10 simple bathroom fixes for DIY decorators
1. Throw In the towel.
The absolutely easiest way to give your bathroom a facelift: new textiles. All it takes is a new shower curtain and matching bath mat, plus some thick, pretty towels to give your bathroom that designer touch. Splurge on the good stuff, and feel like you're at the spa every time you take a shower.
2. Art and soul.
You can, too, have great art in the bathroom. The trick is finding pieces that can survive (or even thrive) in heavy humidity. Sculptural pieces made from ceramic and resin add drama and are easy to wipe down, while mirrors add a touch of luxe and make your bathroom look bigger, to boot.
Bonus points if your W.C. has a window: Plants are like living sculptures, especially air plants and staghorn ferns, which are visually stunning, thrive in the humid air, and are tough enough to survive a little neglect.
3. Color your world.
The right color transforms a boring bathroom into a restful retreat. Darker colors create a sense of intimacy and drama (think chocolate brown or passionate crimson), while lighter colors create an airy sense of space (think cheerful yellow and soft, warm pink).
HOW-TO HINT: High-gloss paint keeps things clean, leaving little room for mold to grow. It's easier to wipe down, too. Check at your local paint store for formulations made especially for high-humidity environments.
4. Stencil It In.
It's easy to add drama or whimsy to your bathroom with just a few brush strokes. Stencils have come a long way since the days of childish animals tottering around a colorful ceiling border. These days, savvy crafters use sophisticated patterns ranging from Art Nouveau to the Arts and Crafts movement and beyond. Try your local craft store first, then check online to explore your options.
HOW-TO HINT: Technique is everything - nothing ruins a stencil faster than sloppy application. Use lots of tape to hold the stencil in place, and don't overload your brush
5. Shelf life.
Even if you're not short on storage space, a handsome set of shelves can add an air of luxury to your loo. Use them to display humidity-proof artwork, a platter of air plants, and artful displays of toiletries in pretty jars.
6. Hello, hardware.
Upgrading your hardware is a subtle but effective way to dress things up. Matching hooks, knobs, faucet handles, and even toilet-seat covers add the kind of thoughtful appeal that people associate with serious designers -- all on a DIY budget. From pitch-perfect recreations of vintage hardware to work-of-art modern fixtures, your options are practically limitless.
7. Floor show.
Feeling stuck with ugly, sheet-vinyl flooring? Kiss that ugly '80s fake-tile pattern goodbye and say hello to a good-as-new bathroom floor in a color (or pattern!) you love. Ambitious crafters can even stencil the same pattern on the floor and the walls. All it takes is primer, paint and patience.
HOW-TO HINT: Painting your floor is simple, but time-consuming. It takes several days for your new paint to fully cure, so be sure you have a backup loo while you wait.
8. The best medicine.
Ditch those rusted shelves and that wobbly mirror and treat yourself to a high-quality medicine cabinet. Just pull out the old one and pop in the new. It's really that simple. Switch out the hardware and add matching shelves at the same time, and it'll feel like a whole new room.
HOW-TO HINT: This is a relatively easy project, but only if your new cabinet is the same size as your old one. Going bigger requires basic carpentry skills, as well as cutting a larger hole in your wall. As always, read several how-to guides first, so you know what to expect.
9. Light touch.
The right lighting takes a space from 'meh' to marvelous with the flip of a switch. The tricky thing about bathroom lighting is that it serves two functions: task lighting (gotta see those teeth while you're flossing) and mood lighting. Fortunately, your local hardware and lighting stores have entire sections devoted to bathrooms, so it should be easy to find a look you love.
HOW-TO HINT: This is a straightforward wiring job if your fixture doesn't have any electrical outlets attached to it. If you've got new electrical outlets going in, you'll need a licensed electrician to check your work, or (even better) to do the installation for you.
10. Tile with style.
This is a major job that will give your bathroom a major facelift. There are endless choices for tiles: echo that 'underwater' feeling with tiles that feature textures or designs beneath a layer of glass; use reproductions of vintage tiles for an elegant, old-fashioned feel; or flex your artistry and create a custom mosaic. The only limit is your imagination -- and your skill with a tile cutter and grout.
HOW-TO HINT: Removing the old tile is hard, messy and takes as much (or more) time as installing the new, so you might consider hiring a contractor to help with the tear-down and prep.
Amy Leigh Morgan lives in Seattle, WA, where she has redecorated more than her fair share of bathrooms.