My Budget (Bonkers) Bathroom – Part 2

The Bathroom main

The long-awaited sequel is here ladies and gentlemen, try not to get too excited. And for any of you just joining us and reading my title for the first time, please don’t think I’m one of those women who goes around calling herself ‘MAD’ and ‘CRAZY’ and says things like ‘I’m such a laugh, I’m looooooney me!’, as you’d be wrong, I’m normal and sane and ordinary. I have simply referred to my bathroom as being bonkers due to the fact that my husband would regularly exit the room shaking his head in disbelief and muttering to himself that he thought it was bonkers, which I could never fully understand!?

So, where were we…let’s have a catch up. You’ve seen the finished article (above) and I’ve already posted some ‘before’ photos in part 1 (a reminder below; warning: don’t look if you have an extreme aversion to hideous red bathrooms), and I was in the middle of sharing with you how I’d created the look on quite a limited budget, as we were soon to be moving house. The old bath, loo and basin were kept in place. I changed the crappy old mirror for an antique Victorian eBay find, and painted it black for a bit of a ‘goth’ look. And then I’d painted the existing cupboard unit in black with pink beading, and re-tiled the top with some petrol coloured mosaics. If you haven’t read Part 1, or you fancy a reminder, click on here for a more in-depth explanation, where you’ll also be able to find out how I came up with the idea for the scheme, and how I used Pinterest to help me pull my ideas together.

before duo

The walls were in terrible nick once I’d removed all those ‘special’ red tiles, and even though I didn’t have the money to pay a plasterer to skim them, it didn’t really matter, because I’d already decided that I wanted to use Anaglypta wallpaper. This was chosen on the basis of fitting in with my Victorian-pub-gothic-salon style concept (look, it’s a perfectly normal concept, it will catch on, you’ll see), as nearly all the fab old pubs I go into have painted textured wallpaper in them. But the two additional bonuses were that Anaglypta’s really inexpensive, which fitted my budget, and more importantly, it hides a multitude of sins with regards to the state of your plaster, so I sort of got away without skimming. I have to admit, it wasn’t the best finish in the world, but fortunately it was a dark bathroom, so you couldn’t really notice. For a long time, Anaglypta has been seen as a bit old-fashioned but thanks to brands like Rockett St George, who photograph it in fabulously styled modern settings, it’s beginning to have a bit of a revival which is great, as it’s brilliant stuff. And painted up, it looks gorgeous. I went for the Derby pattern, as it looked the most typically Victorian to me. And at £21.00 per roll, was an absolute bargain.

derby trio

Derby wallpaper: 1. Mine, painted in green 2. Gold, taken from Anaglypta’s home page 3. Blue, from Rockett St George

Choosing the paint colour was tricky, as choosing paint colour is always tricky. Especially if you want to use a bold colour rather than an easier neutral, as it’s more obvious to the eye if a strong colour doesn’t work. So it helps if you have a very definite idea of which colour you want in the first place, and then you need to be prepared to spend an absolute small fortune on tester pots! Paint tip number one: don’t paint your testers directly on to the wall, as different lights in different parts of the room, at different times of day, effect the colour; I always paint out each colour onto individual pieces of paper. This allows me to not only move them about the room and hold them up in different lights, but I can also compare each colour in identical positions.

My problem was I didn’t know which colour to go for! I knew I wanted a dark, rich colour, and I knew it needed to be a good backdrop for my artwork, but I couldn’t decide between teal, ruby, purple or green. Decisions decisions. In the end, after endless staring and pondering, and the realisation that I wanted pink curtains, I decided to plump for green as I thought this would compliment both the pink, and the gallery of artwork I’d chosen. After spending the aforementioned small fortune on tester pots, Calke Green by Farrow & Ball was the eventual winner, which leads me seamlessly to my paint tip number two: no matter WHAT your decorator tells you, please don’t be tempted to get a well-known high street shop to mix up your chosen designer paint colour for a fraction of the price, it never, ever has the depth of pigment that the designer paint has. Please trust me on this one. I tend to think of paint in terms of buying underwear, you can go as cheap as you like on your knickers, but never ever skimp on a good supportive bra; paint is your decor’s supportive bra!

farrow & ball duo

Farrow & Ball

I think the flooring has to be one of my favourite things about the room, especially when I know how cheap it was to create. Once we’d ripped up the old disgusting vinyl floor, we were faced with some pretty awful floorboards underneath that were in no fit state to be walked on. Which was a shame as I’d planned on just painting them inexpensively. So the next best thing was to lay some extra-cheap pine floorboards on top, and paint these instead. Wickes do some at £18.87 per square metre, but I managed to source some at a local merchant for even less, and because the floor area was so tiny, it hardly cost a bean. With basic DIY skills, you could lay these yourselves, but we don’t have basic DIY skills, so we got an odd-job man to do it. Laying them on the diagonal meant I could do something a bit different to the original chequerboard I’d planned, and go for stripes. So I dusted off my trusted Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, got onto my hands and knees and painstakingly made sure I had nice straight lines. Annie’s lacquer was used to finish it off. I just wish I’d worn some strap-on knee protectors; each time I stood up I looked (and felt) like a little old lady!

From the hallway

Black and white stripes, on the diagonal. Love this flooring!

Next I tackled the bath area. I really wanted the side of the bath to be a feature, so I got our man to replace the tongue and groove with a flat piece of ply, and papered it (or rather, a friend did; no DIY skills remember). I know it’s a bit unusual but I saw no reason why I couldn’t wallpaper a bath, and when I found an image on Pinterest which proved someone else felt the same way, it was a no-brainer. Plus it was such a lovely inexpensive way of adding some interest to the room. As usual, I might have been a bit extravagant with my choice of wallpaper, but as usual I argued that it was such a small amount I needed, that it was worth it. I went with House of Hackney’s Tarovine wallpaper in midnight/ochre at £148/roll (and before you shout at me for being naughty, I did only need one roll!), but you could easily achieve the look by going for Cole & Son’s Palm Jungle at £78/roll, or even Graham & Brown’s really stylish Honolulu paper, designed by Julien MacDonald, at an absolute bargain of £20/roll.

The image I found on Pinterest that gave the courage of my convictions

The image I found on Pinterest that gave the courage of my convictions

Left, House of Hackney's Tarovine Top, Cole & Son's Jungle Palm Bottom, Graham & Brown's Honolulu

Left, House of Hackney’s Tarovine
Top, Cole & Son’s Jungle Palm
Bottom, Graham & Brown’s Honolulu

Around the bath, in keeping with the dark slightly gothic look, I went for some really good value matt-black mosaic tiles from Topps Tiles at £66.56 per metre. As with the top of the basin cupboard unit, the area being tiled was so small that I really didn’t need that many tiles, and it ended up being a really cheap way of waterproofing the walls.

And then finally, I framed the bath with tied-back pink curtains and a pelmet. Now, at this point, if you did want to question my sanity, I wouldn’t mind. I blame the little existing step up to the bath. It made me want the bath to be higher, with even more steps up. And once that was in my head, big sweeping, enveloping curtains sprang into my mind and I couldn’t get them out. Anyway, I decided that it was definitely something the Victorians would do as they were partial to a bit of curtain-action and weren’t averse to over-decoration, so I filled my boots with inexpensive swathes of pinkness (the fabric was only £7/metre). My poor husband. In fact, I think it was the curtains that tipped him over the edge into repetitive chants and mantras about bonkers-ness. But I loved them. I loved being all snuggled behind them, lolling in my hot water with a glass of wine at hand, feeling all decadent in the candlelight.

Curtains and candlelight

Curtains and candlelight

There was a strange little window in the bathroom, so I also put up a Roman blind to cover it. The window was really high up the wall, and looked a little bit like a prison window, so to create a nice visual trick, I made the blind much larger as if the window itself was much more in proportion. We never opened the blind, it was just a permanent feature. And being permanent was good, because it meant I got to look at it in all its glory, every single day! It was made using the most fabulously eccentric fabric by Emily Humphrey, and if you haven’t already discovered her, you really do need to check her out as she’s just so talented and her designs are totes amazeballs! I used her ‘Character Polka’ and her website says of this particular design ‘ “Traditional with a titter”, have fun finding your favourite character!’…but I don’t think I can choose. If push came to shove, I think I’d have to go for the spiffy Victorian couple with champagne in their hands as I rather think this would be me and Greg if we’d lived a century or so ago!

Emily Humphrey's Character Polka fabric

Emily Humphrey’s Character Polka fabric

I think the only part of my bathroom that I can admit to not being particularly budget-friendly would be my gallery of artwork. I covered the remainder of the mirror wall with a number of trays by Ibride that magically depict a range of different animal characters dressed up to the nines in dandiness and finery. I love these trays and Ibride is one my all time favourite brands to decorate with, as they give both vintage and more modern schemes a wonderfully eccentric touch. A wall like this would probably run into quite a few hundred pounds, but I was lucky that at the time, I was stocking Ibride products in my shop (Aunty Mabel’s Seat) and was able to borrow these trays on a temporary basis to decorate the bathroom. Any of you who think that I ‘stole’ them from my shop and kept them for myself on a more permanent basis, and that they came to live with me here in my new house, well, I don’t know what to say to people like you; casting aspersions on my good character and all that!

gallery wall


Ibride Trays Left, Marthe& Madeleine Top, Lazy Victoire Bottom, Cornelius

Ibride Trays
Left, Marthe& Madeleine
Top, Lazy Victoire
Bottom, Cornelius

However, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a gallery wall at all; you can just as easily create the look by scouring car boot sales for framed prints, and plates and little trinkets, that will jumble about your wall in a happy chaotic order. For example, a couple of the items I used to dress the walls with were found on Etsy at a snip of the price they should be. The vintage little carved white flower mounted in a black dome was £6.45, and the vintage plate with the funky fox transfer on was £13.20. You can find more of these cool upcycled plates at The Lucky Fox. So you don’t need to spend lots of money, you can just curate your own personal gallery over time, which might be more fun than just finding all your pictures from one company like I did.

Etsy purchases

Etsy purchases

There were just a few more remaining finishing touches to do. The electrician put up our pub-inspired decanter lights either side of the mirror, which I found on eBay. My husband and I (all on our very ownsome!) put up the leather book shelf from Rockett St George. I snuck my candelabra and my white parrot ornament in from my bedroom (they’d lived there far too long; time for a change), put my yellow-eyed birdie trinket dish on a shelf, and placed a pretty pink vase of beautiful flowers next to the sink. And the pièce de résistance, as it was my favourite accessory for this room, was the toilet roll holder made from an antique shoe last! This made me smile every time I went to the loo (TMI?).

the decanter lights

accessories quartet


In fact, the whole bathroom made me smile. I know it’s not to most people’s taste and I know it was slightly unconventional, but for me, it was pure escapism. Every time I relaxed in the bath, I was transported away from the stresses and worries of every day life, and that is what your bathroom is meant to do. It’s meant to be a haven of tranquility. And mine really was. To me!

So there you have it, how I created my bathroom on a budget. If you have completed something on a shoestring, or you have any great tips you want to share on how to save money when decorating, do get in touch. I would love to hear from you x