Of all the rooms in The Pink House, this is the most radical makeover. Basically, we ripped the shit out of the previous shabby, uninspiring bathroom, and, in its place, created my dream bathroom from scratch.
One thing that always annoys me about home before/afters (or indeed weight loss or fashion before/afters), is that the 'before' photos tend to be amateur, badly lit, unflatteringly angled shots, while the 'after' pics are professionally perfect. That's not AT ALL what I've done here. Oh no. I lie. That's EXACTLY what I've done here, thanks to Susie Lowe's fab 'after' shots.
But although the pictures exaggerate the effect in some respects, spending time/a penny in the After-Bathroom is a drastically different experience from the Before. This is our family bathroom (we have a separate shower room in the basement), which needs to accommodate me, the Pink House Husband, and the two floor-splashers AKA the 3yo and 6yo Pink House Dwellers. So we needed to get the revamp right.
To better convey the radical difference between the Before and After experiences, here are 5 ways in which my After-Bathroom has transformed my - and my family's - lives, plus where I bought stuff and what I learned from the experience.
1) It makes me feel happy
Before, when I entered the bathroom, all I could think was a) I really hate those tiles, b) I really hate the lighting, and c) I really hate that mirror. Practicalities aside, the room just didn't fill me with joy. It made me want to to do my business and leave, sharpish, without looking at the mould behind the towel rail. Because although the new bathroom had to fulfil its functional purpose, I also wanted it to feel like a bathroom at, say, Babington House. With arrival of said floor-splashers, I spend much less time in beautiful hotels than I used to, so this bathroom had to pick up the boutique slack. Here's a list of the things in our new bathroom which now fill me with joy when I walk in:
- The Barber Wilson brass taps, mixers and shower head
- The Osborne & Little Koi Carp wallpaper
- The Anthropologie brass-and-mother-of-pearl cabinet knobs
- The Anthropologie brass owl hook
- The Balineum Overton brass wall lamp (so hard to find beautiful bathroom lights that are safety-rated but this one is IP64 meaning it can be used in Zone 1 or 2 - i.e. right by a water source)
- The marble sink top, shelf and dresser surface
- The white metro tiles with dark grey grouting (I know - so predictable; but still so smart)
- The fish mirror we bought in Malawi BK (Before Kids)
There's something about using great quality, natural materials (brass, marble, ceramics) that gives me a sense of enormous wellbeing (to borrow from Blur's Parklife). And then I'm happy for the rest of the day, safe in the knowledge...Sorry - got a bit carried away - Damon Albarn...Anyway, the point is that when it comes to home renovation I reckon it's worth investing in the basics, as they lift the look of a room in a way no accessory ever could. Not even a Tom Dixon copper candle.
2) The lack of crap
One of the worst things about the Before-Bathroom was lack of storage. Being such a tiny room, even a few things left untidied made the place look cluttered (see Before pics, above). To get rid of all the crap (not literally) lying about, we needed some clever storage solutions that made the most of every inch of space, while still looking good. And so we had our builders Emerald Homes create:
- An under-sink cabinet, painted in Farrow & Ball's Downpipe, with space to hide kiddie steps, loo seats and bath toys
- A slimline, full-height cabinet opposite the loo, with ample room for all my pretty products (on glass, down-lit shelves in the top section), and not-so pretty products (behind the doors in the bottom section, also painted in Downpipe)
- Recessed, tiled shelves; one above the loo, for a scented candles and a little loobrary (did I coin this word for books-in-the-loo?); and two beside the bath, for easy-to-reach bath products that don't clutter surfaces; these were inspired by Babington House)
Now, the only stuff that's on display is stuff I WANT to be on display (see point 5)
3) The sit-down shower
One of the Before-Bathroom's practical problems was the lack of shower - the ceiling slopes, so there's not enough space to stand in the bath. Yes, we have a shower room, but that's two flights down from my bedroom, and I didn't love being surprised by the supermarket delivery man in nothing but a flimsy towel. But I went to the shower room anyway, because, well, I wanted a shower.
But while planning the new bathroom a thought occurred to me: who says you have to stand up in the shower? So now we have a lovely brass Barber Wilson sit-down shower. And you know what? It's excellent for shaving your legs (sitting = easy leg access) and dyeing your hair pink (just put the plug in to let the water accumulate, sit in the cosy bath for 15 mins while the dye does its thing, turn on the shower to rinse it off).
Now, thanks to the sit-down shower I often use the After-Bathroom, and rarely encounter random men while half-naked in my hallway, though some might argue this isn't necessarily a benefit.
4) The man-sized bath
Before, the bath was extra-narrow, leading to frequent complaints from the man-sized Pink House Husband about not being able to fit his full manly width into it comfortably. Now, because we stripped the bathroom right back to the brick wall (see pic, right), we are able to squeeze the bath further in to the brick, and therefore have a bit more space for a normal-sized tub. So the man-whinging has stopped, which is good.
One down side to the bath tap now sticking out the wall where it does, is that the kids bang their heads on it fairly frequently. But that's not only character building, but also a ridiculously first-world problem (mummy! I bumped my head on the shiny brass tap and got Elemis shower gel in my eeeeeeye!) so they can just deal.
5) The spa experience
When you put this much effort (yes, and cold hard cash - I'm not going to lie; those taps weren't cheap) into a room, it makes you raise your style game. Out went the manky towels, in came a fresh load of fluffies from The White Company. Out went the random mishmash of bottles I've collected at various magazines' beauty sales over the years, in came a truckload of pretty Elemis products. Oh, and the Diptyque candle. Obviously. So now when I'm lying in the bath, it's like I'm in a tiny, gorgeous spa: I'm gazing up at gold fish swimming through soft, subtle lighting, I'm smelling the sweet scent of Baies, and I've locked the door against tiny intruders. It's basically the dream.
OK, these are mainly ways the bathroom has changed MY life - not sure how much the kids have benefited (other than aforementioned character building). But hey, if mum's happy, kids are happy, right?