Bathrooms on a budget
For many of us, the bathroom is the tiny, cluttered room off the bedroom where we rush to brush, shower and coif before racing off to the office. But what if it were a place to retreat after a long, hard day, a haven to soothe the soul and calm the nerves? It can be done – and within any budget.
The key to making a room more inviting is to use what you already have.
“Play with the existing colours in the room,” suggests interior decorator Karl Lohnes. “If you have a gold toilet, tub and sink, make that part of your colour scheme.”
Matching dominant colours will create a more uniform and calming look. Bright colours that compete for attention tend to create a chaotic mood. Karl explains that he recently re-did a bathroom that had dark-brown mini tiles. He played up the colour by incorporating a chocolate brown canvas shower curtain along with some brushed nickel accessories for a streamlined hotel look.
Jacqueline Glass, interior decorator and owner of Jacqueline Glass & Associates in Mississauga, Ont., says white is the colour of calm. Multiple white towels are an inexpensive way to create a lush environment, and they'll look good against almost any wall colour. Stack them on a tray topped with a bar of lavender soap, which adds an inspiring scent. Pillar candles placed around the room add a romantic touch to evening baths, fresh flowers (even a single stem) add beauty, French hand-milled soaps offer a decorative touch, while a plush white robe and slippers are pure comfort. “There's nothing more soothing,” says Jacqueline. “It's what you do for yourself.”
Upgrading lower ticket items can add new life to a staid, functional room. “Everybody's moving to multiple jets, but for the person on a budget, there are products out there with two [shower] jets, very easy to install, to ease off the tension,” enthuses Jacqueline.
Other DIY efforts include replacing worn faucets, towel and toilet paper bars, mirrors, medicine cabinets and light fixtures – Jacqueline recommends downlights, which are more flattering, and putting them on dimmers.
Karl also suggests replacing the bathroom door with one that has a full-length mirror set in, along with new knobs and handles. He also recommends a fresh coat of paint for the walls and tiles, if necessary. Complete the room with a tray-topped trolley to hold a bottle of Perrier or top-quality Egyptian cotton towels, with luxurious bathmats to sink your feet into. Shelving lined with multiple candle- or flower-filled hurricane glasses makes the perfect finishing touch.
How you think of your bathroom is how you should decorate it. “It's not just tub, toilet, sink,” says Jacqueline. Consider a fireplace to read by, a window seat to gaze at the stars from or a bar fridge built into the cabinetry filled with bottled water or even champagne.
For ultimate luxury, enjoy the bubbly in a multiple-jet bath. Or admire family portraits on tone-on-tone damask wallpaper worry-free by increasing the room's ventilation. Add music by wiring in speakers.
For absolute calm, take a cue from the outdoors. Karl suggests going natural in colour (biscuit, linen, taupe), material (stone tile, dark wood) and light. “It will make you feel like you're bathing outside,” he says.
Incorporating the latest trends
The newest accessories and hardware can easily be incorporated into the redesign of your tranquil retreat.
1 Black, oil-rubbed bronze, antique-copper finishes on fixtures
2 Square-shaped faucets
3 Undermounted tubs with generous decks
4 Sophisticated finishes once reserved for kitchens, like granite
5 Custom-bath enclosures
6 Glass doors detailed in copper or stainless steel
As bathroom designs move toward an open look, use attractive baskets to store makeup and sundries. Remember, a sanctuary can only be peaceful when all irritations are successfully disposed of.