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How To Refresh Your Bathroom, The Easy Way

Jun 12, 2023

By Jermaine Gallacher

When I was a child, I was obsessed with other people’s bathrooms. They were always my first port of call upon stepping foot through anyone’s front door. I would judge them on decor, size, comfort – and most importantly, how well the toilet flushed. I had a few firm favourites: one, in particular, was a family friend’s backyard privy which was entirely decoupaged in Marilyn Monroe press clippings, with a black lav that had the most marvellous flush. But it was my granny’s pink bathroom suite that inspired me most of all, with its crème caramel carpet that went up the side of the bath. It seemed so brave and fantastically showy in comparison to our all-white bathroom at home with its wooden ’90s Habitat accessories.

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to spend a penny in some excellent bathrooms – but if I’m being totally honest, recently, I’ve been feeling less inspired by the lavs and bathrooms I frequent. Granted, my obsession is not quite as strong as my former five-year-old self, and I certainly don’t demand to see them straight away (unless I’m busting for the bathroom, which is basically all the time). But I do feel more often than not they seem like a lazy afterthought, the forgotten, practical room lacking in flair and creativity.

After all, bathrooms are far more than just places for morning ablutions and a spot to do your business in. They are perhaps the only rooms in our homes where we can lock the door and enjoy some proper “me” time without fear of unwanted interruptions. To my mind, they should be rooms in which we express our personalities, decorative flair, and even, dare I say, our sense of humour. So whether big or small, owned or rented, here are a few simple tips on how to give your WC some TLC.

By Elise Taylor

There’s no denying that bathrooms are probably the second most expensive rooms to redo after kitchens – or, at least, they can be. But like all things in life, you have to pick your battles. If the thought of unlocking your wallet for a whole new bathroom suite fills you with dread, then why not pick one piece to update? Personally, I would go for either the sink or the toilet. Believe me when I say it’s a big old world out there when it comes to sanitaryware, which is what we call it in the biz (and is probably my least favourite word in the decorator’s dictionary.)

The fun thing about only updating one piece is you can really go to town. It’s a great opportunity to introduce a splash of colour, for example. What could be more glamorous than a gloss black sink or a ruby red loo? For that, there are plenty of bathroom companies out there selling jazzy bathroom suites. The Water Monopoly, for example, has a great selection in an assortment of colours that, while not the cheapest, are extremely high-quality – just be prepared for very long lead times. If, like me, you prefer an instant off-the-shelf buy, I can highly recommend BrokenBog. Aside from its brilliant name, this one-stop shop based in Surrey, England (it also ships worldwide) has got everything you could ever wish for. There isn’t a colour, shape, or size these guys don’t have covered.

By Radhika Seth

By Lisa Stardust

By Riann Phillip

If you’re feeling really brave, then go for a stainless steel pan or sink. These work best if you’re lucky enough to have a separate WC. (Very André Putman.) I would pair it with a black gloss toilet seat. A boring and gross, but useful, plumbing tip? Always remember to check your soil pipe, as there are two types: down or out. I once ordered the wrong ones for a restaurant project and needless to say, the client was not happy.

Just like hats, sunglasses, and scarves, bathroom accessories can take a room from drab to fab. Whether shower curtains or toilet roll holders, there are plenty of more subtle moments to spice up your washroom. Shower curtains, for example, have come a long way from the white, plastic, mold-loving ones of my student dig days. (That said, I am still partial to a cheap and cheerful bit of something synthetic, especially if it’s semi-see-through: I can’t always be a beacon of good taste, I’m afraid.)

If you’re looking for something a little more tasteful and timeless, I would opt for a linen curtain. You can use any medium-weight linen, and it’s super easy to make your own: you don’t even need to get the sewing machine out. Simply cut your chosen fabric to size using fabric scissors, and for the curtain rings, use the ones with clips that can easily be picked up online for pennies. I made my shower curtain rod out of copper pipes, and it’s since oxidised to a fantastic shade of green.

Speaking of colour: it is, without a doubt, the easiest and cheapest way to transform any room, especially bathrooms. Go for it, I say. Don’t be afraid of painting the ceiling and the floor. Personally, I find pink to be the best colour for bathrooms and powder rooms. It’s certainly the most flattering shade: everyone looks pretty in pink, right? Just remember to always use eggshell or gloss. And if you’re feeling really wild, why not consider having a go at painting a mural or pattern freehand? Backs of doors and sides of baths make for the best canvases here: I recently saw a sensational hand-painted roll-top bath at Bruises Gallery in London. Just make sure you don’t leave the taps running.

By Radhika Seth

By Lisa Stardust

By Riann Phillip

By Hayley Maitland