Eva O’Donovan’s bathroom was languishing somewhere in the mid 1990s with its bland blue tiles, matching tiled border and chequered flooring. 14 years later, with three children competing for bathroom time, Eva decided it just wouldn’t wash. Time to freshen things up. Words and photos: reportage
The project: Updating the family bathroom, which was installed when they built their house 14 years ago, to make it more suitable for their growing family.
The key challenge: To create a bright and cheerful family bathroom, and to fit in a separate bath and shower cubicle.
The budget: €7,000
How long it took: Two months
“I never really liked the bathroom as it was, nor did I feel it made the most of the space,” explains artist Eva O’Donovan. “We were building the house from scratch house 14 years ago and there were so many decisions to make and so many things to do that by the time I got to the bathroom, I just wanted the whole thing finished and done with so we could move in. I chose the blue and white almost at random and thought it would do, but I’ve disliked it ever since. It is a cold colour combination for a bathroom, and also quite bland, I think.”
14 years later, with three children: 13-year-old Lucy, ten-year-old Karen and six-year-old Evan, Eva and her husband John also felt they needed a more functional bathroom, in particular on with a decent shower with a proper cubicle. The original bathroom had a large bath, but the shower was an over-bath version.
Eva’s stylish and contemporary bath with its unusual floor-mounted mixer tap is from Walsh Bros Superstore in Tullamore. The oversized letters came from Barker’s in Wexford; she bought the glass fish on holiday. Eva cleverly used a space around the piping, which has been boxed in, and a recessed shelf added. The highly unusual handmade Kashmiri rug came from Barker’s of Wexford.
“I also decided that the tiles were a little cold underfoot, and I would prefer a timber floor finish,” says Eva. “In the end we went for timber panelling to waist-level around the walls too. It gives the room far more character and feels warmer and more inviting than floor-to-ceiling tiling.”
Moving the bath meant extra plumbing to bring the services across to the other side of the room, and along with the flooring, was one of the largest parts of the job. “It was also part of the reason why it took two months instead of one,” explains Eva. “The floor had to wait for the underfloor plumbing, and then we had to wait for the floor to be laid to connect the bath and shower, so a lot of the time was spent waiting for one trade or another.”
The shower cubicle from Walsh Bros Superstore in Tullamore is made up of a glazed panel and door, and has no heavy visual presence, making the whole bathroom seem lighter and roomier. Eva fell in love with the classic metro-style and used similar white brick tile to these called NA WHITE available from Tubs and Tiles for €23 per square metre
The pay-off was a fantastic new separate shower cubicle and bath. Eva fell in love with the off white metro-style tiles she had spotted in a magazine. “I loved the shape and brightness, a completely unfussy classic,” she says.
Eva’s stylish and contemporary bath with its unusual floor-mounted mixer tap is from Walsh Bros Superstore in Tullamore. The oversized letters came from Barker’s in Wexford; she bought the glass fish on holiday. Eva cleverly used a space around the piping, which has been boxed in, and a recessed shelf added.
“I wanted the new bathroom to be bright, colourful and warm. The wood helps it to always feel inviting, and I used a white and cream palette to keep it bright, with lots of really strong incidental colours to add zing and personality. My starting point for the colours was the Emma Barone painting ‘Shoppers’, which hangs just above the wash basin. I love the atmosphere in the room now, it’s bright and fun, and it always puts me in a good mood in the mornings.”
The striking chair from Gladys Antiques and Interiors has a huge presence in this room. “It’s worth really thinking about a bathroom chair and choose it for its impact. The lime and red cushions are by Designer’s Guild. All paintings (except ‘Shoppers’) by Eva O’Donovan: email@example.com.
Top design tips
A new take on tiling
Thinking laterally, Eva used tongue and grooved panelling on the walls instead of more common tiles.
“It’s a far warmer finish,” she says, “and it gives the room a lot more character.” This finish is easy for any carpenter to install, but obviously can’t be used around very wet areas, such as shower cubicles.
Prepare your timber
The white painted timber floor is a lovely feature of Eva and John’s bathroom, but if you intend to use timber, check it will be suitable for a bathroom. This is a simple T&G pine floorboard that has been painted, so check your paint is right for flooring and for heavy use. It is always a good idea to keep solid timber floorboards for at least four to six weeks in the area in which they are to be used before laying them. This allows them time to expand or contract to the conditions in which they will be used, avoiding gaps or buckling at a later stage.
Eva used a painting, Emma Barone’s ‘Shoppers’ as the inspiration for the bathroom colour palette. The Kashmiri rug matches almost exactly the colours in the painting. This gives the room a sense of coherence and provides a nice guide palette, which makes design decision-making easier. Choose something that really appeals to you in colour. Although Eva chose the painting, the rug or the colourful chair and cushions would all have been good starting points.
House and Home Address Book:
- Walsh Bros Superstore, Tullamore, 057 935 2555, www.superstore.ie
- Barkers of Wexford, 053 912 3544
- Dunnes Stores, www.dunnesstores.com
- Gladys Antiques and Interiors, Tullamore, 057 934 1516
- Designers Guild, www.designersguild.com
- Applications Doors, 01 456 9300, www.bghome.ie
- Tubs and Tiles, 090 6472745, www.tubstiles.ie