En suite from a converted dressing room

With careful spending, Lorraine and Philip Shaw were able to transform their space by introducing luxurious bathroom fittings and hi-tech features

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After a wonderful family holiday in Fowey, Cornwall, Philip came home from work one day and suggested we move there,’ says Lorraine. ‘So we did. We put our house in Guildford up for sale, it sold in a day, and we had moved to Cornwall within four months – no mean feat with three children!’

Lorraine and her husband Philip had viewed properties all over Cornwall, as far south as The Lizard peninsula, before they spotted the Victorian house in Fowey. After moving out of their Guildford house, they rented in the same street there until completing on the purchase of their new home in October. ‘We then moved to Fowey and continued to rent while work began on our new place,’ recalls Lorraine.

It took nine months to finish the work and move in because, as Lorraine explains, ‘if you buy a house that was built in 1895, you expect there to be more work to do than first appears. It was a case of “in for a penny, in for a pound”. We had thought it simply needed redecoration, with a few tweaks to bring it up to date, but the project evolved into a massive overhaul.’

Fact file

  • The owners: Lorraine Shaw lives here with her husband Philip, who is an accountant
  • The property: A six-bedroom Victorian house dating back to 1895
  • The location: Fowey, Cornwall
  • What they spent: The couple’s bathroom project cost around £17,500

Renovating the property

The house proved to be in a poorer condition than the Shaws had realised, and needed to be stripped back to the brick. They were able to retain the original fireplaces, encaustic floor tiles and a bath, which has been moved to a spare bedroom.

‘We put on a new roof, replumbed, rewired and replastered,’ says Lorraine. ‘We also put in underfloor heating, laid new floors, had a new kitchen fitted and added three bath/shower rooms.’ This gave them a total of one family bathroom, two en suites, a shower room and two ground- floor cloakrooms. As the property was not listed, and the couple were not extending, there was no need for planning permission.

Converting a dressing room

To create the master en suite, containing both a bath and a walk-in shower, Lorraine and Philip reclaimed a dressing room. ‘We chose to make this our en suite as the existing one was too small, and was located under the stairwell. I wanted a big bathroom, so we swapped the two rooms,’ says Lorraine.

The dressing room had two doors, one leading onto the hallway, which the couple blocked up, and another that opened into the bedroom. They blocked this up, too, and created another doorway in a more central position in the wall. The built-in wardrobes were removed and, although the plasterwork was in good order, it had to be stripped back to install the electrics and plumbing. The pipework was taken across the landing from the original family bathroom, and then down to one of the cloakrooms below.

‘The existing window was a basic uPVC design, which looked odd in such a beautiful Victorian house, so we had it replaced with a made-to-measure frosted-glass sash style,’ says Lorraine. Then the walls were replastered and electric matting was installed above the original floorboards, with marine plywood and rectangular slate tiles laid on top. A stud wall was built behind the bath to hide the waste pipes and make space for storage alcoves that could be used as shelving and for accent lighting.

Decorating the room

Covering the studwork wall in beautiful iridescent mosaic tiles has created a feature that is now the focal point of the room. ‘The design of the bathroom was inspired by the mosaic tiles,’ explains Lorraine. ‘They are jewel-like and I knew that I had to have them. Although they were quite costly, we felt that we could justify the expense by choosing reasonably priced sanitaryware to save money.’

When the slipper bath that Lorraine had wanted turned out to cost more than they’d budgeted for, for example, she found a similar bath for less. ‘Even better, it was in a half-price sale,’ she says. Lorraine has customised the bath by painting the sides purple and having a cabinet made to match, to work with the colour of the feature wall. The other walls are painted in a colour-matched trade vinyl matt.

For the shower area, the Shaws chose an enclosure with a tray, so as to create enough height to assist with drainage.

Project mishaps

The project didn’t entirely go to plan, as the couple weren’t happy with the original plumbing work. ‘We employed another plumber later to change it,’ says Lorraine. There was also a slight mix-up when white grouting was used on the feature wall. ‘I had wanted grey throughout the bathroom – but we’ve kept the white here. Grey was used above the basin and for the recess where we store towels, and it makes a nice contrast.’

The design of the wall recess has also turned out differently from the original plan. Lorraine had wanted three small recesses in the wall along the bath. ‘One space for my wine glass, one for my book, and the third for a candle,’ she explains. It has been made as one long recess instead. ‘It looks good and also proves very handy for storage.’

To help with condensation, the couple had an extractor fan fitted, activated when the downlights over the shower are switched on. There are also three wall lights and three dimmable downlights in the recess on the feature wall, as well as speakers in the ceiling for surround sound, which is networked around the house.

The en suite was remodelled at the same time as the overhaul of the whole house, but the Shaws’ builder estimated it would take about three weeks to renovate and fit out a similar project. ‘I love our en suite,’ says Lorraine. ‘It’s gorgeous and romantic, like a jewelled cave, and has all the mod cons you could wish for.’

The costs

Labour£10,000
Sanitaryware£3,251
Tiles£2,106
Fixtures and fittings£2,033
Accessories£165
Paint£90
TOTAL£17,645