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ESCAPE FROM THE bathgloom; HOW A DARK, CRAMPED SPACE WAS TRANSFORMED ON A TIGHT BUDGET.

Byline: By FIONA JAMES

A TINY bathroom and separate toilet with cramped fixtures can be a real headache for a busy family rushing to get ready in the morning. And that's exactly the problem Phil and Wendy Hammond inherited when they moved into their two-bedroom first-floor flat in South London in 2002.

After a few years of struggling with the tight, crowded space they were desperate to transform their two small rooms into a light and airy single space by knocking down the adjoining wall. Now, with a bit of careful planning, they have totally transformed the space and kept the costs down by moving fixtures only when necessary.

Phil, 31, who works in marketing, and Wendy, 30, a teacher, needed to stick to a budget of just pounds 1,600 for the whole room, including work, fixtures and fittings.

So they planned the new layout to use as much of the existing plumbing as possible. "Relocating fixtures can really add to the cost of a new bathroom, so I'd always advise people to bear this in mind at the planning stage, or you can end up with a big plumbing bill," says Phil.

With plenty of DIY experience, Phil did a lot of the work himself - saving money to spend on the fixtures, fittings and accessories. As the wall between the toilet and the bathroom wasn't load-bearing, it was fairly straightforward to remove, and Phil then called in the help of a friend to plaster and finish the walls where necessary.

Their new bath was simply turned around to make better use of the space under the window and to make the most of the natural light, while the toilet stayed where it was.

By removing the old-fashioned chunky toilet and replacing it with a slim, modern design, they gained a valuable couple of inches in a room where every inch counts. The sink was replumbed and the new pipework boxed in and tiled to create a handy storage area for toiletries and towels that is easy to keep clean.

The couple were fed up with the dingy old carpet and wanted something more practical and hard-wearing. "We opted for large white ceramic floor tiles, which have really helped to open up the room. We used them on the side of the bath, too, to increase the feeling of space," says Wendy.

Phil left decorating decisions to Wendy, who was determined to have a splash of colour while keeping the room feeling light and fresh.

Although her love of lilac won the day, she opted to keep the majority of the room white, adding just a touch of colour on the walls and in the accessories.

"If we decide to change the colour scheme in the future, then it just means a lick of paint or a bit of wallpaper in a new colour, rather than replacing expensive fixtures and fittings," she pointed out. "We'd be able to give the room a totally new look quickly and easily without it costing the earth." The lilac wallpaper, with its shimmer finish, reflects light around the room and adds colour without being overpowering. Plain white tiles around the shower area keep the room looking unfussy, while a handful of patterned tiles with silver detailing add interest above the sink.

Because the room has a sloping ceiling, Phil and Wendy decided a shower rail and curtain might make it feel smaller, so chose a sleek, contemporary glass shower screen instead. New recessed downlighters with a dimmer switch mean that the perfect atmosphere can be created at the touch of a button - subtle, moody lighting perfect for a relaxing soak in the bath, or bright lighting for helping them to wake up on dark winter mornings. A neat mirror with frosted border and built-in shelf reflects light back into the room, while a small number of accessories make an impact without cluttering up the space. A heated towel rail in a smart chrome finish hung neatly on the wall is perfect for keeping towels cosy and warm.

Finishing touches are all-important, so it's worth paying attention to detail. A quirky frosted toilet seat matches the contemporary theme, and a chrome light-pull completes the look.

"We're amazed at how different the space feels now and are delighted we took the plunge," says Phil. "We were a little daunted at first, but it was definitely worth the time, money and effort."

CAPTION(S):

BEFORE Dreary colours and limited space' Pictures: STEWART GRANT' AFTER Bright, airy and fresh new look with a Ceramica Milan 1700 x 700mm acrylic bath, pounds 129.97, Plumbworld (www.plumbworld.co.uk). Amazon bath sc pounds 69.98, B&Q (0845 609 66 www.diy.com). Basin taps in chrome, pounds 39.99 each' rectangular frosted mirror with glass shelf, pounds 29.99, both Argos (0870 600 2020 www.argos.co.uk)' A DIAGONAL wall was the ideal place to mount the heated towel rail. Its sleek design means it takes up next to no space, and it keeps towels neat and tidy as well as warm. Matrix straight chrome 1200 x 500mm towel rail, pounds 129, Victoria Plumb (0870 760 7222, www.victoriaplumb.com)' STYLISH glass shelves can display favourite toiletries and some carefully chosen accessories. Mount them of fset for extra interest and choose slimline designs to take up less space. The wallpaper is from a selection at Homebase (0845 077 8888, www. homebase.co.uk).' A SMALL blind made from a length of shower curtain ties in with the window over the bath. Croydex silver mosaic shower curtain, pounds 6.99, Homebase (0845 077 8888, www.homebase.co.uk). Roller blind kits, from pounds 9.95, Pretty Frills (01689 897180, www.prettyfrills.co.uk)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 29, 2006
Words:956
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