I remember being on a walking tour in Edinburgh where the guide pointed out some old houses in the Old Town telling us the bathrooms used to be outside the main house, almost an afterthought. We have come a long way since then. Bathrooms in the most basic of houses look glossy, well-kept and polished. Yup – bathrooms are now beautiful and bathroom decor is important.
Image and products from CP Hart
Bathrooms are also now easier to plan and execute. I liked these bathroom suites that seem to make everyones job easier. The Bathrooms.com website provides pretty detailed, helpful hints on how to get this set up. This is the basic stuff you need. It’s quick and painless.
Of course, if you want it more personalised, its going to require a little more work. I pretty much think bathrooms are the hardest things in the house to get right. Bathrooms have all the disadvantages of small rooms, with none of the advantages of being flexible. Which brings me to my first point.
1. You might have an engineering degree, be really good with cars and make amazing eggless cake but you need a plumber.
This one should be pretty obvious. Unless you work in plumbing, you need a plumber. And you need him or her now before you do some irreversible damage.
You may have lived in that house for a long time but if this is a major renovation, you need to check with your plumber first. Can you really move the sink to the corner? Can you really put your tub on the other side? Sadly, sometimes water supply, connections and plumbing works may not go along with your renovation ideas. You need to be flexible but before you start you need to know what can and cannot work. So I would always suggest get a plumber to look around first, plan later.
2 . Be very careful about the walls – the wallpaper, tile or paint you use. Do not assume anything.
I am not usually a fan of bright floral patterns but I loved this wallpaper Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere used for her bathroom.
I have been obsessed with this wallpaper ever since.
But we quickly realised that wallpaper for a bathroom with no window, is not an option. The humidity would be too much for it to be practical. Similarly, with paint. My friend Neha insists that both the paint and plaster you use needs to be water resistant. Same with tiles and wallpaper. Do not assume all tiles can be used in the bathroom. You might need quick drying, anti-slip, water-proof tiles for the bathroom. You might need wallpaper which is water proof and able to withstand some humidity. Ensure the store you buy from knows how you intend to use said paint, tiles and wallpaper so they can advise accordingly.
Some of this sounds pretty basic but its always better to ask what you think are stupid questions than feel stupid (and poor) later.
3. And another thing about tiles. And wallpaper.
We had to re-do some part of the tiling in our bathroom since the wall behind our shower was damp. The original tiles were green decorative tiles. (Let me try and get a photo to show what I mean – I don’t think I did a good job of explaining this). So yes, this is what the original tiles look like.
Exactly. Good luck trying to find the same tiles in a few years time.
So my takeaway from this has been to keep away from the patterned tiles. Use solid tiles to make patterns if you will. Trying to find matching tiles (or matching wallpaper for that matter) is just too stressful.
This photo is my bathroom at home in Calcutta. I made my dad take the photo and send it to me!
PS: We now have some black tiles in the shower area while the white, green and patterned green tiles remain in the rest of the bathroom. Interesting look?
4. Short-term, long-term.
My friend Reva recently told me she got rid of her bath and replaced it with a spacious shower instead. Which sounds divine. I would definitely like to do the same (I hate the climbing over the tub ritual). I have actually never used the tub in the house as a tub so its quite a waste.
This is an absurdly luxurious walk-in shower from Best Bathrooms which I am in love with. I definitely have some fondness for the edgy stone look when it comes to bathrooms.
DJ and I have hesitated replacing the tub since no bath negatively affects the resale value of house in the UK. (We have been told the same thing time and again by friends, estate agents and so on). So some long-term considerations do need to be taken into account. In such cases you prioritise. We are still researching and deciding on our bathroom renovation (hence, this post!) but if down the line, would rather have a shower than bother about the long-term resale value, so be it. The prospect of a beautiful walk-in shower is tempting. Especially after I was reminded of how good it feels after using the shower in the fashion hotel in Amsterdam.
Bottomline: know the long-term effects, positive, negative or negligible, of your renovations so you can make an informed decision.
5. Don’t forget about the decor.
Just because its the bathroom it doesn’t mean you ignore the decor.
Get art, get flowers, plants, magazines – anything that is not bathroom essentials.
Loved the minimalist bathtub and bathroom essentials from WestOne Bathrooms offset by the dark, moody, pop art.
Another easier way to add some interesting decor elements to a bathroom is to ensure your bathroom essentials are pretty too. This is a trick I learnt from general home decorating and it works very well with small bathrooms. Use stylish bathroom accessories.
Or use stylish brassware. My current obsession is copper, vintage brassware.
And decor includes perfume. Skip the cloying home fresheners, use some nice scented candles or incense sticks instead.
That’s all I have been able to put down – for now! A big thank you to everyone who contributed tips and told me about their experiences on bathroom decor. Unfortunately some things are just trial and error but hopefully, a little less error and a little less pain if you do as much research as possible.
A very happy Diwali to everyone celebrating. Lots of love and kaju barfi!
This post was a collaborative effort.