Bold as brass, the inspiration behind our biggest renovation to date
When we were house hunting two and a bit years ago, I saw the Gold is A Neutral house six weeks before we actually came to view it. I was playing the Right Move game, saw the house, thought oooh, clicked on it and started flicking through the gallery. The inside of the house was pretty underwhelming, but I kept clicking...until I came to the bathroom. And my thought process went something like this: "Oh WOW! Um that's not really to my taste, aka I really, really don't like it. It looks like it would need a lot of work to put right. Wait, is that a fish tank built into the chimney breast? Yes, yes it is. Ok I'm out, byeeee!"
Here it is...
And with that I closed the tab and carried on the search for our dream SE London home. Fast forward six weeks and countless unsuccessful viewings later, and no prizes for guessing which house we were stood outside? Yes, the one I am sitting in right now. The one with the bathroom that made me shudder at the thought of having to tackle. What can I say? Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith.
So here we are two and a half years later and that same bathroom is still my least favourite room in the house. But not for much longer! Because we are finally ready rip it all out and start again. Hallelujah! I've had more than enough time to formulate an idea in my head of what I want it to look like, though the mood board below is not set in stone as some decisions are still pending, and I wholeheartedly reserve the right to change my mind!
However this is a very good indication of where I'm at. I'm calling it rough luxe, with a nod to the houses traditional Victorian roots.
In terms of the inspiration behind this project, it all started with a kitchen...
Bert & May launched their brass kitchens back in 2016 and I've been obsessed with them ever since. I've searched and searched but I can't find a single image of a bathroom with brass cabinets. I like to think that means I'm ahead of the game, but judging by the response I got when I showed off my brass sheet samples on Instagram the other day, I'd say I'm not going to be on my own for much longer.
I should add that Bert & May can also provide made to measure brass bathroom cabinets but sadly our budget won't stretch to those. However I have managed to track down a few other places that specialise in sheet metal mainly for commercial purposes, but who are able to provide what I'm after. I think I'm going to go with an aged brass from a company called Metal Sheets, who are based in Liverpool. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to get them to make the doors for me with the brass wrapped around the edges, or whether to just order the brass sheets and affix them to the front of the cupboard doors myself. I must admit I'm nervous about getting the measurements wrong as this look won't allow for any wonky bodge jobs.
I don't think I need to persuade you that marble and brass is a match made in heaven, so I'm planning to have marble tops with a dark grey vein like in the image above to match the charcoal floor tiles. The idea is that the same or similar marble (budget dependant) will line the shower enclosure.
For the floor, the black gloss tiles which I am perpetually cleaning and polishing are coming up, and we have chosen Bert & May's star-studded Pradena tile, which is described as black but is actually more of a softer charcoal shade. There is currently 20% off these, so it's well worth getting an order in now if you've been eyeing them up for a while. The pink is also a show stopper. These are encaustic cement tiles, they are very heavy and they need to be sealed and grouted in a specific way so wish us luck! I think it will be more than worth the effort once they are down.
There is currently a wall up which creates a shower cubicle at the end of the bathroom but we are taking this out and replacing it with a simple glass shower enclosure which will open up the room and allow you to see the lovely brass taps and shower head that we are planning to install in there. We are also planning to lose the shower tray so the tiles cover the entire floor surface.
In terms of the bath I'm eyeing up a style similar to Victoria + Albert's York tub, which is a freestanding oval bath with a roll top and pedestal base. I think this style bridges the gap between the traditional claw foot style and more modern options available, so is perfectly in keeping with the look I'm going for.
The brassware has actually been the hardest thing to make a decision on. I've considered some of the modern industrial styles but this is a Victorian house, not a warehouse and I want it to stand the test of time. So I'm now 99% sure I'm going to go for a traditional style similar to these aged brass ones by Perrin & Rowe. And besides, I think these traditional taps actually look just as modern in an aged brass finish when used alongside materials like marble.
In terms of a colour palette, I keep coming back to black. The walls are currently clad in thick travertine tiles and these will have to come off and the walls will need to be skimmed. The plan is to keep the walls simple. I think the combination of the brass cabinets, Pradena tiles and marble surfaces will be shouting loudly enough and I don't feel the need to bring out the big colour guns in here. In December, the New York Times ran a house tour of former J Crew Creative Director Jenna Lyons' new home and once I'd stopped hyperventilating at the beauty of it all, it only confirmed my hunch that black, or at least very dark, is the way forward for this project.
I also love this from photographer Erin Kestenbaum's home.
So all that is left to talk about now is the fate of that fishtank...and I'm afraid you're going to have to wait and see what we've got planned for that. Well, I've got to keep a few surprises for the big reveal!
What do you think of my plans? Love, hate or not sure? Let me know if you think you've got some better ideas...