A redesigned bathroom with a statement bath

Justin Fleming and Vivienne Watts have extended their Grade II Listed 17th century farmhouse and added a master en suite complete with a freestanding statement bath

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‘Justin bought this house 13 years ago and renovating it has been a labour of love for him,’ says Vivienne. ‘Set in five acres, it has been added to over the years, becoming a substantial family home, and I came to live here with Justin and Kristian three years ago. It is in a beautiful location with views over the South Downs.’

Justin had previously added an extension to make a larger kitchen, and had updated the décor of the house, but two years ago he decided to take on a renovation project to make better use of the space on the first floor. This included extending to create a new master bedroom, with a new living room below it, and then remodelling part of the house to form a dressing room and an en suite for the space. ‘I also wanted to turn the second-floor guest suite into a self-contained bedroom with an en suite shower room for Kristian, for when he was home from university,’ says Justin.

Fact file

The owners: Justin Fleming, a semi-retired director of a travel company, and his partner Vivienne Watts, live here with Justin’s son Kristian, 21

As part of re-planning the upstairs layout, the old family bathroom would adjoin the dressing room to form an en suite for the couple. It wasn’t a large room, so Justin and Vivienne decided to use space from the bedroom next door to make it bigger. The remaining bedroom space was then used to create a new family bathroom. ‘We didn’t feel we were losing a bedroom by doing this as we were gaining a stunning new master bedroom with uninterrupted views over the countryside,’ explains Justin. ‘Plus, by taking two metres of space from the bedroom, the en suite would have room to include both a bath and a walk-in shower.’

Despite the property being Grade II-listed, the couple didn’t experience any problems with gaining planning approval from Lewes District Council. ‘They were very helpful,’ says Justin, ‘but a large expense was incurred by their requirement to have someone on site to observe the excavations in case an item of archaeological interest was found. Nothing was, but we had to pay £750 plus VAT for a report.’

Justin often drove past the Ripples bathroom showroom (ripples.ltd.uk) in the village of Hassocks, near Brighton, and the couple decided to visit it to find ideas for their new scheme. When they looked in the window of the shop, they instantly fell in love with the mauve bateau-style bath on display. Inside, they met design consultant Alex Walmsley and told her about their extension project. ‘Justin and I knew how we wanted the layout, but Alex also came to the house to take a look for herself, and she came up with lots of new ideas as a result.

‘By the time of Alex’s visit, we’d already decided on the bath we had seen in the showroom window, and she proposed the colour scheme with the stunning mosaic tiles to complement it,’ says Vivienne. ‘At first, we wanted double basins, but Alex thought this might look too imposing in the room, suggesting a large single basin with a wall-hung unit underneath instead.’

The architect’s plans had the WC sited in the same position but enclosed behind a studwork wall with a sliding door. Once the building work was underway, though, the couple realised that this wasn’t going to work in the scheme and decided to leave it as part of the room. ‘The en suite is reached through the dressing room from the bedroom, so privacy wasn’t an issue,’ says Justin, who project-managed all the work himself. ‘Also, the room was only going to be used by Vivienne and myself.’

Originally, the house had a water tank with three pumps to increase the water pressure to the showers, but these made a lot of noise and were not very effective. ‘I changed the whole house to a Megaflo system,’ says Justin. ‘Hidden inside a specially built cupboard there is now an enormous cylinder, large enough to cater for the extra bathrooms we now have.’

Although a wooden floor isn’t generally recommended for a bathroom if it is continually going to get wet, due to the possibility of damage, Justin and Vivienne decided that as the space was only going to be used by themselves they would take good care of it. ‘The builders laid solid oak flooring, in keeping with the rest of the house, and it was given several coats of varnish for protection,’ says Justin.

In the dressing room, the wall adjoining the bathroom featured an exposed beam so the couple decided to expose it the other side, too, to add some character. ‘Although the room has a contemporary feel, we wanted it to be in keeping with the rest of the house,’ says Vivienne. ‘For this reason, rather than fitting a new door, we re-used one that had become redundant during the renovation work.’

Before ordering fixtures and fittings, the couple went back to the showroom and sat in different sized versions of their choice of bath to make sure that they went for the right one. ‘The small size felt too narrow, so we ordered the large model, but once it arrived it looked enormous, and we were concerned that it would be too imposing in our space,’ recalls Justin. ‘By chance, a mid-sized version was launched around this time, and the store agreed to let us swap the large size for it.’

With the whole house project finished in 12 months, Justin and Vivienne now have a luxurious bedroom suite with a dressing room and bathroom space, which they agree was worth the upheaval. ‘I wouldn’t change a thing,’ says Vivienne.

The costs

Fixtures and fittings£10,500
Megaflo system£6,000
Building work and installation£4,800
Towel radiators£1,160