Bijou can be beautiful too. As much as I love to admire the sprawling bathrooms of interior’s press, I’m afraid I can only take limited inspo from them. Find out how I turned my Bijou bathroom into something so Victoria.
You know what’s it’s like, you spot a stunning vanity unit, only to discover it’s the same measurements as half of your floor plan. Mr VC longs for ‘a bathroom that has a chair.’ Not sure what he’d like to ponder from a seat overlooking the u-bend, but what I think he is alluding to, is a bathroom that feels less functional and more relaxing. Of course, it must also be functional, because you know, it’s a bathroom.
The Bijou Bathroom Goal
So, my goal when planning our bijou bathroom overhaul was always to make the space more inviting and relaxing. Not an easy task, when your budget means fixtures and fitting need to stay. The bathroom was always the room that needed the most work when we moved in. As you can see in the iPhone images from our first viewing, it looked really quite grim. A very old MDF bath panel dominated the space and the grey marbled floor tiles didn’t quite work with the heavily tiled space. The room was small, uninspiring and I couldn’t figure out how to get it to where I wanted it be. I really did agonise. I won’t bore you with the years of painted colour swatches, fabric and towel purchases that just didn’t work.
One day, I was stood in there and looked past everything that I felt was wrong with the room and focused on what was right. The actual fixtures and fittings are modern and in excellent condition. The room has a good ceiling height and the tiling is clean and contemporary. It was in that moment that I realised I’d been fighting too hard against what was there. What I needed to do was work with it.
The plan from then on was to work with the monochromatic modern Victorian theme but to create a more inviting and on-trend look by incorporating natural elements such as plants and wooden materials. The room was already white, but battered white. Stains, marks and discoloured splodges of undisclosed origin were dotted around the room. A couple of coats of my go-to Matt Brilliant White emulsion on the walls and some lightly sanded and stained woodwork refreshed the room completely. I use brilliant white in every room of my house. It might not have the insta-tag appeal of F&B, but it always gets comments and shock when the colour is revealed to visitors. Check out my workspace makeover to see the same colour in action in a different setting.
Bespoke Bath Panel
The bath panel was first to go. I hasten that I did all the work in here myself. Apart from putting up the shelves, for which my brother kindly assisted. , I did everything else on my lonesome. Mr VC has no ability, interest or experience in DIY, so he’s very happy for me to get out my power tools and set to work.
I removed the panel quite easily and measured for the replacement. This was my first issue. The panel was sloping to accommodate the bath. A straight forward shop replacement would not do. A few hours of research put me in touch with Bath Panel Store. They stock standard and bespoke bath panels in a huge range of colours and finishes. I got in touch and they were delighted to help. With a little guidance, I carefully measured the end and side panel and Bath Panel Store would cut and finish each piece for the perfect bespoke finish. I chose the satin white shaker style panels, that were cut to size and sealed and arrived really quickly. I was so impressed with the attention to detail and highly recommend the quality and design of their work. Do check them out.
With the panel cutting underway, flooring became my target. The floor was ceramic tiles, many of which were cracked and well past their best. Wooden flooring was my goal, but as I was completing the Labour myself, I knew cutting around the toilet and sink pedestal would test my abilities to their limit.
Luckily for me, my wonderful sister from another mister, Hannah had recently discovered a range of beautiful textured vinyl tiles. In fact, I was standing on her newly laid kitchen floor in disbelief when she revealed that they were in fact vinyl. As vinyl is so much easier to cut and manipulate, I knew that my flooring dilemma had been solved. I opted for a rustic oak with a distressed grey tone that runs through, pulling in the monochromatic theme the warm toned wood.
The floor took me about a day to lay and finish with beading and sealant. The room was already transforming.
The bath panels arrived, perfectly cut to size and it took me about half a day to fit and seal them. The difference was astounding. My bijou bathroom was coming together!
The Storage Solution
The most difficult part of the plan was to find storage options that didn’t clutter up the small space. The wicker draws and baskets that had been previously adopted were discarded and I focused on utilising the high ceilings with wall storage. It also has the benefit of clearing the floor, giving the illusion of a bigger room.
The space around the sink is quite narrow. I added a white round mirror to break up the linear feel of the room and above it, added a decorative picture shelf for plants and candles. The narrow depth meant that no light was blocked. The candle and mirror help to bounce the light around the room to add to that spacious feel.
Sink side storage was a little trickier as it needed to be slimline. Inspired during an Ikea visit, I selected two rows of Fintorp rails, with a combination of hooks, pots and clip curtain hooks to maximise the variety of content that I could add.
To bring the natural tones into this area I selected a collection of wooden, vegetarian brushes from The Oxford Brush Company. The brushes are beautiful to look at, made from high quality materials that add a luxury spa feel. They’re also incredible to use, they often get lots of comments from bathroom visitors. The uniting of style and purpose with the Oxford Brush Companies accessories was absolutely key to creating a contemporary spa look.
Other accessories from my bijou bathroom were featured in the guest post for Laura Ashley. Those finishing touches really do transform a space and you can read this post on the Laura Ashley blog.
The shelving needed to be more functional as it would be the main storage point for towels and toiletries, with a few decorative accents to style the look. Without the luxury of time to make bespoke shelving from reclaimed wood, I picked up a couple of temporary wooden shelves to sit on the natural brackets. (Both from Ikea.) Upgrading the shelf to a more substantial, reclaimed version is definitely on my ‘to do’ list, but for now, it looks pretty good to me.
To complete my bijou bathroom overhaul, I customised a simple white roller blind by carefully gluing luxury jumbo pom-pom trim to the reverse of the weighted edge. The finished look is minimalist and somehow feminine and it always surprises me how such a simple customisation garners such interest. I love shutting the blind, lighting the candles and settling down to a soak with a good book.
I’m delighted with the transformation and by carefully combining the original fixtures and fittings with updated elements, I’ve created a beautiful bijou bathroom that is more than a room of function. It is a place to ponder, relax and recharge.
It’s been a pleasure to share my latest makeover. We are currently re-flooring the upstairs for a carpet free abode, before attempting a bedroom re-style. I can’t wait to share my ideas for that one.
Please do let me know if you have any questions about aspects of my bijou bathroom overhaul. Thank you so much for reading.