Bathroom makeover: ‘Our nineties nightmare is now a luxe sanctuary’

Lisa and Gerry Barton upgraded their awkwardly-shaped, dated bathroom with classic modern fixtures and a brick feature wall for a timeless look

Bathroom makeover: 'Our nineties nightmare is now a luxe sanctuary'

When Lisa and Gerry Barton moved to their mock-Tudor, five-bedroom property in Hertfordshire, they inherited a tired, dated bathroom that was installed when the house was built in the nineties.

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‘There was a white fan-shaped pedestal basin with glossy coral-coloured tiles that strutted out over an arched wall that surrounded the fitted bath. The bath had a dark-wood panel, which cast a moody, crowded feel over the whole room,’ says Lisa.

Lisa's bathroom before
Lisa’s bathroom before

Having spent some time doing research, they visited a local company, Hawk Kitchens & Bathrooms, to discuss their ideas and arranged a site visit with their designer.

A bit about our home… 

Who lives here? Lisa Barton, a Consultant Headteacher, lives here with her husband Gerry, Director of timber company chilterntimber.co.uk. The house is a five-bed built in the nineties in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. 

What do you like most about the room? I love the textured brick-slip wall tiles behind the bath as they add depth and character to the room. I also love the French-style mirror – it looks like an open window and fills the room with light.

What was wrong with your previous bathroom? The previous bathroom was dated as it was put in when the house was built in the nineties. The coral tiles strutted out over the arch wall that surrounded the conventional bath with dark wooden panelling and a white fan-shaped pedestal basin. 

Lisa Barton

‘We already had an en suite shower room, so decided to just have a bath in here,’ says Lisa. ‘We updated the en suite and downstairs cloakroom at the same time, which involved reconfiguring the plumbing in all three bathrooms – it was a bit like having the house built all over again.

‘This had to be done in stages, so we were never without a toilet. The team at Hawk Kitchens & Bathrooms were superb and managed everything in all three upgrades, from underfloor heating, plumbing and installation, to tiling, joinery, electrical works and decorating. They also came up with some great storage ideas, too.’

Lisa paired a contemporary bath with a free-standing tap to create a boutique hotel feel. The feature brickwork wall is made from brick-slip tiles – these thin slivers of real brick are a fast, stylish alternative to the real thing
Lisa paired a contemporary bath with a free-standing tap to create a boutique hotel feel. The feature brickwork wall is made from brick-slip tiles – these thin slivers of real brick are a fast, stylish alternative to the real thing

In terms of design, Lisa was keen to keep the bath in the same place and to create further space and light. The previous tiled archway was demolished in favour of tongue-and-groove panels supplied from Gerry’s timber company and painted in a dark contrasting colour.

‘Being a huge fan of Neptune furniture, my starting point for the bathroom was its Chichester vanity unit that I had admired in the showroom,’ says Lisa. ‘My aim was to create a boutique hotel feel with double sinks for us to use each morning.’

Twin basins rest on a countertop finished in natural oak in a double washstand – this provides ample storage for two people. The large mirror reflects light and the wall-mounted brassware maintains a feeling of space
Twin basins rest on a countertop finished in natural oak in a double washstand – this provides ample storage for two people. The large mirror reflects light and the wall-mounted brassware maintains a feeling of space

To complement the soft natural colours and textures, Lisa opted for a smoked oak floor tile with underfloor heating and a chandelier that complies with water safety regulations, adding elegance to the room.

‘We discovered a great lighting shop, Yuvilite, where we selected a chandelier – they arranged for it to be adapted for bathroom use,’ adds Lisa. High up on her wish list was a brickwork feature wall behind the bath.

As well as the central chandelier pendant, there are spotlights and a pair of wall lamps either side of the mirror above the bespoke double washstand
As well as the central chandelier pendant, there are spotlights and a pair of wall lamps either side of the mirror above the bespoke double washstand

‘Unfortunately, the bath is near a stud wall, which meant exposing bricks wasn’t an option. Our designer suggested brick-slip wall tiles – they look just like the real thing and they’ve made a real impact in the space.’

To disguise the plumbing works for the WC, a double window sill has been crafted using solid oak window boards supplied by Gerry’s timber company and Hawk Kitchens & Bathrooms joinery.

Fashionable taps date quickly, so Lisa stuck to a simple, stainless-steel design for her floor-standing bath filler, which contrasts beautifully with the brick-slip tiled wall
Fashionable taps date quickly, so Lisa stuck to a simple, stainless-steel design for her floor-standing bath filler, which contrasts beautifully with the brick-slip tiled wall

The project was completed in just four weeks. ‘The bath fits perfectly in the opened-up alcove,’ concludes Lisa.

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‘I repositioned a French-style mirror that we already had, and it looks perfect – it reminds me of an open window on the brickwork tiles, which adds another dimension to the space. After a hard day, it’s lovely to relax in a candlelit bath under a chandelier.

Shop the look:

Bagno floor-mounted bath spout with hand shower, £1,495, BagnoDesign. Neptune Chichester large countertop washstand painted in Shell including basins, £1,315; Neptune Chichester mirror painted in Shell, £290; Subway wall-hung rimless WC and soft close seat, £649; Concealed cistern frame and flush plate in Brushed Chrome, £360, all Villeroy & Boch. Wall-mounted basin mixers, £1,342; Neptune Brunswick warm white shade wall lights, £106; BagnoDesign toilet roll holder, £30; panelling paint in Neptune’s Shale and walls in Neptune’s Shell, £38 for 2.5L each; Clearwater free-standing bath, £2,245, all Hawk Kitchens & Bathrooms. Adur curved radiator in polished stainless steel, £578, JIS. Brick-slip wall tiles, £55.50 per sq m, Brick Slips. Westminster smoked oak wood-effect floor tiles, £50 per sq m, BC Ceramics. 1.2m sheets moisture-resistant tongue and groove primed MDF, £46; 26mm solid oak window boards, from £30, both Chiltern Timber. Water-treated crystal chandelier, £285, Yuvilite. For a similar French-style mirror, try large cream arched window wall mirror, £101.95, Flora Furniture.