One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)

Week two of the One Room Challenge - the quest to overhaul a room in just six short weeks - involved doing a lot of mostly hidden remedial work. Our house was built during the Irish property boom and, as such, suffers from the poor quality of workmanship typical of that period. That means that, as usual around here, we had to fix a lot of what was wrong with the bones of the room before we could start making progress.

I mentioned in my Week 1 ORC post that the shower tray was installed with the drain in an awkward position. Not only that, but it was off-level in such a way that water actually ran away from the drain. *face palm* So we had to remove the shower tray to remedy those problems.

The House that Will | One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)

The subfloor was also uneven, so Hubby removed it and set to work planing the joists so that we could level the floor. He also added extra noggins to prevent movement in the sub-floor that might crack the tiles we wanted to install on top of it.

The House that Will | One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)

Removing the subfloor also made it easier to access the plumbing for the shower and radiator, both of which we wanted to move.

Another oddity we had to tackle was the fact that, when we bought the house, the door to the ensuite from the guest bedroom opened towards you ... like this:

The House that Will | One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)Original Layout

It meant that you had to pull the door open against yourself and then walk around it to get into the ensuite. Bonkers! One of the first things we did after moving in was to have our carpenter turn the door around so that it opened in the opposite direction with space to walk straight into the ensuite as you opened the door.

The House that Will | One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)Revised Layout

I mentioned last week that one of the tasks on our to-do list was relocating the light switch. That's because it had been installed to suit the original orientation of the door, to the right side of the doorway as you entered the ensuite. With the door turned around, the light switch was now on the opposite side to where the door opened so that you had to reach around behind the door to access the light switch. Still bonkers! 

To relocate the switch, Hubby drilled several holes in the wall of the ensuite using a hole saw, giving us access to the wiring and enabling us to pull it across to the opposite side of the doorway.

The House that Will | One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)

The House that Will | One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)

On the bedroom side of the wall, we then cut a new hole in the plasterboard for the switch plate and fitted a blanking plate over the old switch. The blanking plate is just a temporary fix and I plan to completely remove the old switch and patch the wall properly next time we are painting the guest room.

The House that Will | One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)

On the ensuite wall, we replaced all the circles we'd cut out of the plasterboard and made good the finish using patching plaster.

The House that Will | One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)

The House that Will | One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 2)

Then we painted a mist coat onto the bare plaster walls - when we skipped this step in our downstairs loo, we learned what a huge mistake that was.

It's always hard to do so much work and not see any progress, but it was very necessary if the room was ever going to function properly. With all the prep work done and out of the way, it was finally time to start thinking about how we would move the project forwards.


Since the guest ensuite will obviously be used much less than other rooms in the house, I'm keeping the budget fairly modest for this one. For starters, we won't be tiling all the walls like we did with our master ensuite. That means that the floor tiles would be the main visual interest in the room, making them the first priority. I searched high and low for tiles that would really grab my attention, but nothing did. Half my problem was that I didn't have a clue what I was looking for - it was one of those I'll know it when I see it kind of situations. On a whim one morning, I suggested to Hubby that we take a trip to check out the Fired Earth shop in Dún Laoghaire - a gorgeous store with so many fabulous options. One in particular caught my eye: the Capo from the Sorrento range. 

Fired Earth

The only problem was that it was over-budget. However, I loved this tile so much that I made a quick decision on the spot to reduce the budget for the wall tiles so that I could splash out a bit on the floor tiles. It made sense given that the floor was where I wanted the main interest to be anyway. So I ordered the tiles and they were delivered to our house a little over a week later.

For the wall tiles then, I went with something simple and classic ... and basically the cheapest wall tile I know of: square white ceramic tiles. 

The Design Chaser

I used these in our last house and they're also incredibly easy to work with, so that's another bonus. I'm still undecided whether I'll hang them in a running bond pattern, as above, or in regular straight lines. And I'm also see-sawing between using black grout or white grout. I guess I'll wait to see them on the wall before I decide on the grout colour. 

The wall tiles will just go around the shower and over the sink, so I'll paint the rest of the walls white to keep the wall colour consistent in this tiny room. 

Having a neutral black-and-white palette left lots of options in terms of the design accents, but I definitely wanted to add more colour. I came across this image on Pinterest and was inspired to use the same colour scheme for our guest ensuite.


I already had a beautiful marbled pink glass globe light that I had picked up in an antique shop a while earlier. The fixture is brass, which I know is on-trend right now, but it won't work in this room. I looked into getting it chrome-plated, but I'll probably just spray-paint it. It's just a cheap brass-effect finish, not actual brass, so if you're a brass-lover, you don't need to feel too bad about it. 

I had ordered a print with a pale blue background for the room, and then had the mad notion to paint the ceiling and top of the walls the same blue colour from the print. Actually, this is not even a new idea as pale blue ceilings were quite fashionable as far back as the Georgian era. But I've never done it before, so it feels a bit rebellious to me! Then my whole plan for the room was thrown up in the air when my sister gave me a birthday present of a bird print (remember, I love birds!). It's a striking image of a cormorant from the Hurrah Hurrah studio in Cork. I noticed that the shape of the bars on the bird's wing were similar to the motif on the floor tiles. It was so uncanny that I decided I had to include it in the room.

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I had already set my heart on the blue ceiling, but I didn't know if I could make it work with that much pink going on in the room. I tossed it over in my mind for ages, but eventually decided that it was just crazy enough to work! So the blue ceiling is staying.

To maximise space, I really want a carriage mirror like this one. I love its simple design, but also the fact that it incorporates a little shelf - handy for guests to store their toothbrushes, contact lenses etc., as well as somewhere to display little decorative items.


The final decision to be made is what colour to paint the sink unit (vanity). It's currently maple, which I don't hate - I did use it as is in our master ensuite. But for this room, I definitely want it painted. Don't ask me why I bought identical bathroom suites for both rooms. They were purchased years ago and I guess I just didn't think it through properly at the time. 

Auction Xchange

I'm usually not one to paint wood - and definitely NOT vintage or antique pieces - but I can make an exception for mass-produced modern pieces. I'm torn between painting it black to keep it neutral or going with the pale blue to make everything lighter and more fun ... but that may be a bit too wacky, even for me! 

What do you think? What colour should I paint it?

Related posts:

One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite Reveal

One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 5)

One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 4)

One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 3)

One Room Challenge: Guest Ensuite (Week 1)