‘The bathroom should be an extension of the rest of your home, so don’t be afraid to treat it that way’

Interior designer James Thurstan Waterworth shares his thoughts on creating the perfect bathroom.

Wall and floors

There’s something very charming about Moroccan Zellige tiles. Being handmade, they’re not perfect and there’s beauty in that imperfection, with wonderful movement, particularly when they reflect light. In a big bathroom, I like to lay antique timber floorboards if possible, as they also lend texture and warmth. In a smaller space, the likelihood is that there will be more splashes, so tiles or elegant marble flooring is a practical choice.

The bath

I really love an old, heavy, cast-iron tub. We tend to buy ours at auction or from our local reclamation yard (visit www.salvoweb.com to find a yard near you). If you’re fitting out a period home, it makes sense that the bath looks as if it has always been there. If there’s a big window, it’s lovely to position the bath so it has a great view.

I’m lucky because I’ve done this at my own house and have spent many happy hours in the bath contemplating the sunrise and the sunset. If privacy allows, you can position the lavatory in the same way and have a loo with a view, which can be fun.


I don’t tend to go for brassware that is too shiny; antique brass is my go-to finish as it has a gentle sheen and feels timeless. You can always repaint your walls, but you don’t want to have to change your taps after a few years, so choosing something with longevity is key.

The Water Monopoly does a range called Bill & Ben that is based on a traditional tap, but is slightly simplified, so it feels classic, yet works well in a period home and in more modern settings.

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Bill deck-mounted bath taps. From 900 at www.thewatermonopoly.com


Lighting is incredibly important. My feeling is that you don’t want to overdo it. I don’t use spotlights unless it’s for practicality in the shower, as the last thing you want is bright light in your eyes. However, I do like to use lights either side of the mirror and I’m particularly keen on fittings with shades.

The surfaces in a bathroom can lean towards being shiny and hard, so introducing fabric in the form of lampshades, curtains, blinds or even some upholstery adds colour and softness. I repurpose vintage textiles if I can.


Planning sufficient, easy-access storage is crucial. I often include an antique piece, such as a corner cabinet or chest of drawers. Bathrooms tend to be full of brand-new fixtures, but incorporating useful storage that also has a little bit of history can make things feel inviting.

Pierre Jeannerat file rack — price on application from www.thurstandesign.com

The basin

A chest of drawers or table paired with a reclaimed stone sink can look incredibly beautiful. You can get well-priced pieces at auction — I found a £300 table, for example. It’s not nearly as complicated as one would imagine pairing a chest or table with a basin.

With baths, showers and brassware, you’re more limited with the design and finish, but with a vanity you can really create your own individual look.


There’s no reason not to have some amazing artwork in the bathroom. You spend a lot of time there and, if you’re lying in the bath contemplating the world, you may want to look at something lovely. The bathroom should be an extension of the rest of your home, so don’t be afraid to treat it that way.

Thurstan Design — www.thurstandesign.com