Creating a luxurious bathroom

Denise Evans has turned her dated en suite bathroom in her period home into a stylish contemporary space by remodelling the layout and restoring the original features. The bathroom includes a double-height ceiling with exposed rafters, reclaimed oak floorboards and a Starck bathtub

The problem

‘I didn’t like my existing blue and white bathroom because it was old and the fixtures reminded me of kitchen units. There was a bidet and WC along a partition wall, while the bath was at the back, a long way from the lovely view of the garden. It just wasn’t the sort of place where I’d want to spend time relaxing in the bath.’

What I did

‘It was hard to know where to start with this project because of the constraints involved in renovating period houses that still have their original features.

‘All the fittings had to come out though, so the first step was to gut the entire room, which revealed a false ceiling. That too had to go – and you can imagine my delight when I found lovely old oak beams underneath. They had been painted black and made the room very dark, so I had them stripped back to the original oak.

Fact file

The owner: Denise Evans, a local magistrate and grandmother of four

‘I wanted the fittings to work around the period features rather than obscure them, so I started looking for a simple style shower and found the perfect one at Matki. It has a deluge shower head, which delivers good pressure and a full spray. I then chose a Philippe Starck vanity unit to go with a state-of-the-art Starck bath and floor-standing taps.

‘I thought this combination of contemporary and period features worked really well – but at first I wasn’t quite sure where to position everything, so once I had decided on the fixtures I spent an evening in the bathroom planning everything, using chairs and a piece of old plywood as it was the right length for the bath. It turned out that I didn’t have much choice because of the beams and size constraints. I ended up opting to have the WC and bidet on the back wall, with the shower to one side and the bath near the window, so I could enjoy the view.

‘I called in a local plumbing firm, Cowleys, to re-lay all the pipework, then an electrician came to install new wiring. The shower was the biggest challenge – like all showers, it needed to be level to drain properly and the tray had to be embedded in sand and waterproofed all round with a special membrane, which took some time. When the beams prevented the shower screen from fitting flush against the wall, I had to commission bespoke brackets to support the glass.

‘After the initial plumbing work was done, I had the floor laid with reclaimed oak floorboards, which had to be cleaned and waxed. I then chose a hardwearing Travertine tile from Simply Tiles for the wet area as it matched the overall colour scheme and would be easy to keep clean.

‘When it came to the vanity unit (which doesn’t just make a great focal point, it also provides lots of storage space), I went for a brown colour to complement the oak beams. I chose Dulux’s Jasmine White for the walls as I knew from using it elsewhere in my house that it would show the beams off to their best advantage.

‘Last but not least, the windows in the bathroom were restored by Cheam Leaded Lights and dressed with a crewelwork fabric from a local supplier; I completed the look with a feature stainless steel radiator by Raffles.

‘The project turned out to be quite a headache at times and took a few months to complete, but I’m absolutely delighted with my new en suite. Now it is finished there is nothing I would change about it.

‘These days, when I’m lying back in the bath and enjoying the lovely views of the garden, I really do feel quite pampered, which is exactly what I had set out to achieve.’


Fixtures and fittings£10,146
Walls and flooring£651