Creating a relaxing bathroom

After spending years searching for a dream new look, Sharon and Colin Harris have converted their loft into a luxurious contemporary bathroom with twin basins, a feature wall and mosaic tile decorating scheme

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‘There was a lot of renovation work to do when we first moved into this house, so we concentrated our budget on essential jobs, such as replacing the roof and creating new rooms in the loft, including a bathroom,’ says Sharon.

‘All that loft renovation work didn’t leave much money for fitting out our new bathroom, so when I spotted a white suite, including the taps, for just £250, I snapped it up,’ she adds. ‘We promised ourselves that we would buy something more stylish when we could afford it.’

Meanwhile, Sharon and Colin worked their way through the house, updating and transforming every room into a more contemporary style while carefully retaining its period features.

‘When we were confident that our silkscreen company was doing well we decided to remodel the bathroom,’ says Sharon, ‘but this time round we planned to hire people instead of doing it ourselves.’

Fact file

The owners: Sharon Harris lives here with her husband Colin. The couple are partners in their silk-screen printing company called Harris Screen Print

The couple were working seven days a week, so they wanted the new bathroom to be a relaxing space – somewhere contemporary and luxurious where they could unwind at the end of a busy day.

However, they found that inspiration didn’t come easy for their dream space.

‘Admittedly, I’m very fussy, but we must have spent almost two years surfing the internet, visiting bathroom showrooms and flicking through interiors magazines,’ says Sharon, ‘but nothing really appealed to us.’

Undaunted they continued looking for inspiration – and at last found it on a shopping trip in nearby Westbourne.

‘We were passing a Ripples showroom (ripples.ltd.uk) when we spotted their bathrooms,’ says Sharon. ‘Impressed by the display, we walked in, had a good look round and arranged an appointment with one of their designers, Marco Ali.

‘Marco was brilliant,’ she continues. ‘During our appointment I poured out all our frustration of the last two years as I talked about everything we had seen that we didn’t want in a bathroom.’

Marco visited the couple’s home to assess the dimensions in the loft space. He then went away to draw up plans for a contemporary design that would work around the shape of the space with its sloping ceiling.

‘At that stage I still wasn’t entirely sure about what I wanted, but when Marco presented his plans he had come up with the perfect layout,’ says Sharon.

The new bathroom incorporated a luxury sunken bath, a large walk-in shower with a curved feature wall, two limestone basins, wood-effect porcelain tiles for the flooring, mood lighting and underfloor heating.

‘My mother and I love treating ourselves to a day at the spa,’ says Sharon. ‘I had been keen on creating that kind of luxury feel in our bathroom.’

‘We were impressed that Marco had included rich colours and dark wood in the design, mixing them with elegant yet practical details – just like a spa,’ she adds.

With the design plans agreed, Marco started sourcing the fittings and accessories while the couple looked around for a builder for their bathroom project.

‘We called in a couple of quotes for the work, but when we discussed it in detail with the builders we didn’t feel entirely confident that they could deliver the right skills for our project – we were particularly concerned about some of the more challenging aspects such as the curved shower wall and sunken bath,’ says Sharon. ‘In the end we hired a builder that was recommended by Ripples.’

The two-month project started in February 2010. After stripping out the old suite, wooden flooring and wall tiles, the builders called in the plumbers to re-plumb the bathroom for the new luxury fittings and to install a more efficient water pump for the shower. They then built a frame for the sunken bath before the cables were laid for the underfloor heating.

‘Fortunately, the nature of our house meant that the bath could be sunken into the floor below the joists,’ says Sharon. ‘We chose a relatively lightweight bath, so we didn’t need to strengthen the ceiling of the room below with any additional support.’

Sharon and Colin were impressed with the way their new bathroom started coming together, as Sharon explains: ‘I remember thinking that the shower’s curved wall was a piece of art in itself.

‘The builders, plumbers, electricians and tilers were all very professional and tidy,’ she adds. ‘One day I received a call at work from the builders asking if I could pop back so that they could get the height of the seat in the shower just right for me. I thought that was so thoughtful of them.’

As the bathroom project was in the loft, the couple didn’t think it would be too disruptive, so they continued living in the house while the work was going on.

‘In fact, the builders kindly rigged up a temporary bath with a hosepipe for a couple of days until the new one was installed,’ says Sharon.

Sharon and Colin took a fresh look at the design during the build project and decided to invest in a few more extras, such as additional atmospheric lighting under the basins and above the WC.

‘We didn’t start out with a specific budget and, although our afterthoughts cost extra, I don’t regret any of the spend because our aim was to get it just right,’ says Sharon. ‘It has been achieved too with attention to detail and design statements in every inch of the space.’

Now that the project is complete, the mornings are a relaxed experience for the couple, as Sharon explains: ‘It’s taken the strain out of both of us getting ready for work as there’s now plenty of space.

‘We’ve stayed in some lovely hotels in the UK and abroad – but the bathrooms never compare to what we’ve created.’

Costs

Labour£17,205
Fixtures and fittings£10,260
Walls and flooring£4,209
Accessories£589
TOTAL£32,267