direction for window shutters is bare wood. These full height shutters made from sustainably sourced ash are the newest product from California Shutters, and are set to be big this year.
My new favourite tile!
7 Feb 2019
I was searching for some tiles for a client's splashback recently and came across these beauties from Topps Tiles. There's long been a trend for patterned tiles, with lots of geometric shapes and bold colours going on, but I've begun to see more and more tiles with a pattern in the surface of the tile itself. These ones are a lovely example, and the deep blue colour is just stunning. To get a closer look at them, follow the link below.
Pantone announce their colour of the year 2019
11 Dec 2018
Leading colour experts Pantone have annouced the shade which they think will be the colour of the year for next year - Coral pink. It might look very bright and scary, but it's actually quite easy to use. I wouldn't suggest painting a whole room in it, as that might be a bit overwhelming, but I would use it in small doses, such as on cushions or in artwork, to liven up a shceme. Pantone say that the colour is meant to 'embrace us with warmth and nourishment and provide comfort and bouyancy in our continually shifting envirnoment', which basically means it's a happy, uplifting colour, and might just cheer us all up!
My work featured on Homify
8 Oct 2018
My work has been featured in an article on Homify - one of the leading online ideas platforms for all things interiors. My project is in an article on how to avoid common mistakes when designing a bedroom. The article mentions how important it is to block out light for a good nights sleep - something I addressed by adding blackout lining to the curtains and adding an extra layer of window dressing with the wooden Venetian blinds. To see the article, please use the link below.