9 ways to revamp your bathroom without undergoing a large-scale renovation.
According to designer Robin Siegerman, principal of Sieguzi Kitchen & Home Inc. and author of Renovation Bootcamp: Kitchens, bathroom renovations can be surprisingly expensive for the (generally) smaller size of the room, because so much of the expense is hidden in the walls, such as electrical and plumbing. But if your bathroom is in relatively good shape but uninspired from a design standpoint – often the case with condo units, for example – there’s much you can do to give it a spiffier look, with little or no professional help. Here are a few tips.
Replacing an ugly bathroom faucet with a pretty one has become a relatively simple do-it-yourself task, with many faucets now sold in kits that include all the fittings and complete instructions. Make sure you have the right type for the number of hole openings in the sink.
There are companies that will come in and reface your countertop with a ¼-inch veneer of granite, for the look of solid granite at a fraction of the cost. Alternatively, you can have a boring or worn laminate counter refaced with new laminate—there are ones on the market now that closely mimic stone, wood or other natural finishes, or go for something more fanciful if you like.
Replace a boring plate-glass mirror with a framed version you can hang like art. Scoop up an ornate frame at an antique store (or pick out a nice one at a framer’s) and have the framer make it into a mirror for you. Attractive framed mirrors in every style from Victorian to modern can also be found at thrift stores, antique markets and home stores.
If your bathtub or shower is tiled inside the enclosure but stops at the edge, and you can find matching tile, have it extended (or do it yourself, with new ceramic tile mounting kits available at box stores) the rest of the way around the bathroom to the 48” mark, like wainscoting. The advantage to doing this is more than aesthetic; it makes your bathroom much easier to clean, since you can wash the walls at the same time you do the floors.
Many bathrooms are cursed with a single light fixture directly above the mirror, which creates unflattering shadows. If you don’t want to have side sconces wired in, look for a fixture with two lights side by side, which will at least direct the light a little more to either side of your face.
If your bathroom floor is ugly, cover it with a small pure-wool area rug. Unlike synthetics, wool is moisture and mildew resistant, resists dirt (and can be cleaned relatively easily), and if you choose an Oriental or Persian style, adds a touch of class. If it gets very wet, hang it up to dry.
It’s amazing what a beautiful bathroom wall colour will do to add interest to the plainest room, and a small room takes only a day or so to paint. Be careful choosing colour, though: some blues and greens can be cold and unkind to skin tones, while too bright a colour may be overwhelming in a small room like a bath. At the very worst, if you choose a colour and don’t like the effect, it’s easy to paint over again.
Making your own shower curtain is an easy job, even if you’re not a sewer. Measure the shower opening and purchase a few yards of beautiful fabric from a fabric outlet store. Finish the edges with iron-on hemming tape and sew curtain rings along the top. Buy a plastic curtain liner from a bath shop, and hang.
Think scale with bath accessories, but don’t think you have to display only small things. One beautiful vase or piece of artwork (a sealed print is best if your bath gets very steamy) can have fabulous impact in a small space.
Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall.
These faux marble options are just as elegant as the real deal.
Few materials strike a chord with us in the same way that marble does. The sought-after stone, with its subtle sheen and veined markings, is quick to catch the eye and lends a luxe look to a space without being over the top. The downside, of course, is its price point. Here are 5 marble-like options that will achieve the same sophisticated, formal look for a fraction of the cost.
Looking for a faux marble tile that can handle heavy foot traffic? Consider peel-and-stick vinyl floor tiles. In addition to their resilient nature, the tiles can be installed over most existing flooring. In other words, they make for a perfect weekend DIY project that won’t end in defeat. TrafficMaster Premium Vinyl Tile in Carrara Marble, Home Depot, starting at $0.89/sq. ft.
If you love the marbled look, you’ll want to customize all of your furniture with this stylish contact paper. The affordable material has a peel-away backing that can stick to almost any surface, from the top of a coffee table to the inside of kitchen drawers. Keep in mind that the paper doesn’t react well to water, so avoid using it in the bathroom or near the kitchen sink. Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall, $59.99 per roll.
Elevate your living space with ceramic wall tiles that mimic the look of marble like this elegant option from Ciot. Though similar in appearance, ceramic is far more delicate than marble and is therefore more susceptible to chips and cracks. The solution: Be strategic with placement, avoiding high-traffic areas in favour of bathroom walls or backsplashes. Marvel Wall Tile in Calacatta Extra, Ciot, see store for pricing.
Porcelain is another classic material that boasts marble's polished aesthetic without the hefty price tag. The tile is more resilient than ceramic, which makes it perfect for flooring as well as bathroom walls and kitchen backsplashes. Let's just say marble-inspired porcelain has the ability to make any space sparkle. Glazed Porcelain Tiles in White, Olympia Tile + Stone, see store for pricing.
If you’re not yet familiar with Laminam, allow us to be the first to introduce you. The innovative material is touted as being the world’s first porcelain tile that's offered in 3 metre by 1 metre panels and is thinner than standard porcelain tiling. This means that in addition to covering existing walls and floors, Laminam can take on an array of delicate surfaces (think fireplace surrounds, kitchen countertops and outdoor areas). I Naturali Laminam in Bianco Statuario, Stone Tile, see store for pricing.
A lack luster basement gets a chic update.
Who says basements have to be afterthoughts? Sure, they can be cold and lack light, but that didn’t hold back design blogger Christine Dovey. Here’s how she made her lowest level one of the top attractions in her home.
With two small children, a baby on the way and a teenager heading off to university, Christine Dovey had to do some serious shuffling last year to create a space in her Oakville, Ont., home that would work for the whole family. “I really needed an adult-friendly common area that could also offer storage for toys and serve as a crash pad for my eldest daughter, Natasha, when she’s home from school (and doesn’t want to see her mom before noon),” says the design blogger.
The only answer was the basement, a dark and dingy storage space-slash-makeshift playroom where “the kids would go, but no grown-up would ever spend time,” says Christine. The 1,000-square-foot basement had ancient wall-to-wall stained beige carpeting, a bathroom with a plastic shower and a laundry “hole” (as Christine puts it) concealed behind a curtain.
“I wanted it to feel clean and glamorous, but still accessible; put together, but not stuffy. And thus our small flooring project snowballed into a full reno to create a basement that’s modern, urban and main-floor worthy.”
The 1,000-square-foot basement desperately required a makeover, with its ancient wall-to-wall stained beige carpeting and a bathroom with a plastic shower and a laundry “hole” (as Christine puts it) concealed behind a curtain.
The family room’s low off-white wool sectional is durable and comfortable: perfect for watching TV together as a family or for Christine’s eldest daughter, Natasha, to host sleepovers when she’s home from university.
A dramatic oversized print of Adolf Ulrik Wertmuller’s 1785 painting Queen Marie Antoinette of France and Two of Her Children Walking in the Park of Trianon adds a grand, almost palatial, element to homeowner Christine Dovey’s basement family room; it also adds an antiquated foil to all the sleek modern furniture.
The key to making a lower-level space first-floor worthy is to decorate with pieces from your principal rooms. One such example here is the original Platner armchair–scored many years ago on eBay for a bargain – which was relocated from the upstairs living room.
The modern high-gloss floating console is actually kitchen cabinetry from IKEA . Christine had it mounted on the wall to keep the hallway feeling open and airy, and topped it with a quartz countertop. A floating shelf displays artwork and family photos.
In the laundry alcove, Christine made the most of a tiny space: Floating shelves allow for a pretty display, while the addition of a butcher-block countertop provides room for a small sink as well as a place to fold clothes.
Unable to move the laundry nook, Christine got creative and hid the area behind sliding doors. Originally from Romania and painted blue and white, the set of four antique doors was made over with glossy black paint and frosted glass (with the words “laundry room” cheekily etched on) and attached to a track.
Artwork and subway tiles make for a great statement on this laundry room wall.
In Natasha’s bedroom, wall-to-wall painted silk drapery helps disguise the diminutive basement window. The low profile bed frame, with its built-in shelves, suits the small space. The palette, inspired by the colourful rug, is tied together by the oversized artwork painted by Christine.
A custom walk-in shower (a style selected because of the small space bathroom) features a simple but modern design: one large sheet of glass with a grid of powder-coated steel rods that makes it look like a set of windows. Christine says it’s also a dream to clean.
In her go-to black and white palette, Christine created a bathroom that feels at once modern and old-world. “I wanted it to really feel like a subway station in Paris,” she says. So she chose marble basket-weave tiles for the floor and white ceramic subway tiles with dark grout for the walls.
The expanded bathroom – now twice as big as before – does double-duty as an ensuite for Natasha and a guest bathroom, since there’s no powder room on the main floor.
Blending pretty and practical style
Vancouver designer Chrissy Cottrell shares her tips to creating a home that's both fabulous and functional.
Follow designer Chrissy Cottrell's 10 tips to creating a home that appeals to both genders.
A whimsical print by Paule Marrot adds a pretty touch to the dining room and balances out the handsome dark accents. “My husband, Corey, and I wanted to honour both the masculine and feminine in our home,” says homeowner and designer Chrissy Cottrell of Chrissy & Co. Design Savvy.
Minimalist furnishings ensure this small dining area doesn’t feel cramped. A sleek oval Saarinen-style dining table, paired with iconic Eames chairs, seats six without taking up too much visual space. Stemware and bottles stay neatly tucked away in the narrow built-in bar but can be put on display when the couple entertains.
The built-in stainless steel peninsula gives guests a great view of what’s cooking in the galley kitchen. Tucked into the cabinetry, the dishwasher drawer – perfect for a household of two – can handle a lot of dishes while taking up minimal space.
The cognac stain of the vintage-look schoolhouse stools contrasts with the contemporary kitchen’s stainless steel peninsula. The stools also complement the warm-toned hardwood floors and rich colours found in the artwork (a wall-mounted glass platter), pulling the whole space together.
The regal bust adds sophistication on the living room window ledge. “There’s so much natural light by the window, and it’s always changing, so I keep it simple with pieces that won’t detract from the view,” says Chrissy. “It’s more about the silhouette and texture.”
A living room corner gets the full decorative treament with a mix of pieces that have a Neo-Victorian vibe. The art wall – a standout feature – includes a vintage mirror, golden buffalo head and playful painted portrait of the couple’s toy poodle, Buttons.
The white Italian leather sofa provides negative space underneath the artwork, allowing it to shine. The large-scale piece by David Burdeny makes the narrow living room seem bigger than it actually is. “I really love art that pulls you into it,” says Chrissy. “It’s like a window into another room.”
When it comes to artwork and interesting accessories, people often neglect the bathroom, says Chrissy, who hung some of her favourite pieces on the charcoal wall. “Let’s face it: you spend several minutes in there, so it’s nice to have something interesting to look at.”
Upholstered in grey linen with brushed-brass nailhead trim, the tufted headboard takes centre stage in the otherwise sedate master bedroom. A sleek black and gold pendant light adds drama and helps draw the eye upward.
The master bedroom gallery wall showcases the couple’s history, with sentimental pieces that reflect their time and travels together. “I’m a big believer in buying what you love and then making it work,” says Chrissy, who splurged on custom framing in a mix of complementary shades and sizes.