This post is created in collaboration with VitrA Bathrooms
I’ve shared thousands of images of my kitchen, but there’s a reason you never see my bathroom on here or on Instagram. It’s nowhere near camera ready – for the past five years or so I’ve been living with a chilly, shoddily fitted and distinctly dull bathroom.
From first glance my existing bathroom is fairly inoffensively decorated with cream tiles and standard white sanitary ware, but spend any time in there at all and you soon realise it’s anything but a soothing sanctuary. I’ve done my best to try and make it feel a little more inhabitable – I painted the ceiling dark green to give a cosier feel and replaced the sink taps with more contemporary versions. But there’s no getting away from the fact it’s housed in a small, poorly built extension on the ground floor of the back of the house. It’s badly insulated and freezing in winter. And you have to walk up and down the stairs to get between the bedrooms and the bathroom. Not ideal.
So it is with relief that I can say that the bathroom will finally be going!! As part of our extension plans, the small, single storey block that houses the bathroom will be replaced with a contemporary, double storey extension. The bathroom will be moving upstairs, into a completely new space, which currently exists only in my imagination and on plan.
I’ll be working with bathroom brand VitrA Bathrooms to bring my ideas to life and create my dream bathroom design. I’m so excited to finally have a tranquil bathroom space that I can escape to and actually enjoy spending time in!
Before we get to the build, and our house and lives get turned upside down, I wanted to share the concept for the new bathroom design. Because that’s always the fun bit – when a project is ripe for possibilities and the ideas are flowing…
The existing bathroom
Although we’re literally starting from scratch with a completely new space for the bathroom, I thought it was still worth showing where we are now.
Like a lot of Victorian terraced houses in England, a bathroom was shoehorned onto the end of the property without much thought or care. Bathrooms are actually quite a modern concept – when these houses were built, the flush toilet was just becoming more widely used and bathrooms were still seen as something of a luxury, only for the very wealthy. Most terraced houses at the time probably only had a little outside toilet at best, some houses might even share one. Residents would have used a tin bath by the fire or gone out to the public baths if they needed to wash. It was only in the 1900s that bathrooms and toilets moved upstairs and became standard for the middle classes (even later for working class homes).
A downstairs bathroom now feels outdated and ill fitting with our contemporary lifestyles. There’s a much clearer division between the social spaces in a home (the kitchen and living room) and the more private areas for relaxing and resting (such as the bedroom and bathroom). Bathrooms are no longer seen as purely functional either. We now want that spa-like experience at home – somewhere to retreat to and escape the mundane realities of the world. We want our bathrooms to not just help us get our bodies clean, but to cleanse and calm the mind too. Bathrooms have become spaces of wellbeing, designed to restore us back to ourselves.
We’ve been wanting to replace the bathroom ever since we moved in, but I knew we had to wait for the right moment. There was no point in doing it up, only to knock the whole thing down when we inevitably did an extension (we bought the property with planning permission, then reapplied several years later with our own design once we had the funds and could see it becoming a real possibility). This new bathroom design is something we’ve been longing for and dreaming of for a while – I just know it’s going to be worth the wait.
In a way it’s hard being your own client – you have so many options and so many different directions you could take. You have to create your own brief and try and stick to it. It’s been quite a long design process from finding inspiration, developing ideas, comparing tile samples and reconfiguring the plan to fit everything we want in.
I must say it’s helped to have an expert like VitrA Bathrooms on hand. Through several meetings with VitrA’s specification executive Shahnee Taylor-Brown, we’ve developed a cohesive bathroom design that combines my design DNA with VitrA’s technical know-how. I can’t recommend paying a visit to their sleek showroom in London’s Clerkenwell enough.
Images above: photography Ruth Ward
Spread over two floors, VitrA Bathrooms’ London showroom houses a variety of their ranges including basins, furniture, taps, showers, accessories and tiles. They even have VR technology where you can step into your new bathroom and get a real feel for what the space might be like. It makes such a difference being able to see products, fittings and finishes in person – so you can touch the tiles, try out the taps and open and close drawers on furniture.
The concept for my bathroom design actually started with a soap dish. I was inspired by the undulating lines and soft sage green colour. I wanted to create an elegant, timeless and neutral space, but with a hint of colour and interest to prevent it from looking too flat or boring.
The bathroom design I’ve created is a calm, spa-like sanctuary with soothing green tones, simple graphic lines and natural textures. I really want to bring tactility and texture with lined tiles and subtle points of detail that can form little elements of surprise – dark green grout against off white matte tiles for example.
The developing point for the design became the new Liquid tiles by VitrA Bathrooms and Tom Dixon. Inspired by elements of pop art, Tom Dixon designed his first bathroom range for VitrA to feature his signature round-edged aesthetics and soft forms. The Liquid tiles – available in five designs – have a curved motif that can be arranged in endless configurations, including lozenge shapes and circles. They’ll be perfect for creating a focal point in the shower area.
Elsewhere, we’ll have square, off white matte tiles and brushed nickel brassware to give a timeless finish. I’m wary of using black or brass that could date and brushed nickel has a lovely quiet quality that’s never overpowering. There will be plenty of storage thanks to Arik Levy’s Voyage range for VitrA Bathrooms. The minimalist collection combines various modular units that can be combined or customised to fit your space. I love how the wooden finish brings warmth to the simple white furniture. More texture will be added through the stone effect porcelain tiles on the floor too. I hope to create a space that’s warm and inviting with its material richness.
Because the house doesn’t have an upstairs bathroom and this will be a completely new addition to the house, we have had to separate the toilet from the bathroom to get the waste pipe out in the best position. Otherwise it would have been running right through the centre of our hallway – not a good look! I really wanted to have a separate bath and shower so I think this is a good compromise and might even be useful with a child. In fact in most older properties you have the bathroom and toilet separate, so maybe they had something right. Above and below you can see the new bathroom plan.
We’ll have a beautiful freestanding bath in front of the window and plenty of storage along the adjacent wall. We’ve tucked a small shower in the corner and this backs onto the small WC room next door.
Below you can see some visualisations that Shahnee from VitrA Bathrooms created for me. From the get-go, Shahnee really understood my style and concept. I went to her with my mood boards and from there she could look at the practical details and suggest what products could work together – and more importantly fit in the space.
As this is a completely new space, the visualisations have really helped me picture the space and start to see it come to life. Even more so when I put the VR headset on in the showroom and could stand in the shower or open the vanity unit doors. I’d never even put a VR headset on before so it was really an immersive experience!
Images above: photography by Ruth Ward
So that’s the concept for my simple, neutral but with a twist bathroom design – what do you think? Now I’ve just got to make it a reality. This bathroom has been a long time coming and I can’t wait to get to the finish line. I’ll be taking you along the journey with me, so stay tuned!