Bathrooms #1: Reno Or Refluff?

Back In the day - Bathroom at CBGB's
Back In the day – Bathroom at CBGB’s

Coming clean: Did you intend to be famous for your bathroom?


How Can I Miss You If You Don’t Go Away? We take bathrooms for granted, until such times as it’s in disrepair and the plumber is indisposed. Conducting your “toilette” in the kitchen is awkward at best. How can you go out to make rain and bring home the bacon if you can’t even get a decent shave or a shower?

Bathroom design is often a sad story of missed opportunity. With some thought and planning, this little room can become your personal oasis…and who doesn’t need one of those every day?

What’s the big deal? Times have changed. For most of us, it’s no longer the overwhelming process of deciding which and how many extravagances can be shoved into a small space.

More likely, it comes down to three questions:
  1. Does your bathroom really need a total gut job?
  2. Or can you get what you want if you just show it some love?
  3. How much do you want to spend?
If the answer to “How much do you want to spend?” is “Not much.”, you’re still in luck.

The basics: what’s what and what you need:

  • Bathroom fixtures are fixed (attached to the floor) such as the tub, toilet and sink.
  • Fittings refer the useful things we fit around and into the fixtures: faucets, tub fillers and shower bodies, towel racks, etc.
  • You need storage somewhere.
  • And please, let there be (adequate) light.
“A splurge becomes an investment if its presence defines the room.”  Nate Berkus, HOUSE RULES

A single gesture can be a shout for joy. Everybody loves the look of a large glass bowl, frosted or clear, used for a sink. A fantastic chandelier (yes, in the bathroom) is an immediate eye-catcher. A beautiful and unique vanity, fabricated from an antique store find, spells Clever and Sophisticated.

Even small changes can make a big difference and give you high style at low cost.

Replace plumbing hardware with style. Both chrome and nickel are white metals but nickel has a richer, deeper luster that more closely approximates untarnished silver. In the old days, it had to be polished just like real silver. Chrome is actually short for chromium. It was introduced in the ‘40s as an alternative to labor intensive nickel.

You can use both metals in the same room but not together because up close, you can tell the difference. Brass fittings are great in a traditional setting, while copper and wrought iron, depending on styling, add a rustic touch.  Any style is given a completely different feel if made in oil rubbed bronze.

Go gorgeous with paint color. Just don’t go too loud or your potential spa retreat will feel as calming as rush hour traffic. The same is true for wallpaper.

Although, it’s fair to say that what constitutes loud to one person is anemic to another.  

Your painter or contractor might argue this point, but you don’t have to use a gloss finish in the bathroom. Washable matte is fine unless you conduct frequent water gun battles in the immediate area. You can use wallpaper too, as long as you open a window and leave the door ajar to allow for drying out and dispersing humidity.

Have you checked your tile and grout lately?

  • A fresh coat of grout will make the tiles look new. (Need to know more about tile, grout and how to use to best advantage? Tile Selection #1: Pursuit Of The Perfect Tile)
  • Is the floor tile beyond redemption? Look for an extra large area rug to use as a disguise. An indoor/outdoor rug could become your new BFF.

 Next time: Bathrooms #2:  Need, Want Or Simply Silly

Related Posts

(Bathroom Renovation Four Part Series)

Bathrooms #2:  Need, Want Or Simply Silly

Bathrooms #3: Just Add Water & Style

Bathrooms #4: Modern Love

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The original version of this article was published on It’s represented here as a foundation for further discussion.