Bathroom renovation project for a 16th Century Farmhouse


Creating inspiring bathroom designs for this unique family home

Tucked away in the beautiful rural Kent village of Sissinghurst, Sally and her husband purchased this stunning farmhouse style property as a renovation project back in July 2014 and since then have poured their time and energies into making it both a successful business venture and family home.


We spoke to Sally to better understand how she tackled the unique bathroom layouts and used Coalbrook products in the annexe to add that touch of luxury to the bathroom design.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Sally! It’s been a pleasure watching you renovate your property. Firstly, tell us more about the project and how it all came about.

We bought the house back in 2014 as a renovation project. The house had been in the same family for over 100 years and hadn’t been touched in 70 years so we knew it was going to be a big project! We had 28 leaks in the first night and one of the first major rooms to tackle was the bathroom in the main house. We lived with tarpaulin on the walls for a while to stop the mould coming through further and had a bungee cord to hold the shower up which we’d connected to the taps!

We applied for planning permission for the main house as soon as we could and a lot of the work we took on ourselves so it’s been a labour of love. We now split our time between the main house and the annexe depending on the time of year and either rent the properties out or use them for location shoots. We’ve already worked with lots of brands including Laura Ashley, Neptune, Channel 5 and the BBC!

How many bathrooms do you have within the property?

We have three bathrooms in total in the main house and one in the annexe. There’s an en suite which has a double shower that we love! There’s a middle bathroom which is for guests and that includes a roll-top bath and walk-in shower and then the kids’ bathroom which includes a shower over the bath. And finally, we have the annexe which is a more recent addition.

Where did you start when planning each bathroom renovation project? And what did you want to achieve with each individual room?

We knew from the outset that the bathrooms in the main house needed to be in keeping with the style of the property so we didn’t want anything too modern but needed them to be functional too. We designed all the bathrooms ourselves with the exception of the annexe bathroom where we worked with the wonderful MAP Contracts who were invaluable.

For the en suite and guest bathrooms, we used old furniture which we upcycled into vanity units and storage. The kids had free reign in theirs so they painted a chest of drawers bright green which was really fun! By using upcycled furniture, we were able to keep costs down and still be in keeping with the house so it worked brilliantly. We went for a more neutral colour scheme generally to stay in keeping with the age of the house.

Coalbrook supplied MAP Contracts with some of the brassware in your beautiful annexe. Did you work with them throughout the whole main house too or just the annexe?

For the annexe, we were recommended MAP through a contact of ours. We didn’t work with a team for the main house but they would have been so helpful had we done so! They helped us plan what was a relatively small space, having been used to the larger footprints in the house, to maximise what we had and how we used it.

They helped us to understand simple things like having a floating sink unit not only made the room feel bigger by maximising visible floor space, but it’s easier to clean too! And when you’re renting a house out, that’s really important. They gave us options on everything but the Coalbrook products really stood out to us, particularly with the 20-year guarantee.

“At MAP Contracts, we were very excited to be involved with Sally’s annexe project and relished the prospect of being able to help her create a beautiful and practical bathroom in what is a relatively small area. Our designers are very experienced in making these rooms feel bigger than they actually are and it was rewarding to be able to match Sally’s high expectations. Coalbrook was our first choice for brassware on this project, not only because it created the look and quality feel that Sally was after but because it also fitted the budget and has the best warranty on the market which gave added peace of mind.” Malcolm Davies of MAP Contracts.

Did you want to stay true to traditional farmhouse bathroom decor or introduce modern twists from the start?

For the main house, we wanted to be in keeping with the more traditional farmhouse style and for the most part, we stayed true to that. We had to ensure it was a functional family home so choosing the right fittings was important but using upcycled furniture and reclaimed wood, more traditional styles and so on, meant we could stick to that brief.

The annexe was a later project and we had more of a blank canvas so we decided to make it more modern in terms of design with plenty of natural light. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram building mood boards for both and that really helped visualise the spaces.

Which Coalbrook products did you use and what was it about our products that you particularly loved as additions to your schemes?

Quality without going seriously over budget was an important factor and Coalbrook gives us both of those. We also loved the gunmetal finish which we went for with the shower and taps. It was a little different to the more popular black bathroom products and that’s what I loved. It’s easy to clean and maintain which is a huge bonus and the guarantees on all the products give you trust in the products that they are going to last and be of high quality.

They also arrived well ahead of time after a really simple ordering process which was a bonus and the pictures really accurately reflected what we got which reassured me.

What did you find particularly challenging about designing for a small bathroom in the annexe?

This is where MAP was really helpful and for the most part, I found it far less challenging than I was expecting! We learnt about the importance of the ‘moving circle’ and thought about for example where to place a heated towel rail so you didn’t burn yourself getting out of the shower! MAP created the space for us using CAD which was helpful and we could then swap products in and out depending on style and budget.

Otherwise, it was fun to push my design boundaries and use bolder colours in the floor tiles, a modern light fixture and be more influenced by pictures on Instagram!

Where did you find your inspiration for each room?

Predominantly, it was Instagram and Pinterest and then the rest I went with what felt right for each room. As I said, the kids had more freedom in their own bathroom but the final result works really well and they are thrilled.

Do you have any regrets or learnings from the renovation?

No regrets in the annexe though it was more challenging to complete the main house renovation whilst living there!

And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is looking to take on a home decor project such as this?

Believe in yourself and your tastes! Ask yourself “what would I put here?” and trust your ideas. More often than not it pays off and really works. You can also never do enough research and Instagram and Pinterest will be your best friends! And finally, if you can, do use a team like MAP to help you plan things out as they came up with ideas and suggestions in the annexe I’d never have thought of.

Sissinghurst location house is now available for stays, photoshoots and more. Visit their website to find out more.

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