The most important room in the house?

I recently had dinner in a friend’s house. After a few hours and as tongues were loosened he brought up something that had obviously been bugging him. I should explain here that my friend is a very talented artist. He said that on a visit to my recently renovated house he had noticed that a beautiful drawing he had given my husband as a present was now located in the guest loo whilst in our previous house it hung in the kitchen. He clearly saw this as a demotion and my attempts to explain that this was not the case fell on deaf ears.

The picture is a hand drawn sketch of Fort Dunree bay in Donegal where he and his wife spent a weekend with my husband and I many years ago, before we were married and before children and jobs and real life caught up with us. Every time I see the picture it makes me nostalgic for that carefree time of our lives. Somehow in the old house it blended into a large wall in a busy room. Now however, (partly due to my extremely small bladder and too frequent trips to the loo) I see it every day. It is in fact one of the most complimented pictures and commented upon in our house.

All this got me to thinking about my guest loo and the importance I place on it. It is in my opinion the most important room in the house. And by this I mean whatever bathroom your guests use in your house, whether it is tucked under the stairs, a large luxurious affair or the family bathroom.

I firmly believe that the smallest room in the house can create the biggest impression. It’s an opportunity to do something a little bit different and to let your own personality come through. Even a tiny room can take a wild feature wall if that is your fancy. And if it’s a small wall it can be changed frequently at little cost. In one wc I wallpapered one of the walls with vintage wrapping paper in an overlapping and haphazard way. It was fun and unique and the client liked the fact that no one else had the same wallpaper on their walls as them.


Often people display framed pictures of the family or letters they have received. To me these are only interesting if the people are famous. I was once lucky enough to visit the home of one of the Kennedy family in New York. There were framed letters from people such as John Hume and Seamus Heaney as well as the Kennedys themselves. I could have stayed there all day reading if I felt I could have got away with it. The bottom line I think is that whatever is on the walls, be it paint, paper, pictures, it should be interesting enough to be worthy of a conversation afterwards!

In this room I tried to create a comfortable space with a mix of old and new to create a calm and quite luxurious feel. The vanity unit was an old dressing table bought with a matching wardrobe at auction. (lots more on auctions in a later posting) .It was adapted to hold a recessed under mounted basin. The mirror used to be attached to the table top but it was detached and placed on the wall above. The wc is wall hung making cleaning under it easy. Two of the walls are lined with tongue and grooved vertical timber panelling allowing the cistern and the pipework for the wall mounted taps to be concealed creating a seamless look. The vintage look of the upcycled dresser and the painted timber panelling is balanced by the choice of ultra-modern taps and the plumen light fitting with orange cord.

Whatever about the choice of taps and sanitary fittings which may be items out of your control there are somethings that are, in my opinion, non-negotiable when having guests over. Cleanliness IS next to Godliness so clean wc, whb, mirror and towel are essential. Soap in a dispenser is preferable to a bar and if possible quality toilet paper. (Some people display lots of rolls in a basket and for some reason we all seem to find this comforting, I’m not sure why!) Fresh flowers are always lovely and can be designed into a scheme by locating a niche for a vase or simply by placing a stem in a nice bottle on a window cill.

So, in summary although you may be tempted to downplay the bathroom your guests use, don’t waste the opportunity to express yourself and show just how interesting you are. What other room in the house do your guests get to have a good look around in detail?

Plumen light fitting was purchased with

Orange cord purchased from

Dresser purchased from Herman Wilkinson, 161 Rathmines Road, Dublin 6 contact us for advice on re-modelling your home.

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