Bathroom

How risky hotel bathrooms inspired this striking ensuite renovation

A white bathroom with dated vinyl and a small showerbox simply didn’t cut it for colour-loving Nikki Kettle, who’s transformed the ensuite into an engaging new space

   

Nikki Kettle doesn’t mind a challenge. The builder, and DIY expert for Your Home and Garden, has already painted and then repainted a giant mural in her living room, renovated her kitchen and pantry and built a playground outside for her kids. This time, she has transformed her ensuite, which was lined with vinyl on the floor and the walls, and suffered from a lack of colour.

What was your inspiration for the new look? I wanted it to feel like a bit of a retreat. I love when you stay at a nice hotel and it has a slightly risky bathroom instead of the standard white on white on white. Ensuites are normally quite small spaces, so you either make the decision to go light and bright to try to make it feel big, or you play on the cosiness and bring that sexy luxury hotel feel home. I decided on a sexy hotel bathroom.

Before:

What was the hardest part of the renovation? Ripping up the vinyl was a nightmare. It was the middle of summer and it was hot in that little room. To make things worse, the vinyl was so well stuck down that it literally came off in little pieces the size of a coin. At the time, I put a time lapse of it on my Instagram and I had floor layers messaging me, saying, “Now do you understand why we charge so much for removing and replacing?”

What was the most enjoyable part? My partner [Tom Taylor] and I are both builders, and there are certain things we are quite picky about. For example, we both have a pet hate of shower liners that aren’t stuck on properly. I’m not sure if it was enjoyable or just hilarious, but we went all out bracing the liner after we glued it on (which is completely unnecessary) to make sure we had no bubbles. By the time we were done, there was so much bracing in there Tom got stuck in the shower.

Was it a smooth reno, or did you encounter some problems? Our biggest problem was time. We struggled to find time to do it. This meant I jumped ahead to complete certain parts when I had time, which made it more difficult later on. Building and renovating really does have
an order you have to follow. Good project management is so important and saves you money in the long run. It’s just a shame I’m impatient and don’t practise what I preach.

How long did it take you to complete? We did it in about four weeks. It would have been much quicker but we did most of it between 7-11pm at night (as quietly as possible), while the kids were sleeping.

What was your budget? We didn’t have an exact budget in mind. We knew we had $2000 in the bank and if we went over that we had to find the money each week, which we ended up doing for some of the finishing bits. The green tiles and the plumbing were the only two things that we spent more on than we would have liked to. But we did claw back some of that money by finding a way to paint the ceiling rather than replacing it with plasterboard. The ceiling was a Seratone product and it was in great shape but had gone yellow over the years. Seratone is perfect for the bathroom because it doesn’t rot – it’s just hard to paint. I managed to find an amazing primer that did the trick. It took three coats of paint but it was still cheaper than replacing it. It just took a lot of my labour.

Where did you get the inspiration for the floor mosaic? It was the first time I had ever done mosaic tiles and, of course, I decided to go for the most intricate pattern possible. The tiles were a nightmare. It was hot in there and the tile glue was pretty unforgiving. I was working in limited time slots in a confined space. They were so hard to get right and I wanted them to look perfect. It worked out and they look amazing, but it was so hard.

Would you do it again? The mosaic tiles? Absolutely not.

What inspired the look for the wall tiles? With the floor being so busy, I wanted something a bit sleeker and less fussy on the walls. I didn’t go to the tile store knowing exactly what I wanted, I just said, “This is my budget, this is what’s on the floor, show me what options I can afford.” From there I spent some time laying different tiles out in different patterns until I found what I wanted.

What’s your favourite part of the ensuite now? The floor, so fun and interesting to look at on the loo. Also, who doesn’t love a crisp, clean, brand new shower?

Interview by: Bea Taylor. Photography by: Anna Briggs

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