“So long was the en-suite considered a little bit racy that bathrooms entered through the bedroom only became common in British homes in the 1980s. Terence Conran was a little ahead of the game as usual when he wrote in 1974 that ‘along with central heating and a good fitted kitchen, there is nothing like a bedroom/bathroom suite to bump up the value of your property.'” (Lucy Worsley. If Walls Could Talk – An Intimate History of the Home)

Original Downstairs Family Bathroom
During Renovation
Completed – This is now en suite to the third bedroom.

We chose to use the same tiles and fittings for all three ensuite bathrooms and the guest loo (or powder room)to give a sense of continuity.

Below are two pictures of the original main bathroom en-suite.

The house had been designed for a bachelor and this bathroom had quite a masculine feel with a single basin (sink) set into a wooden vanity.  Every drop of water splashed onto the vanity made unsightly white marks if they were not mopped up immediately.  The marks disappeared after a couple of hours but the top seemed to be completely impractical for a bathroom.

The renovation process above.  This is the stage when you wonder why you ever got started.

The completed bathroom. It was worth the effort.

Bernard, our architect insisted on having a small recess running along the base of both bathtubs.  It’s not something I’d  noticed elsewhere before but I like the way it looks and also the ‘toe wiggle room’ it provides.

The new en suite shower room presented more of a challenge.  It was built from scratch in the space behind the wall in the above picture.  It was difficult to photograph largely because of reflections.

Breaking through the wall.

What was originally the study is now the third bedroom.  The sliding doors above were once the hinged doors between the TV room and the living room downstairs.  We had them converted to sliders because they take up no space in a compact bathroom. The glass panes are not sandblasted.  A company called Window Art applied designs ordered and made to measure.  We have used them on several glass doors in both our homes.  It’s a much simpler, cleaner option than sandblasting and it’s impossible to tell the difference once they’re completed.  Window Art have proved to be an absolute pleasure to work with in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.(www.windowart.co.za)

New en suite shower room

We carried the same look through to the guest toilet (powder room) downstairs but since it’s not a ‘heavy-duty’ room, the flooring is oak rather than tile.

I have always enjoyed having art or items in my home that have been created by friends and acquaintances.  The shell photographs in the guest toilet were taken by none other than my dentist’s wife on a beach in Namibia.  I first saw them in Dr Gray’s surgery and immediately ordered copies.  I like to think that the Roman blind fabric reflects some of the shapes and colours.  Once again, it was quite a difficult room to photograph:

Original Guest Toilet just before stripping. Mirror already removed.
New fittings installed

I’ve always loved the texture and form of seashells and seeing these photographs above my dentist’s chair was a welcome distraction.

New bathroom tucked in on the right.

Over the course of these renovations, I’ve learnt a few things about bathrooms.  From Lucy Worsley’s ‘If Walls Could Talk’, I’ve discovered that the word ‘toilet’ is derived from the French word for a linen cloth, a ‘toile.’  Over time this evolved into ‘toilette’ which described a ‘basin wash,’ and this eventually contracted into the modern word ‘toilet’ which we use today.

None of what I’ve read has made me feel anything but grateful to have been born in 20th Century.  And if there is one thing for which we can thank North America it’s en-suite bathrooms which were first seen there.