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See how this tired bathroom transformed into an en suite retreat

February 16, 2017

Sarah Roberts had very definite ideas on how to turn a tired space into an en suite retreat.

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Having spent 20 years living in London, Sarah and Paul Roberts decided they wanted a quieter pace of life and that the Buckinghamshire countryside fitted the bill. ‘It’s where I spent my childhood and where my family are still based,’ she says. ‘We went looking for a house with a big garden, so we could grow vegetables, and within walking distance of a shop, pub and train station, so we could get into town easily for work and socialising.

Eventually they found a Seventies bungalow in Great Missenden that ticked all the boxes. ‘The only downside was that it had an awkward layout, a leaking conservatory and needed lots of work,’ explains Sarah. ‘But we could see the potential and were keen to turn it into the modern, open-plan space we were looking for, including a fabulous en suite for the master bedroom.’

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Sarah wanted to turn this zone into a little haven for herself, where she could relax in the bath while taking in views of the garden. ‘I love secret doorways,’ she admits, ‘so I asked Jonathan Dale of Jane Duncan Architects in Amersham to design a bank of wardrobes with a hidden door into the bathroom – it’s very clever.’

At 5ft 2in, Sarah finds a standard bath too long for comfort, so she tracked down a compact model online. This was fitted below new large-framed windows, which replaced two small original picture ones. Doing this also opened up the space to fit a shower unit at one end of the L-shaped room. To provide symmetry, the architect suggested making a run of low units along one wall to incorporate the bath and create a seamless flow. ‘We were very fortunate that Jonathan was also working on another project where a brand new bathroom had been removed,’ explains Sarah, ‘so we were able to buy some of the fixtures and fittings. They look lovely and saved us quite a bit of money.’

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Between the bedroom and the en suite, a narrow stud wall was built to create a handy place for shelving and an ideal spot for Sarah to have a mirror so she can put on her make-up while standing. ‘One thing I learnt from my last bathroom is to get the lighting right for an area like this,’ she says. So when the ceiling had to be replaced, Paul, who is a bit of a whizz with gadgets, decided to install Rako digital lighting and a state-of-the-art music system, both of which can be activated by a remote control. ‘He’s programmed the networks so that low lights come on automatically when it’s dark,’ explains Sarah, ‘which is handy in the middle of the night. But the best part is lying in the bath and being able to dim the lights and play my favourite tunes with just the touch of a button. Bliss.’

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Photography: Fraser Marr