Archives for posts with tag: Shower

A few months ago my lovely friends Phill and Lindsey asked me to help them come up with some good ideas for a shower room in the eaves of their gorgeous South Manchester home. They explained that it was currently a junk room but had originally been a bathroom, so all the services were ready and waiting. Brilliant. I got going on some ideas and we chatted through likes and dislikes. After checking out the room, which had become an easy place to “store” things in the journey to their final resting place in the loft, we decided on a layout, and started selecting the right elements for the room. Lindsey liked an uncluttered spa-like look, and so we went for a simple wall-hung sink with the pipework displayed.

Baring all: Riva 80 basin from Victoria Plumb

Baring all: Riva 80 basin from Victoria Plumb

Slate-effect tiles would provide an elegant flooring, and the walls would be painted white. I felt that it would be good to have some wood as a relief from the black and white cool, so we agreed that the windows would have some wooden slatted blinds, and a similarly coloured wooden storage unit could complete the room. The door to the room is stripped pine, and so we used that as a match point for the other woods. I just want to take you back now, to way back in the room’s past, and when Lindsey and Phill first bought the house. Yes, there was a bathroom in there, but my goodness, I could see why they wanted to rip it out. The following pictures are best viewed with slanty head and frowny eyes….

So many alarming features

So many alarming features

No words needed

No words needed

I did warn you. They created a sweet nursery instead, which served them well.

Sighs of relief all round

Sighs of relief all round

But now their boys are all huge, and showers are a much needed resource for the hectic mornings. The black and white (with a little wood) theme was all very well, but we did feel that it was lacking some character. Lindsey said how she’d love to have some mosaics, somewhere, and started researching designs. We thought the shower tray could be a good place as it’s not a huge surface area, and would work well with the small tiles. You need to have a slope built in to your shower tray, to allow the water to flow towards the drain. If you use smaller tiles, you can arrange this sloping more effectively and smoothly. The one drawback to designing a mosaic was the cost. If you buy individual stone tiles, you will pay huge amounts both for the product and for the specialist to fit them. Lindsey had found her Roman design – a maze.

Roman maze: there must be a way

Roman maze: there must be a way

We had a plan

We had a plan

I realised that the cheaper way to buy mosaics is on a webbed grid, which you can then attach directly to a surface and grout. But there is no reason why they need to stay on the grid. We checked with the bathroom installer and he was happy to provide a mat to attach the design to. The product we used was the Mazurka range at http://www.mosaictileshop.co.uk – the black Onyx sheet at under £12 per sheet and the white Mastic at just under £10. We spent a confused morning counting exact numbers of black and white on the above plan, then working out how many sheets of mosaics were needed to fill the shower floor space. But we got there, and the order was made. And one morning, I received this exciting email:

"It was a late night but we did it!"

“It was a late night but we did it!”

And in it went! A bespoke, clever, stylish piece of design which didn’t cost the earth and is exactly what they wanted. Here it is adorning the floor of their shower.

Your starter for ten. Make your way to the drain before the water does.

Your starter for ten. Make your way to the drain before the water

And the rest of the room looks equally sophisticated, unfussy and calm.

Super storage: John Lewis cabinet completes the look

Super storage: John Lewis cabinet completes the look

Stylish shower room

Stylish shower room

I wouldn’t have ever thought of using mosaic tiles in this creative way, but now I would happily encourage clients to go for it. Sheet mosaics are comparatively inexpensive, and provide plenty of opportunities to go bespoke. Inspired? Let me know if you decide to do this too.

We love having guests to stay. The spare room is tucked away from the rest of our bedrooms so that any inhabitants can remain distant from the early morning car races, stair jumping record-breaking attempts and other such normal boy activities.

It does feel like a haven. The stripped wood floors are a nice feature, and the bay window is very characterful (rebuilt out of the rotted wood walk-in bay which hovered precariously over the kitchen roof before).

Peaceful perch: our new bay with seat

Peaceful perch: our new bay with seat

At the moment I’ve kept it very simple in there with a few of our furniture pieces and plain white walls. We’ll get around to putting pictures up at some point, but the monastic white walls and rustic-looking flooring seem to work well together, so I won’t make many more changes.

Retreat chic: simple guest bedroom

Retreat chic: simple guest bedroom

The bird and branch curtains are made from one of my favourite fabrics from Prestigious, feathered in a purple hue which I matched to a similarly coloured lamp shade for the overhead light.

Avian fabric: Berkeley Square (Damson) by Prestigious

Avian fabric: Berkeley Square (Damson) by Prestigious

The guest bathroom design started with a free-standing bath, and the fact that I wanted to use some vinyl flooring which I’d seen a while ago and think is fantastic. Harvey Maria is the name of the company, and they supply a mixture of tiles and planks. There are photographic images of water, pebbles and grass, as well as some geometric patterned designs. The wood effect planks are realistic, down to the grain, and of course a no-brainer for a bathroom where you want the wood look without the warp.

Inspiration: Harvey Maria's Azure tile with a wood effect

Inspiration: Harvey Maria’s Azure tile with a wood effect

Now our little bathroom wasn’t anything like this size, but I liked the concept of the bathmat. After perusing their wood effect tiles I plumped for one which looked a bit more “driftwood”-like, and was called Tan.

Overhead light here reddens the wood/ Harvey Maria Tan and Azure

Overhead light here reddens the wood/ Harvey Maria Tan and Azure

Light off. Wistful cat is not a permanent fixture

Light off. Wistful cat is not a permanent fixture

The resulting flooring is striking, colourful, and gave a starting point for the rest of the room’s features.

I wanted to have some glittery blue mosaics in the shower. In fact, I wanted them throughout the entire shower cubicle so that it felt like you were having a shower amongst a lot of tropical fish. But when we worked out the cost of that, we thought that a statement square would do just as well. The star shower head keeps the look light, and the white tiles surrounding are actually threaded through with a line of glitter, too.

Shimmering shower

Shimmering shower

With a room full of blue and white sparkles, the dark wood basin cabinet was a good grounding point, found as an ex-display Roca model in a local showroom.

Bathe in peace

Bathe in peace

I just needed a final point to finish it off. I looked at dark wood shelves, but what I was really looking for was some sort of slatted framework on the walls, almost as decoration. The builders were dubious when I tried to explain and I couldn’t even seem to find photos when I did a near exhaustive web search. Then, miraculously, I found it – in the Outdoors section at Ikea – the Äpplarö frame and shelves which are meant to be part of a garden storage system.

Spa complete: slatted shelving

Spa complete: slatted shelving

The material for the blinds has colours from the Azure flooring (in a rather satisfying way). The material is from Scion, Flight from the Melinki range, and made into blinds by my skilled and amazing sister. The glamorous glass-beaded light is from Argos, a proper bargain at under £30. Who’d have thought it?

I am glad we’ve got such a soothing space for guests, but when they’re not around we do get to enjoy the spot too. We don’t have a bath in our ensuite, so every now and then, when I feel like getting away from it all, I can grab the bubble bath and a good book, and bathe.

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:

I would have killed for Garfield wallpaper when I was 13....

I would have killed for Garfield wallpaper when I was 13….

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.

How to make a sensible doorway

How to make a sensible doorway

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.

What a magnificent goal! Orizzonte Latino Handbasin/ Meridiana Ceramiche

What a magnificent goal! Orizzonte Latino Handbasin/ Meridiana Ceramiche

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.

Fusion: Topps Tiles. Spontaneous ceramic placement

Fusion/ Topps Tiles. Spontaneous ceramic placement

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.

Running with the circles theme: bubble mirror

Running with the ball theme: bubble mirror

The little mirror bubbles bounce light around the room.

Storage hides behind here....

Storage hides behind here….

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.

Wash not to like? Incentives to stay clean

Wash not to like? Incentives to stay clean

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.

Under starter's orders

Under starter’s orders

A note today about bathroom tiles. Last year, I was searching in vain for wood effect porcelain or ceramic tiles to create a Japanese look in our ensuite shower room. I’d seen a few peaceful bathroom images where wood was used to create a calm, ordered effect, but my builder warned me about using real wood in a damp climate where mould can set in so quickly. Not really the look I was going for. I had to accept that we do have slightly more rain here in Manchester than other places, and that hot, dry days are few and far between.

Japanese Bathroom Design

Well, I need a starting point for my inspiration (we don’t have views like this in Manchester)

I did get my Japanese-look shower room with a bit of ingenious tile sourcing…

Ecowood blinds, a wenge cabinet and dark wood floating shelves keep the look crisp and clean

Ecowood blinds, a wenge cabinet and dark wood floating shelves keep the look crisp and clean

 

Wood grain effect tiles in three different shades, white, beige and brown/ Pampus Tiles

Wood grain effect tiles in three different shades, white, beige and brown/ Pampus Tiles

… but I was really hankering after wood plank tiles, and there were none to be found, at least not within a tight budget.

However now the shops, online and warehouses, are full of them! I could have had a choice of smooth grained or rustic, and much more in between.

Parquet floors in your bathroom? Rovere/Walls and Floors

Parquet floors in your bathroom? Rovere/Walls and Floors

Aliso Cedro/ Ceramiks. Would I go for walls AND floors in this? I'm not sure but the plank is certainly realistic

Aliso Cedro/ Ceramiks. Would I go for walls AND floors in this? I’m not sure but the plank is certainly realistic

This year, I’m looking for real stone effect in porcelain and ceramic. I  have noticed a few in tile showrooms,

Krista/ Smoke. So lovely, like a watercolour painting. And ceramic too!

Krista/ Smoke. So lovely, like a watercolour painting. And ceramic too!

and some absolutely beautiful examples in this season’s new catalogues:

Alabastri di Rex/ Bamboo porcelain tile. Dramatic. And as it’s not real stone, practical too, though I just couldn’t put those two words in the same sentence.

Alabastri di Rex/ Bamboo porcelain tile. Dramatic. And as it’s not real stone, practical too, though I just couldn’t put those two words in the same sentence.

Hurry up, the UK market, and buy some in!

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