When Rachel won our ‘before and after’ competition, I was so taken back by her stunning bathroom transformation, that I instantly asked if I could interview her about the project. She used reclaimed wood effect tiles to create a stunning feature wall. Here’s the interview…
How would you describe your bathroom before you decorated it, and what made you decide to decorate?
My partner Ben and I bought the house in 2014. It had ‘good bones’ but the decor and fittings throughout appeared very dated and were the antithesis of our taste. The bathroom was carpeted, and an enormous jacuzzi bath was built in to one corner that seemed to take up half the room. All of the fittings were gold colour, and the sanitary ware was dated and too ‘country cottage’ in its styling for our liking. We knew we would change the layout because the loo was the first thing that you were confronted with as you opened the door, sticking out in the middle of the room, which didn’t feel right.
So, when we’d remodelled the kitchen-diner below in 2015, we thought ahead and had the soil stack and waste pipe moved (while the ceiling below was down), but lost the use of the WC in our en suite as a result. Nearly a year later and with a succession of guests due in the summer, we were spurred into action to get it done.
When it came to decorating, where did you take your inspiration from?
I browsed bathrooms online with google images and houzz, which gave me a lot of ideas. I printed some of the images to create mood boards. This room deserved to be the showcase bathroom of the house because of its size, and I was determined to get it right. We visited a few bathroom showrooms in our area, which was really useful in seeing prices (I nearly fainted!) and products available, as well as for design ideas. Like most people I guess, we wanted a luxury designer look without the price tag. After getting some initial inspiration I set about sourcing products that would fit our budget but still give us the look we were after, which was admittedly time-consuming but paid off in the end, saving us thousands of pounds.
Did you choose your décor / colour scheme around your choice of tiles, or did you choose tiles to fit in with a scheme you’d already chosen?
The wonderful tiles! I had a few different possible looks in mind for the bathroom, but couldn’t decide which to go for. I’d seen a few designs using reclaimed wood planks or wood effect tiles and so when I came across your Reclaimed Wood Tiles it was love at first sight and I knew I had to have them! The rest of the design grew out of the tile choice and I let them set the tone for the room. I had previously thought about an industrial look but was worried that it might end up looking and feeling a little cold. The warm, soft tones of the reclaimed wood tiles ensured that would not happen, and dictated (in a good way) our choices of colour and texture for the rest of the room.
What drew you to the tiles you chose?
Absolutely everything about these reclaimed wood tiles. I was amazed at the variety of different designs and the high quality of the texture and finish. The colours are muted but rich, varied and realistic. I liked the proportion of the tile dimensions for the room. These were going in the shower, so I was also keen to have porcelain for their quality, hardness and impermeability. Many of the wood effect tiles I’d seen elsewhere were not only out of our price range (I was determined to stick to my under £20pm2 budget) but weren’t nearly as nice, so I was over-the-moon to find these.
Did you do the tiling work yourself, or did you hire a tiler?
I’ve done a lot of tiling in the past but was too busy to do it myself this time, so we employed a great local plumber, who is also an experienced tiler, to do the work on this occasion. We did the painting ourselves and assembled the flatpack furniture, which helped to keep costs down.
What part of the project did you find the most challenging?
It was my first bathroom design so was a bit of a learning curve. I had a picture in my mind of how I wanted it to look. The challenge was in converting that mental image to something on paper that my plumber could work with. We measured the room and drew on the walls to help us get the heights and layout right. It was daunting to realise how many different things needed to be considered. After reading an article that recommended thinking the design through as thoroughly as possible, I made plan and elevation drawings with precise measurements and instructions, and talked these through with our plumber at the start. This enabled him to proceed with confidence, and us to relax knowing we’d covered all the bases and had reduced the likelihood of misunderstandings.
What’s your favourite accessory in the bathroom, now that it’s finished, and where did you find it?
I am pretty chuffed with the basalt basins. They are really unusual and look great with the waterfall taps and tiles. We’d seen some stone resin ones at a bathroom showroom but they were totally out of our price range. It prompted us to search for other non-standard basins online, and we eventually found an interesting selection from Marblemosaics Ltd. As they weren’t too far from us we paid them a visit. But they have an online catalogue and you can mail order all of their products. They cost little more than quality ceramic basins, and the effect is stunning. Do be sure to use a stone sealer on them to preserve the finish.
Have you had any compliments on your project or Reclaimed Wood Tiles, from your family and friends?
We’ve been taken aback by the overwhelmingly positive responses from everyone who has seen it. Taste is such a personal thing and our tiling choice was quite bold. Our plumber was very dubious to begin with as he thought the reclaimed wood tiles were for the floor and looked at us in horror when we told him they were for the walls. By the time it was finished he was a convert and said he thought it was one of the best designs he’d ever helped realise. Our floor fitter loved it so much he sent a photo to his wife. They are now planning to use the same tiles in their bathroom.
Friends and family, who of course had seen the bathroom before, couldn’t believe the transformation. It’s very satisfying to see a design project come together like this. You always the wonder if everything will end up looking how you imagined it would. When it does, and other people confirm it, it’s a great feeling.
Do you have any more decorating projects lined up around the house?
Oh yes! We have the guest en suite to update. Also the family bathroom, which should be a doddle after cutting our teeth on this project. Our budget is much smaller for those, so sourcing quality materials at a good price will be the biggest challenge.
Do you have a New Year’s Resolution for your home?
I think of New Year’s resolutions as things you really don’t want to do but know you should. That’s not how I feel about design and DIY, so no resolve needed in this house. Bring on the next project!
What would you say to people who are thinking about buying tiles from Walls and Floors?
I would certainly recommend Walls and Floors because your tile selection is always on-trend. As well as the standard fare, you source unusual tile designs such as reclaimed wood tiles that can’t be found anywhere else. This is great if you’re bold, and like me and want something exclusive to make a statement with. Your unbeatable prices enabled me to achieve exactly the look I was after. I couldn’t have done this if I’d bought from one of the big out of town tile stores. I didn’t have to take any chances either. Your sample tile service allowed me to try the tiles before committing.
I, for one, loved Rachel’s bathroom transformation! So much so, I also asked her for her top tips when it comes to decorating a home! She happily provided them: Rachel’s Top Tips for Decorating a Home.
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