Smallest room – big change
My quick-fix loo makeover.
With only a small budget and some hands-on creativity, I transformed this downstairs loo in a weekend for £300.
It’s always a conundrum when you are living with a space that needs TLC, ASAP – but you don’t want to spend too much on it. Especially if your room refresh is meant to be a temporary fix. So what should you do? I am a big believer that if you can find a way to improve your space and lift your spirit, just do it. Even if it is just a lick of paint, get those brushes out and start painting. You really can create a big transformation on a small budget. Plus, you never know, you might end up loving your room’s new look so much that your ‘quick fix’ becomes a permanent solution. In our case, this ‘temporary’ makeover is still here 18 months later. By making me fall back in love with a space I was literally planning to rip out, my mini-transformation of our downstairs toilet has probably saved me thousands of pounds.
The loo story
Our downstairs loo needed some love. Fast. It was looking tired and I wanted more of a ‘wow’ space. But there was a problem. This little loo was always due to be ripped out and moved to another space as part of our pending kitchen and utility room renovations. I was feeling frustrated – and, me being me, I knew I couldn’t leave it how it is was. It just wasn’t making me happy. To be honest, it felt like an embarrassment when guests came over. But of course, me being me, I decided a lick of paint was NOT ENOUGH and to just GO FOR IT and have fun. Because, why the heck not?! The result: not once ounce of regret and a sexy little loo to boot.
The golden rule for the smallest throne
The downstairs loo is a space that you use every day. Guests often use it too, so why not make it lovely? As it is usually the smallest space in the house, you can really have fun and go wild in it. Experiment with colours that might not feel brave enough to use in bigger rooms. The worst-case scenario is that you hate it – but even if this happens, it won’t cost much or take long to repaint. It’s not a coincidence that the most glamorous restaurants, clubs and bars tend to have truly spectacular loos. A stunning, surprising interior turns a necessary visit into an experience. Think rich colours, fun wallpaper, hanging plants, details to look at whilst ‘loo-ing’. Perhaps add interesting artwork, candles, or an unusual surprise on the ceiling.
The idea that the smallest room should be painted only light or white colours is definitely a design myth of the past. You might think that dark colours invariably make a room feel smaller, but dark walls can appear to recede making rooms feel bigger. But so what if it does make the room feel small? It is small. Fact. There is no getting away from it – so why not embrace it? Ours was previously painted Farrow & Ball Hague Blue, so I knew I wanted to keep it dark, with low lighting, but perhaps a bit sexier. I know right? Downstairs loo being sexy! Crazy times.
I wanted a rich red, and opted for Farrow & Ball Preference Red. I used it on the walls, ceiling, woodwork, doors, cabinet front. The lot. To create one big warm womb.
I’m often asked where I start with my designs. Even when I design for myself, I always give myself a brief. Carefully considering the practicalities of a project – the budget, plumbing, electrics, lighting etc – is essential, of course. But the style or overall look can often be inspired by a single concept that gets me excited. This could be as a memory, a feeling, a vibe, a thing – a thing as vague as concrete, or an object I have fallen in love with.
With our downstairs loo… it literally was a concrete thing. A concrete sink in fact. Yes, I was madly in love with a sink. I wanted it. I needed it. I loved the colour and I really, really loved the texture. But, I knew would not be able to convince my husband that buying it and paying to have it installed was a sensible use of our budget. Especially when we were about to embark on a major renovation. This is the object of my lust – the Kast Concrete Basins Creations Elm wall hanging sink. But where there is a will there is a way. I always say I’m not just a designer, I’m also a maker. So I decided to make my own Kast-inspired creation.
The existing chrome sink cupboard had always been a problem. I loved the storage, but with three young children splashing about, I was constantly having to polish off watermarks on the mirrored finish. I came up with the idea of creating bespoke panels to cover the existing doors and sides of the cabinet. The panels, inspired by the ribbed texture of the Kast sink, were made of inexpensive 18mm wooden dowelling, cut to size by a local timber yard. For each panel I used an L angle inlay as a frame and glued the dowelling in place. I then painted them with eggshell paint.
I attached the new panels to the original doors using Gorilla Grab Glue, clamped on and left to harden overnight. I already had some lovely spare brass handles, Holy Wafer from Superfront. They were perfect to be sandwiched between the new cladded door front and the original door.
For a quick fix, only spend serious money on objects you know you will have a place for in your long-term plans. There will always be room for a pink lozenge mirror in my house, so this was an investment for me. I also knew I would use the loo accessories again, and without doubt I would use the light again in another part of the house as I love an occasional light switcheroo.
Get the look
£23 Farrow & Ball Preference Red (bathroom paint match)
£139 ATYM Mirror, Amara
£32 Cabinet handles, Super Front Brass Holy Wafers
£44 Concrete Terrazzo light), find similar here
£20 Towel ring, Ferm Living
£18 Brass toilet roll holder, House Doctor
£14 Dowel 18mm £20, B&Q - cut to size there
£3 Plastic angled trim