Maximising space in a luxurious bathroom

Bored with their existing scheme, Anita and Simon Edwards chose high-quality fittings to create a sophisticated, family-friendly layout for their luxury bathroom

TODO alt text

‘Our old-fashioned bathroom was driving us mad, with a cramped cubicle that was too small for our sons to shower in properly,’ admits Anita, who moved into the house with her husband Simon in 2000. At the time, they gave the family bathroom a basic renovation, but over the following 11 years it had become decidedly shabby.

‘We had updated the bathroom in a rush and, in retrospect, we hadn’t thought about what we wanted long term,’ says Anita, ‘although I think I’d be fed up with whatever scheme we’d chosen by now!’

The biggest problem in the bathroom was the shape of the shower, as its two angled cubicle doors didn’t provide much space inside. ‘It was fine when the boys were young and had a bath every night, but now that they’re older and prefer showers, all four of us use it on a regular basis. It just wasn’t up to it,’ explains Anita. ‘The lack of storage was also an issue, as the room always looked messy. There was only some open shelving at the end of the bath, so we were constantly tripping over things left on the floor.’

Fact file

The owners: Anita Edwards and her husband Simon, who run a stage set company, live here with their sons Ryan, 19, and Jack, 13

An extension to the house in 2009 had enlarged the kitchen and created space for a downstairs shower room, which had taken the pressure off the family bathroom a little. The main bathroom is on the same floor as the bedrooms, however, so it was still the first stop for the whole family in the mornings. In 2011, the couple decided that this room would be their next project, so they asked the builder who had done the previous work on the house to return and take on its renovation.

‘I was fed up with the look of the room as well,’ says Anita. ‘We’d chosen white tiles with blue mosaic borders, but the white was bland and showed up every mark or smear.

‘After looking at homes magazines for inspiration, I decided I wanted a contemporary and stylish design that wouldn’t date too quickly,’ she adds. ‘We’ve travelled quite a lot and particularly like the hotels we’ve been to in South Africa and Australia. We wanted to achieve that airy, simple style in our space.’

A bigger bath was a key item on the couple’s wishlist, and they wanted an open space at its foot, rather than the shelving that was there previously. ‘It felt very hemmed in before, and we found a fabulous bath with a curved end, so I wanted to be able to see that element of the design,’ says Anita. Although the room is a good size, the sloping roof makes it seem smaller, so Anita has fitted a large mirror over the bath to reflect light for a spacious effect.

The biggest change to the room, however, is the new shower. ‘I don’t know why we opted for such a small design before as there’s plenty of space for a larger enclosure,’ says Anita. ‘This time, we’ve gone for a squarer shape, and because technology has moved on considerably, the new enclosure has a very slimline frame. This means although it’s much bigger in size than our old one, it looks smaller because it doesn’t have the same chunky metal frame that dominated the space.’

By keeping the basic sanitaryware in the same place, Anita and Simon didn’t have to move any pipework, which has helped to keep down plumbing costs. To provide the essential extra storage, there is a unit under the basin, plus a wall-mounted cupboard at the end of the bath. ‘The previous basin was too big for the space, while the new design is neat and rectangular,’ says Anita. ‘I was also determined not to use too much white in the design, because it can feel clinical, so we went for a lovely dark chocolate finish on the side of the cupboards, with white glass fronts.’

When it came to choosing the surface finishes for the space, Anita knew that she wanted floor-to-ceiling tiling for practical purposes as well as to create a streamlined look. ‘Although I didn’t want boring white designs, they couldn’t be too dark either,’ she explains. ‘Our local tile shop is great; the owner Jo Monger is really helpful and will try to find exactly what you want.’

Using a sandy limestone-style tile for the base colour has given the bathroom warmth, but Anita also wanted to add wow-factor. ‘I couldn’t find the right style, but then I spotted some amazing glass mosaic tiles in a mix of brown, cream and bronze shades,’ she recalls. ‘I knew they would bring the whole scheme together.’

With the design, fittings and fixtures chosen and researched, the builder completed the work in four weeks. ‘I love the finished room – it’s sophisticated and practical with lots of clever design touches,’ says Anita. ‘I don’t think we’ll get bored with this scheme any time soon.’

The costs

Fixtures and fittings£4,664
Furniture and accessories£2,349
Walls and floor£1,440