My pick of the best towels (and a bonus rant about why finding a nice towel is so hard)

Since the bathroom is getting closer to being done (here’s a sneak peak of our newly installed (almost) mirror) I’ve been trying to find some nice towels.photo

But  I haven’t even decided what colour I want, let alone how much I want to spend so when I was confronted by Egyptian cotton, percale, linen etc I get confused and wanted to know why on earth there is so much choice for body-drying implements. And also when towels became so expensive??

I’ve had a Cath Kidston towel for about five years now, and while the colours have kept the towel itself isn’t very fluffy at all any more and is definitely not soft (despite tumbledrying and fabric softener-ing) so I’m not holding out much hope for getting more expensive ones to last. But I’ve been searching for something that will look stylish in my bathroom, dry me properly, and that if we move in the future won’t need replacing immeadiately as it looks weird in somewhere different.

On a whim during a recent trip to John Lewis I bought these (which you can see in the picture above). I know I want some colour to counter the black and white, and I thought the grey background would help blend it in. Plus they felt nice and soft and they were relatively cheap (between £8 and £20), so I threw caution to the wind and bought them.

Then i put them in the bathroom and realised I am a fool. The pattern’s all wrong and despite our efforts to make the room light and airy, it’s still quite dark, which makes the grey in the towel look more brown. So I took them back and now I am stuck because I don’t like any towels, and I can’t pick a colour. But don’t let me stop you buying them if you like them. They are very nice, although I can’t comment on how well they wash or anything.

Now i am stuck, because we are both still using towels we’ve had since we went off to University, which frankly are a bit gross and I don’t want them anywhere near my new shiny bathroom.

But since i’ve spent so much time trawling the shops for towels, I thought i’d share my wisdom with you. So here’s the top towels on my list:

1.) Designer’s Guild Orcia Soft Aqua Towel – £5-£46

CaptureI’ve always thought linen towels look really chic, and minty blues are my favourite colours at the moment, making this my dream towel. I would have already bought a set but they cost all the money.

Now it doesn’t look much from the photo, but I’ve visited the towels regularly and in person the colour is lovely, and the linen so soft. Plus they have a whole host of other colours which would coordinate well together- the baby pink is also gorgeous.

(Speaking of linen towels, these ones from Ferm Living are gorgeous colours too!)

2.) John Lewis Supima Cotton Towel – £4-£32

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Now, I’ve seriously contemplated buying these towels as they are really soft and luxurious. It’s just again the price tag is too much. A bath towel (not a bath sheet) is £25. Which doesn’t sound like much, but when you’ve bought an entire bathroom’s and want to go on holiday some time in the next decade it sounds ridiculous.

There isn’t a huge range of colours in this range, but this steel grey is gorgeous. It’s not flat like some greys are, and I really can’t tell you enough how soft this towel is. It’s the softest towel ever. If you’re thinking of getting some towels to last, then these are the ones you should get.

3.)  Hay large yellow towel by Scholten & Baijings – up to £27

CaptureNow, i have absolutely no idea what these towels feel like in person, but as soon as I saw them I fell in love. They’ve got a bit of pattern but not too much, and the yellow is amazing! These towels feel like something you’d find in a luxury design hotel, and would look amazing stacked on a bathroom shelf. They have them in red and blue too on the Hay site, and a set of two bath towels, a hand towel and a flannel would be about £55 + delivery.

These also fulfil my criteria of being fluffy for Mr Harriet, who hates the idea of linen towels, and stylish enough for my snazzy bathroom which might make me rethink my price barrier…

4.) John Lewis Copenhagen Capri Towels, Steel / Mint – £4-28Capture

Now, I should make it clear that I really liked these towels online, but not as much in person. The grey is more mottled in person, which didn’t make them less nice, just more patterned than I wanted. But they tick the boxes of being the ideal colours for my bathroom and they are quite flat, which means they’d still look lovely and chic in a bathroom, but fulfil the criteria of being a fluffy towel for anyone who enjoys that luxury.

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Bathroom renovations – how much do they really cost and what can go wrong?

Since I’ve renovated the bathroom a lot of people have had questions about it, so here’s some FAQ’s for you about the renovation:

How much did the bathroom renovation cost?

In total our bathroom cost us about £3000, i don’t have the receipts in front of me to give you an exact figure though but that’s including the deposit and materials we paid to the original bathroom fitter who mucked it up and ran away. So It should have cost about a grand less.

Labour was £1250 for the second fitters who actually did everything and fixed the problems the first guy left. They weren’t the best, but they could do plumbing and they had kind eyes and that’s really about all I could cope with after having the first one ruin everything.

All of our suite/ taps/ tiles etc worked out to about £1000, which includes a very expensive bath panel but doesn’t include the later fittings, like mirrors and towel rails which we haven’t installed yet.

Where did you buy everything from?

We spent ages making sure every thing we bought was stuff we liked, and tried to make sure it was all suitable for a small bathroom so we did lots of shopping around. This worked really well, but at the same time was quite stressful when on one day in June we had 7 different big deliveries coming from different people and I was the only one at home.

Our taps were from Taps and Showers Direct.com, and they were great. We were confused as there were two types of bath tap listed and one was a style we didn’t want, but they went out of their way to make sure it was the right one – even with my terrible description of what I wanted! Also, I can’t get across to you how much I ❤ my taps. Who knew buying taps was such an awful experience? But these are bloody lovely and cheap for what they are.

Our bathbath panel and toilet all came from Better Bathrooms.com, who despite all the things I’d read about broken things showing up and not being replaced, were brilliant. Everything arrived exactly as it should with next day delivery and I was helped to bring it into the flat.

The bathscreen is from Victorian Plumbing. It does the job but I wish i’d got a folding one as it is still too wide really for our small bathroom.

The white tiles came from tonsoftiles.co.uk, and the black ones from Topps Tiles. Everyone told us to buy lots of extra tiles as they break, but these tiles seem to be invincible – we have 8 square metres of the white tiles left and loads of cut offs because they just don’t break! The floor tiles on the other hand are from B&Q and on the last day the plumbers dropped the bath screen and cracked one.

The sink was the biggest problem, it was from Bathstore which we expected to have the best customer service, but they sent us the wrong one originally and then made a big deal about how they couldn’t get us another for seven days! After a bit of a (read nearly 3 hours of phone calls) fight they managed to get us next day delivery, but then we had a sink delivered every day for three days and had to be home to refuse it! It was a total nightmare, but I love the towel rail under the sink and its square shape so I’ll forgive them.

Who fitted your bathroom?

Since we don’t know anyone who’s had a bathroom fitted in Didcot we found one on Trustatrader, but unfortunately he wasn’t to be trusted. I’d like to write to them to tell them this, but they go back to the trader themselves to get their side of the story and frankly, i don’t want to have a big who-haa over it (especially since he knows where we live!)

Once he quit when he realised what a mess he’d made (lying about the reasons for it though) we found someone else – DEPS plumbing. They weren’t the top choice, but they were kind, seemed to have experience and could sort anything quickly and since they’d done it we’d have no problem hiring them again.

Were there any hidden costs/ problems?

We had a lot of problems with the first plumber, who didn’t show up on time/ ever, quit halfway through the day without telling us when we were due to move in that weekend and then left the place in such a mess that we had to do a lot of remedial work before anyone new could start (he dug a hole for the bath waste pipe that almost went through the ceiling of the flat below).

Once that was fixed any small problems were visual, like wonky tiles.

In terms of hidden costs, a few things popped up, like the bathroom wall falling down, and us deciding to have an extractor fan fitted last minute. We also had to get a bath panel as I’d originally wanted one built and tiled over, but had it gently explained to me that that’s a nightmare if the plumbing ever goes wrong.

If you could do it again what would you do?

I’d use a plumber recommended by someone – anyone – and I’d get shower curtain or a folding bath screen instead of the one we have. I was vain about having an ugly folding bathscreen but I a) forgot I am only 5 foot tall, and b) forgot the bathroom is small. Now the most expensive thing in the bathroom is this huge bathscreen which, although it is a sliding one, I can’t physically lean round to turn the shower on (i use shampoo bottles as arm extenders) and it has two panes of glass to clean, which is a nightmare!

Bathroom renovation reveal

So I haven’t posted about my bathroom yet. The whole thing was a bit of a nightmare and frankly, it’s taken me this long to get over the stress and be able to write about it.

Originally when we bought the flat I said straight away I wanted to change the bathroom, it had a grey suite, hadn’t been cleaned in about 20 years and was full of mould and generally just gross. But then I didn’t see the flat for six months while we went through the buying hassle and I forgot quite how bad it was. As we looked at our finances and what we wanted to change in the flat, we slowly began to realise that we spend a lot more time in the kitchen and would be a lot happier if we changed that first.

Then we got the keys and the full horror of the bathroom was quickly brought back to us in full HD colour. So we decided to just do both and hope the money got us there somehow. Everything works out, right? (Thankfully for us it did but this is NOT an ok way to go into renovations…)

I had a really clear vision of what i wanted our bathroom to look like, and you can see it here: but I have never ever hired any sort of builder/plumber or electrician and really had no idea where to start. I’ll write a bit more about how we found our builders eventually another day, but for now, here’s the big bathroom transformation:

Before:

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(note that the toilet reaches out further than the door frame, and that of the two layers of tiles you can see the bottom layer is painted (the original colour is the same as the suite). I don’t think this photo gives you the full horror though.

After:

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What do you think? We still haven’t done the little bits like put up towel rails, a mirror or get a bathroom cabinet (as you can see since we haven’t even taken off all the frogtape from the ceiling!) At the moment we’re using this old sewing table which Mr Harriet found at the dump, but it’s a bit too big for the space…

I’ll post more photos when we’re at a more finished stage.

Happy humpday

On Saturday I met my friend for brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross, and when we left these two dogs were playing in the fountains in Granary Square. They were having so much fun, trying to bite the jets and chasing the water, that you couldn’t help but be cheered just watching them. So I’m spreading their cheer by sharing these little videos. Happy hump day everyone!