Tag Archives: budget

The Budget Bathroom Challenge

One of the great things about being an interior designer in Cumbria is that I see jobs of all shapes and sizes. And contrary to what you might think I enjoy the budget jobs just as much as those with more to spend. The Northerner in me loves to see how far I can stretch a budget and still achieve a bit of wow. A few months ago I wrote about my Budget Bathroom Challenge. The bathroom was finished well before Christmas but I’m a bit of a perfectionist and there were a couple of minor snags to fix before I showed you the finished result. And now it’s ready for its close up….hold on to your hats you won’t recognise this room.

The Budget Bathroom Challenge

If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you lovely people) you might remember this is the customer who knew his house needed work, particularly his bathroom and kitchen. But a combination of time, budget, overwhelming choices and the upheaval had caused him to procrastinate. That is until he slipped in the shower and pulled the curtain rail down and some of the tiles off the wall. That was when he called me.

Budget bathroom - before image

As you can see the bathroom was more than a little tired. But because of the size it had huge potential.

Budget bathroom - before image

It even had lots of existing storage space which we could improve.

Budget bathroom - before image

The Plan

Changing layout is something you should try to avoid if you’re on a tight budget because of the cost of labour and materials but the customer was desperate for a separate shower. We also knew we would need to plaster the whole room, another additional cost. So to keep it within budget I shopped around for fixtures and fittings, limited new lighting and suggested a sheet vinyl floor and acrylic panels instead of tiles which we would limit to wet areas.

As the property is Victorian we wanted to keep some traditional elements. However, traditional bathroom fittings tend to be more expensive than contemporary ones so we made a small saving by keeping the existing sink and just replacing the taps. (Tip – look for tap packs rather separate sets for the bath and sink to save a few pennies).

Bringing in separate trades to do everything can also be expensive, and make your project take longer but I work with a great fitter Ben Butler Joinery & Home Improvements. and Ben (and his colleague Will) do everything except plastering and painting which is a godsend.

Modern bathroom with traditional elements in a Victorian terrance house designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors

I was initially planning a pistachio green colour to add warmth and a contrast to all the white fittings, but I then discovered the customers favourite colour was blue….. So goodbye pistachio, hello Windblown Blue by Valspar.

Budget Bathroom - Windblown Blue by Valspar paint

The Final Reveal

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

I’ll pause for a moment so you can scroll back up to check this is the same bathroom……

So the finished bathroom now has a large walk in shower enclosure with a powerful 2-outlet thermostatic shower and recessed storage for shampoo bottles. I originally planned to include a heated towel radiator above the bath and a tall column radiator by the door until I found this Tissimo towel radiator which gives out a whopping 4649 BTU’s which is plenty hot enough for this bathroom. (Tip – buy a plumbed towel radiator and a dual fuel element so that you can run the radiator off the electric in the summer to dry your towels).

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Check out that stone flag effect vinyl floor, looks like tile doesn’t it?

We managed to squeeze a 1600mm long bath under the window. Thats only 10cm shorter than a standard bath, so unless you’re a giant you’d probably never notice.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

This left plenty of space for the toilet and sink on the wall next to it. There’s nothing worse than knocking your knees on the bath when you sit down, or cracking your elbow on the sink when you reach for the loo roll.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We used white metro tile effect acrylic wall panels inside the shower, behind the bath and above the sink. If it wasn’t for the fact that most people use grey grout these days and these sheets are all white they’d be easily mistaken for tiles.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The old cupboards had old shutter style doors and very few shelves which were slatted so stuff would fall through. The customer now has much better storage with access to the boiler, space for the laundry bin, and extra shelves for toiletries and towels. And you’ll have to take my word for it as I’m not showing you a picture of the shelves. Toiletries and packs of loo roll aren’t pretty and would spoil my post….

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We were economical with the lighting to keep costs down and just replaced the central light fitting and added a matching wall light above the mirror and a recessed spot above the shower.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

And lastly, a new window blind from my favourite online supplier Blinds2Go. They do a great range of very affordable made to measure blinds and curtains and will send you free samples which always gets my vote.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Budget

This is a good sized bathroom, everything except the sink had to be replaced, and we needed to do a lot of joinery, plastering, plumbing and electrical work. For a project like this you can typically expect to spend at least £7-8k, but (drum roll please) we did all this for just over £5,000 proving two things:

  • Employing an interior designer can save you money
  • Budget can still be beautiful

And most importantly the customer loves it. What do you think?

Boutique on a budget

It’s pretty easy to make a room look good if you’ve got big bucks to spend. I’m not saying big spenders don’t make interior design mistakes, you only need to watch MTV cribs or Through The Keyhole to prove it. And I make no apologies for watching these shows, they are house porn in its purest form. But it takes a lot more creativity and resourcefulness to create the wow factor on a budget. Which is why the theme for my stand this week at the Lakes Hospitality show was boutique on a budget. The majority of attendees own small businesses – restaurants, hotels, B&B’s, guest houses and holiday lets, and although the lakes remains a popular destination for tourists they still have to work hard to make a profit, and that’s before the recent floods hit. So I wanted to show attendees that you can create impact without breaking the bank.

Now every designer likes a blank canvas, but exhibition stands bring a whole new meaning to the word drab.

Standard exhibition shell stand at the lakes hospitality association trade show in Cumbria

If I wanted to wow I needed wallpaper but it needed to be high impact low cost. I um’ed and ah’ed for weeks over the right look, and was nearly seduced by three that I’d found on offer at wallpaper direct.com. All usually £35 a roll but reduced to £10.

My first love was this black and gold wallpaper with the back to back usherettes. Great colours for a luxe look and very striking from a distance. But maybe not right for the Lakes…..

Interval from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection

Interval from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection. Image via Houzz

Next I was strangely drawn to this Chorus Line wallpaper. I loved the idea of the black background with hot pink accessories. But again perhaps not right for the Lakes.

Chorus Line from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection

Chorus Line from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection. Image via Houzz

And then I spotted this blush pink and gold Geisha wallpaper. The colours are bang on trend, and its very pretty, but AGAIN perhaps not in the Lakes.

Geisha from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection

Geisha from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection. Image via Houzz

And then I found the perfect specimen. A natural looking motif that’s not ‘country cottage’, a striking design that isn’t garish, and a colourway that works with a boutique look. And £10.99 a roll – hurrah. I had sleepless nights over my plan to screw plywood sheets to the stand and wallpaper on site, particularly since its been 20 years since I wielded a wallpaper pasting brush. There were also a couple of attempts to foil my plan on the day that involved getting the electrician to move cables and borrowing a saw to cut two of the sheets to fit but we did it, and I managed a wallpapering job that would have my decorator in tears but looked perfect from a distance of 3ft. Result.

Mr W wielding a sword on the Amelia Wilson Interiors stand at the 2016 Lakes Hospitality show in Cumbria

(A very frustrated Mr W after we realised we’d need to cut two of the board to fit)

The wallpaper is called Whisper by Arthouse and available from wallpaper direct.com – what do you think, enough wow? Amelia Wilson Interiors exhibition stand at Lakes Hospitality show. Whisper wallpaper by Arthouse

Whisper by Arthouse wallpapers available at wallpaper direct.com

I needed  a way of displaying examples of my work without taking up too much room and decided a gallery wall would do the trick. It also fit with my ‘hotel lounge’ idea. A few old frames I found in my garage mixed with a few from my neighbours garage (everyone has picture frames in their garage…) and some recent charity shop purchases and voila! The lovely inky grey paint is called Evening Coat by Valspar and was supplied free courtesy of my lovely local rep Becky in return for a plug (here you go Becky – thank you)

Gallery wall painted in Evening Coat by Valspar and covered in old frames

Gallery wall painted in Evening Coat by Valspar

In my mind no guesthouse or B&B lounge would be complete without a hostess trolley, and look at this beauty I found on eBay for £20. Straight out of my granny’s living room and perfect for my gold and grey colour scheme.

Gold retro hostess gin trolley

A few vintage decanters and tumblers, an empty whisky bottle filled with cold tea (clever eh), some old books from Oxfam and a magnifying glass from Homesense (£7.99) and it looks like its straight off the set of Fawlty Towers…

Vintage decanters, old books and magnifying glass used to style a retro hostess gin trolley  I put a black Biba decanter on the bottom tray which picked up for a tenner in the House of Fraser sale. Looks fab with a few black ostrich feathers doesn’t it?

Black decanter from BIBA and black ostrich feathers used to dress retro hostess gin trolley

The centre piece of my stand was going to be an old console table that used to reside in my flat in London many moons ago. It was originally from Heals and is the Tina Turner of tables (great legs). I wouldn’t normally paint wooden furniture but the veneer was damaged in a few places and couldn’t be repaired so I took a big gulp and painted it Evening Coat grey to match the gallery wall and sealed it with a clear varnish to prevent chipping.

On top of the table I wanted two oversized table lamps. I’ve been scouring Homesense for a while for the perfect pair but to no avail, so in the end I opted for a couple of bases (£15 each) which I sprayed gold, and made shades using kits from Needcraft and some grey velvet and ostrich feather fringing I bought off eBay.

Gold lamp base with grey velvet lampshade with grey ostrich feather fringing

(Re-sprayed lamp bases and homemade lampshades. Total cost around £35 each)

I found the gold mirrored tray below on sale at Laura Ashley (reduced to £30) and added some more charity shop glassware, another Biba vase from House of Fraser (£8) and an old Hendricks bottle. The tray is going in my bathroom when I’ve unpacked….

Vintage glassware, BIba vase and Hendricks bottle use to decorate a mirrored gold tray from Laura Ashley

And the finished effect? Check out the table legs – beautiful aren’t they…

Grey console table with gold and grey table lamps styled by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Now you can’t have boutique without a velvet chair but space was limited. However, I am lucky enough to have a very talented upholsterer friend, who produced the perfect petite piece. A vintage French cocktail chair which she picked up for a few quid on one of her antique market jaunts.

Vintage French cocktail chair before being upholstered by Ilona Hadfield, proprietor of Fandango

Don’t believe what you see on the Great Interior Design Challenge. Upholstery is not easy. And it involves more than just a staple gun. Well it does if you want it to look good and last. I know this because I spent two evenings a week for 6 months trying to learn the skill. There is a reason we pay professionals and thats exactly what Ilona is. She upholstered it in beautiful Designers Guild velvet with contrasting gold buttons and piping. Unsurprisingly it had a few ladies swooning on the day. It’s for sale BTW so message me if you’re interested.

Vintage French cocktail chair upholstered in Designers Guild crushed velvet with contrasting gold piping and buttons by Ilona Hadfield

A tall frothy potted palm plant from Ikea and the stand was finished. What do you think? Could you imagine yourself transported to the Lake District on a cold November evening, in an old Victorian guesthouse, lounging on a velvet chair sipping whisky listening to the open fire crackling and the rain outside?

IMG_0266

OK, maybe I have a very vivid imagination, but it certainly pulled the crowds at the show. Better than some boring grey felt eh?

Creating the luxury look on a budget

In my former life I was rarely alone. I lived and worked in central London, and if I wasn’t travelling I was out with friends enjoying the city. Now I live in rural Cumbria, only see Mr W at weekends, and could go days without seeing anyone if I didn’t visit my neighbours (aged 65 and 88 respectively..) and get a lot of deliveries. I’m on first name terms with Kev from DPD and have him on speed dial in case I’m running late for his exceptionally punctual visits.

I wouldn’t change my new life for anything but unsurprisingly I can get lonely now and again. So last week I adopted a 3 year old girl called Lexi. Before you think that’s a little extreme she’s an American Bulldog and I am totally besotted with her. I think the feeling is mutual.

Lexi the American Bulldog

Lexi my gorgeous girl

Another feature of my former life was staying in fancy pants hotels, both for business and pleasure so I’ve really been enjoying one of my jobs this week which has been to recreate the luxury hotel bedroom look on a budget. Here are a couple of tips on how to achieve this:

1. Layering

If your budget is limited you’ll need to shop around to find affordable items. Save yourself time trying to colour match everything exactly by going for a layered look. Pick your key colour and then look for items in tones of this colour. A neutral colour like grey is perfect for this look. But it also works with brighter colours.

Grey bedroom

Bedroom designed with layers of grey

2. Customise

There are people that knock Ikea but you can’t beat them for affordable simple furniture, and their self assembly model means you can customise pieces before you ignore the instructions and try and work out where everything goes (or is that just me?). I stayed at the uber glam Epic Sana Hotel in Lisbon earlier this year in a room that had white leather walls and wardrobe doors. I think this look could be replicated using Ikea’s high gloss wardrobe doors, good quality white faux leather and a glue gun. My thought was to only cover the middle doors in 3 door wardrobes to add a touch of glamour and introduce some texture into the scheme. If my customer goes for the idea I’ll share the results.

Bedroom at the Epic Sana in Lisbon

Bedroom at the Epic Sana in Lisbon

3. Google

Web technology means any retailer can add text to the images on their website so that they show up in Google images. Even if they’re a one man (or woman) band and built the website themselves from a free template. So if you need amber glass accessories to complete your look, just google amber glass and see what pops up. I’ve found countless bargains scouring google images, and I’ve found products from major retailers that I’d missed when I was in store either because they’d sold out or because I was distracted by handbags and shoes I can’t afford…. I picked up the bargain below for £50 after googling grey zig zag rug.

Bargain Cabone rug from Lookagain.co.uk

Bargain Cabone rug from Lookagain.co.uk

4. Make regular trips to your local Homesense and TK Maxx stores

I know I’ve said this before but I just love TK Maxx and their homewares stores Homesense. They introduce new stock on a daily basis and you can find some great quality bargains at knock down prices. (The staff are also really helpful and chatty too). The rug above was for a customers guest bedroom. The room is less than 2m wide so even with a small 4ft 6″ double bed there was little room for bedside tables. But I found these stylish ceramic topped side tables in the garden section  of TK Maxx. Only 30cm wide and £24.99 each.

Small black and white zig zag patterned tiled side tables from TK Maxx

Small zig zag tiled side tables from TK Maxx

It’s great when you get a customer that wants and can afford luxury but most of my customers can’t, and to be honest I think I get more pleasure from creating a stylish look on a budget. It must be my northern roots – you can take the girl out of Manchester and all that.

Quick chicken count before I go – we’re still at 6 but Victoria Peckham is on the watch list. She had a narrow escape from Finlay the spaniel and may have a broken leg. If it doesn’t heal we may have to intervene to put her out of her misery. Thats the royal we of course, by which I mean Harold the farmer….