Chic ways to give your downstairs loo a snazzy makeover by interior expert Lucy Marsh.

‘The loo is the most functional room in the house but that doesn’t mean it need be the most predictable,’ says interior designer Lucy Marsh. ‘In fact, these smaller spaces allow you to be brave and imaginative with colour, detail and pattern because you won’t tire of them as easily as larger rooms. We love to mix large-scale prints with bold colours for impact and we’ll often use striking wallpapers to reflect the client's interest or character – or the look and style of the architecture.

‘My love of a decorative cloakroom was inspired by my previous employer, Nina Campbell,’ continues Lucy, who is based in Hampshire. ‘Her guest loo, tucked under the eaves of her house is tiny but so cleverly designed: a black wallpaper embellished with a beautiful tree of life pattern climbs over the walls and ceiling while sheer curtains and an exquisite antique vanity unit and mirror add to the air of enchantment. An inspiration!’.

Lucy’s top tips for designing a top loo are:

1) Use strong colours and patterns for maximum impact in this often small and occasional space.

2) Use wallpapers which are true to your personality and style. These could be opulent, masculine, feminine, rustic, contemporary, playful or escapist.

3) Use mirrors to give a feeling of space and to bounce light around. This could be a new, antique, shaped or patinated for an aged look.

4) Use characterful lighting in keeping with the scheme. Try Vaughan Lighting, Hector Finch Lighting or Porta Romana.

5) Select accessories in keeping with the scheme such as a scented candle, tissue box, fragrant soap and flowers, either fresh or faux.

6) Think detail Never more so than in this small space. The finish of the taps should match the finish of the door knob and the coat hooks.

7) Personal accessories add a finishing touch. Add an object collected from foreign travels or past experiences.

8) Keep the blind or curtains neat and unfussy. Use a plain linen or silk, smartened with an intricate trim.

Lucy Marsh trained as an interior designer at Chelsea College of Art and University of the London Arts. She then worked for Nina Campbell Ltd designing high end residential and commercial projects worldwide. In 2010, Lucy set up her own design practice and has built a broad portfolio of large-scale high-end projects. Her work covers locations including Central London - Mayfair, Chelsea, Westbourne Grove - and more recently projects across the South of England. Her most recent work includes a ski chalet, a Gothic Old Rectory in Oxfordshire and a large period home in Surrey.

Lucy has recently launched Lucy’s Loft, an online interiors store selling handpicked luxury accessories including cushions, hand-poured essential oil candles by The Bird Box and soft herringbone merino wool throws. All items in the Lucy’s Loft collection are sourced and made in Great Britain.

1. Picture Gallery Wallpaper

For this space, we opted for an antique effect black and gold mirror as its shape reflects the linear feel of the wallpaper. This, and a black box wall lantern make the room really cohesive. The roman blind is made from a plain cream linen with an inset narrow braid (both from Sanderson). These pick out the colours in the wallpaper and give a smart, unfussy look.
Picture Gallery Wallpaper, 213400, £72 per roll, Style Library for Sanderson

2. Cockatoos Wallpaper

Originally a laundry cupboard, we’ve transformed this space into a playful family loo. The brightly coloured cockatoos perch on large vibrant jungle leaves and we’ve accessorized by using block colours for the towels, flannels, vases and tooth mugs. This is a simple way to continue the theme of this room. Even when the children have flown the nest, these classic Quentin Black illustrations will stand the test of time.
Cockatoos Wallpaper, W6060/01 wallpaper, £48 per roll, Osborne & Little

3. Flamingos Wallpaper

In this space, a period cistern bracket was chosen to echo the feel of the house, while the plain soft grey linen blind and smart beaded trim offset the painterly design and colours of this wallpaper.
Flamingos Wallpaper, 66/6042, £76 per roll, Cole & Sons

4. Best in Show Wallpaper

Even the tiniest of spaces can be fabulous. This playful guest loo, tucked under the eaves of the stairs in this London mews house, makes the most of all available space. We chose a slimline basin and large-scale wallpaper to create maximum impact and character. A black velvet edge was given to the plain blind to tie in with the textural flocked dog silhouettes.
Best in Show Wallpaper, £140 per roll at Osborne & Little

5. Derwent Wallpaper

Derwent wallpaper, W5796/01, £73 per roll, from Osborne and Little. This design comes in five colourways. In this compact loo we created a sense of space with this over-scaled paper. The strong colours and bold design give impact and movement with ornamental koi carp swimming in a swirling pool. We preserved the original dado rail painting it in Farrow & Ball Elephants Breath to give contrast.
Derwent wallpaper, W5796/01, £73 per roll, from Osborne and Little

6. Berry Trail wallpaper

This beautiful willow and berry trellis effect wallpaper gives a decorative character to the guest loo of this city apartment. The ledge above the loo is ideal for hand towels, flowers and decorative accessories, and detracts your gaze from the loo, while this monochromatic paper makes the space feel fresh and inviting.
Berry Trail wallpaper, £69 per roll, from GP & J Baker

7. Seagrass Wallpaper

Textural peacock blue seagrass walling gives a luxurious masculine feel for the guest loo of this sophisticated country house. Once an old diesel shed, we transformed the space into a new wing for the gentleman of the house, giving him a lobby, guest loo and study to allow him to work from home and hold business meetings away from the bustle of the family home.
Seagrass Peacock blue, WTWGT3923, £288 per roll at Stark Fabrics

May 2018