House Tour: Our Blue, Brass & Metro Bijou Bathroom

April 4, 2016

home interior decor ideas for a bohemian vintage spa style bathroom brass fittings geometric cube design cement-tiles-hague-blue-midcentury-teak-vanity-bathroom

Images: Design Soda

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Bathrooms are one of the lushest things when they are done, nightmares whilst they are happening, and more expensive than I’d ever imagined. That’s how I’d sum up my first experience of putting in a brand new bathroom.  I had been hoping to put the bathroom project off until we were further through the house, it was relatively neutral compared to lime green walls or purple psychedelic  wallpaper in other rooms and having never done a bathroom from scratch before I’d rather have crossed other things off my list first. However, after a few weeks in the new house and several drain unblockers, living with funny smells and the final straw when black gunk starting spitting out of the whirlpool valves of the Jacuzzi bath at our then 12 month old, it started to rank next to urgent on the list of things that needed doing.

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 Hague blue metro tiles brass fittings bathroom

Image: Design Soda

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Bathrooms at their best can be a really personal space, a retreat from the world, but so often they are uniform or utilitarian. There aren’t that many interesting options on the market if your budget isn’t big. I love the use of great grains and materials in bathrooms but you need to be quite determined and creative if you want to achieve a look that makes your heart sing. We have had this bathroom done for two months now and each time I walk into it I am surprised by how lovely it is, what a contrastingly finished and different space it feels from the rest of the house.

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home interior decor ideas metro-tile-brass-bath-fitting-bathroom

Image: Design Soda

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For a bathroom, our budget was, I believe, pretty shoe string, I thought it had been average until I read another blogger mention that she had spent £3,000 on just the bathroom suite for two  bathrooms and considered herself to have bought very cheap indeed. However, I’m not sure I agree with this. Don’t get me wrong, I love looking at high end bathrooms with amazing materials, but I don’t buy the idea that you can’t have a little of that dash without all the cash. We spent about a grand on the suite, fittings, flooring and paint for our bathroom (much more to install) and I think it’s a real wow space, its not high end but it is high class! The only item we really pushed the boat out for was the geometric 3D effect cube design encaustic tiles (see below) from Mosaic Del Sur, we were lucky in this respect to have such a small bathroom & therefore floor space as the tiles came in at just over £300 which is great for such statement flooring. I’ve been asked and emailed a few times about the exact colour options I chose, so if you are interested they are B, BF & N.  The other indulgence I may need to count is the bath panel by Roper Rhodes from Victorian Plumbing which at £105 cost almost as much as the bath and still needed painting in Hague Blue to match the walls, but I’m quite sure if we’d gone for something cheap and plastic it would have ruined the whole look of the bathroom, plus the paneling creates a nice symmetry with the paneled wall on the other side of the room.

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Image: Design Soda

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Saving money whilst not looking cheap can be one of the toughest challenges in kitchens and bathrooms. Products need to be made well as they are such high traffic areas and yet, unlike kitchens, unless you have the swishest of budgets there’s not too much style to choose from. There is a real gap in the market for semi-affordable and nice bathroom options. I quite like some of Ikea’s looks but in general it’s hard to find things with much design thought at all in the lower price bracket. One thing I knew I didn’t want was traditional chrome fittings. If you spend time on Pinterest, as I do, you will no doubt be aware of the American trend for brass and copper fittings which is starting to become a trend here. I couldn’t help but feel quite determined that this was integral to the look I wanted to create in my bathroom which was all about luxurious fixtures and materials. But Pinterest can be a vicious chimera, convincing you that because you’ve have seen something countless times here it must be readily available.

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home interior decor ideas for a bohemian vintage spa style bathroom brass fittings geometric cement-tiles-hague-blue-midcentury-teak-vanity-bathroom

Image: Design Soda

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We debated copper and brass, choosing brass in the end, thank goodness as fitting out a whole bathroom in brass was daunting but copper would have been much trickier. In hindsight, I just can’t imagine trying to find shower rails, taps, shower hoses, sink wastes, bath wastes, shower caddies and toilet roll holders all in a copper finish within budget in the UK. Sourcing brass in the UK can be a bit of a nightmare and I have a separate post all about that coming up in the next few days, so if you are looking for brass and struggling, pop back soon (find article here).

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Image: Design Soda

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It was really important to me that if my bathroom was going to feel like a haven or retreat that it needed to have personal design decisions or it would feel like a hotel. For me this translated as some vintage pieces and some wood with patina and character. The old brass scissor mirror which I eventually found on Ebay compliments the feel of the room perfectly and makes the new John Lewis mirror look like it might have a lot more age. Over everything else, the repurposed vanity unit is something I’m really proud of, it was a total steal for £50 on ebay. It started life as a cupboard to keep records in.  We just added some hairpin legs (which made the bathroom feel more spacious showing more floor and making a play of those lovely tiles) and recycled the old bathroom sink to sit on top. I already wanted wall mounted taps so the unit was a good choice for making a bit of a fuss of the whole thing. There are limited options in the UK for teak vanity units made for the purpose and any that I found were over a grand so I feel delighted to have something with a slight patina of age that feels like a timepiece but was a fraction of what else is on the market. Note though its original purpose wasn’t made for water, I know I could varnish it but I’m a little worried that it may change it, so I have become a bit of a stickler mopping up the tiniest dots of water when using the sink. This may not be terribly practical, but it is beautiful.

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Gold Rhino brass pineapple Aessop Mouthwash Hague Blue bathroom

Image: Design Soda

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I must mention again how tiny our bathroom is, in most of the articles I read about small bathrooms I discovered that ours is even smaller than what most people consider a small bathroom, at least in the design world, and none of the storage solutions worked for us as they would have overwhelmed the space. I would also like to mention how hard this made photographing the bathroom for this post on my i-phone, the toilet kept dominating (and no-one wants to see that!) I had to pull some interesting angles to shoot it at all. Despite its lack of space, there was also a fair bit of dead space in the old bathroom design, the toilet had been housed in a built in vanity unit which meant that it had plenty of dead space behind the cistern and in fact because the cupboard was narrow it had hardly any storage. One of the big space stealers was the door which opened into the bathroom when there was ample room for it to open in the other direction. By re-hanging the door and buying a vanity unit separate to the toilet we gained some valuable inches and the feel of the space is now so, so different, it’s impact goes far beyond the limited space we’ve gained. It always amazes me how much of an impact small tweaks within limited spaces can have.

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Farrow-Hague-blue-bathroom-brass-fittings.iris hantverk Louvisa bath brush

Image: Design Soda

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Half way through the project, when we had a the old shower rigged up to the wall outside the bath and showering was becoming annoying I came across an Apartment Therapy article on trend forecasting in bathrooms and our new design seemed to have swallowed most of them up, I hoped it wasn’t going to look a cliché.  Metro tiles – tick. Black grout – tick. Brass hardware – tick. Black, white and brass – tick. Teak vanity – tick! I have a slightly unnatural obsession with trying to make sure my home doesn’t look like tear sheet design (particularly as I pore over so many glossy interiors mags). But I guess this is doubly important with a bathroom as I’m unlikely to change it again on a whim any time soon and I don’t want it to look dated in a years time. I am now so in love with the finished result that I’m not really sure if I can tell how it would be objectively judged. It feels quite New York apartment to me (this might be compounded by its size) its definitely got a bit of a hip vibe but I hope not in any amplified sense, I’m hoping it’s a style statement but not with pretension.

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Hague blue bathroom midcentury vanity moroccan towels brass fittings

Image: Design Soda

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Much like any other space, textiles and textures make such a big difference in a finished space. Happily with it dark walls (Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue) and encaustic tiles our bathroom lent itself quite easily to the Moroccan-style bathroom textiles awash on the market at the moment. I have kept to some very cheap options from Sainsburys and H&M home for now but hoping to expand this with some luxury towels soon to complete the room as a space of retreat and relaxation. The towel hanger is an old coat rack I bought at Liberty a few years back which I think adds a bit of character to the room.

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brass-bath-fittings-encaustic-patterned-cement-tiles-hague-blue-midcentury-teak-vanity-bathroom

Image: Design Soda

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That’s it, my bathroom makeover. One final shot, the before picture, which despite the Estate Agent photographers gloss I think perfectly illustrates how badly the door direction and furniture impacted upon an already small space.

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Hague blue bathroom midcentury vanity moroccan towels brass fittings (2)

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Farrow & Ball Hague Blue Estate Emulsion & Eggshell | Brooklyn Brass Pendant | Antique Brass Shower Fitting | Geometric 3-D Cube design encaustic floor tiles | Bronze mirror on leather strap | Scandinavian Wooden body brush

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48 thoughts on “House Tour: Our Blue, Brass & Metro Bijou Bathroom

  1. Lu

    Hi I love your bathroom! It’s similar to something i am trying to do…It’s hard work! I was wondering how you found the brass shower in terms of quality. Been looking at the same ones online. Is there a thermostatic control? What is the finish like? Thank you! Lx

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Lu
      Thanks for dropping by my blog and your kind words. Overall I’m pretty pleased with the quality for the price, I like the finish and it doesn’t look half as watermarked as chrome ones, there is indeed a thermostatic control, the tap controls where the water comes out and the lever controls temperature and pressure, just one note of caution, the pressure is definitely less than our last shower, it’s not abysmal by any means but we were slightly disappointed in that one respect. Good luck with your makeover ?

      Reply
      1. Robin

        Hi! Another user hunting for brass/copper style bar/mixer showers (with a tap). I can only find them on China, shipping from China. May I ask where you got yours from please? I couldn’t see a mention of that in the article. Thanks 🙂

        Reply
          1. Robin

            Ooops, clearly I meant on *Ebay* from China! Thanks for the quick reply and the link. I suspect the shower heads haven’t been designed with low(er) pressures in mind so that’s something I’ll have to mull over. It would be a shame to lose that, but ahhh, the aesthetics…!

          2. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

            Hi Robin
            Yes I think you’re right with brass it’s still a bit of choice between style and practicality unless you have a ridiculous budget which most of us mortals don’t… Good luck with decision making!

  2. Katie

    I absolutely love your bathroom and the dark walls are something I’m looking at for my next project. I was wondering how you got on with painting your towel rail – ours is chrome also and I hate it!

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Katie
      Thanks for dropping by and your lovely comment. I hated our chrome rail too, I just used an undercoat suitable for metal and then used an eggshell in the same shade as the wall, it was removed from the wall first otherwise painting the bits you can see from the back would have been a nightmare. It dried perfectly but one word of caution, if you’re not going to hang towels on it (we haven’t because I wanted them on the wall hooks and our bathroom is too small for distractions on that wall) the dust really shows up against a dark colour (same for skirting boards) I had imagined it would show less than in traditional white bathrooms but I feel I am always cleaning them!) good luck with your project ?

      Reply
  3. Fran

    Hi! I love how rich your bathroom looks and feels! The FB Hague Blue is So pretty. Do you mind me asking what finish you used??

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Fran
      Thanks for stopping by ? I used estate emulsion, I’ve used modern in the past in kitchen and bathroom and wasn’t too pleased with the finish so I thought I’d rather use estate and repaint later if it didn’t last too long, still looks great 6 months on with no streaks or marks…

      Reply
  4. Erin Ness

    Hello! Beautiful bathroom. Would you mind telling me where you got the mirror from? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  5. Karen

    Amazing bathroom. This literally made my heart beat faster. I’m about to start remodeling my bathroom which at 1.5 x 1.8 mtrs is microscopic. I’ve been toying with the idea of using dark paint on some of the walls and that Hague blue is perfect. I was wondering how big your bathroom is and if u would recommend dark paint in such a small room. Thanks and once again …amazing job!

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Karen
      Thanks for dropping by and for your lovely words. Yes! I say go for it, I’ve never had a big bathroom, last one was painted black, in both this and the last bathroom it increased space perception because the colour feels infinite on the eyes. My bathroom is also teensy, a smidge bigger than yours but not by much, it’s such a lovely colour, I would highly recommend. Good luck, let me know how you get on x

      Reply
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  8. Liane

    Hello! I am in love with your bathroom and trying to recreate a similar look for mine. I have been using the same website for tiles but just wondered which colours you used for yours? Is it black with prussian/ midnight blue? Or just different blues? I can’t decide what to go for!
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Thank you so much! I really recommend the tiles. Do you mean the wall colour? It’s all painted in the same shade (including wood and radiator) which is Hague Blue by Farrow and Ball. It’s a really lovely shade as it changes with the light, pulling out different tones in different lighting…

      Reply
  9. Liane

    Ah yes I saw the wall colour thank you! But I was wondering if you had to choose specific tile colours for your floor tiles or did you just choose a set colour that was already an option? I can’t see the same as yours on the website so was going to make up the colour using the colour options.
    Thanks for getting back to me!

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Ah! Of course, I’m so sorry, I read tiles to mean wall and then thought wall colour! Yes I went for tiles that were already available at that time. I ordered in December under the name Ruth Matthews, my transaction number was: 151215142310. I’m sure if you get in touch with them they’d be able to look up my order so that they can tell you the specifics on colour. Good luck x

      Reply
  10. Jes

    Your bathroom is beautiful. I love the colour, it works perfectly. I was just wondering where you got your small shelf from by your sink. WE are currently remodelling our bathroom and I’m really struggling to find a sink shelf that i like!
    Thankyou :)x

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Anne
      Thank you so much! No I haven’t, I bought some Yacht varnish on recommendation from the builder but I was a bit worried it would ruin the look on the veneer, so instead I make sure it’s always wiped down after use and polish regularly (this may be a little crazy of me!) but no watermarks or discolouration so far…

      Reply
  11. Lisa Holmes

    Hi there!

    Absolutely love your bathroom, you have done a great job, it looks fabulous!

    Please could I just ask about painting the bath panel? Which finish did you buy it in order to do this? It comes already painted which I know can be tricky to paint onto.

    Thanks so much!

    Lisa

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Lisa
      Thanks for dropping by and your lovely words. I bought estate eggshell from Farrow & Ball in the same colour as the walls, but I also applied one of those general purpose primers underneath, the ones that say they will adhere to anything including melamine stocked in all d.i.y stores. Hope that helps 🙂

      Reply
  12. Claire Cooper

    Hi Ruth, I love your bathroom so much and we are currently getting our bathroom done in a similar style! Thank you for the inspiration. Just wondering though – where did you get your bath waste from ? I am having trouble finding one in antique brass!
    Thanks very much
    Claire

    Reply
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  14. melanie lissack

    Such a nice space! Love the floor tiles. I’m about to paint our bottom kitchen cabinets Hague Blue and am so excited to do so now i’ve seen how nice the colour looks in your bathroom.

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Thank you lovely, can’t wait to see how it looks in your kitchen, it’s on my list of colours alongside Downpipe and Studio Green when we finally get around to ours and I’ve been toying with painting the inside of one of our cabinets in the mean time. It’s sure to look lovely in your beautiful home xxx

      Reply
  15. Maria

    Wow!! It looks great! I have a bathroom very similar in size and also the window is inside the bath area. Do you have problems with the window wood/paint rotting? If not how do you keep it looking fresh? I repainted mine a couple of years ago and it already looks bad with all the soap residue and water accumulating… thanks!

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Maria
      Thanks so much! Good question, we only moved in a year ago and the frame was pretty horrible, I sanded back and used wood filler before painting, if I’m totally honest it doesn’t look it’s best a year in so I think that might be an unavoidable pitfall of small bathrooms with that positioning…

      Reply
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  17. Dominique

    Hi Ruthie

    I just found your blog while looking for antique brass taps. Your bathroom makeover looks fantastic and also includes encaustic tiles which we are really keen to use in our loft conversion ensuite when it’s completed. Do you know if the mosaic del sur tiles are suitable for a wet room/shower room? We are keen to use these on the floor and into the shower itself but I can’t see from the website whether they can be used for this purpose or not.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Dominique
      Thank you so much. Hmm, that’s an interesting question! I’m not sure, you are advised to only clean them with Murphys soap which I’ve stuck to so I would think that probably rules out daily toiletries on them but I could be wrong, it may be that you would need more sealant. I think it best to email them, they’re very helpful and are sure to be able to advise…

      Reply
  18. Shilo

    Ruthie,
    I love everything about your bathroom, I especially love your bath towels!! Would you mind sharing where you bought them?

    Thanks,
    Shilo

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Shilo
      Thanks for dropping by and you’re lovely comment. The towels are (from left to right) H&M, H&M & Sainsburys, I’m not sure if any are still available as they were bought quite a while ago now. I really rate both H&M & Saibsburys for bathroom textiles… Hope you find something you like ?

      Reply
  19. Natalie Coe

    Hello
    Sorry if you’ve already covered this but I was wondering where you got your metro tiles from? I like the fact that they appear matt and don’t have the bevelled edge.
    Thank you

    Reply
  20. Gill Cornell

    Hello
    Live all the other comments, I LOVE this; so different to the sterile bathrooms we see everywhere. One question please; if you’ve covered this sorry, but …. what colour grouting have you used on the metro tiles? Thank you.

    Reply
  21. Lisa Holmes

    Hi Ruthie,

    Please can you tell me what the white edging is that you used around the bath? It looks like much more practical than grout and a lot prettier too!

    Also, did you go for bigger gaps in between your tiles than standard?

    Many thanks!

    Lisa x

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Lisa
      I’m afraid I don’t have any exact details, it was picked up by the plumber at a local merchants and fixed on with bathroom mastik. The tiles are standard 0.5 apart but possibly look bigger due to the dark colour of the grout! Hope that helps x

      Reply

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