It's not hard to add style and storage to the bathroom. Here are seven easy ways to update your loo.
Updating your bathroom is not as daunting as you think - or as pricey! A few quick and easy decor ideas will give your space an instant makeover.
Since bathrooms are relatively clean-lined, neutral spaces, changing up your shower curtain and bath mat is a brilliant way to add a dose of bright colour.
If your room is short on square footage, opt for decorative space saving storage solutions, such as a wooden ladder and hooks for towels.
One of the best ways to add character to your bathroom is to change its lighting scheme. Consider installing sconces for task lighting and a chandelier for ambience.
A new faucet may be just what a tired-looking bathroom needs to achieve high style. Chrome and nickel are popular low-maintenance finishes; matte black and brushed bronze are trendier but also have timeless appeal.
The hands-down easiest makeover idea? Go shopping! A new tray, toothbruth holder or soap dish go a long way toward tidying an uplifting a bland bath.
Mix in striped, polka-dotted or brightly hued towels to match your bath's scheme. But, if you're going for a hotel-style look, you can't go wrong with pure white.
Fixtures, fittings, lighting and mirrors provide the perfect opportunity for adding glamorous opulence to your lavatory. Swap builder-basic fixtures for brass, and use a Venetian glass mirror to inject old-world glamour.
Top 10 must-see rooms designers love most
This bedroom from the November 2012 issue has a personal resonance for Stephanie Vogler – it’s her own. “There’s a lot going on here, but it feels restful because of subtle pattern mixing and a soft, muted palette,” she says. “Though the room is neutral for most of the year, I added blush pink pillowcases and florals for the photo shoot, which made the space even more romantic and evocative of a good night’s sleep.” Star power “The fabric on the tufted headboard is washable (essential when you have young children) and super comfortable for reading or watching movies in bed.”
This ultra-hip kitchen, which appeared in the February 2014 issue, was the centrepiece of Ingrid Oomen’s redesign of the first floor of this historic home. “The kitchen has a fabulous tall ceiling and opens to the dining room on one side and the family room on the other,” she says. “We added two new windows to the side of the house to ensure the space gets light all day long.” Star power “The open shelves are a nice textural focal point, and I love the usability of them. They add a real restaurant feel when styled with plates for convenient access.”
When Carol Reed renovated the kitchen of this tudor-style home, featured in the February 2013 issue, she started by revamping the floor plan. “The newly opened-up room doubled the amount of daylight and storage, as well as the number of guests the family can entertain,” she explains. “Customized details elevate off-the-shelf cabinetry, while the black and white palette grounds the kitchen in classic character that blends with the century home.” Star power “The antique monk’s table is a standout feature. Its worn patina reflects a history of gathering and sharing, which is exactly what this kitchen was designed for.”
Simple is sublime, according to Samantha Sacks, who chose the bathroom of her family cottage, first featured in the August 2011 issue. “There’s nothing to this room: For me, that’s where its charm lies,” she explains. “The simplicity – even the plumbing is exposed – paired with a few luxury pieces, such as some super-thick towels and an intricately engraved silver tumbler from Egypt, gives the space a feeling of barefoot elegance.” Star power “The back of the clawfoot tub slopes beautifully, while the cast iron holds heat. Our cottage is quite rustic, so a hot bath feels like a divine indulgence.”
This handsome bedroom, featured in the October 2012 issue by Feasby & Bleeks Design, has grown with the little boy it was designed for – and that was precisely the goal. “We love trends as much as anyone, but we choose to inject them into our designs in ways that can be easily updated,” says Erin Feasby. “For this room, classic nautical was our jumping-off point, and that really helped with selections and decisions. It made our job very easy.” Adds Cindy Bleeks, “Years later, this space feels as fresh as the day it was completed.” Star power “The wallpaper is graphic yet timeless. It adds so much life to this wall, and you never tire of it – plus, it’s great for all ages.”
Michael Penney, owner of the Whitby, Ont., housewares store Penney & Co., decorated this century home in Ontario’s Prince Edward County featured in the June 2012 issue. “I’d say this living room works well because it has a balance of classic and quirky, neutral and punchy,” he explains. “The shell of the space is a soft putty colour, which sets up the foundation for the bold blue velvet sofa and zippy striped chairs. Finally, shelves allow for lots of books and personal treasures.” Star power “The solidly built vintage sofa is full of personality thanks to its sumptuous peacock blue colour.”
This old-meets-new living room from the June 2011 issue brings together custom-made and vintage pieces. “Although it’s a fairly traditional space, it doesn’t feel too formal,” says designer, Christine Hanlon. “I still love the graphic grey linen fabric on the sofa and the way the mix of finishes, from natural wood to gold leaf, add warmth and texture.” Star power “I have a soft spot for the bamboo coffee table I bought from my friend’s shop.”
Kelly Deck brought her signature West coast style to this expansive bedroom in a White Rock, B.C., home, featured in the first Designer Secrets Special issue back in 2011. “I still appreciate this room for its scale and timeless coastal colour scheme,” she says. “The headboard wall is over 18 feet wide, but the custom millwork and oversized nightstands fill the volume of the space to make what could otherwise be vacuous seem warm and enveloping.” Star power “I’m quite fond of the gold pig with wings that sits on the nightstand – it’s a cheeky accent in a sophisticated space.”
Form and function plus a touch of luxe is Tara Fingold’s recipe for success in this glam master suite from the September 2014 issue. The dressing room area boasts a built-in makeup desk and bank of drawers, which serves as both a dresser and a window seat. “We included a ton of hidden storage to keep the room neat and tidy,” says Tara. “All the surfaces look precious but are quite practical and easy to clean.” Star power “The bird chandelier is so whimsical and evokes a peaceful, happy feeling when you walk into the room.”
Layers and colour are what make this white-walled living room, featured in the February 2015 issue by Shirley Meisels, stand out from the crowd. “The comfy sofa with loose cushions is inviting and a good neutral against the pops of colour in the rug, sidechairs and artwork, which acts as the focal point in the room,” says Shirley. “I like how the space is masculine with surprising feminine touches that negate the ‘man cave’ vibe.” Star power “The artwork is a finishing touch that adds personality and really makes the room come to life.”
A spacious and stylish white kitchen flooded with natural light.
A spacious and stylish white kitchen flooded with natural light.
Vancouver designer Joanna Vagelatos updates a spacious family abode by adding tons of texture.
The house was beautiful the way it was. “A lot of people thought we were crazy to change it,” says homeowner Tanis Hill. “But it didn’t suit our style.” With sage green walls and an abundance of dark wood, the home was more heavy and masculine than Tanis and her husband liked. “Our aesthetic has always been light, airy and whimsical,” she says.
The couple purchased the 11-year-old French Provincial-inspired abode four years ago, when they were expecting their third child. “We actually put in an offer from the hospital room,” says Tanis. (Their children are now 7, 5 and 4.) In addition to light-filled wide open spaces and stunning architectural features, the 6,760-square-foot house in an established West Vancouver neighbourhood offered a convenient, tranquil setting ideal for raising a family – it’s four blocks from the beach and close to community centres, and there’s a babbling creek running through the backyard. “We picked this place for the children,” says Tanis.
To update the interior and give it a bright, casual Rachel Ashwell-esque vibe, the homeowners enlisted Vancouver designer Joanna Vagelatos, who now runs JV Design Group but was with The Cross Decor & Design when she worked on the home. During the six-month cosmetic renovation, Joanna transformed the space by painting the walls and millwork in soothing neutrals and replacing the Brazilian cherry hardwood floors with slightly greyed white oak. This created an airy backdrop for the cozy mix of natural fabrics and traditional and vintage-style furniture, as well as Tanis’s chandelier collection (“I love chandeliers – I own 10 of them!” she says).
But it’s the variety of textures and finishes that gives the home’s white, grey and linen palette interest and warmth. “You don’t need to add punches of colour for impact,” says Joanna. For instance, a weathered wood table keeps the dining area invitingly informal; linen and lace give the master bedroom a romantic yet unfussy feel; the chic crystal chandelier and pretty vanity chair enhance the all-white ensuite’s luxurious look; and custom-made burlap toy bins lend softness and uniformity to the playroom (“Plus, they won’t scratch the millwork like hard woven ones would,” says Joanna).
Indeed, the soothing space was decorated without ignoring practicality. “We did everything with the children in mind,” says Tanis. From the virtually indestructible leather covering the kitchen island stools to the stunning unadorned floor-to-ceiling windows (“I don’t have to worry about kids and cords,” says Tanis) to the durable hardwood floors, the house is a veritable indoor playground. “Once the makeover was complete, the kids got on their plastic toy cars and ripped around the rooms – it was their way of christening the place,” she says.
Transforming the kitchen meant replacing the dark granite countertops with honed quartz, spraying the dark wooden island white, adding extra cabinetry for a wall oven and panelled fridge and installing oversized wrought iron chandeliers. White cane-backed stools with grey leather seats match the chairs in the adjacent dining area.
Elements like the muted-toned bean bag chairs, subtle grey foam mats and a white-painted vintage piano provide the functional family playroom with a lively style that’s still sophisticated.
Tanis (pictured here with her three children) inherited the loveseat from her grandmother. The open shelves with burlap toy bins help keep the play area orderly.
The existing freestanding bathtub and marble floor in the ensuite were softened with fleur-de-lys lace café curtains and a linen-covered vanity chair.
A white caned bed frame enhances the master bedroom’s romantic French-inspired look. “It’s a place where we could layer lots of linen and lace,” says Tanis. An oversized chandelier suits the scale of the space and complements its delicate vintage vibe.
A decorative olive branch objet paired with an old hardcover and fresh blooms makes for an enchanting bedroom vignette.
Bergère-style armchairs paired with a scroll-leg pedestal table and cowhide rug define the sitting area in the master bedroom.
The interior’s neutral palette continues to the outdoor living space, which is accessible from the kitchen and dining area via white-painted French doors. “There are three sets of French doors on the back of the house,” says Tanis. “And when they’re all opened up, they reveal a beautiful setting.” Tanis and her husband love to spend time here relaxing.
The rustic stone fireplace, driftwood-toned coffee table and resin wicker sofas with linen-hued cushions give the covered lounge area an indoor-outdoor feel.
Stylish toss cushions and throws add to the outdoor sitting area’s cozy vibe.
This Toronto dwelling, with its book-laden walls and cozy corners, is a reader's dream.
Easygoing, trusting and super stylish: These homeowners were downright dream clients for designer Robyn Rider, whom they hired to revamp their newly purchased three-bedroom dwelling in downtown Toronto. The protege of the designer who’d transformed their previous house, Robyn was the prime candidate to deliver an updated look to these downsizing lawyers’ home.
“They have great taste and great pieces to work with,” says Robyn – plus, lots of books. Though the homeowners significantly reduced their large book collection, the remaining titles were more than substantial, including legal references, favourite reads, hardcover sets and prized heirlooms. It’s only fitting, then, that the only directive Robyn was given was to accommodate this veritable library, which ended up dictating much of the main floor’s design.
Robyn added floor-to-ceiling bookcases throughout the entire main level to achieve the perfect marriage of library and living space. This is especially evident in the dining room, which she designed as a place to not only eat meals and host dinner parties but also to lounge by the fire with a good book. To that effect, a cozy armchair by the fireplace is accompanied by a reading lamp and footstool, and the banquette at the round urn-based dining table is extra-deep and extra-comfy. “I wanted to create an intimate area that could accommodate guests, but where the homeowners wouldn’t feel ridiculous when it’s just the two of them,” says Robyn.
While the central kitchen marks a bit of a departure from the scholarly look, it still feels like a seamless part of the open-concept living area. “I used cabinets featuring the same profile and colour as the millwork in the adjacent dining and living rooms,” says Robyn. Integrated and panelled appliances as well as cabinetry with footed toe kicks lend the space a furnished feel, while oversized lantern-style pendant lights above the island are the kind you might find over a formal dining table, further blending the lines between the cooking zone and the rest of the home.
After all, the kitchen leads right into the living room, which returns to books. “I didn’t even try to organize or colour code them,” says Robyn of her approach to keeping the look cohesive. “It would have felt too contrived.” (Plus, the husband is pretty particular about organizing things by subject.) So, to temper the mismatched assortment, Robyn created a serene envelope of white millwork and cream walls, which she used throughout the main level. “We could afford to be quieter with the paint palette considering the books and the bold textiles,” she explains, noting examples like the traditional multi-hued heirloom needlepoint rug and contemporary zigzag-patterned armchairs. “The homeowners definitely didn’t need to be convinced to use colour,” says Robyn. “It actually took some convincing to leave the walls neutral!”
Once Robyn finessed the final details of the newly designed house, the homeowners unpacked and arranged their last tomes onto the shelves, ready to begin their new chapter.
French doors – which lead to a backyard oasis that borders a ravine – let a tremendous amount of light into the living room of this Toronto house designed by Robyn Rider. Because of the kitchen’s proximity to this space, it was decorated with statement pieces, such as oversized lantern-style pendant lights, to unify the areas.
Black soapstone counter- tops break up the white kitchen cabinetry that would have otherwise looked too clinical in this cozy space. Even though it’s quite high maintenance, soapstone adds warmth and lustre. “It’s an extra layer of luxury,” says Robyn.
The first space you see when you walk through the front door is the powder room. It sets the tone for the punchy greens and bold prints used throughout the rest of the house.
The library-inspired living room features clever design details, such as space-saving pull-out shelves in place of side tables. “I was channelling British townhouse style, in which everything has a purpose,” says Robyn.
Reminding Robyn (pictured right) of gardens in Provence, the table base, an oversized urn, was the jumping-off point for the dining room’s palette. “I love its intense green colour,” says the designer, “and I just went with it!” The homeowners also love the extra-deep banquette. Robyn used a bold botanical print on the Roman shades to blur the border between indoors and out, imparting a lively and verdant atmosphere.
A dining area and reading nook rolled into one, this room sees a lot of action. The bookcases, lined with selections and collections most meaningful to the homeowners, lend an old-world vibe that is punched up by the fresh armchair fabric.
A serene departure from the rest of the house, the main guest room is soft yet sophisticated. The antique settee is a family heirloom that Robyn had reupholstered with a contemporary centre stripe design. From there, Robyn layered in more powder blue and cream elements into the space but brought in dove grey to counter the femininity. “Powder blue on its own can border on prissy,” she explains.
Photography by Stacey Brandford