The Big Bathroom Renovation: Before & After

What do you think when you walk into your bathroom? Until fairly recently my first thought on walking into mine was ‘Ugh.’ It wasn’t just old, it was also pretty disgusting. The ceiling sported patches of mold, the floorboards were hidden beneath grubby lino and limescale had taken up residence around the edges of the bath. Not exactly what you might call a pampering paradise. The following ‘before’ images are pretty grim and not great quality, having been taken for the use of the plumber rather than for public viewing. You have been warned…

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We lived with this until part of the ceiling fell away and I began to fear being crushed to death and discovered naked among the rubble.  Sod’s law dictated that this would happen on a day (cough, week) where I’d neglected to de-fuzz, though I’m not sure if it was the thought of the rescuers’ reaction to my hairy Mary or their disgust at the state of my grouting that horrified me more.  Either way, vanity more so than blindingly obvious necessity made the decision for me, and my stubbly pins and I set off for B&Q.

Bloody annoyingly Sadly, they contacted me the day before the bathroom was due to be delivered to tell me they’d forgotten to log it on their system and couldn’t get it to me for another week.  With a plumber who had other jobs lined up, I went directly into panic mode. Thankfully, bathstore came to the rescue and I was able to order an entire suite online and arrange for delivery within 48 hours.   It was touch and go as the order had to be placed by 1pm and of course I called at 12:30. But the manager remained calm despite my frantic enquiries and talked me through the order over the phone. 

Choosing the bathroom was actually quite easy as I’d spent, oh, only about the last five years swooning over images on Pinterest. I knew what I wanted: a claw footed tub, subway tiles, shabby chic flooring, a huge rainfall shower and period style taps. I was clearly entertaining delusions of grandeur and remained, as ever, in denial about living in a teeny flat but if I was going to do this I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to do it right. Luckily bathstore had all the items I’d been coveting, including a roll top bath with a straight edge on one side so it could be sealed against the wall.  This meant I could install a shower over the top without fear of giving my neighbours a soaking.

towel on bath

If I had to narrow down my bathroom, er, ‘vision’ to one particular influence I’d say Babington House (those delusions of grandeur again…) Oh, those sinks. Sadly, you can’t buy them in the UK but you can get similar bathtubs.  In fact I just found this one online and am now pining for it; talk about a centrepiece!

While I couldn’t stretch to a coloured Babington House style bath I did manage to get hold of some similar taps.  Their tiling also inspired me and I really fancied getting some from Fired Earth but time and funds didn’t allow for this. Looking back I wish I’d purchased a handful of antique tiles. You can get some really beautiful Victorian ones on eBay for as little as £5 and you’d only need a few give the space a unique edge and a really attractive pop of colour. Luckily, the addition of some Cath Kidston towels, Emma Bridgewater  soap dispensers and a faux peony from TK Maxx meant the space was prevented from looking too clinical, if perhaps a little less eclectic than I’d hoped.

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Another Soho House favourite of mine is The Dean Street Townhouse.  The loos in the restaurant are a great source of inspiration if you love period styling. I had dinner there recently and spent a disproportionate amount of time in the toilets much to the concern of my companions and the damage of my reputation. Cocaine? Constipation? Nope, I was just busy snogging the wall tiles.

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Despite their sins, the flooring came from B&Q, as did the subway tiles because we were able to collect these ourselves.  The flooring I bought is no longer available but this one is even more gorgeous. We kept the French-style bathroom cabinet that I’d picked up at a car boot sale a few years earlier and we painted the wall opposite the bath in Natural Slate by Dulux. The single light was removed and replaced with spotlights and the old towel rail exchanged for a heated, chrome version.

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Overall it took about a week for the work to be completed which meant washing from one bucket and using another to flush the loo. Oh, the glamour.

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bathroom new view

In total the entire renovation including the work and the materials cost about four and a half thousand.  I don’t suppose this is too awful but I still need to lie down with a cool cloth across my forehead when I think about it.

I’ll follow this post up with some bathroom renovation tips that I picked up through the process.  For now, though, I hope this has helped inspire you if you’re considering a new project.  I’d love to know what you decide on, or hear about a renovation you’ve recently completed.  How did it go? Is there anything you wish you’d done differently? Give me the juice.

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