Remaking the look and feel of your bathrooms is a lot easier and less expensive than you may think. (MCT)
Where would you score your homeís bathrooms on a scale of Boring to Beautiful? If your master bath, guest bath or powder room is hovering at the Boring-But-Functional end of the scale, itís time to transform it into a beautiful space. Remaking the look and feel of your bathrooms is a lot easier and less expensive than you may think when you use these sure-fire tricks:
Opt for an arresting color scheme. You can make the walls powerful with a few rolls of wallpaper or a fresh coat of paint. You might think that using a bright, bold wallpaper in a small powder room would be overwhelming, but strong paper patterns in small doses can score high on the WOW scale. It doesnít get much better than a peppy green and white trellis pattern, which infuses the bathroom with energy. Even though itís a bit on the contemporary side, it looks marvelous with traditional artwork.
Paint is an inexpensive and easy way to transform a bath. A subdued combination of black, white and gray creates jaw-dropping drama. If you have older oak cabinets you want to freshen up, try this trick: Cover them in a high gloss whitewash and add new knobs. Then create some magic with contrasting colors on the door and ceiling.
Dress the walls with fabulous art. I like to use lots of artwork in bathrooms because I think it elevates the look of the room. Plus, itís so unexpected ó it will catch your guests off guard. Bathroom walls are a prime spot to create a gallery that features your favorite collectibles.
My friend Anne hung a set of old silhouettes in the bathroom off her main entry. Another friend, Marsee, has packed the tiny bathroom right off her kitchen ó no bigger than a closet ó full of art, enlivening every inch, from floor to ceiling. Iím having a blast employing this technique as I decorate the bathrooms in my lake house redo. I took a postage-stamp-sized bathroom and painted it twilight blue then covered one wall with a mix of plates and antlers, and the other wall with a grid of turn-of-the-century portrait engravings. Right now, that little bathroom is my favorite room in the whole house.
Add interesting arrangements of accessories. No one accessorizes bathrooms like Marsee. She could lead a college course in how to make the everyday extraordinary, and to rethink functional objects and make them fabulous. How can you do the same thing in your bathroom? From shampoo to mouthwash to bath salts, we all have lots of toiletries to work around when we decorate our bathrooms.
Instead of hiding them away in a cabinet, why not create displays that make your toiletries beautiful? All you need is an assortment of lovely containers. For instance, put your bubble bath and lotions in pretty decanters and pour your bath salts into apothecary jars. Place them atop a silver tray. Then fill in with a few more accents, like a candelabra or an urn.
Finish out with furniture. I love to use ďrealĒ furniture in bathrooms, even small ones, because it gives these often-forgotten rooms the same stature as the more public spaces in our home. If you are redoing your vanity, consider using a piece of furniture to hold the sink, instead of a generic hardware store cabinet. In our lake house, I took a well-worn chest that had been in Danís family, gave it new life with a coat of gray paint, and had the carpenters fit it for the sink. In a slightly larger bathroom, I used a dining room buffet as a vanity.
Another favorite trick of mine is to put a large chest in a bathroom. Not only does the chest visually balance out other cabinetry, it provides another spot for storage.
Create a mood with ambient light. Whenever possible, I use ambient lighting to illuminate a room instead of overhead lights. I just prefer the soft glow they provide.
A little lamp sitting on a vanity makes the room feel so warm and inviting. I also love the way lamps break up the cold, hard plane of a bathroom countertop.
Make practical pieces pretty. As much as I love creating baths that are a bastion of beauty and luxury, they also have to be practical. So outfit your new bath with tools that make daily life easier, yet are loaded with style. In my home, that meant saying goodbye to towel bars and hello to towel hooks. For some reason, my family members were unable to hang wet towels on bars, preferring to drop them on the floor. Sigh. I solved the dilemma by installing pretty hooks, so all they have to do is toss the towel. Problem solved.
Another idea: Make it easy for guests to find hand towels by placing them in a simple wire basket on the back of a stool.
The tub is the most sacred space in my bathroom. I love to soak in a hot, steaming bath after a long day. Make bath essentials pretty and accessible for your tub.
This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrityís blog at nellhills.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.