When you grow up in London you’re used to having incredible heritage architecture on your doorstep, but having moved to Manchester I’ve been delighted to find a wealth of spectacular Victorian, Georgian and Neo-Gothic buildings to discover here too.
As I began exploring the city many people told me about the beauty of Victoria Baths, and I had the pleasure of discovering the venue for myself last year when I attended the Manchester Gin Festival with lovely ladies Clare, Rebecca and Laura. Naturally we spent a huge amount of time poking our noses into every room possible and ogling the spectacular array of period features – namely the stunning tiles, mosaics and stained glass – as well as the adorable changing stalls that line the swimming pool!
So, when Tile Giant got in touch recently to let me know they had released a new collection based on the beautiful tiling of these Baths I was really excited to see what they had created..
The Victoria Baths collection is inspired by the Grade II listed Edwardian swimming pool and Turkish baths complex that first opened in 1906. Described as Manchester’s “water palace” —we had one of those in Croydon when I was a kid, but it was not the same at all, haha— Victoria Baths provided spacious and extensive facilities for swimming, bathing and leisure, and was described as was described as “the most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country.”
Officially closed in 1993, since then its part-restoration has enabled the space to remain open to the public as a heritage visitor attraction, events venue and a location for many TV and film productions, including Cold Feet and Peaky Blinders. The long-term aim is to reopen the building back to its former glory, so I’m delighted to see that Tile Giant are contributing a percentage of each tile sold from the range back to the Victoria Baths Trust.
The collection features 50 new tiles in a variety of colours, styles and sizes, with each design paying homage to the originals at Victoria Baths through details such as bevelled edges and crackle glazing for that authentic aged appearance. The rich colour palette reflects that of the pool and Turkish baths, and includes a wonderful array of deep blues and greens, turquoise, black and grey, with patterns and relief texture that harks back to a nostalgic, bygone era. Eager to see the pieces in the flesh, Tile Giant sent me a number of samples for me to play around with in my home and create a few fantasy mood boards, imagining how I might incorporate these tiles into a bathroom makeover, should I not be living in a rental property (woe is me..)
First up, a vibrant playful bathroom scheme based around the spectacular Terrazzo floor tile. Of course terrazzo is having a real moment just now as a current decor trend, but these are almost faithful reproductions of tiles that were laid at Victoria Baths over a hundred years ago – yet feel entirely contemporary.
For the bathroom walls I imagine oat tiling a third of the way up the wall, broken by a crackle bevel mustard tiled border, while the remainder predominantly oat as well, with a haphazard colour pop of aqua tile every now and then – fun, no?
I’ve brought in a few Malin+Goetz toiletries to reflect the modern urban feel of the tiles, and couldn’t resist sneaking a little yellow ducky into shot too – can you blame me? I also had to include this beautiful bamboo toothbrush which I picked up at Form Lifestyle Store recently; I love that it is not only sustainable and organic, but naturally antibacterial too.
A more sophisticated mood board up next, inspired by the Edwardian scroll detailing of the Ironworks Wall Decor 1 tile, which I’d use to tile a statement splashback around the basin. The rest of the room I’d tile in black and white, with a white linear border a third of the way up the wall, to create an elegant and stylish vibe. I’d bring in a little additional colour by painting the woodwork in a similar pale green-y blue hue to the tiles, to help tie everything together.
Accessories-wise I’ve brought my new favourite scent into the space in the form of Skandinavisk’s new Hav – Distant Shores range. Scandinavian for ‘sea’, Hav evokes the sense of the vast Nordic coastline, where the cold Baltic and Atlantic waters touch the peninsula, and the fresh wind and sea spray carry the the resilient scent of Rugosa rose and hawthorn from the shoreline.
Possibly my favourite look – although it’s hard to pick between them – is based upon the alluring beige glazed Ironworks Field Stone tile. I love the rough, weathered look to the tile and gentle matte finish which make it unassuming in it’s beauty, but stunning none the less. I’d tile an entire floor with these, with the walls in Field Oat, and add a border in crackle bevel vintage green. This vibrant, almost emerald, green shade is definitely my favourite hue from the heritage swimming pools and whilst I’m not brave enough to embrace it all over my bathroom I wonder if a feature wall behind the bath might be a great idea..? I’m not entirely sure how i’d work the crimson bevel in but I love the shade and how well it works with the green, so am open to any and all suggestions for my hypothetical renovation project!
I’m totally in love with Frama‘s Sandalwood, Cedarwood and Ylang Ylang handwash at the moment, and feel the warm, woody fragrance would pair wonderfully with this moodier, yet opulent, vibe. I’ve also worked in a lovely slubby hammam towel I got from Urbanara aaages ago, plus a black Savon de Marseille soap I picked up in Grasse a few years ago, which I love the look of far too much to actually use..!
The final look I’ve pulled together is inspired by the Ironworks Wall Decor 2 tile, which is a less fussy version of the wall decor 1 tile above. Again, this look has a classic elegance to it which I’d enhance the introduction of a soft peachy paint hue on the woodwork, with a colour pop accent of soft blue to pull out the subtle shade of the patterned tiles. These crackle bevel tiles in smoke grey are truly beautiful – I’m thinking a splashback for the basin in these, with the patterned tiles being used on the wall and floor around a roll top bath..
What do you think – are any of these beautiful tile designs calling to you for your next renovation project?
This post is in collaboration with Tile Giant but all thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
Styled photography © Kate Baxter. Victoria Baths photography © Victoria Baths, used with permission.