f there is one room I’ve grown increasingly tired of during the lockdown, it’s my bathroom. The sofa in the living room has been the proud recipient of many a new scatter cushion while the dining room table has enjoyed the fruits of recent charity shop excursions (including a rather wonderful hand-painted tagine dish). The bedroom has benefited from new eco-friendly Bedfolk linens and the kitchen is a clutter with newly potted herbs and fruit bowls (a la Skye McAlpine). Yet the bathroom remains unscathed by my lockdown interiors preoccupation, if not to its detriment then to its general disadvantage.
Generally, bathrooms across the country are sterile, neutral spaces of angular porcelain, toothpaste-flecked stainless steel and clanging frosted glass cabinet doors. The impersonality of it all gives me shivers. I know this aversion to purely functional spaces is inherited. I once arrived at my parents’ home for dinner to find my mother grouting sandy-coloured tiles in the family bathroom to complete a Moroccan-inspired look she had envisioned, complete with an Arabic, laser-cut screen, peacock-blue painted cabinets and clusters of glass mosaic pendant lamps. The mundanity of the original fixtures had driven her to take matters into her own ambitious hands.
So, here is a love letter-come-shopping list for anyone who would like to add some style to their bathroom; some identity beyond the bare essentials for its primary functions.
A surprisingly effective way to steer your bathroom away from the unconsidered, mass-produced look, is to switch up your toilet seat. First on the list so as to avoid further scatological enquiry, I find that wooden-finish options look fresh and different, such as Croydex’s Ontario Flexi-Fit seat in Teak, while a black, high-gloss seat on any white model will give a more polished, formal feel. Victorian Plumbing’s Heritage Soft Close option in black is a strong contender at a slightly higher price point.
Another very easy way to give your bathroom a more considered feel is to invest in some hotel-quality towels in colours that catch the eye. These can be stored in stacks in hampers, or hung on towel rails to add colour and texture. Both Christy and Sheridan have a fantastically wide offering from pure whites to striking aubergines and soothing pastels. Lucy Ackroyd, head of design at Christy, says, “Towel storage doesn’t have to be boring or unattractive. An on-trend method is to display them on rustic wooden ladder shelves or use open shelving.”
If space allows, think about ways to incorporate some vintage or antique furniture. A simple wooden chest of drawers to replace typical wall-mounted bathroom cabinetry will provide a welcome expression of personality, as well as providing surface space for pretty antique storage jars or a vase of flowers. I have also always coveted bathrooms with bath-side chairs, perfect for perching upon while one draws one’s bath (or of course, for placing one’s laptop to allow for some submerged Netflix binging). Seek out local second-hand shops or vintage emporiums for this kind of furniture, and pick up a few art prints and frames along the way.
Finally, hanging art in the bathroom feels gloriously decadent, rebellious in some way. I’m not alone in my belief that art is the most potent bearer of personality (second only to the human inhabitant of whatever home it is found within). So, why ignore the bathroom? Owen Pacey, the founder of Renaissance London, an antique restoration and reproduction specialist in Shoreditch, has decorated his bathroom with artworks including a large modern art print and an antique sculpture. “Hang art that you love, no matter what room you’re decorating,” says Pacey, adding, “You can really elevate a bathroom by adding in some art, which looks especially good hung over a fireplace to create a focal point.”