The Florence Finds House Tour: Family Bathroom Part 1 – The Build

Well, hello! It’s finally time I shared our bathroom, in fact the whole house. I’m setting myself a goal to bring one room a month to the blog and I hope I can keep up! The majority of the house has been made-over in one way or another over the last 12 months via our big renovation and extension project. Some intentionally and others as collateral, either because they were damaged in the process or just seemed tired and dated. I think I’m going to split these posts into two where its appropriate, to divide the pretty from the nitty gritty of what and how we did things so I hope they’re both useful and inspiring. I’m going to start here with the Bathroom as it was the first room we actually completed and started using, as well as being pretty popular amongst my insta followers, so I hope you like it!


The pre-existing deco-bathroom of darkness

The Nitty Gritty:
Before we started this project, it was intended to be a single story extension ‘glass box’ on the back of the house. However we wouldn’t have gained much space if the resulting room had followed the line of the exterior wall at the back so we wrapped it around into an area that housed our bins. That meant I could have a utility room (whoop whoop!) and the living space would be bigger, which then opened up the possibility of addressing the family bathroom on the floor above. Our first floor has 3 bedrooms and had a small bathroom with a separate toilet on the landing. This made the landing an odd shape, dog legging around the loo, and there was no natural light there either so it was dark. The previous owners had renovated the house to sell but sadly their taste was dated and as a result I hated everything about the bathroom – black and white, art deco style tiles, and faux Victorian white suite.



Top left – shows the landing area dog legging around the loo. The bottom exterior shot hopefully shows the back area we built across but also the way we filled in the side to make space for the utility and bathroom, without extending the house footprint sideways.

It could have been a lot worse I’ll admit, but I really did hate it with a passion. It also wasn’t ideal for a family of 4, kids bathtimes or just spending any enjoyable time in it. There was a small north facing, (possibly original, read: draughty,) window so it was dingy too and basically didn’t have much to commend it. I dreamed of space and light and 2 sinks! Having extra space in the ground floor footprint of the house meant we could build out and over the utility room making a bigger family friendly bathroom, and creating space and light on the landing by moving the loo into the bathroom too. Pete was keen to make this a 2 phase job and come back to the bathroom but I was adamant I didn’t want to revisit the mess etc so we planned from the outset to just make it one big project.


Once the walls started to go up, the space took shape pretty quickly. We went away for the week in March and our ace builders used the opportunity to do all the horrific demolition bits while the kids were out of the house, lifting the floor downstairs to install our underfloor heating, demolishing the landing loo and making the new wall between the bathroom and landing. I remain eternally grateful – anyone who has endured a renovation knows what brick dust is like, and in a house as old as ours, removing ceiling sections means soot flying everywhere which is possibly worse and certainly more pervasive.


Once we could walk around in the space (at first climbing up via the scaffolding!) it seemed at once much bigger and much smaller than I expected. One of the only structural changes we made during the build was to this room, adding a velux when the walls were in, as it suddenly seemed very dark. I hadn’t factored in how the roof pitch comes quite low in this particular aspect of the house, which meant the wall wasn’t tall enough for our usual high windows. So we opted for a massive velux that matched the width of the window below and placed it directly in line with the window too which looked pleasing from the outside but also meant it was positioned perfectly over the bath. This also resulted in the vaulted ceiling that the velux made necessary and now I absolutely love. I’d like to say it was a pre-planned design feature and take credit but it was in fact a twist of fate with some good advice from our builders!


Once the shell was in place it was left as just that by our builders and our internal finishing team took over. Side note: We had 2 builders, one for the big structural stuff and another team that did all the internal specification like the wall panelling, bathroom, tiled flooring, utility and decoration. This played to each of their strengths according to our Architect and we were really happy with how it worked out. The internal finishing team had a fantastic eye for detail, shared my appreciation for Pinterest and basically were ready to do exactly what I wanted, as well as adding their own experience, and expertise. They first sorted out the plumbing for the double vanity, wall hung loo, bath and shower, all of which took quite some effort as each bit had it’s challenges. My main concern in this room was the width. On our architects layouts it seemed spacious enough but it was long and narrow in reality and I worried until the very day the vanity unit and bath were installed that there was enough space for them both and inbetween.


As a result I was obsessed with making sure not an inch of space was lost to stud walls and pipes – any of you who have created a bathroom will know often pipes are just hidden behind stud walls which built around all the perimeter can mean precious space is lost. We already had some tricky aspects with some decorative brickwork (see above) that stuck into the room at the shower end and differences in the old thin walls and new building regulation thickness block and breeze walls. Our finishers took the opportunity to hide some pipes where the walls had to be built out to meet the new thicker ones but also recessed some pipework into the bricks, even chiseling out space for the super slim cistern to hide in the wall. We chose wall mounted sink taps which also needed accommodating and placed the shower controls as you walk into the shower on the right, where you can turn them on without getting wet while the water heats up, so they also needed the pipework sinking in.


Next up was the floor and my beloved encaustic tiles. Oh my, I absolutely love these tiles. I plan to write another blog post about how incredibly high maintenance they are – think full on drama queen, but I don’t think you can beat them for texture and pattern. They are very thick so scuppered the floor level a little and we have a lipped threshold on the door frame to allow for the thickness of not only the tile but the stabilising cement board beneath them which added to the depth. Next the loo was installed and then the vanity I think, where more trickery went on to again maximise the width. That decorative brick work I mentioned actually extended along the wall to where the vanity was supposed to be positioned right against the wall and was higher than the bottom of the vanity unit, even on its legs so our builders cut a section out of the back corner to allow it to be pushed right up to the wall.

We chose a Swoon Editions sideboard which we converted into a vanity unit which required a bit of consideration of the storage layout – for example many of them have drawers to one side which would have been much trickier to convert and make space for the plumbing, and we actually chose a different design which ended up being delayed again and again so we opted for the current one instead and I actually think it was the better choice now. It was 10cm longer than the first design we chose which I think was better for the proportions of the usable worksurface on top, and the first one we chose had a brass upstand around the back which in retrospect wouldn’t have worked well with our sinks either. I think the bath was next and the free standing tap (chosen because the window position prevented us having wall mounted bath taps,) and the custom shower screen was last to go in.

A nitty gritty post wouldn’t be complete without a note on what I would have done differently and despite the planning there are still things I would change. The freestanding bath tap wasn’t a big deal aesthetically but became pricier because they are vastly more expensive than wall mounted ones, because: bigger. Adding the Velux cost us about another £2000 which seems a lot in the scheme of the bathroom but wasn’t in terms of the over all build (the Velux itself is massive and was ~£900.) My main and currently very prominent regret given that it’s January, is the underfloor heating we ditched as it would have been on a separate electric system to the water circuit on the ground floor and was an added cost. We felt we didn’t need it as we would have enough heat from the radiator but however the ambient heat is achieved, a cold tiled floor is still a cold tiled floor, which I think we notice more in contrast to the warmer floors downstairs and the vaulted ceiling makes it a very big space to heat.

Other than that I’m really pleased with our choices. One other thing I would say that made this project is the team we had working on it. When looking for trades people find yourself a YES man! All too often trades people will tell you it can’t be done or won’t be right, or will cost a lot more – whilst details like herringbone tiling will take longer so involve more labour its not that significant in my experience and you don’t want to settle then regret it all because a tiler wouldn’t just do their job! Ours did everything I asked of them and more when things didn’t go according to plan. I’ll pop the links for the builders and bathroom fitters below. I’ll also be back with the finished reveal next – the post is all written, I just need to add in the photos and product links so it shouldn’t take too long, (she says – it’s the most time consuming part!!)

Back soon!
Rebecca

ArchitectSpace AP
BuildersBoarshurst
Interior finishing/fitting108 Builders.

You might also like to read about our inspiration here: #FFHouseReno: The Bathroom

#FFHouseReno: The Bathroom

The bathroom looks like it will be the first room finished in this mad renovation project so I think it’s time I talked about the design process. Before I start, a disclaimer… I don’t really *cough* like bathrooms. That’s not strictly true I suppose. There’s many a bathroom I have enjoyed spending time in, but bathroom design just leaves me cold. So I basically ignored the bathroom for the longest time during the planning stages. We have never renovated or replaced a bathroom before so I also didn’t really know where to start. Expect of course, Pinterest.


This is the image which inspired our bathroom design as a whole.

A little bit of background first, Kate Watson-Smyth from Mad About The House says you need to know the who, what’s and where of a house before you plan anything and I wholeheartedly agree. This bathroom, although it will be a bathroom for all of us currently, will long term become the family/kids bathroom, when we complete the final renovation stage of this house and move up to the top floor. For now though we are a young family with many a bath time ahead of us in which all four of us will be trying to move around the space, so layout was important. I wasn’t prepared to compromise on having two sinks and we wanted a freestanding bath but that was pretty much it. This was a bit of luxury for us now but also half an eye on two girls competing for mirror space in future. 😉 I also wanted storage for the myriad bath toys we now have, plus toiletries of mine which are bound to double again with the girls growing up. That was pretty much it in terms of what we needed. And what I wanted desperately was for it not to be boring. Easier said than done.

I scoured my bathroom pinterest boards and tried to establish some themes. It turns out I like my bathrooms light and bright, with simple natural colours and warmed by wood accents. However, every now and then a crazy tile I had saved would pop up and make me think, ‘Am I missing the opportunity to do something fun? Is it going to look boring?’ so I tried to find a way to bring in a bit of colour and personality. Not something synonymous with contemporary bathroom design.


The first moodboard I made to get my thoughts and ideas down on ‘paper’.

Now one part of bathrooms that I do love are tiles. But trying to find the cool tiles you just saw on Pinterest is not easy. And it’s even harder to find them at a good price point. It’s fortunate I don’t like the 4 tiled walls look because my goodness, tiles are expensive. I decided the way to include that pop of fun and colour I need was to have a patterned tile and quickly fell in love with encaustic tiles when we were researching for the hallway floor. My encaustic tile search is probably for another post as they are not the cheap option but I managed to source them at about half the price of some of the first ones I spotted. We finally narrowed the design down to a graphic starburst hexagon tile, after a brief flirtation with stars, in a dark marine blue.

For the walls, I considered tilling up the wall in the same tile but that would have been missing out on the opportunity to mix in another style I like. I have a lot of love for the clean, classic and budget friendly look of metro tiles, but I’m slightly obsessed with herringbone too so decided to tile the shower in a white elongated tile in a herringbone layout. I managed to find a handmade looking tile with quite an undulating surface in the right proportions for a fraction of the price of the higher end tile stores and to make it more of a textural effect rather than a graphic pattern, we have chosen white grout.

Black shower taps

Next up was taps. Again, I had decided on brass, but wow, taps are expensive (there’s a theme somewhere in here…) and I couldn’t find quite the style I wanted. When I was bath hunting I came across Lusso Stone who have really well priced tap and shower sets, and decided to cross over to the dark side and go for matte black. Those of you who are regular readers may remember that I really dislike black. I have barely anything black in my wardrobe but I’m finding that I am using it more and more in interiors as an accent neutral and I am so excited to see these go in. It was compromise that made me go for them, particularly as we chose everything for the bathroom so late we were starting to really try and cut the budget, so were under pressure to make savings in this room, but I think they are going to make a fantastic compromise and won’t look too stark because of…


Wooden vanity

The Vanity Unit. I knew I wanted a wooden floating unit or a sideboard style piece of furniture, originally thinking I’d source a vintage midcentury sideboard, but I just couldn’t find anything I was happy to make a decision on. Eventually I reconciled myself with the fact that anything we bought new would have to be chopped up and drilled into to convert and settled on the Fresco Sideboard from Swoon Editions. Unfortunately we had quite the debacle and had to switch for another one last minute but I’m really happy we did and can’t wait to see it in situ. The wood will add warmth to an otherwise quite stark room and the brass detail is just going to make me happy. 🙂 We plan to top it with a piece of marble to save the wood top from getting stained and have chosen counter top rectangular sinks to fit the mid-century vibe.


The final moodboard where I put all my chosen products together to make sure they worked together.

Lastly the bath. We looked far and wide at baths and really fell for the composite ones with their matt velvety finish. The first we liked was Victoria and Albert then we found Lusso Stone which are vastly cheaper than most and supply a lot of hotels and building projects with very sexy baths. The one we chose was mainly due to size restrictions because I could easily have chosen many of their gorgeous designs and hopefully it will be with us next week.

I think that’s it! I’m still updating Instagram Stories most days with daily progress and much of that is currently bathroom progress, so please do check in if you want to see some behind the scenes action. (Disclaimer: I may or may not be found on some days tearing my hair out or rocking in the corner quietly, depending how bad a day it has been!) I think it will be another couple of weeks then I should have some finished photos for you!

Hope you like it!
Rebecca

Renovation Ruminations: Tiles Tiles Tiles…

I think it’s time I kicked off with some interiors inspiration for the renovation project, right? In truth, you might expect that I would have this all sorted but in fact it has for a long time felt hard to see past the project even starting and getting those piles in, so I didn’t really focus too hard on the interior aspect. The bathroom has had the least of my attention because, well, bathrooms just don’t really excite me. Of course that hasn’t stopped me pinning them and fortunately, as I always say to people who are planning a project big or small, if you pin loads of images you like to Pinterest you can often then find a theme. Particularly because I’ve been using Pinterest for so long, I can also see if my tastes have changed, or pick out things that look dated already which helps to refine what I like, and also try to sift through rooms that are ‘Gorgeous but not me‘ and ‘Yes, I can live with that!

There are a few key themes that have inspired me and tiles have been my latest obsession so lets get on and have a look!


Grown up mermaid tiles

For the longest time I thought if I ever re-did a bathroom I’d keep it all white, white, white. In fact, I’ve learnt enough about myself that I can start neutral but I always seek colour eventually, and I also really don’t want a clinical or cold looking space. I’ve always love patterned tiles, be they Morroccan style, mosaics, or just interesting colours and lean towards anything with a handcrafted feel, so although I started planning a black hexagon tile floor, we soon moved towards looking for something more colourful.


Fish scale tiles // Circle tiled Shower // Star tiles // Concrete and patterned teal tiles.

How amazing are these? But could you live with it? There’s something very ‘holiday’ feeling about these designs I think. They remind me of a beach hotel, somewhere like Miami, or Australia, but I wonder if I’d tire of them or if they would feel out of place in the middle of a bleak English winter. But then maybe they would be just the thing to brighten up your day?

Or if you’re not 100% about taking the plunge with colour, how about this ever so pale and restrained touch of colour?


Pale and Interesting

I find these pastel and muted tones so restful. They’re just the thing I think for a change from the now classic white metro or subway tile, but with a bit of a modern twist. The pale green/grey/blue tones are just so pretty and elegant.


Pale Green shower // Blue metro tiles and marble // Pale blue herringbone // Grey metro tiles

Then there’s the Monochrome trend. Whilst I never would have described myself as a monochrome lover, I find myself decorating in Black and white more and more. Its the perfect backdrop for other materials (wood and metals in the case of the bathroom,) and a brilliant foil for colour too – in fact both the girls bedrooms have black and white wallpaper which is perfect to balance out all the colour that comes with the mountains of toys.


Black Chevron and brass shower // Black Hex wall tiles

What I do like a lot however is texture and a monochrome palette is the perfect way to introduce pattern like the current trends for interesting tile laying (herringbone or chevrons to name but a few) or shapes, like hexagons.


White Herringbone wall tiles

So what do you think readers. Could you or have you stepped away from white tiles? I’d love to hear if you have any recommendations!

Rebecca x

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