Written by Stephanie Smith

Bathroom makeover: Creating a dream scheme in a Victorian home

Sylwia Jacob, a communications manager for a tile company, lives with husband Ben, an author and academic, and their three children in a Victorian semi in Crediton, Devon. The brief for their Victorian bathroom makeover was to make the most of the space by adding a walk-in shower, vanity unit and modern toilet, plus add the personality back in with stunning tiles, colour, artwork and plants.

Inspired by the surrounding countryside views, the family have achieved it and turned the large, characterless space into their dream bathroom, where at the end of the day they can kick back and relax in the standout roll top bath overlooking the fields. Bliss.

Victorian bathroom makeover with countryside viewsA before shot of the old Victorian bathroom

What was wrong with your original bathroom?

It’s a lovely big space with a huge window but it was almost totally bare other than a roll-top bath on a strange plinth raised up from the floor. I was determined to make better use of the space as there was a great big unused area where we could have a walk-in shower.

What were your big ideas for the Victorian bathroom makeover?

I didn’t want it to look like an ordinary bathroom, but to feel more like the other rooms in the Victorian house. Also, I was keen to give a flavour of the countryside as we have fields outside the window. I’m the communications manager for Original Style Tiles, so I get to see the latest designs, and I fell in love with their new Wildflower Rose pattern. I’ve used it in the shower and the built-in toilet panel and framed some pages from old botanical books to continue the theme.

The shades of pink are warm and inviting in the Victorian bathroom makeover

Keeping the roll-top bath was a sensible choice, but a new bath mixer and every piece of metalwork has been replaced with a brass version for a cohesive look. Photo: Colin Poole

And what about the colour?

I knew I wanted Little Greene’s Rolling Fog for the walls, a soft mushroom, but I wasn’t sure what other colour to add in. The tiles came first so I wanted to pick out a colour and I consulted the paint company, who suggested Blush, which I adore. I used it on the bath and also on the big cupboard which houses the boiler and all our towels and toiletries.

Blush tones in the Victorian bathroom makeover were perfect

A brass mono mixer for the basin was chosen to tie in with the age of the house, as have the bevelled edged classic brick tiles in white which make up the splashback. Photo: Colin Poole

Tell us about the Victorian floor?

We did hope to be able to keep the original wood floor of the Victorian bathroom makeover, but it became impossible. It was in a really bad condition with big gaps between the boards, which looked terrible. We would have needed to use so much silicone in between that we wouldn’t have been able to disguise it. So, in the end we went for wood effect tiles, which look just like floorboards.

The Victorian bathroom has benefitted from a walk-in shower

A large rectangular shower is a great use of space in the room and Sylwia chose clear glass rather than frosted so that the floral tiles stand out. Photo: Colin Poole

How did you make your budget work for you?

We wanted to invest the money where it made most sense, so the shower was the biggest expense. We decided to keep the Victorian bath as it was in good condition and just replace the taps to lower the costs and we kept our big floor mirror plus we did things like paint the existing curtain pole gold rather than buy a new one.

Floral tiles are a beautiful addition in the shower

The different flowers and plants in the tiles bring in colour and greenery, and the skill of the tiler is in evidence as each petal and leaf has been carefully matched up. Photo: Colin Poole

Would you do anything about your renovation differently?

No, because we had time to make our renovation decisions in lockdown and there were plenty of delays, the plumber got Covid at one point, and there were issues with deliveries. In the end it took five months for both bathrooms, but it was worth it.

Victorian bathroom makeover with countryside views

A false wall with matching floral tiles hides all the plumbing for the toilet, which is wall hung to give a feeling of space. Photo: Colin Poole

How do you feel now your Victorian bathroom makeover is all finished?

Our bathroom is a lovely space to be in. We’ve got a comfy velvet chair in there so it’s a place to relax in as well and the shower is really roomy and efficient. To sit in the bath and look over the fields at the end of a busy day is wonderful.


  • Shower: £3,002
  • Sanitaryware: £1,661
  • Tiles: £1,592
  • Taps: £1, 029
  • Radiators: £462
  • Paint: £370
  • Mirror: £285
  • Furniture: £244
  • Accessories: £182
  • Lighting: £132
  • Curtains: £35

Total spend 



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