This is the first in my Pink House Helps series, and I’ve decided to start with some popular questions on bathrooms. The bathroom is a bugger – it’s usually the smallest room in the house, but often ends up costing more to renovate than any other space. Plus loos/cloakrooms/toilets/whateveryoucallthems are full of complexities to do with finishes, specs, safety stuff, etc. And all this just so we have somewhere nice to relieve ourselves/remove the dirt. Hopefully this post will help make your littlest room into the loveliest room in your home.
Q: Got any tips for nice brass/gold bathroom taps?
A: When I renovated my Edinburgh bathroom, I asked the builders for gold taps, assuming they would realise I meant brass. First tip: if you want brass taps, ASK for brass taps: after my vague request my builders presented me with solid 24 carat options that would have cost more than the actual house (face palm emoji). But as you’re probably all too aware, it’s not even as simple as asking for ‘brass’, as there are many different brass finishes (not to mention the confusion around ‘brassware’ as the collective term for ‘metal stuff that has water coming out of it in the bathroom’).
For me, the beauty of brass is in the way it ages – I love the patina (the natural tarnish that forms on the surface of real brass) and the way brass taps quickly look as if they have been part of your house for many years. If you prefer your brass taps to stay shiny you have to polish them fairly regularly. I wouldn’t recommend going for lacquered brass even if you do like them shiny, as the lacquer will eventually break down and your taps won’t look great.
Whether you plan to polish them or not, I’d advise purchasing ‘polished brass’ taps. These are pure, ‘living’ brass taps which you can choose either to leave to patinate naturally, or polish whenever you feel they need a pick-me-up. I’d also suggest ensuring all brass items you buy for your bathroom are in the same finish. I went for a lacquered brass loo roll holder in my last bathroom and while it matched the gorgeous Barber Wilsons taps and shower head initially, after a month or so it was still blindingly shiny whereas the taps had aged to a duller shine. I’d definitely recommend Barber Wilsons for beautiful brass taps, and I’m a big fan of Perrin & Rowe too – my polished brass kitchen mixer tap is from there. I’m a bit in love with the range at Bert & May as well – they have a ‘matt black’ finish which is a sexy alternative to brass if you like an edgier vibe.
Q: I want to wallpaper the bathroom, but I’ve heard the humidity means it will just get ruined and peel off. What do you think about wallpaper and bathrooms?
A: I think wallpaper and bathrooms (and kitchens for that matter) are made for each other as the wallpaper pattern softens shiny surfaces and makes the room feel more ‘human’. As long as your bathroom has half-decent ventilation (too much steam will, eventually, cause the paper to lift and bubble) and you’re not wallpapering an area likely to get more than the occasional splash you should be absolutely fine. I’d also advise going for the best quality wallcovering you can afford, and having a trusted decorator hang it, to ensure it’s properly adhered to the wall.
Q: I’ve seen all these gorgeous glass pendant lights I love on Pinterest, but my builder says you can’t use anything like that in the UK because of safety ratings. Is this true or is he just trying to avoid extra work?
A: OH GOD I TOTALLY FEEL YOU. When I planned my last bathroom I had a Pinterest board filled with pretty little pendant lights dangling over pretty large American sinks (see above). Turns out our friends across the pond (hey guys!) aren’t as bothered about electrocuting themselves as we are (or their electricity is less strong, or something) so they can just get on and illuminate their bathroom with attractive light fittings without worrying about pesky safety ratings. It’s a bit more complicated in the UK. Depending on how far away the lighting is from the water source, it has to conform to certain safety ratings. See this link here for a clear description.
So essentially if you want to install lighting within these watery zones, the lights have to have safety ratings of either IP67 (very soggy), IP65 (a bit wet), or IP44 (might get splashed). Unfortunately, many of the nicest-looking lights are not safety rated, and the ones that are tend to be expensive. With that in mind, I’d recommend checking out the ranges at Original BTC (I’m especially keen on these IP44-rated pillar lights), Jim Lawrence and Balineum. The latter is where the handmade brass over-sink lamp in my Edinburgh bathroom (top pic) came from. Not cheap but soooo classy; tacky-looking lighting can ruin a whole room so I’d definitely advise the investment.