Kate Watson-Smyth is a journalist who has been writing for the national press including The Independent, The Financial Times, The Guardian and The Daily Mail for the last 25 years. She set up her award-winning blog madaboutthehouse.com five years ago and is now the only blog to be syndicated in the national press - the ipaper. Her first book Shades of Grey came out last year and she is writing her second due for publication next March. Kate also runs an interiors consulting business helping source and style items for the home.

'We’re all used to the idea of the bathroom as a spa room these days but for many of us it’s a small space that has seen better days. If you’re struggling with how to make your bathroom more Soho Farmhouse and less Animal Farm, here are some ideas. There are a few simple ways to revamp the bathroom that won’t cost the earth and that will make a huge difference to how you use, and, more importantly, enjoy the space. You can, of course, do all of these, or just some of them. They work individually or as a set of things to consider if you are doing the whole room.'

Storage, Storage, Storage

'It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that you have more stuff in your bathroom than you a) realise b) need and c) have space for. First job – sort this out. If you aren’t going to finish that last bit of shampoo because you are all excited by the new one then chuck it out. If you haven’t used that moisturiser for six months then out it goes. Likewise, old make-up; stuff that is half-finished and stuff you don’t need. Then work out what you actually want to keep and buy the appropriate receptacles. If you don’t have enough shelves use the walls – cupboards and first aid cabinets can be mounted. Do you need to keep 47 magazines by the loo? Buy a rack. If you’re keeping towels and spare loo roll in there then buy some baskets to keep everything together and more presentable.'

Do you need the bath?

'Removing the bath used to be a big no no from estate agents who were thinking of resale values, but if you can’t remember the last time you had a bath, and you hate fighting the shower curtain on a daily basis, then consider removing the bath and installing a big shower and I mean big. Fit the largest walk-in shower you can manage. You can even put a seat in for those who don’t like standing. That will instantly make your space feel more luxurious. This is the big revamp but it might just change your life.'

Can you fit a second basin?

'Two basins, “they” say - and “they” are supposed to know - are the secret to a happy marriage. At least it’s one less row to have in the morning. If you can’t fit two then consider replacing a standard version with one that’s long enough for two people to stand next to each other. And while we’re on the subject of the sanitary ware – if you are replacing both basins and loo then consider wall-mounted. The more floor space you can see the larger the room will appear. The bath already covers a lot of floor so hanging the loo and the basins will bring some of that back.'

Make it Feel Bigger

'This is a con but it works so go with it – illusionists have built entire careers on such deceptions. Large mirrors will bounce the light around and reflect it back from a window or themselves. This will automatically increase the sense of space. If you have a spare wall then consider covering the whole thing in mirror tiles. Using foxed, or antique, mirror will make it feel less like a gym and more like a luxurious room. You can have a modern mirror over the basin(s) for the close-up work.'

Check your Accessories

'If you do nothing else you can do this. When was the last time you bought new towels? Treat yourself. Wrapping yourself in a huge, soft towel will at least feel luxurious even if the room around you isn’t. If you can’t run to changing the sanitary ware then a new shower curtain is always a possibility and there are some great ones around these days – both high street and high end. Treat yourself to soap and shampoo in pretty packaging so they look good on the shelves. If you prefer to bulk buy then decant into smaller, and better-looking, bottles. It’s the details like this that will make the space a pleasure to use. Think hotel. Think Soho House.'

Sort out the Lighting

'It’s a common mistake to arrange spotlights in a symmetrical grid on the ceiling. But if they have been installed properly you won’t be looking up to see where the light is coming from. Put them where you need them instead and don’t worry about the pattern. Wall lights either side of the basin mirror will provide more direct light and will create a more relaxing atmosphere the evening. They may even reflect the shimmering bath water onto the walls. If you want a chandelier – and who doesn’t? – it needs to be 1.5 metres from top of the water when the bath is filled and have an IP44 rating. This basically rules it out for most of us who don’t have high enough ceilings, but if you want it in one corner or if your bath isn’t in the middle of the room then there is room for manoeuvre. Ask your plumber.'

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