Designing the family bathroom was very exciting: mainly because it meant I no longer had to share a loo seat with three boys (I do still have to maintain awareness among the troops of the basic rules of aiming etiquette but at least I don’t have to discover first hand whenever failure occurs). But from a more positive perspective (one I like to hold in the face of all the ballgames and cars) I could indulge a little imagination and colour creativity.
We converted it out of a tiny bedroom wallpapered in my favourite cartoon cat:
Spectacular nostalgic appeal here, but practicality, and the persuasive reasons I set out above, prevailed.
As you can probably see, the ceiling was low and papered in grotty woodchip. The doorway to the room was stunted because of the slope of the roof, so only really small or bendy people could get in without some sort of cranial accident. There were then two very steep steps down as a final balance challenge.
Our friend D who is a fantastic architect took a look at the plans and came up with a superb solution to this, whereby we stole a little bit of a bedroom to make a small lobby, and placed the doorway to the bathroom in the middle of the roof axis, so we could maximise on height. We then took the ceiling of the bathroom down and built the new ceiling into the roof space, to increase head-height in the room. A little bit of building control signing-off on the new doorway lintel, and we were set.
Now, I have a doctor friend who says that running Intensive Care in a hospital is easier than planning a bathroom. I’d beg to differ, but I do think there are a lot of things to consider and get your head around. Personally, I really enjoy it, and I think it’s better for everyone that I stay out of any medical procedures, so we’re both clearly in the right jobs. A bathroom design starts with identifying the items you need and recognising the immovables in your space that you need to work around. We had a cosy space with a requirement for bath, over-bath shower, loo, sink and copious storage. The boys wanted colour, and adore football. Tiles are a lot easier to clean than painted walls, but I didn’t want that generic “hotel bathroom” look of all-over neutral tiling. Neither did I want anything to look too cute, because despite the fact it’s a bathroom for kids, children do grow up and mine are already not babies any more.
I love the locker room style which has popped up in the last few years. I think it’s laid-back, and can look classy without trying hard. I was keen on this effect in the bathroom, and was searching accordingly for appropriate fittings. Then, I found the most brilliant sink, and I had the beginnings of pulling it all together.
The tiles are part of a set called Fusion by Topps Tiles. The boys saw them in a showroom in all their colourful randomness and wanted an exact replica. We used the white one as a wall covering around the sink and toilet areas: they’re bright and a bit textured and generally keep things looking fresh.
Setting the tiles in a random pattern is actually harder than it might seem. I ended up colouring in a little drawing as a plan for my builder, who didn’t want the responsibility of not succumbing to the lure of a uniform pattern. Thankfully my brain is a lot less logical than his, and I managed it.
The little mirror bubbles bounce light around the room.
We built a false wall to hide the shower pipework. Behind this is an amazing set of floor-to-ceiling built-in storage shelves, where all our towels and bedding are stashed. Easy access, and hidden behind the bathroom door. On the opposite side, another tall set of shelves, for the excess bubble bath and bleach bottles (on separate shelves of course to prevent unfortunate accidents).
For the floor we decided against tiles which can be so chilly in winter (unless you have, as we do in our ensuite, a thermostatic electric underfloor heating system) and also so hard when you land on them at speed (not unheard of amongst certain members of the household). Wood, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, is warm and looks lovely, but doesn’t wear so well in a damp environment. To fit in with my locker room scheme I wanted a sort of aluminium effect, and found with delight that you can get lots of vinyl floor options like this. We went for a super-cheap Carpetright sheet vinyl which I love, is perfect for cleaning (no grout to get mucky), and fits the look exactly.
Other things I’m pleased about are the wood panelled bath side my joiner made, which is so much nicer than the plastic catastrophes which normally come with a bath, while being cheaper than a bespoke bath panel. And the useful shelf above the loo which has space for toothbrushes.
We did a secret clear-out of some of the bath toys when we moved, partly to embrace the new house aesthetic, and partly out of a need for better bath hygiene. Anything fun and squeezy for bath play inevitably ends up breeding alien slime inside after a few months, and this leeches out into the water. Actually, to be honest it usually ends up in someone’s mouth or hair, depending on the sort of game they might be playing. Despite the grossness, our boys tend towards excess sentimentality, so the clearance operations needed to be executed with absolute stealth and under cover of the school day. I think we got away with it by employing the new-for-old trick: since we bought the Olympic Ducks, no one has thought to ask for the seaside squirters or the farmyard basketball set.