Before and After: A Rusty, Fungus-Ridden Bathroom is Now Ravishing

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Lucy Hitchens)

This bathroom has a lot working for it — streamlined sink, flowered toilet, a cute tiled floor, and boats, boats, boats — but, as we’ll soon learn, it has a lot working against it. Let’s just say you never want something making your wallpaper bulge out…

(Image credit: Lucy Hitchens)

This is a tricky room to photograph, so I’m leading with a few more before shots to get you oriented in the space. Here we see what appears to be perfectly fine—if slightly dated—tile surrounding the tub.

(Image credit: Lucy Hitchens)

Submitted by reader Lucy, this bathroom is yet another example of the before photos not telling the whole story. It’s so easy to look at a picture and think, “But that room is fine! The _____ is a bit _____, but I don’t see why they needed to remodel,” without realizing that there are issues lurking just out of sight:

The bathroom had fungus growing underneath the wallpaper. It hadn’t been touched since the ’80s, the side of the bath had fallen off, the room was literally falling apart. It was the worst room in the house, the plate fungus was ripping the wallpaper off the wall, it looked like a squat. I was too embarrassed to let any visitor in there. The radiator was rusty.

I’ve seen various types of plate fungi while hiking and thought they had a magical woodland beauty, but the idea of them growing under the wallpaper? Fairly horrifying. Any sort of mold or fungus feels wrong indoors, but full-on indoor mushrooms are beyond belief. If you’ve played host to fungal houseguests, please share your stories (and photos)!

(Image credit: Lucy Hitchens)

Now everything is so fresh and shiny and mushroom-resistant! This is yet another wall-to-wall white bathroom, but in such a small space, it makes sense to start with a totally neutral palette that can be dressed up with quirky accessories. And much like with the Rat Kitchen, it makes perfect sense that the residents of a home once overrun with vermin and/or fungus would want to go for a clean, even sterile aesthetic. Let’s see how Lucy put the look together:

My father is a retired decorator so helped out to cut the costs down. The deal was if he tiled the entire room it was my job to grout, which took much longer than expected. I purchased the bath suite online over a bank holiday during a sale. All the taps were purchased on eBay, they are so much cheaper than going to a brick-and-mortar store. The tiles were also from eBay, if you are buying more than 10 m squared, even with the courier costs it’s cheaper than a high street tile shop.

Here in the States we don’t have bank holidays, metres, or high-street shops, but this is probably quite helpful advice to some readers!

(Image credit: Lucy Hitchens)

These are some of the quirky accessories mentioned above, and they are both delightful and appropriate. They could store practical first-aid supplies and medicines, or be used to hold luxurious cosmetics.

My favourite pieces are the vintage first aid boxes. I got carried away buying them on Ebay and purchased a third one but it never made it to wall. I will find it a place somewhere in the house. Plus the floor, I love the floor. I like the idea of a tiled floor but after the walls we’d both had enough of tiling and grouting. The vinyl floor came from a company called Atrafloor. They individually make your vinyl strip, you pick the pattern then they re-size it accordingly. It took about a month to get it but they have such amazing patterns online. It wasn’t the cheapest option but they are not your average vinyl flooring company.

That sounds fascinating! I love the idea of being able to resize a floor or wall pattern to best suit the allotted space. (This should also be an option for clothing.)

(Image credit: Lucy Hitchens)

This tiling looks so perfectly done—kudos to the Lucy-Dad tiling team.

Dark grout on white tiles requires a huge amount of patience, but on the plus side the grouting will never look mouldy if its grey to start with. I was most nervous about painting the ceiling dark grey but it was worth it, when I lie in the bath it’s like looking up at a stormy sky.

Such an excellent point! We too often consider grey a man-made neutral, when it actually exists in nature in countless ways and shades. It’s easy to think of a blue ceiling like a tiny piece of blue sky, but skies aren’t always blue.

(Image credit: Lucy Hitchens)

In this one photo, we get a peek at the new floor, a good look at the rust-free radiator, and a guest appearance by Lucy in the charming new mirror:

The large mirror in the centre was free and found in a front garden. A builder was completely stripping a house near us and it was just lying in a pile of rubble in the front garden.

Overall, Lucy has done such an impressive job transforming a rusty, mushroom-ridden room to steer guests away from into a clean yet cozy bathroom that’s an inviting retreat. Congrats!

Thank you, Lucy!