x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Convert a run-down washroom into a functional guest room

It might be easier than you think to cover up the tiled walls and grid ceiling. Just check with your landlord first.

Our home came with a small, run-down washroom that we don't use. We want to convert it into a guest bedroom. We've removed all the fittings, but what do we do with the ugly tiled walls and grid ceiling?

Converting this nothing space into a usable room is a great idea.

First a word of warning: check your contract. There are often strict clauses on what renters can and cannot change; even owners must sometimes play by the master developer's rules.

For the walls, there are a few options: rip out the existing tiles and start from scratch, cover them with wall panelling or a wallboard, or keep the tiles and liven them up with paint.

For me, option one is the clear winner: strip out the tiles and replaster the wall. You'll probably need a professional to review the space. Remember, it was built as a wet area, so there may be some pipework lurking behind the tiles. You could try a commercial contractor, although home maintenance firms such as Toolman and Jim Will Fix It are increasingly sophisticated and can help.

Ripping out tiles is messy, noisy and expensive. If this sounds like too much work, think about laying wall panelling over the existing tiles. Couture (www.couture.ae) has a nice contemporary range of 3D wood panelling. They'll give you a free consultation as well as install it for you.

A similar "quick fix" is to install a wallboard, effectively a thin false wall on top of the tiles. You can paint or wallpaper this like a normal wall, but it makes the room a little smaller, and the walls will be quite flimsy, so no shelves or flat-screen televisions.

For a different look, paint the tiles. This is the least invasive and possibly your cheapest option, but you will have to get your hands dirty. You've got to clean the tiles, sand them, apply primer, paint them and give them a protective coating. YouTube is full of great "how to" videos if you want a step-by-step guide.

Finally, the ceiling. I know exactly how you feel about that ugly metal grid and those square cardboard tiles. Again, you'll need a contractor to fit a false ceiling. Working around the light fittings and air conditioning is tricky.

A flat surface offers a classic look that works well and can be painted. If you're feeling more adventurous, make the room feel bigger with a reflective material such as stretch fabric (www.stretchfabrics.ae).

Pallavi Dean is an award-winning independent design consultant who practises in the UAE. If you have a question for her, email homes@thenational.ae