How do you turn a tired 1980s loo into bathroom heaven for Gen Y? In this post we show how: But as we create a walk-in shower, as often happens, piping got in the way. The way the drains were configured meant the walk-in shower became a small step-up shower instead. But we’re almost as pleased with the result as if our plan had succeeded. Issues we include:
Starting with listing the positive features of the old bathroom as it was when we first saw it. Although the bathroom showed obvious signs of tear and wear, there was great potential for turning it into something special.
Developers have snapped up one-bedroom apartments and reconfigured them into two-bedroom apartments with a small bathroom squeezed in between the bedrooms and open-plan living room and kitchen. A bedroom has to have a window to count as a bedroom when it comes to re-selling or renting out – while a bathroom is still a bathroom without a view.
The British and Scandinavian Bathroom and the London Property Boom
The room was light and bright thanks to a window, even if half covered by the sink. In central London and possibly other major international cities it is now something of a luxury to have a window in a bathroom. Due to the property boom, many flats have been developed to within an inch of their life by professional investors reconfiguring in order to squeeze in as many bedrooms as possible for maximum profits.
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Studios, once rented out to students, have been turned into one bedroom flats with a bathroom squeezed into a dark corner between the bedroom and sitting room. Developers have snapped up one-bedroom apartments and reconfigured them into two-bedroom apartments with a small bathroom squeezed in between the bedrooms and open-plan living room and kitchen. A bedroom has to have a window to count as a bedroom when it comes to re-selling or renting out – while a bathroom is still a bathroom without a view.
Before and After – Benefits of the British Loo to Scandinavian Bathroom
The tired old British bathroom had charming, unique display ledges – built to cover the piping from the sink and toilet. They also served as a great place to display bottles of fragrance and other decor items such as wicker baskets and stoneware bowls. The ledges gave the bathroom that something different – a feature you don’t get in many flats – in fact you don’t see odd charming features like that in most Scandinavian flats even. We went for a shower / wet room rather than bathtub but there are so many fabulous bathtubs on the market which we like – here’s one freestanding tub, beautiful in its simplicity. CLICK HERE TO VIEW DETAILS AND PRICE.
A Bathroom Budget for a small Refurbishment
- Labour: £2,500 ($3,200)
- Tiles: £500 ($650)
- Units: £500 ($650)
- Accessories such as towel ring and shampoo/soap baskets: £100 ($130)
- Paint: £50 ($65)
But those problems are also, of course, negotiating tools when buying a property….money off the asking price. And the positives outweighed the negatives in this bathroom:
- Window to let in natural light
- Unique features such as the ledges
- Good space for a small city bathroom
- High ceiling
- Space to put in a shower, if so required
This room had promise and the builders were called in. We chose a grey theme for this Scandinavian bathroom – yes the Nordic look is light and bright, but a white bathroom is not ideal unless you have an army of cleaners on standby.
If you’re a new flat owner, young and busy with your career and social life, steer well clear of white floor tiles in the bathroom. White floor tiles show up everything, all the time, and you’ll end up with a dirty looking bathroom or no social life. The Scandinavian bathroom is the one room that can be a bit dark and masculine.
Transformation – From British to Scandinavian
For the floor we picked a marble effect grey stoneware tile – large, solid, soft to walk on and non-slip. While it is important to keep the bathroom clean, it doesn’t show up every little spec of dust like a white floor. Most walls were kept white, but to set off the main wall by the new (also grey) wall tiles, we picked a matching grey tone paint. Keeping the budget low was key, but as any fashionista will know, to make an affordable outfit look expensive dress it up with an expensive accessory.
And so it is with decorating a room: buy sensibly. But one expensive feature, such as a paint, a cabinet or a bath tub, can lift the room. After looking (and buying) cheaper shades of grey at Homebase, we discovered that the DIY store also stocked Farrow & Ball paint. For fun, and as an experiment, we bought a small tester pot and – however much it pains us to admit, it made a world of difference.
Not only is it delicious to apply, the colours have that smokey, pastel glow that scream not-so-faded splendour. And the wonderfully pretentious names of their colours are an added bonus. The one used here is Manor House Grey. The builders did not paint the walls. They were hired to do the heavy lifting, such as remove the bathtub, tile and plaster the walls. That means when they leave, the bathroom is not finished – final touches to be paid for in addition or done by self.
From this to this – The narrow gap between the British and the Scandi
But the builders did seal the floor and the gaps between the units and the walls/floor. And that was not a success. While being good at the heavy lifting, sealing is a more delicate process which will either make or break a job well done.
In this case, they used the wrong colour and were eager to finish, so the result was an overly thick, uneven line in a lighter colour that stuck out and detracted from the excellent tiling job. Their main concern here was to ensure the gaps are sealed and no water could leak through into the apartment below. Still, the sealant had to be removed and re-done in a darker tone and with a steadier hand.
From This to This – Beware – Before you start
- Cover the floor in adjacent rooms in heavy dust sheets – the builders should do this as they need somewhere to put tools and materials they rip out from the bathroom, ie bath tub
- Put most things away or cover them up too with dust sheets – fully sealed – as it gets VERY dirty when the builders get started.
- The dust generated, particularly when builders cut tiles, is enormous and much of it virtually invisible. And it goes everywhere – you’ll spend a week cleaning the apartment after they’ve left if you haven’t covered up.
- Builders may be good at heavy lifting but they rarely share the client’s aesthetic so they sometimes have no sense of what looks good and what doesn’t.
- Never ‘leave them to it’ assuming they know better. Keep and eye and ask questions and advise.
- Steer clear of white floors in bathrooms – they show up the tiniest specs always. Unless you spend a lot of time and effort in cleaning it, you’ll end up having a permanently dirty looking floor.
Once the builders have left it’s time to apply finishing touches. The walls and ledges are painted, the mirror cabinet is fixed to the wall, the towel rail is levelled. Then shelves, plants and soap dish are added. Read also our blog How to Arrange Indoor Plants for tips on how to decorate your bathroom with plants.
Because of the odd shape and unique features already present in the original bathroom, it’s fun as well as challenging to turn it into a Scandinavian bathroom haven.