Real home: an award-winning bathroom, transformed for £4,000

A bold paint scheme and fresh, upscale look earned Peter Grech the prize for best bathroom in the Real Homes awards

Peter Grech transformed his bathroom into a stylish sanctuary, and won our 2018 Real Homes award for best bathroom
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Hating the red-themed bathroom and tiny shower in their new home, Peter Grech reveals how he and his partner Sam transformed it with a striking colour scheme, some well-chosen antique and online buys and a few personal touches to create a glamorous sanctuary on a tight budget.

Read on to find out how they did it. And, if you're also tired of dated tiles, an old-fashioned suite and poor plumbing, then check out our guide to designing a bathroom to get your project kickstarted. See all our real home transformations, too.

The Profile

The owners
Peter Grech (, an A&E doctor, and Sam Coward, a solicitor

The property
A late Victorian/early Edwardian four-bedroom semi-detached house in Altrincham, Cheshire

Project cost

Peter knew exactly where to start when renovating the bathroom in the house he bought with his partner, Sam. The room was a good size with space for a bath and separate shower, but the stained mahogany floors and brown and red mosaic tiles had to go. ‘I think they were going for a Mediterranean feel,’ says Peter. ‘It was too much. We wanted it to be relaxing.’

‘I think originally the room must have been a bedroom and was changed into
a bathroom one or two owners ago. The bath was where it is now, but the shower cubicle was a small corner unit. It wasn’t very nice to look at and leaked every time you had a shower. Plus there wasn’t much space in it, which was quite frustrating as it is quite a big room and could take a larger enclosure.'

‘The bathroom design developed organically,’ says Peter. ‘My father’s an architect and I think that instilled an appreciation of aesthetic beauty in me.' Floor painted in Diamond Hard white floor paint, Ronseal. Walls painted in Portrait of a Blue Stocking by Valspar from B&Q. Chandelier, LED Hut

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

‘This room has such a high ceiling that we needed a statement light to fill the space. We had to hunt online to find something suitable for a bathroom at a reasonable budget, and this big chandelier fit the bill,' says Peter. 'The two wall sconces on either side of the mirror are quite simple but have an Art Deco look. Our electrician questioned why we wanted the lights on a dimmer, but we love how you can just dim them right down and have a nice relaxing evening.' 

Peter Grech transformed his bathroom into a stylish sanctuary, and won our 2018 Real Homes award for best bathroom

'I think  the room must have been a bedroom. It is really nice still having the fireplace as a feature in the room'

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

‘The room is south facing and the bath faces the window looking out over gardens. The previous owner used to have blinds, but as no one can see in directly – even if we go to the bottom of the garden and look up – it’s completely private. It’s something we only grew to appreciate once we were in the house.’

Peter Grech transformed his bathroom into a stylish sanctuary, and won our 2018 Real Homes award for best bathroom

‘The mirror over the basin was bought from an antiques market for £8. It’s hung vertically as there isn’t a huge amount of space between the sconces. The scalloped edge adds glamour.’ Lights, Marble tiles, Topps Tiles. Taps, Home Heating & Plumbing Supplies

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

‘Because we didn’t want to spend a gigantic amount of money, we reused as many of the original fittings as possible, such as the bath and toilet. We changed the bath and basin taps for smart new designs that matched. It ties everything together really well.

‘The basin was originally on a pedestal, but our plumber came up with the idea of fixing it to the wall  to make it freestanding, then hid the pipework behind.'

Peter Grech transformed his bathroom into a stylish sanctuary, and won our 2018 Real Homes award for best bathroom

‘The stool was another bargain find. I bought two for £24. I put towels on it when I am having a bath or my phone if I am playing some music. Or even just have a plant on. I am a bit plant obsessed; I think we have about 50 in the house.’ Plants, Ikea.

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The original corner shower was very small and circular. We thought “Why compromise?” when it came to choosing a new one. We went for the biggest tray that fitted with the layout of the room, and then picked a simple glass enclosure, keeping it quite clean and minimalist in terms of its detailing.’

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‘The tiles round the sink and on the shower were an extravagance, but I’ve been enamoured with marble ever since I was a child and thought the bathroom deserved it. The initial marble we bought had a really big variation in it, going from pale white – which was on the top of the boxes – to a very dark grey. I’d left the tiler and met a friend for lunch. By the time I came back he had filled nearly the whole area and it looked like a chess board. I felt awful telling him it didn’t look anything like I wanted it too because he’d spent all day tiling. Thankfully, he was very understanding about the whole thing and took down the tiles. He also helped me discuss it with the tile producer and negotiate getting the white tile I wanted.’ 

‘All that red in the room was very intense. We have dark red in the dining room and I love it, but the dining room is meant to be dramatic while the bathroom should be calming and luxurious. We chose dark blue for the chimney breast and the wall opposite to balance the room and give it a cosy feel. If the rest of the walls were all white, it might have seemed a bit too stark

‘I’d seen a painted floor at a friend’s house and really liked it, so there was lots of sanding and multiple coats of white paint. It seemed cheaper than tiling, and you keep the character of the boards. We used Ronseal’s Diamond Hard white floor paint which I think has a slight in-built varnish. It’s worn really well. The bath stand was red wood – we painted that white, too.’

Peter Grech transformed his bathroom into a stylish sanctuary, and won our 2018 Real Homes award for best bathroom

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

‘The doilies are my grandmother’s work. She used to be an amazing knitter. She has severe Alzheimer’s and my parents asked if I’d like to have these. Having doilies round the house wasn’t what I was going for, but by framing them, it’s an homage to her hard work. They’re like pieces of art.’

Peter Grech transformed his bathroom into a stylish sanctuary, and won our 2018 Real Homes award for best bathroom

‘The shelves I found on Ebay. I think they were £20 from a house round the corner. They are bookshelves and are the exact size of the alcove, which is quite shallow. It is great for towels and things, so guests don’t have to rummage round in cupboards.’ Towels, Christy

(Image credit: katie lee)

More ideas for your bathroom renovation:

Alison Jones
Assistant Editor

Alison is Assistant Editor on Real Homes magazine. She previously worked on national newspapers, in later years as a film critic and has also written on property, fashion and lifestyle. Having recently purchased a Victorian property in severe need of some updating, much of her time is spent solving the usual issues renovators encounter.