Design & DIY

Colin and Justin’s bathroom transformation

Let’s be honest: this bathroom, as we found it, was an ergonomic, stylistic, and visual wash out. Diminutive? To the power of ten. Carpet? Eek: the devil’s own harbinger of human excretions, toe nails, and mouse poop. Berber is our least favourite bathroom floor covering. To deal with the problem (pre reno) we literally wrapped our feet in shopping bags tied off with elastic bands. We jest ye not: the plastic fantastic foot trick proved the ideal way in which to become hermetically protected against germ infestation.

Restricted square footage, however (and the aforementioned sticky shag) weren’t our only problems as we flushed the room of its grimy past. The wooden wall surface was buckling—and rotten in parts—and the acrylic tub was surrounded by a crown of mould at floor level. Classic cottage cute? Hmm. If your idea of “classic cottage cute” pertains to the set of Deliverance, perhaps. Otherwise? Not so much.

The carpeted bathroom before being renovated


In a nutshell, it was a horror scene with a thoroughly disturbing pong factor. The space behind the plastic shower walls, you see, had become a veritable mouse mausoleum: the poor lil’ critters had been getting in, sure, but they couldn’t get back out due to a bottleneck of decayed, insulating matter. Little wonder, then, we both swooned while pulling literally hundreds of fossilized rodents from the stinking scene.

Reno 2
Tearing down the bathroom’s buckling walls


But we can fix anything. Especially in conjunction with Randy, our long suffering (yup; we drive him crazy) contractor.  He rolled up his sleeves and, in a determined fit of pique, tore away and then replaced, the rotten 2×2 lumber, bleached the space clean, insulated, and covered everything in thick polythene to protect against further problems. For our contracting demigod, everything is procedural: he never fails to schedule his work in a logical order.

Salvaging space from the next room
Salvaging space from the next room


The next stage of our grand master plan was to enlarge the tight room. The space being tiny, we harvested a little square footage from a large double bedroom that lay through the wall. If you read our previous column (where we turned similar tricks in our guest bedroom by borrowing a few extra bedroom inches from the closet and the kitchen), you’ll appreciate that spatial trickery such as this can make all the difference.

To streamline ceiling lines, we specified flush-mounted pot lights and, space being compromised, under-floor heating. The latter meant we could dispense with the need for bulky baseboard radiators, which meant visual streamlining improved. The Warm Up brand is a simple mesh system: laid prior to tile installation, it’s cost effective and energy efficient.

The dramatic black commands attention


Illumination and heating attended to, we installed a new window. Wider and taller than its predecessor, it draws more light into the previously oppressive room. Finished in dramatic black, it’s a commanding kickoff point for the decorating scheme thereafter. To further layer, we fitted a budget black slimline Venetian (into the rebate, not onto the frame: the former is far slicker) from Blinds To Go. Their “measure it yourself” service (the website gives exacting instruction so there’s no room for error) is simple, while collection from your nearest branch (and easy fit thereafter) makes overall specification a cinch.

Next up, our team set about waterproofing the zone and installing a “curb” onto which a fixed glazed panel was fitted. Softest graphite marble tile from Saltillo (we mixed up the floor and wall tile size to add visual interest) proffers an indulgent feel, while dreamy ebony toned taps and storage niches provide a handy stash zone for associated bathroom paraphernalia.

Justin Working 2
Prepping the hemlock countertop


The following stage of our project, our bathroom surface, was really rewarding. The simple installation started out as a slice of kiln-dried, live-edged Hemlock. To make best of the space under the window, we cut the Hemlock into a tapered wedge, to the left wider (to accommodate a Unikstone stone sink) and narrowed as it runs toward the shower stall. The rough bark edge and the surface were stabilized by lightly sanding and then clear coating with low sheen urethane to provide resilience against water penetration.

The finished room


We’ve never made any secret of the fact we adore grey-toned decorative schematics. And by now you know we tend to augment our keenness for grey with the addition of a further element. On one occasion we might fire in a zesty shot of yellow or, as is the case here, an organic “ingredient” or “layer” to immediately soften the completed vignette. In this regard, we installed a pine ceiling, stained to look like walnut. Further ‘softening’ comes from the wooden topped “drop and lift” stool and the naturally shed antler found in the forest surrounding our cabin. It’s all pretty sweet, huh? Aye, we’re pleased as punch!

And so our work is done. And the room has been totally transformed. Hard to believe it’s the same space, huh? Guests attest that it’s a comfy nook where they feel indulged at every turn. Okay, so it ain’t gonna win any prizes in a ‘world’s largest bathroom’ contest, but what it lacks in scale, it more than makes up for in style.

Watch the latest episodes of Colin and Justin’s Cabin Pressure below and stay tuned for new episodes, Sunday at 9pm et/pt. Cottage Life television is now in free preview. Find your channel here.