Bathroom makeover: ‘I surprised my family with a sleek new bathroom’

After nine years of living with a tatty bathroom, Emily decided to give the space a secret makeover

Bathroom makeover: 'I surprised my family with a sleek new bathroom'

Emily Mason, 48, who lives in a four-bedroom Georgian villa in Worthing with her husband, Dominic, 51, and their two children, Loïc, 15, and Bea, 10, had desperately wanted to give her family bathroom a much-needed makeover.

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They had bought their home from a property developer midway through its renovation and had little influence over the end result. Shortly after moving in, they discovered that shortcuts had been made, and the interior didn’t match their style so needed work.

Bathroom makeover: 'I surprised my family with a sleek new bathroom'
Emily’s bathroom before the makeover

The couple spent their time and savings making good, concentrating their energy on the kitchen and living spaces and sharing their updates on Instagram @themasonlodge.

However, the bathroom slipped to the bottom of their to-do list. ‘It was badly designed with an impractical layout. I hated the dark brown wall tiles, and the fixtures and fittings were not great quality,’ explains Emily.

Emily swapped shabby, out-of-proportion fixtures and fittings with streamlined designs, keeping the progress a secret until she could share the finished look with her husband and children
Emily swapped shabby, out-of-proportion fixtures and fittings with streamlined designs, keeping the progress a secret until she could share the finished look with her husband and children

A huge bath was fitted onto a triangular, MDF plinth, while in another corner there was a large shower in the wrong proportions for the bathroom.

In contrast to the over-sized bath and shower, there was an impractically small sink. ‘It felt really mismatched and a poor use of the available space. The bath took over 45 minutes to fill up, while the basin was the tiniest we had ever seen! It was too small for our children to brush their teeth in,’ reveals Emily.

The old scheme had a too-large shower, which left little room for storage. The new enclosure is a more practical size, so Emily could add much-needed shelving next to it
The old scheme had a too-large shower, which left little room for storage. The new enclosure is a more practical size, so Emily could add much-needed shelving next to it

Over time, the wear and tear on this busy bathroom took its toll, and the room was looking shabby. ‘We had an old kitchen cabinet in here for the towels and there were damp patches on the ceiling.

‘We used to shut the door on the mess as a way to ignore it. After nine years, it was finally due for a much-needed makeover.’

Good idea! Tile a feature wall, as Emily has, for a low-cost way to use more expensive tiles in your scheme
Good idea! Tile a feature wall, as Emily has, for a low-cost way to use more expensive tiles in your scheme

In November 2019, Emily went online on Black Friday to buy her suite at bargain prices. ‘Bathrooms are expensive, so I shopped around to get the best deals on the fixtures and fittings well before we started any renovation works,’ she says.

Emily chose to do the bathroom update by herself, rather than getting the family involved. ‘As this room has a lock on the door, I decided to keep the renovation a total surprise to Dominic and the kids so they would have something lovely to look forward to,’ she explains.

Adding statement tiles sparingly was initially down to budget constraints, but Emily has used it to her advantage, creating a shower enclosure with starburst tiles and a fun entrance with ‘Just add water’ spelled out in black
Adding statement tiles sparingly was initially down to budget constraints, but Emily has used it to her advantage, creating a shower enclosure with starburst tiles and a fun entrance with ‘Just add water’ spelled out in black

Emily found her bathroom fitter through word of mouth, and negotiated a better price by agreeing that he would tackle the project at weekends.

‘He ripped out the bathroom in early March, and then lockdown happened!’ she says. ‘What was supposed to take a matter of weeks rolled onto months. All the parts were left in boxes – living without a proper bathroom wasn’t fun.’

For a busy family bathroom, choose a sink as large as your space will allow. Emily’s floating wall unit has built-in drawers for a space-saving clutter solution
For a busy family bathroom, choose a sink as large as your space will allow. Emily’s floating wall unit has built-in drawers for a space-saving clutter solution

In June, their bathroom fitter came back to finish the job. ‘There were four layers of flooring fitted on top of thin plyboards. Our plumber had to chip away all the tiles and then level the floor.

‘Having a floor that no longer sloped was high on my wish list!’ adds Emily.

Bathroom makeover: 'I surprised my family with a sleek new bathroom'
‘I spent an afternoon styling the room for the big reveal,’ Emily says

A fake wall was built to create a smaller shower area and an alcove for shelves. Luckily, not too much of the pipework needed moving, as Emily positioned her suite in almost the same place as the previous one. ‘We kept the shower in the same spot, which saved time and money on the build,’ she explains.

‘I got lots of spotlights and recess lighting fitted, so it would be brighter and lighter. The leaking UPVC window was replaced and the bathroom was freshly plastered, tiled and painted, too.’

The total cost of Emily's bathroom makeover was £3,233
The total cost of Emily’s bathroom makeover was £3,233

By the end of July, the bathroom was finally finished. ‘I spent an afternoon styling the room for the big reveal,’ Emily says.

‘When I opened the door to their new bathroom, Loïc and Bea absolutely loved it and couldn’t believe the transformation. Now, I love nothing more than lighting a candle and running a long hot bath. It’s my favourite room in the house to escape to.’

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Feature and styling Maxine Brady Photos David Woolley. 

This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?