in the pink, Grand Designs, February 2018

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All copy as provided to the publication.

Wall-to-wall pink tiles, a contemporary bath suite and clever storage have created a high-impact bathroom that works for two very different bathers.

  • Location: Forest Hill, London
  • Style of property: Victorian terraced-house
  • Length of project: 6 weeks
  • What they did: Ripped out and replaced the entire bathroom
  • Size: 6 sqm
  • Cost: £10,000

When interior designers and co-founders of [*]2LG Studio [2lgstudio.com] Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead bought their house in Forest Hill they knew the bathroom would need a complete overhaul. ‘It was just so hideous,’ laughs Russell of a room that included a brown bath panel and white tiles with floral transfers, but no shower. ‘It was the first room we redesigned, but we couldn’t afford to make the changes straight away, so I spend two years crouching under a rubber shower hose attached to the taps. Jordan is a bath person, so he was fine!’

On any project, Russell starts by writing a semi-fictional narrative for each room, while Jordan pulls together a visual mood board. ‘We did those the weekend we moved in,’ says Russell. ‘The pink was an easy decision. All the hallways in the house were originally candy pink, so we wanted to reference that. It might be a challenging colour for some people, but we’ve always loved it. I think of it as a neutral, because it appears in nature and is easy to pair with other colours.’ Using pink tiles and white sanitary ware offered a cost-effective and contemporary update on the mid-century trend for pink sanitary ware. The pair chose Victorian quarry tiles, which, despite looking very contemporary in-situ, are sympathetic to the era of the house.

Once the look was agreed, Jordan and Russell thought about functional specifications. ‘Jordan wanted a bath and I wanted a stand-alone shower and it was a tricky space in which to fulfil both of those requirements in a meaningful way,’ says Russell. The toilet was already in a separate room and although the couple had intended to create one large bathroom, they realised that leaving it where it was would enable them to create a large wet room with a walk-in shower and stand-alone bath. ‘Having lived in the house for two years, we realised that we would enjoy a luxurious relaxation space without a toilet in the corner.’ The technical plans they drew provided another source of inspiration. ‘The shape of the mirror came from playing around with the shape of the bath in plan – we just flipped it up onto the corner of the room.’ The resulting custom-made mirror folds into the corner of the room concealing recessed storage and charging points.

Working with a main contractor, they ripped out the pre-existing bathroom, tanked the whole space, re-plastered, re-tiled and re-plumbed. The whole process took six weeks, with the only hiccups around the tiling. ‘We had designed the whole room, including the floating shelves, around the exact size of the tiles and we suddenly realised our tiler was cutting tiles,’ laughs Russell. ‘Once he understood our design idea, his life was much easier.’ The house has a downstairs toilet and a local friend let the couple use their shower while work was on-going. 

Russell and Jordan have installed a lot of brass in recent client projects, so wanted a change for their own home and chose brushed nickel fittings. ‘Chrome is quite cold, whereas nickel has a softness and warmth,’ says Russell. In keeping with the rest of the house, which combines contemporary styles with nods to the house’s history, they chose Victorian taps and showerheads, and laid the traditional tiles in an up-to-date pattern as far as the height of the picture rails in other rooms, using Fitrovia gloss paint by Mylands above that point and on the ceiling. Unable to find a bathroom light they liked, they had one made. Designed in collaboration with lighting designer Sarah Colson and ceramic artist William & Co, the IP-rated light combines crystal rods with a ceramic shade.

So now that it’s finished, was it worth the wait? ‘Definitely – I love it,’ says Russell. ‘Having a little pink moment every morning just lifts your spirits, but mostly, it’s just nice to have a proper shower again! I love flinging my arms around in this huge space under my big rain-head shower, and Jordan loves having a proper soak in the bath. It’s perfect for us.’

2018 Bathroom Trends

Creating a fashionable bathroom is a risky business as you’re unlikely to update it every year, so how do you know which trends are flash-in-the-pan and which are here to stay? We’ve highlighted five key trends for 2018 – pick the right one for you and you’ll be sure to make a safe investment in the smallest room in the house. The first, ‘retreat and ritual’ has been brewing for some time, but will really come into its own in 2018 as people prioritise self-care in an increasingly chaotic world. In some ways the polar opposite of this, ‘high-tech spec’, is all about the excitement of new technologies and what they can deliver in the bathroom. 2017 saw the environmental movement gain traction in our homes and 2018’s ‘eco-chic’ trend will see it move into the bathroom, taking full advantage of the latest in material innovations. We can’t talk trends without talking about the phenomenon that is millennial pink – we’ve seen it take hold in fashion and technology, so it was only a matter of time before those 1950s pink bathrooms made a come-back in our fourth trend, ‘think pink.’ And finally, if a pink bathroom is too much for you, we look at some simple ways to use colour blocking to make a cost-effective impact in our final trend, ‘bold and bright.’

Retreat and ritual

No longer simply a functional, tiled box, the bathroom is increasingly a place of escape and retreat. As cleansing rituals become part of daily routines to wash away the stresses of the day, natural, textured materials like wood are replacing cold, hard tiles, and warm finishes like brass are ousting chrome. ‘Incorporate more natural materials and textures to create a warm and welcoming feeling,’ says interior designer Tanya Leech. ‘After all you don’t have the “protection” of clothing when you’re in the bathroom.’ Natural materials will retain the heat and age well, but be careful where you place them, as not all of them will appreciate contact with steam or water.

High-tech spec

Gadget-geeks rejoice: it’s all gone a bit James Bond in the bathroom. While those seeking solace might leave their phone at the bathroom door, for digital natives, there’s nothing more natural than scrolling through Instagram in the bath, so it’s no surprise that the digital revolution taking over Japanese and American bathrooms is about to hit the UK. The latest technology has given us everything from toilets that analyse their contents to showers you can control with a swipe of an app. Just don’t get your phone wet.

Eco-chic

If the thought of all that water usage makes you shudder, you’re not alone. Homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their homes and 2018 will see that trend hit bathrooms. ‘People are becoming a lot more conscious about where their possessions come from and the resources required to make them,’ says co-founder of Smile Plastics, Rosalie McMillan. ‘People want to live in beautiful spaces that have a positive and engaging narrative.’ Sustainable products no longer mean compromising on style or quality – and come with added feel-good factor. ‘Consider recycled plastic panels as an alternative to tiles,’ suggests Rosalie. ‘They are easier to install, and you can use them for shower enclosures, bath panels, vanities, splash backs, shelving and even skirting.’

Think Pink

Not since Mamie Eisenhower’s 1950s redecoration of the Whitehouse earned it the nickname ‘the Pink Palace’ have pink bathrooms been so popular. A quarter of the 20 million American homes built between 1945 and 1966 had at least one pink toilet, and they’re making a come-back, sitting as they do at the intersection between the revival of all things mid-century and the hype surrounding ‘millennial pink’ – a subverted, genderless, version of the hue, beloved by those born between1982 and 2002. But choose the shade of pink carefully, warns interior designer Tanya Leech. ‘Not too bright, or it will look like Barbie’s bathroom,’ she says. ‘And not too dull or it will look drab and institutional.’

Bold and bright

If you’re not quite brave enough for pink, go with your favourite colour instead, but be aware that 2018 is the year to go bold or go home. ‘One really easy way of injecting dynamism into a bathroom is to go bold in terms of colour,’ says interior designer [*]Afroditi Krassa. ‘People make the mistake of approaching their bathrooms in a really functional and clinical way and forget to add personality.’ While wall to wall colour is not for everyone – a coloured bath panel, some bright tiles, or even just a lick of paint is a cost-effective way to brighten up even the dullest bathroom.

Installing recycled plastics in a bathroom

  • General cutting: Most saws can be used to cut panels but fine teeth are better, and we recommend using a wavy set or skip tooth to minimise friction. Circular saws and table saws are effective in giving you clean straight lines, and milling or routing with sharp tools can also be effective.
  • Tiles: Make sure that the surfaces you are applying plastic tiles to are completely clean, flat and dry. Rough up the gluing face with sand paper then use an epoxy or grab/mastic adhesive that is compatible with plastics to bond the pieces to the wall. You will need to seal the tiles’ edges with a caulk to prevent the water from getting behind the tiles.
  • Wall panels, bath panels and splash-backs: Plastic panels are an excellent alternative to tiles in bath and shower enclosures and much quicker to install. Drilling holes in the panel can be achieved with sharp drills compatible with plastics, withdrawing the drill regularly to ensure the plastic is not melting! The drilled panel can then be screwed directly onto the wall.
  • Flooring: Plastic can become slippery when wet, so we would not recommend it as a shower tray or bathroom flooring. If plastic flooring is essential for your design, consider applying slip resistant coatings or routing treads into the surface of the material to enhance grip.
  • Forming: Some bathroom designs will require curvature in the panel and plastic sheets can be heat-formed using basic moulding processes. Thinner panels are easier to mould – just ensure the temperature is consistent across the section to be bent. Lower temperatures applied over a longer period are most effective.

Rosalie McMillan, co-founder of Smile Plastics