Calm bathroom design with beautiful bronze fittings

A patterned mosaic floor and burnished bronze fittings have transformed a bland bathroom into a warm and luxurious retreat.

A decade ago, homemaker Claire Freemantle and her banker husband Dominic moved into their six-bedroom Victorian home – and they have been gradually revamping it ever since. KBB journo Amelia Thorpe chatted to Claire about their journey to achieving a calm bathroom design…

“When we moved in, the house had recently been renovated by a developer using a lot of magnolia paint,” remembers Claire. “We wanted to make it feel more suited to our taste and style and give it back some character.”

plastered bathroom with patterned flooring, neutral vanity, walk-in shower, freestanding bath and coloured lights
The walls have been plastered in a waterproof microcement for a seamless result. Brass ceiling downlights by Mr Resistor.

Tackling the master bedroom’s ensuite

One of the first projects they tackled was the master bedroom’s ensuite on the first floor. “The space had been converted from a large bedroom, so it was huge with fittings arranged around the edge of the room and lots of dead space in the centre,” says Claire.

Pregnant at the time with their third child, she made some quick decisions to make it more suited to their lifestyle. “We stole some of the floor area to create a dressing area between the bedroom and ensuite,” she says. This not only created a space to store their clothes but also meant the ensuite was a better size. A vanity unit was installed against a newly created stud wall and some new floor tiles were laid. “It was a speedy job and still very bland,” admits Claire.

bathroom vanity unit with marble worktop, compact mirror, bronze brassware and coloured lights
Placed opposite the window, the mirror above the basin reflects natural light, boosting the sense of space.

So, what was the starting point for the new bathroom?

Dominic and I had wanted to inject more interest into our ensuite for some time, but we were busy working our way through the refurbishment and redecoration of the rest of the house while living through the process with our three children. Fortunately, we had the help of interior designer Samantha Watkins McRae, who had worked with us on a previous project, and eventually, it was time to turn our attention to the ensuite.

What was your brief for the bathroom design?

The existing bathroom layout was practical, but it was very beige and in need of more personality, colour, and texture. We wanted the bathroom design to feel like an oasis of calm away from all the noise of our busy everyday lives and add a touch of luxury. One of the lovely things about working with Samantha is how she introduces new ideas. I feel I’ve been educated about materials and finishes and the way they can elevate a room to make it more interesting.

neutral scheme with WC tucked behind door for privacy
The WC, from Lefroy Brooks, has been tucked behind the door for privacy.

Did you make any changes to the bathroom layout?

I didn’t want to throw away a perfectly good bath and vanity, as they were still in great condition, nor did I want to make changes just for the sake of it that would also involve costly plumbing alterations. Because of this, the floorplan stayed the same but we created a new shower. Previously, it was a walk-in design, but water managed to get everywhere. So, we were keen to replace it but with a proper watertight enclosure.

freestanding tub in neutral scheme with bronze brassware, wood towel rail, white radiator and roller blinds
Situated under the wide sash window, this is the room’s focal point.

How did you choose the materials?

Thanks to Samantha, I’d come across smoked bronze as a finish, and thought it would be ideal to introduce warmth and a sense of luxury. I chose classic taps and shower fittings to suit the age of the house. Samantha echoed the finish on the enclosure frame, mirror, towel radiator, and downlights.

When it came to replacing the boring bathroom flooring, Samantha sent me a box of samples. As I unpacked the carton, a strikingly patterned marble mosaic fell out – I instantly knew it was the one! It works beautifully with the smoked bronze fittings and the natural oak floor of the dressing room.

shower design with bronze brassware, niche for storing toiletries and glass enclosure
The bespoke shower enclosure, from RT Glass, features a bronze frame, designed to match the brassware, from Lefroy Brooks.

Can you tell us about the wall finish?

Samantha suggested using a waterproof microcement plaster finish on the walls, without any grout lines. We had never heard of it before, but are very pleased with the result. It is so tactile and creates a softer look than slab tiles. It has been tinted to a pale smoky grey colour with a warm brown note, which balances the drama of the floor mosaics.

And the finishing touches?

We had looked at the beautiful handblown glass lights from Rothschild & Bickers for another room, but the colours weren’t quite right. But this time the rose colour worked beautifully, bringing more warmth to the bathroom and complementing the flooring. Samantha suggested hanging two wall lights to frame the vanity and an elegant bronze-beaded mirror, which reflects the blind opposite, also in a warm colour. The room feels so much more inviting and is a pleasure to use every day.

closeup of bathroom vanity with compact mirror and matching coloured lights
Two glass wall lights, from Rothschild & Bickers, frame the mirror, from Vaughan.

As originally told to: Amelia Thorpe | Photography: Pine London

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