Our ensuite bathroom makeover - halfway point
Bathroom renovations help you increase the value of your property as well as its opportunities to sell quickly. But when you are not planning to sell, bathrooms can help you fall in love with your home just a little bit more which is exactly the case with ours right now. If you are planning to renovate though, property expert Sarah Beeny says "Stay classic but with a really good design – this is much more likely to stand the test of time. If you go for a colour, chances are it won't be to the taste of a potential buyer, so may put them off your house.".
We started the renovation of our ensuite and family bathroom 3 weeks ago, not because we wanted to sell our home but because our bathrooms were uninspiring and had no storage. Hell, they didn't even have proper mirrors! When the contractor we found through HOUZZ UK committed to finishing our bathrooms in 4 weeks, he was not kidding. He told me "if you have all the products onsite, we can finish each bathroom in two weeks". We're at the halfway point guys, it's now been three weeks since we started renovating the ensuite bathroom to turn it from a white and blue(ish) 80s bathroom to a spa-like marble oasis.
As long as you have a trustworthy builder next to you, all is good. Ours, IDL Contractors Limited, a Houzz UK Pro, have project managed the work, with the principal owner coming to our house every morning and afternoon to check the progress, report and let me know next steps. So far they have been reliable, fast and helped with problem solving and product suggestions.
OUR BATHROOM RENOVATION SERIES
Ensuite Bathroom Renovation - Part 2, The Halfway Point (you are here)
The bathroom diaries
So where are we so far, what's gone wrong and what are the hidden costs that no one is talking about?! To start with, this is what the bathroom looked like 2 weeks ago. Not inspired? I hear ya! I mean just look at where they placed the radiator * rolls eyes *. This is not going to be a post with lovely pictures. This is about to get ugly. You have been warned!
The first two days of the makeover were spent removing all the existing products and tiles from the room leaving behind a) a lot of dust and b) a room that looked like it had been hit by a bomb. Of course, I was not going to miss the blue tiles on the floor or the blue/purple strip on the wall. Good riddance I say! I took the opportunity to use my Tom Ford coral red lipstick on the walls.
This was also the noisiest part so far. Removing the tiles from the wall and indeed so many of them was no small task. There was some serious banging on the wall. And every time the builder would fill up this bucket above with tiles, he'd take it downstairs to the skip. Leaving a trail of dust behind (but did clean up at the end of each day bless him).
I closed myself in the office and hoped for the best. But no. The noise was still there. So I relocated to the dining room, which has served as office since. We actually sit at the table and all look at the screen of my mac with pictures of the future bathroom. Deep down we are all depressed at the current state of our home, the Seasons husband more than anyone, but he doesn't say anything. But I KNOW.
After the tiles were removed...
The builders set about changing any pipes that needed changing and moving them in the right place. The radiator will no longer be on the wall over the bath; by moving the sink to a different place we freed up space for the radiator under the window (and there's a whole story as to why radiators have traditionally been placed under windows. There's some physics involved in that choice!).
One thing that I have come to understand seeing the empty room, is that you can design a space in 100 different ways to make it really efficient and personal. I am utterly convinced that by having a separate bathtub and shower, the previous owners really compromised in relation to what space they were left with. Hence the sink in front of the window and the lack of storage and mirror.
To ensure we have more space to move around, as well as storage (for make up, cleaning products and extra toilet paper!) we are are going for a combination bathroom and shower. But which bathtub to choose if you want to use it for showering as well? This is where all the search paid off eventually.
Bathtubs that double as showers
I don't think it's possible to use a free standing bathtub for showering unless you have the space around it tanked and are prepared to keep it dry after each shower or unless you have a shower curtain; which may look cute but I don't think it is practical long term (and a fancy curtain rail can cost more than a fancy bath screen.
So that leaves you with traditional baths, you know, the ones that come with a front (and sometimes a side) panel. Do not be put off by the thought of having a panel - you can find a really nice pre-painted one (even in Farrow & Ball popular colours), or you can by a plain one that you can paint any colour you want or, like we are planning to do, tile the panel for a more expensive look.
Shower baths often come in an L-shape, giving you a nice square to shower in, but also making it trickier to add to a space (especially in a small space). I don't think they look elegant enough, but that's a personal remark.
If you prefer to go for a normal rectangular bath that fits almost wall to wall you need to consider the following:
Double ended bathtubs: A double ended bath tub is one that has a curve on both sides so you can sit back and relax while sharing the bath with someone else or when you want to choose either side to take your bath alone. Double ended bathtubs are a no-no for showering because their internal 'walkable' space is smaller than normal.
Single ended bathtubs: This is what you need to be looking at, but again, not all are the same. You need to identify a tub that has very low incline (for the water to go towards the trap) to avoid slipping in it, and you need one that will have as much internal space as possible while also having a comfortable single end to recline on.
Avoid bathtubs that are very curvy inwards or have an oval sitting design. You need it to look as square as possible on the side of the shower. Here are my top tips when choosing a tub that will double as your shower.
TIPS - Good to remember
Save as much space as possible around the bathtub by choosing one that has no tap holes (google: "single ended bathtub 0TH shower") and instead opt for a bath filler. Remember that if you are using a bath filler, you will also need a handset (to help you clean the bathtub) as well as the shower head. And that means you will inevitably need a 3-way (or 3-outlet) valve to control these three individual outlets.
We found the perfect partner in the METHVEN KAHA 3-WAY valve (in matt black) which supports all our needs for the above while also looking extra good. Methven are a New Zealand company that operates in the UK for many years and even have George Clarke as an ambassador - and we all know Clarke is all about good quality products, right?
Other Products used
Overall I couldn't be happier with the products that are going into this room. The tiles have been the best choice so far. They are all from Mandarin Stone, a UK company that specialises in natural stone tiles but also imports beautiful porcelain tiles mostly from Italy. You will often catch them posting Stories on Instagram from sourcing trips in the likes of Verona and Bologna, be that marbles, ceramic tiles or porcelain ones with fancy patterns on them.
A trip to your local Mandarin Stone store will help you really appreciate their collection. And their service is fantastic. See something you like on the website but the system does not let you order? The tiles may be out of stock but depending on how many you need, their warehouse may be able to accommodate your project, just give them a call.