When I bought my apartment in November 2015 its fair to say that the bathroom had seen better days – the walls were full of scratches and marks from years of use by tenants and a badly chipped mirror had found itself well and truly attached to the wall (thanks to what must have been several tubes of no more nails!). The mirror had to go! After what felt like hours of cheese wiring, scraping, taping and prizing, with the help of a friend, I finally managed to get the mirror off the wall. Success you may think – unfortunately not as now that I had removed one problem from the room this left me with another – yet more wall surface issues!
With a housewarming party looming (and my snobbery rearing its head) I grabbed some filler and half a pot of some left over Farrow & Ball ‘Elephants breath’ and embarked on some minor redecoration. My initial idea was to simply tidy up the bathroom until I replaced the bathroom suite, however, with a year of weddings, birthday weekends and a craving for some sun, the priority of the bathroom suite somewhat took a back seat.
Fast forward a year and whilst the minor redecoration had made the bathroom served a purpose, I felt it it was time to grab the bull by the horns and pay the bathroom some much needed attention… Albeit on a budget!
After a long hard day of work I love nothing more than a long hot bath, and so for me, the bathroom is somewhere I spend a lot of time. Armed with a fresh cup of tea, my laptop and a £100.00 budget I set about my bargain hunting and research and bargain hunting.
My key to finding design inspiration is to expand my vision around one key theme or items that you are particularly drawn to. I find you can get some great inspiration from browsing for home accessories and so it wasn’t by chance that whilst browsing through the Zara Home website (which incidentally, and much to my excitement has a store in Leeds) I found inspiration in the form of sea coral – in particularly a tumbler with a bold print adorning the front and finished with a warm antique gold rim.
My decision was made – this theme was to become the key linchpin for my bathroom interior ideas. Now that I’d found my theme I let my creative mind run wild and began to conjure up a vision of a light, bright and colourful yet still tranquil space. Unfortunately the balance of stark and bright, yet tranquil, can be quite a tricky balance to create, especially if like mine, your bathroom has no windows (oh the glamour apartment living!).
With my vision now firm in my mind I poured another cup of tea and set about my challenge – Bathroom on a budget! Step one was to draw up a list of everything I would need and then prioritise into must haves vs. nice to haves, with my biggest priority been the flooring (I mean how long can you look at a vinyl flooring that resembles a 90’s kitchen worktop!). Of course, knowing that I only had a £100 budget and limited DIY skills meant I’d have to get creative if I was to be able to get flooring and have enough left over to accessorise and so my first decision point of floor type fast approached – Do I go for vinyl or laminate flooring?
With a lack of bathroom friendly laminate flooring options, vinyl was the clear choice. While googling I quickly stumbled upon a great place for flooring called Burts Flooring – they appeared to be reasonably priced and very helpful, offering to send me free samples the next day! My top tip would be that before you order check out the remnants section of their site – it often has smaller off-cuts of flooring at a reduced price which can be great if you only have a small room. I was able to find a washed out wood effect to give a clean and bright finish, but still have a soft and calm feel in the size I needed for £11.99 (£26.94 delivered) – BARGAIN!
I was clearly on a roll with this bargain hunting so I began my wallpaper search. I recalled previously spotting some sea coral wallpaper whilst on a day out in Whitby with my friend. After a lot of googling we tracked it down to B&Q by Holden Décor and My friend ordered a couple of rolls to freshen up her kitchen. Sadly this specific wallpaper had subsequently been put on sale and sold out everywhere (Not even eBay had a spare roll advertised!). Not wanting to be deterred, I upped my Google searching for ‘Sea coral Wallpaper’ but still nothing was coming back (well, nothing other than some photo murals of coral which are way more suited to a pet shop than my bathroom!). Slightly disheartened, I text my friend and told her that I’d had no luck only for her to come to the rescue with gold dust as she had half a roll left sitting in her loft. PERFECT! By our rough calculations it was just enough to do the feature wall as I would paint the rest of the walls a basic white silk to give a clean fresh look.
So with flooring and walls now sorted, I could turn my attention to the real fun part of decorating – the accessories! Anyone that knows me will tell you that I spend hour upon hour moving, changing and swapping things around my home and as a result, I’ve got boxes full of accessories that haven’t quite made the cut for my latest style but still worthy of holding onto for when I next fancy a change. Having rummaged around and exchanged a couple of items from my bedroom with some stock accessories from the box I’d managed to assemble a selection of potential accessories for my planned shelves.
The next task of course was to create some shelves. Not wanting to have too deep a shelf in the bathroom I had an inspired moment when I came across some picture ledges in IKEA that would make for a perfect shallow shelf for a small space. Better still, they were reduced to £2.50 each plus 10% IKEA family discount which made them a real steal!
The last thing I needed (and the hardest thing to find) was the practical side of bathroom accessories… the towel rail and the oh so glamorous toilet roll holder. After yet more online browsing I began to find that the majority of tradition styles tended to have too much depth, taking up valuable space in what is a small bathroom, but not one to be deterred, I persevered and eventually found the ‘Victoria’ range at Wilko which is traditional and bright, with white ceramic accents. I am a big believer in Product Reviews and this collection had some great write ups which gave me confidence that they would be very well made and sturdy.
So that was it –Preparation complete! With the shopping list complete, a dining room table full of materials and the kettle on the hob I set about the task of painting (with a little help from Mariah Careys back catalogue to get me through). After leaving the painting to dry, I used the old vinyl flooring as a template for the new floor and cut this out to the same size ready for laying the next day.
The flooring was so easy to put down with help from my patient partner (and with only a couple of disagreements), however teaching him to wallpaper was easier and by lunch the flooring and walls were all done. A couple of earl greys later and the shelves and accessories were all fixed in place and I could play around dressing the room.
So 9.5 hours and £84.39 later my bathroom makeover was complete, looking a world apart from the fix me up I had lived with for a year. I wanted a light, bright space to relax in, and I feel I have achieved what I set out to do. Whats more I don’t even mind the bathroom suite now. I mean if money was no object, things may be different, but it just shows what you can do with a £85 and a bit of frugal shopping around.