Designer    Case Study 30 Jan 2014

Chelmsford designer Kimberly Finch challenges tradition with modern barn conversion bathroom

As part of a series of case studies looking back at some of last year’s Designer Awards finalists, we find out how a beautiful bathroom space was created for the conversion of an historic barn…

With some extreme space constraints due to the old and characterful nature of the building, this bathroom project certainly deserved the wider recognition it received when it was named as a finalist in the Bathroom Design over £15k category at the Designer Kitchen & Bathroom Awards 2013.

Created by Kimberly Finch, Senior Design Consultant at Ripples Chelmsford, Essex, the project managed to bring luxury and distinctive design together with huge success.

The space was located in a 16th century threshing barn, steeped in history. The main part of the barn is made up of massive A-frames some 14 metres high. The space is steeply raked and the beams play an integral part of the design.

The client wanted a modern space that would work with the beams and not fight against them. The space had no natural light at all, but the brief was to create a master en-suite from two spaces that would be big enough to have a double vanity unit, bath, a separate shower and WC. “I wanted to focus on a more organic approach to my design,” explains Finch.

“I felt that I needed to embrace the beams and I felt a harsh angular design would not work in this instance. “I started with the general layout that I knew that I wanted to go into the eaves which would gain some crucial space for the bath to sit. I then introduced the softness of the curves behind the bath and into the shower seat area so that it would have a complementary flow.”

She says it was important for each element within the design to have a natural connection to the other: “I wanted the design to flow organically together and to have quite a natural palette to enhance the darkness of the beams.”

Getting the specification right was a key part of this design. Finch chose green slate flooring with accent natural shell mosaic from Asia in aqua. She also introduced glass in Dulux Soft Fauna 4 to reflect light around the room: “This was a challenge due to the complexity and shape of the beams.”

The bathroom includes Hansgrohe Puravida brassware in white, along with Burgbad Crono furniture in gloss white. “I feel the room has a striking visual impact as soon as you walk in and see the backdrop of the beams behind the bath softened by the delicate colour of the glass,” says Finch.

A major focal point for the scheme is the simple yet striking TasseStone Thinn freestanding bath by BC Designs.

These creative ideas combined to solve some fairly hefty logistical problems with this space. “My main challenge was the fact that the room didn’t have any windows for natural light so it was key to bounce as much light around the space as possible,” says Finch. “I did this by using clever lighting and the reflective glass walls. The pitch to the ceiling was also a challenge but I used this to create a recess to the wet room area and also a curved shelf.”

In so many cases, a bathroom project succeeds or fails on the relationship between client and designer. Finch considers herself particularly fortunate in this case: “My clients were truly wonderful to work with. At first, they would not give me a budget as they didn’t want that to determine or influence the design in any way. They were won over with the design at the initial presentation and we just made a couple of tweaks as we went along.”

But for a bathroom with so many eye-catching features, which aspects have been most satisfying for its designer? “I love the shower area in particular because it is a cosy haven to relax and unwind in,” says Finch. “I also like the beams with the contrast against the bath. That certainly makes for an iconic photo.”

Ripples Chelmsford |

Published in Designer Kitchen & Bathroom Magazine