How to Bring the Beauty of Reclaimed Wood to the Bath

Article by: Becky Harris

Reclaimed wood has never been more popular, making its way from basement bars all the way up to elegant master bathrooms. Used on flooring, vanities, accent walls, mirror frames and even tub surrounds, this material adds warmth and rich texture. It’s also a wonderful contrast to the usual bathroom materials, such as glass, granite, marble and tile, which can leave a space feeling cold. “Reclaimed wood can be a once-in-a-lifetime gift,” says Nathan Daves, of Restoring TexasBut using it in a room full of potential splashes and steam takes some extra consideration. “At the end of the day, water is the evil kryptonite for wood,” Daves says. 

Daves also warns that not all reclaimed wood is created equal. A broken-up pallet will not withstand moisture at all like old-growth pine lumber harvested from a pre-1940s barn, for example. Other good choices for moisture resistance are reclaimed teak and old-growth cypress. Whichever wood you use and wherever you decide to use it, check out this list of ideas and advice to see if reclaimed wood will suit your bathroom.

1. Talk to your contractor about the realities of protecting the wood. No matter whether you treat the wood or not, protecting it from direct contact with water is a good idea. “If water is allowed to sit on the wood, it will eventually find its way in,” says Daves, who recommends sealing reclaimed wood used in a bathroom with an oil-based polyurethane. “Anything that coats the wood will eventually be infiltrated and begin breaking down, but woods with high rot resistance will last longer,” he says.

Using wood as an accent wall where it won’t be splashed by water is smart. Here, a high backsplash protects it from direct contact with water.

2. Realize that the material will swell and contract. In this Hollywood actor’s bungalow, salvaged wood mixed with crisp white and vintage accents give the room a modern eclectic look. The designer, Laura Schwartz-Muller, even had a simple matching tub shelf crafted to match. 

Schwartz-Muller understood the importance of treating the reclaimed wood as “a living, breathing thing,” as she describes it, one that will grow and contract. Thus, she used flexible silicone caulking and left a ⅛-inch gap between the sides of the tub and the walls, and beneath the tub top. She sealed the wood with three coats of fully cured polyurethane to protect it from moisture. 


3. Use reclaimed wood for contrast. It’s a wonderful way to add warmth to a modern bathroom. The rough-hewn quality of these reclaimed white oak timbers makes them standouts in this otherwise clean-lined space. 

There is extra maintenance involved, so you have to decide if the look is worth it to you. When these owners opted not to add a glass top to the counter, they were aware that they would need to do a little light sanding and add a new satin-finish polyurethane coat on their countertop every few years. 

Tip: The designers at Burns and Beyerl Architects recommend using reclaimed wood as a countertop in adult bathrooms as opposed to those for kids, as kids are less likely to mop up any splashes and little puddles they might make when using the sink. 

4. Add a different countertop atop a reclaimed wood base. If you’re turned off by the extra maintenance required by a wood counter, this is a good alternative. In this elegant bath, an open vanity base constructed from old barn wood adds a striking material to the textural palette. The designers at Beinfield Architecture treated it with a clear wood sealer. 

Using a fan when you’re steaming up the bathroom is another way to help keep moisture away from your reclaimed wood.

5. Add more than one reclaimed wood accent. Here the vanity counter and mirror create three long horizontal lines of dark rustic reclaimed wood. 

In fact, reclaimed wood is an element these homeowners used throughout their farmhouse, and it ties the rooms to one another. 

6. Consider teak. Teak is one of the most rot-resistant wood species out there, which is why these teak boards surrounding the tub originally were used on the deck of the USS North Carolina battleship. The coloring and knots make the bathtub a focal point in the room.

7. Highlight your home’s history by harvesting wood during the demolition phase and upcycling it in the renovations. In this New Orleans bathroom, interior designer Nomita Joshi-Gupta of Spruce used bargeboards that were original to the house. These bargeboards are at home with water; they are lumber recycled from cargo barges that floated goods down the Mississippi River and were then broken up upon arrival. It was a common construction material in Creole architecture historically. “When we gutted the house, we found bargeboard, and we decided to reuse it in many portions of the house,” she says.

The design team took the best pieces and installed them like paneling, then sealed it with polyurethane. “It is a beautiful texture, and it was nice to reuse and reclaim the home’s own history,” Joshi-Gupta says.

It’s only fitting that this piece of cedar in this floating house in Seattle serves as a unique shower bench, because it was part of an old log float. As it had floated on the water for many years before, the client decided sealing it wasn’t necessary. 

When remodeling his 1902 foursquare home, architect Geoff Prentiss ripped out plaster and preserved the 113-year-old fir lath beneath it. “The lath, usually between 24 and 48 inches in length, was stained in part, which I liked, but also had lots of tiny nails and bunches of sand in it, which was not so good,” Prentiss says. He pulled out the nails, shook the pieces and then very lightly sanded the rough-sawn surface. After installing it on the walls, he used a clear sealer. “There has been no issue in the wood absorbing water, even as the backsplash of the sink,” he says.

8. Create something artful. This beautiful wall is a patchwork of reclaimed wood pieces made by local Sandpoint, Idaho, artist Rob Payne.

9. Combine reclaimed wood with soapstone countertops. The combination of the sanded-down white paint on the reclaimed-wood base and the veins in the countertop tie the two pieces of this vanity together in a unique way. A long trough sink and a frameless mirror create a clean look.

10. Pair reclaimed wood with unlacquered brass fixtures and hardware. The way the material patinates works well with the rustic look of reclaimed wood. 

On this vanity, Studio Marler used recycled wood for the doors and drawer fronts. Surprisingly modern storage solutions hide behind the vintage-looking facade.

11. Use reclaimed wood in a powder room. If the thought of steam from the shower, splashes from daily face washing and toothbrushing, or keeping up a wood countertop has put you off, consider using it in the powder room. 

In this contemporary barn-like home, the main floor’s powder room has a unique reclaimed-wood and Plexiglas surround that glows like a lantern. The architects specified that the Plexiglas be sanded to give it a frosted look. 

Bathroom Ideas: Shower Curtain or Shower Doors?

Article by: Lara Sargent

If you don’t have the space (or budget) for a separate shower enclosure and bath, you’ve probably decided on a combined shower-bath. But should you go with a shower curtain or glass shower doors to enclose it? Some of us might gravitate toward the softer look of a colorful piece of waterproof fabric that can be changed at will, while others might love the no-nonsense efficiency of a sheer pane of glass. To help point you in the right direction, here are five benefits each of shower curtains and glass doors.

Shower Curtains

1. Soften the surfaces. Great swaths of fabric (waterproofed or backed with a water-resistant liner) can temper the overall aesthetic of a bathroom that’s in danger of becoming too harsh or sterile. This classic, serene design, with a harmonious blend of marble, tiles and dove-gray paint, is softer and less clinical thanks to the beautiful floor-length shower curtain that runs the length of the bath.

Make sure your curtain — or at least the outer fabric section — can be washed at home, so any hint of mildew or staining can be nipped in the bud.

2. Add personality. Simply put, shower curtains can instantly inject a blast of color, print and personality with the minimum of fuss, expense and effort. And even better, when you’re tired of the look, the curtain can be replaced with one in an altogether different style.

Be bold with color in the bathroom and remember, you don’t have to stick with top-to-bottom white for a fresh feel. I love the brave accents of acid yellow in this bathroom, which glow against the dotted shower curtain in a neutral, earthy hue.

3. Rev up a roll-top. Roll-top baths with a shower fitted above can be notoriously difficult to pull off — particularly when it comes to dealing with water spills and splashes. Glass panels are generally a no-no where curves and awkwardly shaped tubs are concerned, unless you go for something custom, so your best bet is to install a robust ceiling-mounted rail and finish with a heavy-duty, waterproof shower curtain that can be swept all the way around the inside the tub.

I love the muted, earthy palette of tobacco, biscuit and putty here, which gives this traditional bathroom a classy, timeless look all its own.

4. Prettify it. If I had my way, I’d make over every room with as much flounce and fuss as possible — and that includes the bathroom. So my No. 1 reason for choosing a shower curtain is simple: to prettify your daily ablutions with a frilly little number to rival something in the cutest boudoir. 

Finish the look off with some floral-print wallpaper and a pair of cute lamps, and you might just want to stay put all day.

5. Make it modern. Hands up if you think shower curtains are a thumbs-down for the modern bathroom. A quick glance at this pared-down, two-tone look might change your mind, as the simple transparent curtain on chains is as contemporary as it gets.

It’s a chic, barely there curtain that’s almost as invisible as any glass screen, but with just a hint of shimmer to add another layer of texture to the graphic brown and white look.

Shower Screens

1. Go for a full enclosure. There’s no fear of water escaping from this recessed bath, as the sliding doors fully enclose the tub in a neat, no-nonsense fashion. 

Sliding panels of glass are also a good option where space is at a premium, as they don’t need to hinge or pivot outward, eating into valuable floor inches and making fixtures and fittings awkward to use.

2. Utilize tricky spaces. A bath can be slotted rather neatly into an unused alcove or nook in a converted attic, but how to cope with the sloping ceilings if you fancy a shower, too? 

Your best bet is to opt for a custom shower screen (lots of companies now offer them), which can accommodate tricky recesses and angles as well as nonstandard heights. You might well pay extra for this made-to-measure item, but for a neat, splashproof solution, it’s worth its weight in gold.

3. Expand the space. A fixed panel of frameless glass looks the part in any style of bathroom, not least in an all-white, compact scheme, where fuss-free lines and classic materials win out. This is the best option if your bathroom is very compact and a curtain or fussier glass fittings would break up the space and visually shrink your room.

4. Keep it simple. If you have a lot going on in terms of decor in the rest of the bathroom — think colored tiles, paneled furniture and fancy sink fixtures — then perhaps a plain sheet of no-frills glass is the best solution.

Look for glass that has been finished with a special coating so dirt and limescale won’t accumulate and make it hard to keep clean. It might bump up the overall price of the screen, but it will save you lots of elbow grease.

5. Fold it away. There aren’t lots of access options when it comes to shower curtains: draw to one side to step into the bath and pull right across, from end to end, when the water flow gets going. With shower screens, however, there’s an array of possible configurations, including hinged, sliding and multipaneled designs that concertina neatly out of the way. 

This bathroom has a larger-than-standard glass screen made of two hinged sections. This makes getting in and out a cinch, and the screen folds out of the way when not in use.

10 Design Moves From Tricked-Out Bathrooms

Article by: Natasha Saroca

Seemingly standard cupboards with smart, unique or high-tech elements and accessories behind their doors can make a world of difference when it comes to making a bath zone more organized and user friendly.Cases in point: The 10 bathroom cabinet ideas you’ll find here. While they may look fairly basic upon first glance, take a closer look and you’ll find that the beauty (and benefits) of these bathroom storage units go well beyond the surface.

1. Bright lighting ideas. Do you often struggle to find items in your bathroom cabinet because it’s so dark inside? Built-in cabinet lighting will solve that problem. Opt for recessed downlights (use glass shelves in your cabinet or open shelving unit, rather than ones made from solid materials like wood or stainless steel, as this will allow the light to filter through to the bottom of the cabinet), or try a backlit panel that will illuminate the entire storage space, like the one shown here. 

For added functionality, rather than a switch-operated light, select a sensor light that automatically turns on and off when the cabinet door is opened or closed.

If you wish to enhance the mood of your bathroom, line the base of your vanity or medicine cabinet with LED strip lighting, which can also double as a nightlight when you need to use your bathroom late at night or early in the morning, but don’t want to turn on your bright overhead lights in case they jolt you wide awake from your sleepy state.

2. A cubby for your gadgets. Want your hair dryer, straightener, electric toothbrush or shaver to be easily accessible but don’t want them cluttering the top of your vanity? A compact nook with a lift-up door (like the one pictured) or pocket doors where you can stash your grooming gadgets may be just what you need. Position the compact cabinet on top of your vanity so that it sits at a comfortable and convenient height, and in front of an electrical outlet so the devices can remain plugged in, charged and ready to go at all times.

Alternatively, if countertop space is at a premium, you might consider incorporating a drawer with a built-in electrical outlet into your vanity or bathroom cupboard instead.

3. A slide-out step. Do you have youngsters who struggle to reach the basin — or everyday items that sit on top of the vanity, in high shelves or in tall cupboards — in your family bathroom? A pullout or fold-down step is a nifty addition for any family bathroom. (Notice how the step in this transitional space is disguised as a run-of-the-mill drawer.) Position it at the base of your vanity or other cabinetry in your bathroom that your little ones may need to access. 

It may also prove useful when cleaning, as it will allow you to dust and wipe down hard-to-reach spots, like the top of your mirror or medicine cabinet.

4. Drawer organizers. Bring order to messy drawers with inserts that divide the storage space into separate, easy-to-manage (and easy-to-navigate) sections for different bath-time and grooming essentials, like razors, brushes, combs and skincare products. This clever, clutter-free setup shows how it’s done. A deep, roomy drawer conceals two smaller drawers, each of which boasts removable organizers that can be taken out when in use and reconfigured when the need arises.

5. Innovative drawer runners and door hinges. It’s not pleasant waking up to the sound of someone slamming bathroom drawers and cupboard doors early in the morning while hurriedly trying to get ready and race out the door. Nor is the sharp, shooting pain you feel after slamming your fingers in these cabinet fronts. That’s why innovative drawer systems and door hinges (like push-touch drawers and soft-close drawer runners and doors) are a solid investment for any bathroom, especially one for families with young kids or people with motor or mobility challenges. Not only do they offer smooth and silent function, but they’re also safer, extremely durable and ergonomic.

6. Mirrors inside and out. While mirrored doors are a standard inclusion on most medicine cabinets, when you’re shopping around for one for your bath zone or talking custom bathroom storage options with your designer, we suggest opting for one that boasts a mirrored interior, too. Why? As you can see looking at this sleek cabinet, a mirrored back panel will allow you to see items that are hidden at the back of your cabinet, which means you’ll be able to find and access whatever you’re looking for quickly and with ease. This particular design also features an adjustable built-in magnifying mirror that slides up or down for users of different heights.

7. Hidden washer-dryer. When closed, this vanity appears to have six roomy drawers, but pull on any handle on the right hand side and that side’s “trio of drawers” (actually a cleverly disguised cupboard door made from three drawer fronts that have been attached together) opens to reveal a washer-dryer inside. Genius!

8. Cabinet doors that stay out of the way. Hands up if you’ve almost taken yourself out when opening a medicine cabinet door that opens outward (or is it just me?). Or perhaps you simply find side-swinging cabinet doors annoying because they block your view and get in your way when open? Either way, whether your bathroom storage woes are centered around safety or convenience, you may like to reconsider regular doors in favor of ones that lift or slide up, like the lift-up mirrored panel pictured here. Some pull-up door systems are also semiautomatic for added functionality and user-friendly appeal.

9. Space makers. In bathrooms where space is at a premium, it’s important that the storage solutions you incorporate are smart and use every last inch of room available. Take this clever bathroom cabinet, for example. Rather than the tall, deep, narrow cupboard’s being fitted with basic shelving, a pullout storage system has been used instead to maximize space and ensure that the cabinet’s contents are always visible and easy to access.

Corner drawers, rotating carousels for awkward nooks and built-in compartments on the backs of cupboard doors are other crafty storage solutions you might like to consider.

A hideaway hamper that looks like an ordinary drawer or cupboard is another neat idea that will enhance the look and functionality of your bathroom, as it will free up floor space and hide your dirty laundry.

10. Go high tech. For those who wish they could watch the news while getting ready in the bathroom every morning, or an episode of a favorite TV show while soaking in the tub at night, you might be keen to get a medicine cabinet that features a mirrored door with an integrated LCD TV screen. Alternatively, you might like to kit out your cabinetry with built-in speakers so you can listen to the radio or mood-enhancing music while preparing for the day or night ahead.

If your style is more practical, consider incorporating a mirrored medicine cabinet with built-in dimmable lights or an electric defogger.

Bathroom Countertops 101: The Top Surface Materials

Article by: Lisa Kahn

Choosing the perfect material for one’s bathroom countertops can be a bit of a brain teaser, thanks to the abundant — and quite attractive — options available at nearly every price level. But because bathroom surfaces typically don’t face the same abuse as those in the kitchen (think hot frying pans, sharp carving knives and spilled Bordeaux), the decisions most buyers wrestle with are usually more about style and cost than Herculean strength. Fortunately, the top bathroom countertop materials on the market combine beauty and brawn in equal measure. Here’s a closer look at some of the most sought-after bathroom surfaces among today’s buyers.

Granite

If your heart is set on granite, count yourself among an enduring majority. Despite encroaching competition from quartz (see below), granite remains the premier choice among the varieties of natural stone, due to its dramatic beauty and seemingly endless variety of colors and patterns.

Pros:

  • A profusion of options: With patterns from subtle to bold and a rainbow of hues, you’re sure to find a slab that speaks your language.
  • Granite is hard and scratch resistant, and requires minimal upkeep when properly sealed.
  • It’s impervious to humidity or damage from a hot curling iron.
  • It lasts just about forever.
  • Because granite is so desirable, it’s likely to add resale value to your home.

Cons:

  • Granite is still one of the most expensive countertop choices.
  • Because there’s a real chance of damaging the slab if it isn’t handled properly, it’s best to hire a professional to do the job.
  • Though granite is recyclable, its transport and mining require extensive energy resources.

 

Price range: $50 to $100 per square foot, depending on the size and thickness

Quartz

Quartz is one of nature’s hardest and most abundant minerals. In fact, nearly every type of stone contains some percentage of this ubiquitous material. Manufacturers of quartz countertops (familiar brand names include Caesarstone, Cambria, Zodiaq and Silestone) add pigments, resins and, occasionally, recycled content, to a base that is about 95 percent natural stone. 

Pros:

  • Quartz is tougher than granite and doesn’t require sealing.
  • It’s naturally resistant to moisture, stains and bacteria.
  • It has a variety of edge treatments and installation options

Cons:

  • Quartz can rival high-end granite and marble in cost.
  • Honed and textured finishes will show fingerprints and smudges, so frequent wipe-downs may be necessary.

Price range: $60 to $100 per square foot

Solid Surface

Solid-surface materials are made of acrylic resin and crushed stone. Top brands include Corian, Gibraltar, Formica Solid Surfacing and Staron. You’ll find a wide range of solid colors and subtle patterns that pair especially well with contemporary decor.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable and naturally resistant to water, bacteria and stains.
  • Realistic flecked or streaked styles can rival natural stone.
  • Virtually seamless.
  • Minor damage can be buffed out.
  • Available with integral sink and backsplash options, as well as custom color inlays and lighting effects.

Cons:

  • Requires professional installation.
  • Wear and scratches are more visible on darker colors.
  • Can be damaged by intense heat or dropped objects.

Price range: $40 to $100 per linear foot

Marble

For centuries marble’s cool elegance has been synonymous with wealth and privilege. But thanks to improvements in its production, this rare beauty has become a bit more affordable. A hard, crystalline form of limestone, marble is often white with streaks of grays, although there are many color variations.

Pros:

  • Long lasting and strong enough to resist most chips or dents.
  • Can be polished for a high shine or honed for a casual, matte finish.
  • Adaptable to nearly every style.

Cons:

  • It’s expensive.
  • Marble’s porous nature makes it prone to stains, scratches and etching from acidic substances.
  • Requires periodic sealing to maintain the finish.
  • Price range: $125 to $150 per square foot, depending on thickness and installation

Concrete

No longer exclusively an industrial material, concrete has miraculous shape-shifting abilities that allow an endless array of looks. Most concrete countertops are manufactured offsite for maximum quality control.

Pros:

  • It’s an appealing organic material that can mimic the look of natural stone.
  • Vast range of customized colors, textures and decorative inlays.
  • Can be cast in the exact shape, dimensions and edge style desired.
  • Extremely durable.
  • Reasonably ecofriendly, especially when recycled content is added.

Cons:

  • Professional design and installation are recommended.
  • Because concrete is naturally porous, countertops need to be waxed and sealed regularly.
  • Visible seam lines, although their appearance can be minimized with a colored filler.

Price range: $65 to $135 per square foot, not including installation

 

Laminate

Laminate has come a long way since the garish pastels and visible seams many of us remember from the ’60s and ’70s. Most commonly known as Formica, this easy-care product is composed of a thin plastic surface that’s pressure bonded to a particleboard or plywood base. The latest printing technologies are used for modern laminates to produce amazingly realistic stone- and wood-like finishes, as well as a plethora of solid and graphic patterns.

Pros:

  • One of the most affordable countertop surfaces.
  • Durable, water resistant and easy to clean.
  • Warm to the touch.
  • Presized products are widely available at home supply stores.
  • Relatively easy to install without a professional.

Cons:

  • Laminate tends to thin or dull over time.
  • Damages can’t be repaired; the entire counter usually needs to be replaced.

Price range: $24 to $50 per linear foot

Tile

Ceramic tile can be a charming and informal surface material, especially in a Spanish colonial– or beach cottage–style bath. Boldly patterned tiles also make wonderful backsplashes and tub surrounds.

Pros:

  • Glazed ceramic tiles are resistant to heat, stains, scratches and moisture.
  • Tile is affordable, and individual tiles can be replaced if damaged.
  • The installation and pattern can be customized.

Cons:

  • Grout can attract stains and mildew and may be difficult to keep clean.
  • Tiles can crack or chip.

Price range: $10 to $50 per square foot. 

Bathroom Workbook: Layer on the Texture for High Bath Style

Article by: Shana Ecker

I once read that the average American spends almost three full years of his or her life in the bathroom. If that’s true, perhaps we should consider making this space a little more worthy of our time. Bathrooms can often be sterile and cold, with slick and shiny surfaces. But just as with any other room in your home, adding texture to your bathroom can make it vibrant and welcoming. With gorgeous natural stones, plumbing fittings with intricate details and textural linens, wall treatments and more, there are endless ways to give your bathroom depth and personality. But beware: If you get inspired by the stylish little spaces below, you may find yourself spending a few more years in the bathroom.

1. Wood paneling. This architectural feature adds depth to an otherwise simple room. Try traditional wainscoting or a more modern horizontal application, like the one seen here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Natural stone. Using stone is a surefire way to add texture to your environment. The “movement” and veining of many varieties is simply stunning, and you can use stone for floors, walls or countertops. Plus, stone pairs beautifully with many other materials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Textured stone. Natural stone finished in a chiseled, flamed or combed texture is another option for an inviting wall or floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Rustic wood. Similar to the textures found naturally in stone, the grain, knots and grooves of wood are exciting design elements. While you may think this material is too rustic for your taste, check out this fabulously chic and modern washroom clad in wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Eye-catching patterns. This bathroom’s design may seem basic, but notice how the bold wallpaper on even just one wall takes it from blah to “bang!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Linens. From bath towels to robes to rugs, showcasing special linens will make a space even comfier. Don’t you just want to grab one of those fabulous Turkish cotton towels from the pile?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Grass cloth wallpaper. Applying this nubby material to the walls is a wonderful way to add warmth to your washroom, and it’s available in hundreds of colors and styles.

8. A little green. Bringing in plants is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to add an organic and textural quality to your design. You don’t have to turn your space into a greenhouse — a couple of potted ferns go a long way.

9. Accessories with character. Leave it to designer Thom Filicia to add whimsical touches to a classic white washroom. These rope-clad mirrors give this space its tactile quality.

10. Three-dimensional wall treatments. Even a monochromatic bathroom can have loads of texture. This one has it thanks to a floor-to-ceiling installation of dimensional tile in a geometric pattern.

11. Hardware with interest. While simple polished plumbing fittings may be perfect for some spaces, if you need an extra dose of texture, choose a faucet in a stimulating finish, like this hammered design.

Style Up Your Bathroom Storage

Article by:

As any professional stylist will tell you, the key to a beautiful room design is in the details. Sure, the main decorative elements of a space are integral to its design success, but overlook the small stuff and the scheme simply won’t hold together as it should. Everyday toiletries, sponges and towels might not necessarily be things of beauty, but when you find ways to display and curate them, they can polish off a room nicely. So don’t let ugly-yet-must-have bits and bobs let down an otherwise chic scheme — try some of these simple tricks to give your bathroom the wow factor it deserves.

Find a flexible friend. A tray table can provide useful, versatile storage in a bathroom to keep everyday items close at hand, and is easy to fold up or move when not required. This can work particularly well when guests are staying over, offering them a temporary surface on which to place their own toiletries.

Decant for a chic display. Garish packaging can cheapen the look of a bathroom. Minimize the labels by scouring thrift stores for vintage glass bottles you can decant bubble bath or bath salts into. They’ll be ready for use and keep the room looking pretty at the same time. And why not decorate jam jars to create cute vases to hold a pretty sprig or two to complete the look?

Fake some luxe. Decant everyday items, such as shower gel and shampoo, into high-end glass bottles. Simply buy products with gorgeous packaging as a one-off (or put them on your holiday wish list), and then, when they run out, refill them with cheaper products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fill up sweet jars. Make a display out of cotton balls or a collection of soaps by storing them in pretty glass bonbon jars. As well as their looking lovely, you’ll be able to easily see at a glance when anything needs replenishing.

Try out a tin. Retro metal tins can provide useful storage in a bathroom. A design like this red tin is an obvious choice for storing first-aid items, but a selection of vintage cake tins could work equally well stacked up, storing myriad items as well as adding a touch of character.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose handy baskets. Rattan woven baskets are a classic bathroom choice, as they cope well with a humid environment. Pastel-colored designs give a modern twist to baskets’ usual dark looks. A handy recess like this could easily store multiple baskets. For a vintage feel, tie a luggage tag around the top of each basket and use some letter stamps to make a note of the contents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prettify everyday essentials. Jumbo packs of toilet paper rolls on display can lower the look of a space. Instead, store individual rolls in a basket to keep them looking good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Play up your towels. Make a feature of your towels by storing them in a glass-fronted cabinet rather than tucking them away. Ditch any dodgy old ones and start fresh with a new set of crisp white ones, or start a collection of mismatched pretty ones, allowing you to easily add to your bath linen collection as funds allow.

Use baskets and bags. We all have toiletry bags for traveling, but with so many pretty designs on the market, they needn’t be used solely for that. Invest in a few designs that are smart enough to keep out on show to store bottles and lotions, keeping items organized yet out of sight. Larger baskets or totes can be hung on hooks to store bigger items, such as washcloths or toilet paper.

Embrace natural style. Whether you’re going for a beachy bathroom look or simply want to soften the aesthetic of a space, embracing some natural elements can pay dividends. Even a simple touch, such as using a sculptural scallop shell to hold a bar of soap, can create a really interesting break in an otherwise neutral scheme.

10 Tricks to Help Your Bathroom Sell Your House

Article by:

Buyers love the allure of a fresh, beautiful bathroom that reminds them of luxury hotels or soothing spas they have enjoyed. And, most important, buyers want to envision themselves enjoying this luxury every day in their new home. 

However, the reality is that most of us do not have the perfect bathroom. And we know that, in most instances, it is not a wise investment to do a full, costly renovation just for a home sale. It simply doesn’t translate into profit. 

A better strategy is to maximize what you already have, on a budget. You want to transform your real-life, everyday bathroom into a five-star hotel experience that prospective buyers will love, without overcapitalizing. Here are simple ways to create havens with a wow factor.

1. Clear off the counters to create a blank canvas.Remove all of your everyday toiletries and bathroom supplies. This includes soaps, toothbrushes, cotton balls — everything. (And don’t forget the products in the shower.) Buyers do not want to see your personal hygiene products. In fact, this can make them feel as though they are intruding on your personal space, which can be distracting and a little awkward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Get rid of cleaning products. Remove all items that imply housework and maintenance, such as toilet brushes, wastepaper baskets, sponges, cleaning products, bath mats — even spare toilet rolls. These are a necessary part of everyday living, but they do not create a beautiful spa-like experience for your buyers.

Tip: Remove the bathroom scale, too. Remember, your buyers want a luxurious bathroom experience, not a reminder of those extra pounds they are trying to lose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Maximize your storage. Storage space sells. Your buyers will be looking inside your bathroom cupboards to see how much space they offer. Make sure they are only half to two-thirds full and well organized. Store the little things you use every day (hair elastics, lip gloss) in a pretty box or basket with a lid to avoid a tidal wave of trinkets on the shelves.

Tip: If you’re running out of space to store your toiletries, keep the overflow in simple wicker baskets. When buyers are coming to inspect your home, just grab the baskets and stash them somewhere else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Make minor upgrades. Rather than spending many thousands completely renovating your bathroom, it’s much smarter to spend your money only where it will show and to make small, inexpensive upgrades that will create a large impact. As a general rule, improvements that can’t easily be seen don’t translate into a higher sale price.

The best bang-for-your-buck bathroom upgrades are: repainting the walls, replacing leaking and worn taps, updating the cabinet hardware, installing new light fittings and updating towel bars.

Note: In some bathrooms it’s also worth considering changing the tiles (large white tiles always make a bathroom feel more spacious and contemporary), replacing shower screens and investing in new cabinetry and countertops. This is often warranted in a higher-priced property, where buyers are looking for (and expecting) a higher level of bathroom luxury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Clean thoroughly. Clean everything to within an inch of its life. No, it’s certainly not exciting, but it’s super important. Buyers will pay a premium for new, so your aim is to create a new feel. Everything must be immaculate, as this creates the impression that your home has been well maintained and well loved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Hang luxurious towels. Any bathroom can be instantly transformed by adding beautiful, soft towels. New is best (once towels have been washed, they never look quite the same). So it’s a great idea to keep your new towels just for display only. Pack them away between buyer inspections and reinstate them just before the prospective buyers arrive.

Tip: If there is a lot of extra counter space, you can also place a neatly folded pile of two or three matching towels on the vanity or side of the bath for extra luxury.

Thick, white, luxurious towels always work well, and there are some beautiful textured options. Funky, brightly colored towels are popular at the moment too; for a more dramatic effect, you could consider adding a splash of bold color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Stick with neutrals. If you are going to repaint your walls, upgrade your tiles or invest in new cabinetry, it’s always a good idea to keep to a neutral palette for these larger elements, as it will appeal to more buyers. If you want to add some fresh color, use towels and accessories.

8. Beautify with accessories. Now that you have cleared away your personal bathroom products, bring in a few well-chosen accessories to add a layer of warmth, elegance and luxury. Think about creating a spa-like experience with accessories in tranquil, soft colors. Include fragrant soaps, bath oils, natural loofahs and candles. 

It’s important to display these products as groupings rather than scattering them around the room; scattered products can look like clutter. Less is better. Think simplicity. You may want to consider using a wooden tray as a base and groupitems together in odd numbers. Vary the height of candles and jars, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Use flowers for impact. Fresh flowers and plants make any space come alive, and the bathroom is no exception. They make a dramatic impact, adding instant color and texture. Orchids are always a favorite in bathrooms; however, here’s no need to always buy huge bouquets. In a smaller room, a single stem of your favorite bloom, a small planter or even a branch with beautiful leaves placed in a jar will look understated and elegant.

10. Add a stool or an ottoman. To create the ultimate private-hotel-suite look for your buyers, add a beautiful decor piece that is functional as well. Put a stool beside the bathtub and add neatly folded face and hand towels, soap, a candle, potted plants or even a good book. You could also use other beautiful occasional pieces of furniture, such as a marble side table, a long ottoman stacked with fresh towels or a bamboo ladder, to add extra style and take your room to another level.


Bathroom Workbook: 7 Natural Stones With Enduring Beauty

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There’s no other material quite like natural stone. No two pieces are exactly alike, and nothing else adds the same organic warmth and texture to a bathroom. Not to mention the longevity. If they’re well maintained, your stone surfaces can last a lifetime. 

Marble, of course, has been a popular stone choice for luxurious interiors for centuries based on its inherent beauty. But while Carrara and Calacatta remain classics, they have their downsides, and they aren’t your only options. Here are seven other natural stone varieties, each with its own unique characteristics and strengths, worth considering for your bathroom floors, countertops and walls.

The price of natural stones can vary greatly, so do your research. But don’t let a high price deter you from incorporating a stone you absolutely love. Larger-format tiles are usually less expensive than smaller tiles, and you can try to find remnant slabs at your local stone yard. Also, consider using natural stone for just one wall or a small niche area to work it into your budget.

Soapstone. Surprisingly underused in bathrooms, soapstone is actually a great option because it’s so low maintenance. No sealers are necessary; just periodically rub a little mineral oil on the surface. Over time this stone oxidizes and gets darker and richer in color. 

Cost: Comparable to marble; you’ll find slabs from $90 to $200 per square foot. But take a look at this pretty soapstone countertop paired with a gray vanity and you might be like, “Marble who?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limestone. In its natural state, this stone is highly porous and needs to be sealed to avoid stains. But it’s a popular choice for its soft and uniform look and warm, neutral color. It lends itself to both traditional designs and modern ones, like this vast bathroom covered top to bottom in the material.

Cost: Limestone tile starts at around $5 per square foot.

Travertine. This is actually a type of limestone with natural markings in a range of warm hues. The deep pores in the stone are often filled with a similar-colored grout or epoxy to create a smoother surface. 

Cost: Travertine tile starts at around $5 per square foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belgian bluestone. This is also a limestone, but with a dark gray or black background and gray, white and tan markings. It looks especially great with a contrasting grout, like in this photo. This material will get lightly scratched over time, but the patina makes it even more beautiful. And a little olive oil will bring back its sheen. 

Cost: Similar to soapstone ($90 to $200 per square foot), but to save a little cash, consider using 12-inch by 12-inch bluestone tiles on your counter instead of a slab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onyx. This stone has a unique look with striations in a wide range of colors. Since it has a translucent quality, designers often backlight surfaces or walls to showcase the veining and make the space glow. It’s important to know that this stone is delicate and needs to be sealed. 

Cost: Because large slabs like the gorgeous one featured here are rarer, they can set you back $200 to $500 per square foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slate. This stone is usually associated with rustic interiors, but it can work in any space. This photo depicts a mosaic of slate tiles in a rainbow of hues, including blue, green, red and purple. Slate is especially great for floors, because it is naturally slip resistant. To clean slate, just use a mild cleanser that isn’t abrasive. 

Cost: You can find tiles that cost less than $10 per square foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandstone. Created by layers of densely packed sand, the material has a wavy desert-landscape-like appearance and comes in a variety of colors. It’s essential to seal it regularly (like twice a year), because the highly porous surface will soak up water or any other liquids, causing stains or potentially even warping. 

Cost: Similar to limestone and travertine, around $5 per square foot.

4 Secrets to a Luxurious Bathroom Look

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Ever looked at a beautiful bathroom and wondered what takes its design to the next level? You’re not alone. Many homeowners want to know how some bathrooms get that mysterious designer je ne sais quoi. I’ll let you in on a few secrets. Because the overall material costs are low in a small space like a bathroom, it’s a great place to spurge a little on a few features. But it also helps to know where to spend and where to save. Here are a few of my favorite tricks for getting a nicely finished look for a lower cost.

Use a Smoky Glass

One of the rarer features I love is a smoky glass shower enclosure. It balances an air of privacy and sophistication with visual openness, and doesn’t add much to the cost versus clear glass.

(Also, notice how placing lights in front of the mirror rather than above it virtually doubles the amount of lighting, making the overall effect glowing and warm.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you do prefer the most open look, a clear glass panel is still a worthwhile upgrade from a shower curtain for creating a sense of modernity that gives a bathroom that sought-after spa appeal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tile Tricks

Taking tile from floor to ceiling is important in making a traditional or modern space feel high end …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… but that doesn’t mean you have to spend at the high end. Rather than tiling a whole room partway up, consider tiling just one or two walls top to bottom in a statement stone. You’ll still get that finished look without paying to tile the whole space.

Also consider running one type of tile across the floor and a wall for a strong, singular statement. And, of course, leaving the remaining walls white makes the veining the star of the show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking to tile all the walls without breaking the bank, especially if your layout doesn’t leave any walls safe from splashes and splatters, I would recommend classic subway tile over a faux stone. But to create a little drama, choose a dark grout …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… or a modern pattern like this simple stacked layout with a wide tile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirror Power

A large mirror has so much power. It cuts down on tile costs by filling much of a wall (while reflecting the material you do invest in) and can virtually double the size of the room, making it feel like a vast personal oasis …

… even if the room is a more modest size. Consider taking a mirror wall to wall. Notice how the wall here feels tiled, even though in fact there are only a few inches of stone backsplash below the mirror.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vanity

I designed this bathroom for a recent condo renovation; it has many of my favorite features described above, translated in a small space. You’ll notice that among all the attention-stealing details, there is a humble Ikea vanity, which I have used in multiple renovations. It’s sleek and simple, and the cantilevered style helps the room feel more open. Best of all, it costs about $480.

Bathroom Workbook: 8 Elements of Farmhouse Style

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The American “farmhouse bathroom” is a bit of an oxymoron. Most original farmhouses were built at a time when the only bathroom was an outhouse. And when farmhouse owners did eventually bring plumbing inside, they didn’t actually build a bathroom; they took over a spare bedroom or other room and put a toilet, sink and stand alone tub in the space. This focus on practicality and function continues to drive the style’s popularity today. 

Here are eight elements of a modern-day bath with farmhouse style. 

1. Make it look like a spare room. Again, think back to the time when farmhouse owners switched from an outhouse to an indoor bathroom: Most people ran their new plumbing into a spare bedroom or an attic space. So the new bathrooms were generally spacious and had odd ceiling angles. Plus, it meant that the orientation of the bathtub, sink and toilet didn’t always line up like you see today. Following this approach is a good first step to nailing the style. 

Architect James Dixon used the spare-room concept with this New York bathroom, which is actually part of a newly built home. He intentionally made the ceiling pitch down at odd angles to make it feel like the bathtub, sink and toilet were plunked down in an old attic space or extra bedroom. “I live in an 18th-century farmhouse that was once a lot of small bedrooms. Some were converted to bathrooms,” he says. “They tend to be very quirky, so making a new bathroom look this way makes them look more believable.”


Painted antique wood flooring helps convey the style as well. 
 

2. Minimal accessories. “To me a farmhouse is kind of the simplest early house built for practical reasons,” says interior designer Alison Kandler. “You built a porch because sitting outside in Oklahoma was hot. You picked hexagon tile because it was cheap and practical. You built a pitched roof so rain would fall off and you wouldn’t get leaks. There was always a practical side to everything. It’s not ornate. It’s not overdecorated.” 

Indeed, most of the people who built farmhouses were interested only in providing four walls and a roof over their head. They didn’t have the time, interest or cash to focus on ornament or details in the wood or construction, so they just kept it simple. Make sure your farmhouse bathroom champions function and repurposing, rather than ornament. 

3. Stand-alone bathtub. A claw-foot tub is almost a requirement in a farmhouse bathroom. It’s what you would have seen in original farmhouses when built-ins weren’t around or practical. 

Of course, when we talk about farmhouse style, we’re actually talking about modern farmhouse style. “And that’s a good thing,” says interior designer Kelly Mittleman, who channeled farmhouse style in the bathroom seen here. “You don’t want to replicate the rusticity of yesteryear and have it look clunky or silly like a set piece.”

And farmhouses differ around the world and even regionally in the United States. A New England farmhouse from the 18th century looks and feels different than something in the Midwest, for example. But the general spirit is universal. “When most people think of a farmhouse, they think of simple, no-nonsense details and sturdy construction,” says Dixon.  

4. Repurposed furniture. In the early days, when spare rooms were converted into bathrooms, it wasn’t like farmers loaded up the family in the minivan and hit up the local home design store to furnish their new space. Typically, they dragged in whatever storage pieces weren’t being used elsewhere in the house. So repurposed dressers and storage cabinets are good candidates for a farmhouse-style bathroom. “A vanity that has a cabinet under the counter immediately starts to look like less of something you would find in a farmhouse,” Dixon says. “If you’ve got a nice old dresser, stick that in the room and fill it with towels and toiletries. It helps that feeling of the bathroom looking like it was a small converted bedroom.”

“Repurposing an old first-aid kit as a medicine cabinet, using reclaimed wood for a vanity, vintage lights — it all helps create that style,” says interior designer Kress Jack.

In the bathroom here, interior designer Charlotte Cooney of Domestic Arts and her partner, Kevin Fischer of Alice Design, brought in their client’s vintage kitchen storage cabinet to complete the look. V-groove pine paneling on the walls gives it a “cozy, homey farmhouse” feel, Cooney says. “It makes it seem like walls that could be in a barn.” 

To make the paneling look like it had been left outside and bleached in the sun, she covered it with a watered-down white paint and a flat polyurethane finish. Meanwhile, the homeowner had found a bunch of old radiators in the backyard and wanted to incorporate those into the interiors. Cooney had them all converted to hot-water radiant heat instead of steam. “They’re beautiful and feel like they belong in an old farmhouse,” she says. 

5. Wood. Reclaimed or distressed wood completes the farmhouse look and, like a claw-foot tub, is practically a prerequisite for the style. It even works for floors, says Suzanne Stern of Our Town Plans, despite the fact that many of her clients initially express concern about water damage. “You’re not swimming in there,” she says. “Wood is actually a lot tougher than it gets credit for.”

The floors here were painted with latex white paint cut in half with water. “The raw wood just soaks it up, and you can still see the wood grain, and the little bit of pigment dampens the yellow of the wood,” she says. “It gives it that distressed look.”
 

6. Patinated finishes. When you’re imagining what you might see in an old farmhouse, shiny stainless steel shouldn’t come to mind. Instead, finishes with an aged look are hallmarks. 

Dixon likes to use nickel for faucets when possible, which gives the space a more antique feel. “It patinates and starts to look less refined over time,” he says. 

Jack had the vanity seen here built new, but then painted it a charming blue that she distressed. “I try not to do anything too contrived,” she says. “Just subtle touches of everything so it doesn’t look like it’s trying too hard.” 

7. Vintage lighting. Fixtures made from repurposed pieces or old gas versions that have been electrified, or anything that looks like it might have come from a barn is key to lighting a farmhouse bathroom. “In a small space, everything you put in is important,” Stern says. “For fixtures I either don’t want to see it at all or want it to be something that’s pleasing. The lights can be like little jewels. That’s very important.” 

8. Avoid clichés. As with with most styles, the trick is how to get a look without making it hokey. That’s what Kandler sought to do in this new Los Angeles bathroom. 

To give the space some character, she played with traditional elements
 you might find in a farmhouse, like checkered floors, incorporating them in a new way. “It’s a checkered floor, but it’s made out of concrete and not in traditional colors,” she says. “I didn’t want it to feel too much like a cow could just wander in at any moment. It had to be a little more sophisticated.”

Notice how she, too, played with the ceiling lines to make it look like an allocated spare room. “That ceiling pitch above the sink isn’t really the actual roofline,” she says. “I just wanted it to feel more like a dormer to give it that farm feeling. Little things like that go a long way.”