Spring Hill Bathroom Renovation


Clem Carpentry showcases a renovation to the bathroom of a 100-year-old cottage in Spring Hill in inner-city Brisbane

Spring Hill is home to a large number of older-style worker’s cottages, and our clients home is a charming example dating back about 100 years. Their bathroom was a pain point, however, and they contracted us for a solution. They were very keen to do away with the present bath-over-shower, which took up a lot of the limited space in the room and was dated. The bathroom had structural and plumbing issues and was showing signs of mould. It also lacked storage and suitable lighting.

The brief

Our clients are busy professionals who wanted a modern, comfortable bathroom with clean lines. They specifically requested a walk-in shower and hexagon tiles. They asked that the design might both serve their busy lifestyles and respect the heritage charm of their 100-year-old cottage.

Structural re-build

The bathroom floor presented our first challenge. The brick pier supporting it was sinking, leaving the floor crooked, and also the walls.

We started from the ground up. Ensuring that the foundations are strong is necessary with older homes, where they have often weakened over time. Neglecting this can lead to movement over time and cracked tiles. It is also especially important to ensure everything has the correct strength to support the new tiles and fittings.

So, we demolished the bathroom and made our way through the floor so that we had direct access to carry out ground works. These included:

  • replacing the existing supporting pier

  • ensuring a solid foundation by installing additional steel supports

  • re-levelling the bathroom floor.

Inside the bathroom, we removed the wall linings and checked the framing over using a level and string lines, straightening it as required.

Renovation work

We arranged for a plumber to pre-plumb for a feature overhead shower, mixer, vanity, tapware, toilet and water connections plus a one-metre strip drain in the shower.

Then we laid 19mm compressed cement as the floor base layer. We installed framing to create a new cavity sliding doorway. This is a space-saving measure for the small room, and we designed the cavity to accommodate the original bathroom door to help preserve the history of the house on a custom-built cavity slider track. This worked perfectly.

(We restored the door by first sanding it and filling some imperfections, then coating it with Dulux Aqua Enamel paint for the best-looking and most superior hard-wearing finish. We also installed a stainless-steel privacy set.)

The electrical pre-wiring was completed for a three-in-one exhaust fan that was ducted outside under an eave, two GPOs and a feature LED mirror above the bathroom vanity.

Next, we lined the bathroom walls with villaboard sheeting and put aqua-check gyprock on the ceiling. We plastered the joints ready for tiling and painting. A licensed waterproofer completed the waterproofing, with a certificate obtained for the clients’ records. We also completed some work on the hallway outside the bathroom that was necessary due to the change in door style.

Tiling and fitting

During the planning phase the clients had considered a range of hexagon tiles, and the winning choice was bluestone for its quality, hardwearing, attractive natural stone that offers a modern yet timeless finish. Our tiler installed these across the bathroom floor and applied a sealant specifically suited to natural stone.

We chose classic white subway tiles for the walls. A clean white backdrop helps to make the bathroom feel larger, and the subways are a perfect complement to the hexagon.

We used Grohe fixtures throughout the bathroom, including the feature Grohe F-Series luxury ceiling-mounted 500mm-wide shower head. The back-to-wall toilet and basin are by Caroma.

An exhaust fan with excellent extraction was necessary given the small space and the lifestyle of the clients, busy professionals who are seldom at home to leave the window open. We installed a Clipsal Saturn Series GPO and switch to add to the feeling of a luxe bathroom.

Cabinetry, window and shower door

In order to offer the small room more storage, we custom-built a 2-pac cabinet and fitted it above the toilet. We installed a rectangular bevelled-edge frameless mirror and concealed LED lighting with a warm-coloured globe. The cabinet-maker performed the final measure on-site to ensure the accuracy of the cabinet and mirror.

We restored the window and coated it with enamel paint for durability and a superior finish. Finally, we installed a custom ‘Opto Door’ sliding glass door for entry to the shower zone.

This final feature sums up the whole fit: stylish, practical and space-saving. We are also proud of the timelessness of the renovation and its seamless fit with the heritage of our clients’ charming cottage.

Geoff R