Bathroom makeover: ‘Small updates made a big impact’

Take a look at Emma's sophisticated new bathroom, which puts a sophisticated contemporary twist on its Victorian roots

Bathroom makeover: 'Small updates made a big impact'

Instead of ripping out and replacing her existing bathroom, Emma Rossi revamped the space to give it a stylish and sophisticated new look.

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Here, she tells us all about her bathroom makeover experience…

My story

Our home is a Victorian build and the bathroom came with beautiful original features, including a cast-iron bathtub and a built-in fireplace.

It was important for us to keep these period details – partly to respect the building’s history and also to keep costs down – but we decided that we would update them with a modern twist.

Bathroom makeover: 'Small updates made a big impact'
Emma’s bathroom before the makeover

We’re lucky to have beautiful original floorboards, but they needed a lot of work when it came to sanding them down so we could repaint them in a darker shade.

Large cracks had developed that needed to be filled, and this part of the project ended up setting us back quite a bit.

To prevent the bathroom looking too dark, the couple decided to paint just the panelling in Farrow & Ball’s Railings, leaving the top half of the walls a crisp white to give the space a fresh look
To prevent the bathroom looking too dark, the couple decided to paint just the panelling in Farrow & Ball’s Railings, leaving the top half of the walls a crisp white to give the space a fresh look

As much as I love the look of the dark wooden floorboards, I’d consider opting for a tiled floor if I was given the chance again. It’s not the most practical surface when bathing the kids and it needs lots of cleaning to keep dust at bay!

Welcome to my home…

A bit about me I’m Emma Rossi, a fashion designer @casamiadellfield. I live with my husband, Nick, also a fashion designer, and our three children, Minnie, Alberta and Federico. Our home is a five-bed Victorian house in Hertfordshire that we bought in 2018. 

My problem bathroom Although the bathroom was in good condition, the décor felt dated and the style wasn’t to our taste. The original features – such as the free-standing bath and flooring – were beautiful, but they needed a revamp to bring them up to date. 

Emma Rossi

Taking on the labour for the refit ourselves helped to keep costs down. Nick and I watched hours of online video tutorials to pick up new skills and build up the confidence to tackle everything from plumbing to wallpapering.

We managed to reuse parts of the existing suite, including the toilet and the bath, so our shopping list was kept short.

Emma has lifted her dark colour palette with pops of metallic, including these classic-look brushed brass taps. The floating shelf is a handy place for the couple’s toiletries and keeps the sink clutter-free
Emma has lifted her dark colour palette with pops of metallic, including these classic-look brushed brass taps. The floating shelf is a handy place for the couple’s toiletries and keeps the sink clutter-free

We’re thrilled with the end result and, despite some of the elements being taken from the previous bathroom, it feels like a completely new space.

A bit more about my space…

How I made it work I wanted the new space to have a sense of drama, so we went for a dark and moody colour palette, painting the wall panelling and floor in dark colours. The statement bath was already the centrepiece of the room and I painted it in a bubblegum pink to contrast against the dark walls and floor. 

My favourite part I love the House of Hackney wallpaper. The bold pattern makes for a dramatic feature wall and it ties in with the blush pink colours of the bath and my accessories.

Emma Rossi

Style advice

Update existing furnishings with spray paint

Emma wanted to keep the original rolltop bath that came with the house, but she knew it needed a bit of TLC. She painted the outside and claw feet in Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Candy Pink to give the cast-iron tub a modern twist and upgraded the taps and shower head for brushed brass designs for a glam finish.

Bathroom makeover: 'Small updates made a big impact'

Instead of a bath caddy, Emma went for a sleek floating shelf, which is the perfect size for storing all her essential bathtime bits and pieces.

Create contrasts

By painting the door, window frames and skirting boards in the same colour as the wood panelling, Emma has created a seamless finish around the room, and highlighted architectural features, like the cast-iron fireplace.

Bathroom makeover: 'Small updates made a big impact'

To complete the dramatic look, she used black stain on the floorboards, which complements the dark paintwork and makes the standout feature in the space – the bubblegum pink bath – really pop.

Only buy what you need

The couple’s mantra was to restore what they had, rather than spend money on new stuff, but when they did have to shop for the space, they made sure their buys fitted in with the room’s original character, so this vintage Dickens cabinet fitted the bill perfectly.

Bathroom makeover: 'Small updates made a big impact'
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As a self-confessed bargain hunter, Emma bought it at a fraction of the cost of its regular price at a Graham & Green auction sale. It provides plenty of storage for the family’s towels and toiletries, plus the glass-fronted doors make it the perfect place to show off pretty accessories.

Shop the look…

● The Bath Co. Camberley two-tap hole full pedestal basin, £99.99 (now £105), Victoria Plum ● Artemis wallpaper in Off-White, from £125, House of Hackney ● Wall panelling painted in Railings estate eggshell, £64 for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball ● Bathtub painted in Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Candy Pink, £9 for 250ml, Homebase ● Floor stained in Mann’s classic pine stain in Black, £39.99 for 5l, Wood Finishes Direct ● Staggered glass sconce wall light, £79, West Elm ● Slimline brass metal shelf in Brass, £35, Cox & Cox ● For a similar bath mat, try the Get Naked bath mat, £25, Urban Outfitters ● Round gold wall mirror, £30; floral painting in frame, £30; leopard print chair, £100, all HomeSense ● Applause illuminated light box, £65, After Noah ● Copper lantern, £16.99, The Range