Divinely deco: inside a bathroom that marries glamour with simplicity

An art deco-inspired wet room brings a calm monochrome statement to a listed barn in Essex

Boldness and calm were the watchwords for Laura and James Parker’s new guest suite. Raising two young children, running a recruitment firm, and caring for two energetic golden retrievers are all immensely rewarding, but often highly draining tasks.

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So when the opportunity arose to develop their garage into a guest bedroom and bathroom, they decided to deviate from the farmhouse style of their Essex converted barn and go all out on creating their dream art deco design, as Laura explains: ‘As it wasn’t going to be invaded by dogs and kids, it could be completely indulgent!’

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A monochrome palette and linear forms, such as the shower screen and geometric tiles ensure this wet room oozes art deco-inspired luxury. Opulent elements, such as the brushed nickel brassware and gold accessories, bring warmth and soften the hard elements of the room.

James was adamant he wanted a wet room with no visible shower tray, while Laura was thinking style and shapes. ‘I fell in love with the Crittall-style shower screen as soon as I saw it,’ she says.

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The Crittall screen performs a crucial function, dividing the room into clear zones while avoiding the space becoming claustrophobic

They came up with a brief for a suite ‘harking back to the glamour and overall aesthetic of the art-deco era’ and appointed senior designer Billie Towers at Ripples to come up with a plan. ‘Billie delivered a fantastic design and layout, I didn’t feel the need to change a thing.’

Project profile

Q&A with Billie Towers, senior designer at Ripples

How did you plan the layout?

I started with the main zones, such as the vanity, shower and WC area, and kept them all distinct from one another.

I used a false wall to serve a dual purpose – firstly, to incorporate a much-needed recess into the shower area for storage, and, secondly, as a support for the floating granite worktops used in the basin area.

The Crittall screen really completes things. I love the divide it creates between zones and whereas a standard screen tries to pretend it’s not there, this is eye-catching and on trend.

What was important to consider when designing this guest bathroom?

The couple loved the feel of a hotel they had stayed in, but it needed toning down for this bathroom as they wanted something more timeless.

We opted for white as a base and added glamorous touches, while avoiding an overtly feminine finish. The strong contrast of black and white is softened with brushed nickel brassware, adding some valuable warmth.

The hotel acted as a source of inspiration for storage. Since it wasn’t going to be a room that’s used that heavily, I created lots of open storage spaces to display towels and soaps.

What was the biggest challenge?

The WC area needed to look neat and unobtrusive, as we couldn’t put the cistern into the wall itself. This is why I designed the chamfered edge for the boxing of the WC, so it looks as though it runs into the wall. Not many people will notice this – exactly as it should be.

A monochrome palette was the obvious choice for getting across the opulence and timelessness of the art deco style.

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As well as offering an additional retro vibe, the striking floor tiles help to visually expand the space

‘Originally I felt white metro tiles were a bit overdone, but I’m really glad we used them,’ says Laura.

The diminutive size of the black and white marble mosaic tiles used on the floor meant the installation process was slightly slowed down, but given their importance to the end result, the Parkers were willing to wait. ‘They were pivotal in achieving the look we wanted’, confirms Laura.

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The black border tiles create the feeling of more height in the room, while retro-inspired lighting, plus gold accessories and trims, all add to the 1920s romance of this bathroom

Previous attempts to renovate bathrooms themselves had never resulted in an entirely satisfactory outcome. ‘Having a designer and excellent fitters made such a difference,’ says Laura, who sees her new bathroom as a portal to the high-glamour days of the ’20s and ’30s.

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‘We love that it feels like a holiday in Manhattan when you step in here,’ she says, ‘and even though it’s mostly for guests, we still see it as our escape!’


DESIGN Ripples, £13,000 

FIXTURES AND FURNISHINGS Deep countertop basin in white, £200; bespoke polished granite surface in absolute black, £733, both Bagno Design. Crittall-style walk-in shower panel, £651, Drench Showers. Rimless wall-hung WC and cistern, £685; dual white flush plate, £49, both Laufen. Ladder towel radiator in white, £219, Bisque. Wall-mounted, crosshead three-hole basin mixer in brushed nickel, £756; thermostatic shower control and crosshead brassware in brushed nickel, £1,023; traditional overhead shower in brushed nickel, £761, all Axor. Radcliffe single wall light, £181; Hampton large mirror, £326; Plaza black dado tile, £7.50 each, all Imperial. Paris marble mosaic tiles, £264.23 sq. m, Ca’ Pietra. Bevelled white metro tile, £43 per box (90pcs per box), Dune. All available at Ripples.