Before and after: a pretty yet practical family bathroom renovation for £6,000

From dated carpet and '80s wallpaper to a dreamy, kid-friendly sanctuary…

Blue panelled bathroom with palm wallpaper, patterned tile flooring, jute rug and rustic wall-hung floating vanity unit
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Planning a family bathroom can feel like a constant push and pull between practicality and style. Can you have wallpaper when you've got kids who just love splashing about in the bath? Is it possible to ever control the sheer amount of stuff that finds its way into the room, from body lotions to bath toys?

Emma Coulthurst's bathroom remodel is proof that yes, you can have a space that looks good and works for adults and children alike – with a bit of planning. Together with her husband Martin, she's turned a dated '80s-style room into a beautiful sanctuary with hidden functionality, like the splash-proof panelling and easy-access storage. We spoke to her to find out how she pulled the space together.

The before

Before shot showing bathroom with brown carpet, plain white wall tiles and bath-shower

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The owners Emma Coulthurst (@theoldfarmhouseproject), a TV producer and owner of a holiday let company, her husband, Martin, a construction manager, their children Edie, five, and Arlo, three, dog Cookie and cat Jindy
The property A four-bed 18th-century farmhouse in Glossop, Derbyshire
Project cost £6,300 

‘There were layers of tiles and wallpaper on top of each other in this room and it was even carpeted! The property used to be a B&B back in the 1980s and the bathroom and toilet were in separate rooms. We were downstairs getting a drink when we noticed water coming through the ceiling into the kitchen, where the fuse board is. It went through the side wall into our son’s bedroom, too, which we’d just had plastered and painted. The entire house was a bit of a disaster!’

Bold ideas

Blue panelled bathroom with palm wallpaper, patterned tile flooring, jute rug and rustic wall-hung floating vanity unit

Walls painted in colour-matched Valspar. Floor tiles, Walls & Floors. Vanity unit, Simply Rustic Furniture. Mirror, H&M. Basket, Homesense. Wall light, Illuminate Vintage. Ceiling light, Ikea. Rug, B&M. Pink baskets and pink soap dispenser, Made

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

‘We took on a few other rooms before the bathroom, so we’d fallen into a good system by that point and I felt really sure about what I was after. I’d never really gone “out there” with colour before, but since this is our forever home, I felt I could be a bit braver. Instagram gave me loads of inspiration. I wanted it to be a bright and bold room – it’s small, so why not go for it? We don’t spend all day in here anyway, so I felt it could take a more confident design.’

Adding colour

Blue panelled bathroom with palm print patterned wallpaper, patterned floor tiles and pink roll-top freestanding bath

Wallpaper, I Love Wallpaper. Bath, BC Designs, painted in Cinder Rose, Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Katie Lee)
Costs & contacts

Sanitaryware and vanity £2,000
Tiling £1,800 (including labour)
Joinery, plumbing and plastering £1,500
Misc materials £500
Build materials £400
Décor £100

Joinery/plumbing Ladygate Construction, 01663 745562
Tiling Commercial Tiling Solutions

‘I saw a pink bathroom online, which sparked the idea for this. My husband thinks it’s hilarious how much I deliberate over shades of pink. The room width was a worry, but I was adamant I’d have a roll-top bath and found a space-saving design that fit, spray-painting the legs to work with the brass fittings. We planned the space meticulously – I had five different mood boards on PowerPoint.’

Cutting the cost

Walk-in shower with glass screen and pink herringbone wall tiles

Sanitaryware and shower, Victorian Plumbing. Herringbone tiles, Tile Mountain

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

‘Instagram was a huge help when it came to keeping costs down. I got a discount on the bath, and the vanity too because I was a repeat customer. I won a voucher for the wallpaper and colour-matched the paint using Valspar. A friend of Martin’s tiled the shower. He was like an artist: at one point he took them off and started again because they weren’t perfect. He questioned the combination of pink and herringbone at first, but thought it was amazing once he saw the result.’

Family planning

Bathroom with dark blue panelling, palm wallpaper, pink roll top bath and patterned tile floor

Radiator, Victorian Plumbing. Prints, Juniqe

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

‘To be honest, we threw practicality out of the window with this room. But the wallpaper’s high enough that it doesn’t get splashed too often, the panelling is coated with a water-resistant sealant and the room is well ventilated. The kids love it – they call it the pink bathroom. I really care about our home and it’s rubbed off on them. There were probably many times when Martin questioned my design choices, but he’s learned to go with it. He knows he’ll like it in the end! My advice to anyone taking on a bathroom renovation is to plan, plan, plan, and be sure of what you want – then don’t hold back.’

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Ellen Finch
Former deputy editor

Formerly deputy editor of Real Homes magazine, Ellen has been lucky enough to spend most of her working life speaking to real people and writing about real homes, from extended Victorian terraces to modest apartments. She's recently bought her own home and has a special interest in sustainable living and clever storage.