Naomi Smart has always had a thing for matchbox living. After all, having spent a year in New York during her early 20s, she had aced the art of surviving—and thriving—in small spaces. “I was especially intrigued by the impossibly tiny bathrooms,” says the bona fide Londoner and commerce director at British Vogue. “Because somehow, I had an inkling that I might one day put my observations to good use.” The inkling, as it turned out, proved serendipitous for Naomi. Many years later, when she chanced upon a Victorian flat with moldy walls and cramped spaces, she immediately recognized its potential.
Despite its downsides—the flat itself hadn’t been touched since the ’90s—the purchase was a no-brainer for Naomi. “There was a small garden with a palm tree and an olive tree, and the space had a charm of its own,” she explains. What wasn’t quite as charming was the bathroom—a piddly, light-starved space that clung rather clumsily to the end of the corridor. “At six-foot-four and five-foot-ten respectively, my boyfriend and I found it utterly impractical.” With hopes of adding a spacious shower to the not-so-spacious shell, the couple set their hearts on an out-and-out remodel.
As enthusiastic as she was about taking the design reins solo, Naomi knew that remodeling the bathroom was no easy feat. And so, she invited longtime friends and collaborators Sarah Watson, founder of luxury bathroom brand Balineum, and independent designer Sussy Cazalet, to partner with her on this little labor of love. “Sarah is an emporium of knowledge on all things tiles, and a bit of a legend in the interiors industry. Likewise, Sussy has such a beautiful sensibility with color and product, and I’ve been following her designs for years,” says Naomi.
Among the bathroom’s many highlights, Naomi’s favorites include the shower and the white-tiled archway. “The colors are so rich and timeless. I’m not a morning person, but stepping in there every day is like waking up in a retro holiday villa, but in…Leyton, East London,” she jokes.