Hurray! The downstairs loo is finished! And I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. This tiny room now packs a serious design punch!
The 'before' wasn't bad; it was just a bit ... ordinary. And of course there was that knotty orange pine, which is a pet hate of mine. Plus it was completely impractical for our needs because the white floor was so difficult to maintain, especially in what is a high-traffic area of the house next to the back door.
The plan was to convert this little loo to the dark side ... and here it is now!
In place of the white, pine, and fuchsia pink, there is now rich dark charcoal with gold accents and eclectic accessories.
Functionally, the layout is exactly as it was before, and we simply re-used the original bathroom suite. But the décor is so different that it's difficult to believe it's the same room!
It's certainly dramatic! I love watching people's reactions when they walk into the room. Most love it ... although my father thinks it looks like a Hallowe'en set! My mother on the other hand, who usually hates dark rooms, said she thinks it's very elegant. And my aunt says it reminds her of the toilets in The g Hotel, which is funny because although I didn't intentionally plan it like that, I absolutely love the interior design in the hotel, which was done by Galway native and now internationally-renowned miliner to the stars, Philip Treacy. So perhaps there was a subconscious influence there. And I am also a huge fan of Abigail Ahern, who is acclaimed as the queen of dark interiors. The little cactus plant on the shelf was definitely inspired by her (although all the ones she does are too large for this little shelf, so I had to source mine elsewhere).
This may be a small room, but there is hardly a surface in here that hasn't been touched. We removed the bathroom suite and even scraped all the paint from the walls before applying a mist coat to the bare plaster and then re-painting everything - white on the ceiling and a dark charcoal grey (that reads as black) on the the walls. All the pine woodwork was stained to a rich dark colour and sealed with a waterproof top coat. We laid new floor tiles and then refitted the original bathroom suite.
The transformation is spectacular, but I must admit that it wasn't an easy transition to make. Of course now that it's done, I'm just wondering why it took me so long to do it. I love every detail in this room! The dusky tones set by the slate-effect tiles (made of ceramic so they're easy to maintain), the rich chocolatey wood, and the daringly dark walls create a lavish backdrop for the warm metallic accents: the intricate golden light fixture, the antique French mirror with its ornate gold frame, and the little bathroom shelf with its decorative rim.
I did consider whether painting the ceiling white was the right decision in a room where everything else was dark and I came to the conclusion that I didn't want the bathroom suite to be the only white thing in the room. This way the suite feels more integrated into the design and the ceiling is high enough that it doesn't detract from the opulent atmosphere in the room.
The bathroom shelf is both ornamental and functional: a faux cactus introduces some edgy plant forms to the room, but without the nasty thorns. There is also a scented tealight in a faceted black candleholder and a little box that hides a lighter. The shelf itself has a built-in towel rail and above it hangs a quirky souvenir from São Miguel Island in the Azores: a framed hydrangea crafted from fish scales.
Beneath the shelf is a little wooden unit used to store and dispense toilet paper. It is the same one that was originally in the room, but I revamped it with wood stain and a new ceramic knob.
One of my favourite things in the room is the new radiator. The old white one had to go because it would have drawn too much attention to itself standing out against the dark walls. Since this is a room we use a lot, we were willing to splash out on a radiator that would look really good. So we ordered an Edwardian-style cast iron radiator painted in Graphite Grey. The colour may blend into the wall as it's intended to do, but it still makes a major style statement in the room.
There is no space above the sink to hang a mirror so, in the previous version of the loo, I had hung a mirror on the wall beside the sink and fitted a quadrant-shaped glass shelf in the corner to create a visual as well as a useful link between the two. This worked well, so I just replicated this layout with different finishes in the "new" loo. So the basic frameless mirror is gone and a gold antique mirror from France hangs in its place, while the frosted glass shelf has been replaced by a clear glass shelf with black brackets that recedes against the dark wall and allows the accessories to shine. I picked up the soap dispenser while on a trip to the USA; it's black ceramic with a gold-coloured pump from the Threshold range at Target.
I did have some reservations about mixing metals in this small room, as I wasn't willing to replace the chrome fittings on the bathroom suite. But now that the room is finished, it doesn't bother me at all that there is gold and chrome next to one another. And it may even be a plus.
The final accent piece is this handmade ceramic sheep jug - the head is actually a handle and the tail is a spout! It's another little touch of quirkiness that I love, and the sheep also helps to contextualise the room within its rural Irish environment. A useful reminder amidst all the glamorous black and gold finishes!
This little loo represents a giant leap forward in my design confidence. But that's the great thing about small rooms - it's easier to be experimental because the investment isn't as large. Plus, even if it doesn't work out, it's easier to live with your regrets if they are confined to a smaller space!
Luckily, there are no regrets here. I love the drama this brings to our home and it has really encouraged me to be more bold in my design choices for other rooms in the house.
P.S. I do have a little confession to make ... the radiator is not actually plumbed in yet. I'll post about the installation when it's finished. I ordered the most gorgeous pewter valves and wall stays for it, so I can't wait to show you!
Bathroom Suite: Havari by Vogue Bathrooms from Keane & Co. Ltd. (Loughrea)
Tap/Faucet: Kalida Mono Basin Mixer & Pop-Up by Vogue Bathrooms from Keane & Co. Ltd. (Loughrea)
Ceiling Paint: Brilliant White Ceiling Paint by Dulux
Wall Paint: Dulux Vinyl Soft Sheen - Night Jewels 1
Wood Stain: Oil Based Gel Stain in Java by General Finishes
Ceramic Floor Tiles: Africa Black from B&Q (Galway) [out of stock]
Pendant Light: Persia Pressed Metal Ceiling Light from Bowley & Jackson (Yorkshire & Online)
Metal Shelf: Upcycled vintage - a two-tier unit cut in half and spray painted with M3010 Gold Matt by Montana (Gold)
Faux Cactus: 35cm leaf cactus in pot from Artificial Plants & Artificial Palms (Germany & Online)
Black Pot (for cactus): from a scented candle purchased in Target (USA)
Black Faceted Tealight Holder: Flying Tiger (Eyre Square Centre, Galway)
Scented Tealight: Lotus Flower by Tipperary Crystal
Trinket Box: Découpage box from Cregal Art (Galway); spray painted
Wall Ornament: Hydrangeas crafted from fish scales; a souvenir from São Miguel Island in the Azores
Cast Iron Radiator: Cast Iron Radiators (UK & Online)
Black Handtowel: Joyces (Athenry)
Toilet Roll Holder: McDonogh (Galway); upcycled
Black & White Ceramic Knob: The Gaiety (Westport)
Glass Corner Shelf with Black Brackets: Corner Shelf Quadrant Of A Circle Glass Tray Shelf by Ib-Style from Amazon
Soap Dispenser: Threshold Ceramic Soap Pump Black/Gold from Target (USA and Online)
French Antique Gold Mirror: The Gaiety (Westport)