Discover this family bathroom design drenched in colour

When interior designer Chantel Elshout planned the family bathroom in their new-build Dutch barn, she decided to create a bright and colourful scheme. Curious to see the result? KBB journo Nicola Hanley finds out how she created the new space…

It was the pandemic that finally nudged Chantel and her husband into making a move to the countryside. And when the couple, who had lived in London for 20 years, were given the opportunity to design and build their family home in the Cotswolds, they jumped at the chance. “We’d been looking to move for a long time and we thought we’d end up in Surrey,” says Chantel, “but during Covid, everything changed.”

They were put in touch with a property developer who had planning permission to replace a Dutch barn in the Cotswolds with a new house on the existing footprint. The couple drove from their home in south west London to visit the site. “We decided very quickly that this was what we wanted to do,” remembers Chantel, who instantly fell in love with the location and setting. “We moved out after a few weeks and ended up renting nearby to make frequent visits to the site.” 

Colourful bathroom with orange vanity unit and white basin with a blue and tin bath. The two colours are matched in the colourful floor tiles.
Chantel customised Popham Design’s Hex Zulu floor tiles by choosing the colours and the layout. Photography: Alexander James.

Designing the colourful, gender-neutral bathroom

An architect had worked on the original build drawings for the five-bedroom home. Then, Chantel, with decades of experience in the interiors industry, worked on the layouts and space planning. And when she turned her attention to the family bathroom, which is mostly used by her children, now aged six and nine, she knew she wanted to design a fun and colourful scheme. 

“I’ve got a boy and a girl and didn’t want to go for one particular colour,” explains Chantel. “I really love the floor tiles because of the mix of colours.” It was the floor tiles, which Chantel customised after a trip to Popham Design’s studio in Paris, that provided the inspiration for the bathroom’s colour scheme. “I knew I wanted to use terracotta tones and designed the orange vanity unit to tie in with the floor tiles,” she continues.

Bright orange vanity unit with countertop basin and dark grey mixer tap. The area is decorated with a curved mirror, white lights and modern vase.
The vanity is painted in Little Greene’s Heat 24 to bring in that orange contrasting colour to the blue.

The tin bath, which is painted in a deep shade of blue, adds yet more fun to the scheme. “I’ve used BC Designs for clients’ projects, and love their baths,” says Chantel. “The tin bath has a slightly industrial feel and the fact it could be painted on the outside was a big plus.”

Chantel has maximised the available space in the bathroom by recessing the mirrored cabinet into the wall, which was built out to accommodate the cistern. “It’s quite a clever way of getting more storage without taking up more room and creates a seamless look,” she says. 

Blue tin bath with darker gunmetal grey freestanding bath mixer. The floors are covered in a blue and orange triangle tile. On the wall is a dark grey radiator.
Tin boat bath by BC Designs takes centre stage in this colourful family bathroom. Cebu ceiling light by Nordic Nest.

Creating a bespoke curved shower

The other main inspiration for the bathroom came from the original Dutch barn, which included a mini silo inside and gave Chantel the idea of creating a curved shower enclosure. “Glass shower screens can be difficult to keep clean, especially if you live in a hard water area. I was keen to design something that was fun for the kids without needing a lot of cleaning.” 

The curved shower, clad in the same glossy, white tiles used on the walls, proved slightly challenging for the builders but it’s one of Chantel’s favourite elements of the new bathroom design. She also loves the curved ceiling, which helps to create a more spacious feel. “The arched ceiling makes the room feel a lot bigger than it really is. If we had gone for a standard ceiling, it might have felt a lot smaller.” 

Round shower area with curved walls and dark brassware to contrast the white walls.
The curved shower draws inspiration from silos in the original barn. Maker wall tiles, from European Heritage, with a bespoke shower tray, Counter Production. 

Any regrets?

It has taken nearly three years from finding the site to completing the renovation. It was a huge amount of work to create their beautiful new barn, but Chantel has no regrets. “We fell in love with the idea of being able to make it our own – which is exactly what we’ve done,” she says happily. And looking back, is there anything she’d do differently? “There isn’t actually. We’ve been using the bathroom for almost a year now and it all works really well.”

Dark radiator and matching freestanding tap in a colourful bathroom with blue bath and blue and orange tiles triangle tiles.
The bold Vogue UK radiator matches the same shade of the freestanding bath filler.

Chantel’s tips for a practical and colourful bathroom:

  • Always get samples and make a moodboard. Up close, tiles can look very different from the images you see on a computer screen.
  • Don’t forget the finishing touches, such as window dressings, artwork, flowers and plants. They make a big difference and can help you to create a living bathroom.
  • Allow for as much storage as you can. The vanity unit also doubles up as a laundry basket, meaning no more dirty clothes left lying on the floor!
Orange vanity unit with white countertop basin and contrasting industrial style basin mixers.
The smooth modern basin by Catalano is contrasted with the industrial tap by The Watermark Collection.
Colourful bathroom - The blue bath with light nickel internal  with a darker freestanding tap with an industrial style handle.
The gunmetal finish on the Brooklyn bath and shower mixer, by The Watermark Collection, adds a touch of industrial style. 

As originally told to: Nicola Hanley | Photography: Alexander James

Enjoyed this post? Check out our guide on adding colour to your bathroom

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