From en-suite to stylish wet room in under £5,000

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Janet and David Miller called in an expert to come up with a light, contemporary design including a walk-in shower and on-trend finishes.

Fact file

The owners: Janet Miller (right), a solicitor and her husband David, an accountant, live here with daughter Ella, two
The property: A four-bedroom detached house built in 2009
The location: Dundonald, near Belfast, Northern Ireland
What they spent: The couple’s bathroom project cost around £4,400

Our house was originally the show home for a new-build development, so the interior was finished to a good standard, but we always knew we wanted to put our own stamp on it,’ explains Janet. ‘This is our first house together as a married couple and we bought it with the future in mind. It has four bedrooms, a good-sized garden, well-proportioned living spaces and a spacious en suite, so it’s a very practical layout for our growing family.’

Although the couple were keen to bring their own style to the space, there was no essential work required and therefore no rush to redecorate. ‘We just got on with things gradually, room by room, as time and budget allowed,’ says Janet.

‘Starting downstairs, we worked our way round the house, with the en suite one of the last rooms to be updated. The main family bathroom was also in need of work, but, as the en suite had been used intensively over the years, we felt that it had to be the priority out of the two spaces left to transform.

‘We prefer the speed and convenience of showering to a bath, so I couldn’t wait to upgrade to a larger shower enclosure for a fresh new look,’ she continues. ‘It’s quite a large space for an en suite, so we wanted to make the most of it with a contemporary wet room-style shower as a statement feature.’

Rather than spending their weekends trawling the local bathroom showrooms for inspiration, Janet and David searched online for local bathroom installers. ‘We’re both very busy with work,’ says Janet, ‘so we were looking for a one-stop shop option – a bathroom specialist to do the entire job – instead of hiring a separate bathroom designer, plumbers and electricians.’ The couple found JR Groves Bathrooms online and were very impressed with the examples of past work displayed on its website. Designer Ross Groves was exactly who they were looking for: a designer, installer and project manager. ‘It’s always advisable to shop around, but when we saw Ross’ work, we didn’t look any further,’ says Janet. ‘The fact that he did the plumbing and electrics, as well as design, supply and installation, was music to our ears.’ The couple made an appointment for Ross to look at their en suite and give them a quote for the work, after which everything progressed quickly and smoothly.

‘We gave Ross a budget of £5,000, along with a fairly simple brief to create a contemporary look with a wet room- style shower and a neutral colour scheme, then we let him come up with the suggestions,’ explains Janet. ‘We really liked his portfolio, so we had complete trust in him to come up with a design that we would love.’

At the initial meeting, Ross showed David and Janet more examples of his work from his Facebook page on his iPad, along with examples of sanitaryware and furniture to give them inspiration. ‘We were able to pick and choose our favourite features and incorporate them into our scheme,’ Janet explains. ‘I also mentioned that I love red but wasn’t sure how to bring it into the mix. Ross went away with our budget in mind and came back very quickly with a fantastic design proposal.’

Keeping Janet’s idea of red as an accent colour, Ross showed the couple examples of coloured tiles and suggested introducing red glass mosaic tiles as a feature to add interest to the neutral scheme. ‘The mosaic tiles are perfect, as they provide a hint of colour without detracting from the cream tiles. The positioning is perfect, too, as they highlight the shower and break up the expanse of wall on that side of the room.’ To give further contrast and depth to the neutral tiles, the mirrored cabinet and sink with combined storage unit are both finished in a light olive wood- effect veneer.

As part of the designer’s service, a computer-aided design (CAD) drawing was prepared in advance to allow the couple to see how the scheme would look. ‘The CAD drawing was invaluable. It was such good quality, almost like a photograph,’ says Janet. ‘I was happy with our choices for the fittings, but I found it difficult to envisage how it would all come together in the space. The CAD drawing reassured me that we’d made the right decisions.’

With the design finalised, Ross started work on the space, removing the original shower, tiles, WC and basin and preparing the room for the new suite. The waterproof membrane was fitted for the wet room shower, plus all the electrical and plumbing work was completed. The original pull-cord light switch was replaced with a dimmer switch on the bedroom wall outside the en suite, so that Janet and David could have low-level lighting for a more relaxing ambience in the space.

Elsewhere in the en suite, the existing radiator remained in place, as did a tall storage cabinet in the corner. ‘I did consider re-positioning the new basin under the window and moving the toilet to the other wall, but after thinking it over, I decided that it wasn’t going to be practical, as there was no wall space for a bathroom cabinet,’ says Janet. ‘Positioning the new fittings and fixtures in the same place as before was definitely the most practical option.’

After waiting for more than four years for her new en suite, Janet’s stylish new scheme was fitted in only four days. ‘I was amazed by how quickly the job was done,’ she says. ‘There was minimal upheaval, especially as we were able to use the main bathroom in the interim. We’re delighted with our new wet room. It looks great, it’s easy to keep clean and, as an added bonus, it came in under budget!’


The costs

Shower enclosure and fittings£869
Tiles £865
Materials, plumbing and electrics£590
Mirrored cabinet£90