Our tiny 70s bathroom makeover


Ohhh this feels like a real trip down memory lane - to be blogging about interiors again! I thought it was a time to switch it up from the endless chat about writing/parenting, so here we are: the first in what I hope will be a series of posts all about our house renovation.

Now, nearly three years ago, when we first moved into our 70s house in suburbia, I did a little house tour post. You can see it here. I ended it by saying I was definitely going to do some posts on what we did to the house soon. Sorry! But better late than never huh?

Anyway, if you follow my Instagram you might know that last year we did a massive building project. We moved out to my parents’ for ten weeks and basically gutted nearly the entire house, adding a small extension on the back. It was one of those ‘we should build an extension’ jobs that just grew and grew, until the next thing we knew we were rewiring, replumbing and had two new bathrooms and a new kitchen and a brand new patio that might just be my favourite thing ever.

I really want to get the house professionally photographed, but I’ll be honest - I can’t see myself getting around to it anytime soon. So, before I forget everything we did, I thought I’d do a little series of posts on each of the rooms we had redone. And for no particular reason, I thought I’d start with the bathroom. I apologise in advance for the bad photos - my sister (professional photographer) will be disgusted I’m sure. It’s really hard to photograph white rooms without the light levels going mental, so bear with me please!

Now, I know 70s houses aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but we are massive fans. We love the huge amount of light you get in every room, the generous proportions, internal windows, decent-sized hallways and the fact that they generally flow really well. But there’s one thing about 70s houses I don’t like - and that’s the tiny bathrooms. I say bathrooms, but we only have one bathroom upstairs, and that’s also a bit of a downside, as we have four bedrooms. We discussed trying to squeeze an ensuite in somewhere, but I actually hate ensuites (who wants to listen to your partner on the bog while you’re lying next door in bed?) and in the end the hassle just didn’t seem to be worth it. Every house has a compromise right? And the small family bathroom definitely is it in ours. Because I love everything else to bits!


This is the only ‘before’ picture I have of the bathroom, and it’s one of the estate agent pictures from when we bought the house. There was nothing wrong with the bathroom, per se (it was euphemistically described as a ‘luxury’ bathroom in the sales details). But it was so utterly boring and lacking in any kind of character. I don’t know why people don’t have a bit more fun with their bathrooms. They don’t have to be completely dull you know! I hated the shower pump being exposed too - it was a nightmare to keep clean.

Anyway, one of the good things about this room is the huge window above the basin (you can’t really see it in the photo above). We have an unusually shaped roof (and no loft) so the ceilings in the upstairs rooms go right up to the roof. The trouble with this high window is that you can’t reach it unless you’re 7ft tall, so the lady who owned the place before us had fashioned this rope pulley system in order to open and close it, which hung down in front of the basin most of the time. It was my number one priority to get rid of this damn rope, so after much research we discovered what we needed was an electric actuator, the type usually used in greenhouses (!). It doesn’t look too pretty, but at least we can now open and shut the bathroom window using a simple electric toggle switch.


Other than that, our biggest priority was storage. There was hardly any in the bathroom as it was - just that poxy cupboard under the basin. So we decided to hide all the plumbing by building a false wall and above that, creating a mirrored cabinet the entire width of the wall, providing loads of storage. We also removed the old water tank when we had the house replumbed (we fitted a new combi boiler) which meant we gained a huge storage cupboard on the top left of the bathroom - this is basically our only loft space, and now houses all our luggage!

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I knew I wanted lots of plywood in this room. I also knew I wanted grid tiles with black grout. It took a lot of persuading on my part to convince the builder (and Oli) that I wanted black grout - and I’m so glad I put my foot down. ‘Graph paper chic’ was what I said I wanted, and I think we got that. With some nice plywood details and a shelf above the mirrored cabinet for my plants, as well as open shelving to the left.

We picked the biggest showerhead we could, and it’s absolutely brilliant. We also have a hand-held shower attachment so we can clean the bath without too much trouble. Sanitaryware wise, we wanted a wider bath (as it’s a shower bath too), and a back-to-wall WC that was as compact as possible. As I said, this room is so tiny. Once we’d squeezed all that in, finding a basin that fitted the space was really hard - in the end we had to go for a largeish cloakroom basin. My dad thinks it’s ridiculous, but sadly a wider one would have made the room feel even smaller.

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It’s not ideal, and bathtimes with Daph can get a bit stressful as I feel like there’s just nowhere to move sometimes. But I love how light, bright and simple the overall feel of the room is, and the fact that it’s sympathetic to the era of the house, without being too much of a pastiche. We were going to choose cork tiles for the floor, but the style we liked wasn’t recommended for use in bathrooms, so in the end we went for a simple rubber floor. It’s pleasingly clean and neutral but it’s also far too light - in hindsight I would have picked a darker shade, as water splashes show up really badly so it always looks dirty!

Finally, I wanted the biggest towel rail possible, and this is hidden behind the door. It holds all our towels, so we always have something cosy to wrap ourselves in after getting out of the bath or shower. I think my favourite feature of the room is the plywood bath panel - it’s so beautifully finished and I just love the colour of the wood.

Anyway, here’s the great long list of where everything was from, just in case you’re interested. Any questions, leave me a comment! And I promise not to wait another three years before posting any more interiors blogs :)

Basin - Aston Matthews. Taps and shower fittings - Crosswater. Toilet - VitrA. Bath - no idea sorry, builder supplied. Shower screen - Novellini Aurora. Flooring - The Colour Flooring Company. Towel rail - Victoria Plum. Bath panel and cabinet - bespoke. Tiles - British Ceramic Tile. Grout - BAL Adhesive Micromax 2 in Anthracite. Window actuator - Venset. Loft cupboard handles - Chocolate Creative.

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