Suzanne Taylor rearranged the layout of her compact bathroom to retain a period feature.

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Faced with the dilemma of trying to find a way of getting the best out of a small bathroom, Suzanne Taylor and husband Bruce couldn’t decide on whether to update it, working around the badly positioned claw-foot bath, or turn it into a dedicated shower area. In the end, they asked interior-designer friend Camilla Pringle for help. ‘We needed expert advice to find out what was feasible,’ explains Suzanne. ‘After we went through our options with her, it became clear that, to get everything we wanted – namely, to keep the vintage-style bath and also have a walk-in shower – we would need a bigger room.’

The solution was to knock through to the kitchen and steal cupboard space – a decision not taken lightly, as it would mean two essential rooms would be out of action for a lengthy period. ‘We took the long-term view that we could afford this sacrifice for a short duration,’ Suzanne says. ‘In any case, the kitchen is far too small for a family of five and could do with renovating. We can just about manage for now, but we plan to build an extension in the future.’

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Having a professional on hand saved the Taylors time, money and, more importantly, stress. ‘Camilla sourced top-quality materials, such as the glamorous marble surround for the vanity unit,’ says Suzanne. ‘She bought this at a fraction of what it would have cost us at a high street bathroom retailer.’

The interior designer also gave the couple the confidence to try things they normally would have employed a builder to do. For example, after Camilla pointed out that the wall between the two rooms wasn’t load-bearing, the Taylors each took a sledgehammer to it and spent a fun afternoon knocking it down. ‘It was incredibly therapeutic,’ laughs Suzanne.

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Thanks to a fantastic find, the couple saved a small fortune when it came to the flooring: some years earlier, Suzanne had rescued a hoard of limestone floor tiles from a skip and finally got to lay them in the revamped bathroom. ‘They’d been stored in an outbuilding at my parents’ house,’ she says, ‘They’re fabulous and I always knew I’d find a use for them eventually – and my mum and dad are glad to see the back of them.’

Even by increasing the size of the room, the bath, washstand and WC all had to be moved to create enough space for the walk-in shower. ‘We wanted to keep the period charm of the claw-foot bath,’ explains Suzanne. ‘It’s extremely heavy, however, and we probably wouldn’t have been able do it if the room had been upstairs. We arranged to have it re-enamelled and it took four men to get it out of the house and into the van.’ Now painted in the same colour as the vanity unit, it’s the centre of the room – a real showstopper.’

‘We are so pleased with our new family bathroom,’ beams Suzanne, ‘and it’s now become my sanctuary as well. When the children have gone to bed, often I just close the door, lie in the bath and relax completely.’

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Photography: Douglas Gibb

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