Before and After: A Dingy Bathroom Gets a Redo Worthy of Its 1800s London Home
When it comes to a home reno, you’ve got options: You can make minor tweaks, you can remodel one or two rooms, or you can redo the whole freakin’ thing.
Sophie Kreyer-Peake (@london.reno.life) and her fiancé, Joe, went for that last option, deciding to go all in on a 19th-century Victorian house in London last year. “There was no hot water, and the house had not been touched in almost 50 years,” says Sophie. In fact, the upstairs bathroom with the “avocado-colored” tub had no running water at all.
The couple decided to tackle that bathroom first because they planned to live in the house throughout the entire reno and therefore needed a functioning bathroom. For the project, they worked with a builder (actually, two—Sophie says the first one plumbed the toilet incorrectly and then walked out on the project, and they had to quickly find a replacement. Yikes!). It took about six weeks and £7,000 to turn the bathroom from unusable to an “OMG, when can we come over?” oasis.
The work involved some major restructuring. The couple decided to knock through a wall to combine a small bathroom with this one and make one big bathroom. They also removed a second staircase that they discovered had been boxed up under the floorboards in this bathroom from years ago. (Sophie guesses the house must have been divided into two flats.)
They also replaced that avocado-colored bathtub with a bronze-fauceted, standalone tub that gives off major spa vibes. And thanks to the added space, they were able to swap the dorm-style shower for one with floor-to-ceiling, forest green subway tiles and a Crittall-style shower screen.
The whole room now feels rich and luxurious, but the couple made some smart choices to save along the way. Because they wanted a lot of toiletry storage but couldn’t find a big enough vanity unit in their budget, “we resorted to restoring an old pine chest of drawers and sitting the sinks on top,” Sophie explains. The dark unit with the bronze detailing feels chic and totally bespoke. Sophie also wanted a black metal window, but that didn’t fit into her price point either, “so we bought a plastic white window and spray-painted it matte black, which has worked really well!” she says.
Sophie and Joe handled the painting themselves, choosing limewash paint for a plastered look and earthy, calming effect. That was the goal with lighting and accessories, too: “All of our lights are on dimmer, which I think is really important for a bathroom—sometimes you need it bright for applying makeup, etc., and if you’re having a bath, you may want it more moody,” Sophie says. She also opted for full-length linen curtains “to really ground the room and create a bit of luxe.”
Sophie has two big pieces of advice for anyone else doing a major reno: “Plan everything meticulously, especially if you are not using an architect,” she says. “Also, living through a renovation might be horribly stressful, but it means you can keep a close eye on progress!”
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