Stylish bathroom makeover

With just a coat of paint and clever accessorising, decorator Sarah Curtis-Bowles turned her dated bathroom into a stylish haven

As they were planning a second phase of alterations to their Victorian home in the next year or so, Cape Town decorator, Sarah Curtis-Bowles, and her husband, John, didn’t want to invest too much on upgrading their existing bathroom. On the other hand they couldn’t bear to live with the turquoise walls, blue mosaic tiles and quarry tiled floor a minute longer.


As a short-term solution, Sarah decided to keep the existing finishes and fittings and simply update them with paint. “I wanted to give the bathroom a more contemporary look and to make the space feel bigger,” she explains. First the floor tiles were covered with a cream-tinted screed which immediately made the room feel brighter. Then they primed the wall tiles with tile primer and painted them with Midas’s Envirolite water-based Simply Charcoal. “We chose a dark charcoal as it hides any imperfections – this is an old house after all. We used the same colour on the walls for uniformity and charcoal is a really on-trend shade at the moment.”


With the shell completed, Sarah hung three white framed mirrors above the bath to increase the illusion of space and reflect light into the bathroom, and placed an interesting artwork on the far wall to add a focal point. “To make a bathroom into more than just a functional space, treat it as you would any other room,” says Sarah. “It’s about creating a room that you enjoy being in, so accessorise it with things you love.”

A vintage light fitting adds a sense of drama while towels, robes and bath products add splashes of colour. Another clever design detail was painting the recessed shelves the same colour as the wall. “I love collecting objets of interest – in this case pretty soaps – and when mixed in with other objects they make an exciting display, especially here where they stand out against the charcoal,” says Sarah.

“It turned out so well that we love the room now. Best of all it was so easy – it’s amazing what a coat of paint can do.”