The Disco Bathroom
I’d been half-heartedly looking for inspiration for tiles. I initially wanted 70’s but trying to find enough tiles in the right colour, new, is nigh on impossible, reclaimed are more common but cleaning them of grout and adhesive is a pain a massive pain in the butt. I consulted one of the oracle books by Conran, The Bed and Bath Book was purchased as a Christmas gift the year previously and thought, mosaic would be a great idea…. A swift Google bought up some copper coloured, mirror, mosaic tiles from Walls and Floors, I ordered a sample which was perfect. They kindly provided me with a small discount; their customer service was second to none, even when things didn’t go as planned (long story, with which I won’t bore you).
I knew I wanted something luxury, something that looked not out of place in a boutique hotel, yet screamed 70’s, I was heavily influenced by Studio 54 and Biba in the aesthetics a searched and searched and then once afternoon I thought, I wonder if I can get marble tiles, I love the look of emperador marble, a notorious Spanish marble, with a spiders web style veining in browns. I also wanted a nod to my partners heritage, a personal touch within our home, but not the price! I luckily found some perfect tiles from Total Tiles, a company that specialises in boutique tiles at discount prices, which netted me a 52% saving, seeing as the bathroom isn’t large, and these were large tiles it meant I only had to order a small amount.
With all this set in place, Oscar set to work demolishing the bathroom, it was mostly ripped out within the first day of work, to cut costs I worked as his labourer, I’m not shy of hard work and lugged bags of tiles and plaster in rubble bags out to the yard, it certainly sped up the operation so that he could concentrate on working whilst I lugged out the contents of the bathroom.
As he stripped back layers of poor workmanship it became apparent that this was going to have to be a back to bricks operation, plaster was damp through years of an ill-fitting bathroom (that explained the smell) and was literally falling off the wall. Everything was stripped back to bare walls and floors and Oscar started putting everything back together and re-plaster boarding the walls etc.
When I was designing the bathroom, I knew I wanted some sort of softness to it, I love the natural look of wood, my Father was a cabinet maker and the smell, feel and look of wood is something that has always been part of my life. I also love the appeal of mid-century and 70’s wood panelling and wanted to incorporate this into the design, but with still working with the luxury and glamour of the overall aesthetic, I didn’t simply want wood tongue and groove, I wanted something FABULOUS.
I’ve always loved the architecture of the Royal Festival Hall and American mid-century houses and the such, and as a nod to my partners profession I decided on a faux acoustic wood design, waxed in a mid-brown stain to enhance the natural grain. This proved to be an extremely cost-effective way of covering several walls compared to plastering or tiling with 2.4m lengths coming in at less than £2 a strip, this was backed onto a plywood, which was stained before applying the batons.
One of the major jobs was re-siting the radiator, we previously had a small towel rail, which had the added disadvantages of a) not heating the room sufficiently, whilst b) giving you 3rd degree burns as you sat on the loo as it was next to your legs. I struggled to find a position for this, as it is actually a tiny room (5m2 to be precise) and our only option was next to the shower as we previously had a P shaped bath, so this freed up 40cm between the door and the bath panel. I found an amazing radiator 300mm wide through a small artisan company called Specialized Radiators, which is an acid etched copper finish, it is beautiful and looks totally extravagant, almost like art, and once I had seen it, I couldn’t unsee it, it was my one splurge in the bathroom.
As the room is so small, I wanted to give the illusion of space, with the mirrored tiles I selected I decided to team this with an uber 70’s smoked glass mirror on the opposite wall to reflect the light in a darkly decorated north facing room. Of course, I cannot afford a real smoked glass mirror so found a brilliant alternative of mirror acrylic from Simply Plastics, this is a cost effective and style conscious alternative to glass, with the added benefits of being safe, light and durable.
I knew that I wanted to continue to warmth and luxe 70s vibe through to the ceiling, ceilings are often overlooked and left white, but I felt that this was too stark in comparison to the rest of the design. I sourced some fabulous metallic emulsion paint from Crown which they kindly gifted to me as part of the project, it was remarkably easy to apply with a small roller. I have also continued this paint onto the door and architrave to unify and give a cohesive finish. The existing UPVC window, again I found too stark so Rust oleum came to the rescue and again, kindly gifted me some primer and copper metallic spray paint, it took a couple of hours to carefully mask the windows off and spray the coats I needed, but the effect is amazing and with a little patience is a low cost solution to changing a very expensive item.
I’ll cover the finishing and styling of the bathroom in another blog post as I know I have waffled on far too long now on this one, so I’ll sign off by saying that the bathroom renovation definitely wasn’t plain sailing, with the back to bones rip out and the problems associated with a 40 year old bathroom suite and geriatric plumbing which needed to be fully replaced, we did manage to salvage most of the original taps and shower fitting, which saved additional costs. We did have extra time to sort out the leaks associated with this (and fair play to Oscar who came through with this despite wanting to put a hammer through the suite on more than one occasion).
On top of this we had the problem of lockdown, it was a race against the clock to get a functioning bathroom in time for this, again Oscar pulled through with this and got everything in place so we weren’t without any facilities. There were more problems than I have listed here, but quite frankly I am trying to remove these mental images from my mind. Despite all this and having a 2-3 week project going on nearly 12 weeks I’d totally do it all again.
Bathrooms are an expensive purchase and often the suite can cost £1000, I’ve made significant cost cutting methods by sourcing most things either second hand at a greatly reduced rate or through discount options and clever design solutions, I hope that I have shown you that a £20 second hand bathroom suite can once again look like it belongs to a 70’s Porn Star….
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This post contains links to the suppliers that I used, these are not affiliate links, it also includes reference to items gifted by companies for the project.