Jason Robie: Make your bathroom shine

While living in a tiny cabin (300 square feet) over in Lincoln, my bathroom was literally in between the living room and bedroom. Needless to say, privacy was not on the menu when I had visitors. Convenient escapes out to the kitchen (or my truck) offered a little more of a buffer and made the space tolerable. For the price I was paying, it was worth the hassle. Today, I have four bathrooms to clean and I’m (sort of) lamenting those simpler times.
While a bathroom is not the most prominent room in the house, there’s no reason it can’t stand out (in a good way). We've all had small, large, cramped and expansive bathrooms in our lives. Today I'd like to explore a few of the ways you can make your bathroom shine. There are ways to make it flow better (no pun intended), stand out a bit and even be more welcoming and have that “wow” factor. These tips are great whether you are selling or not.
Long ago I shared a story about painting my kitchen bold shades of blue and yellow. It was a bright look to the room and helped liven up the place a bit. It also happened to be the central room on that floor acting as the axle for the two bedrooms, bathroom and living room. I painted it those colors because there were (are) my favorites, but thankfully the tenants didn’t mind it one bit.
You can get creative (and bold) in your bathroom with colors since the space is usually not all that overwhelming in size. You may not want to go crazy with multiple variations in one room, but you could paint three walls one color and leave the fourth for a highlight wall. Many times the creative, bold colors will make the room feel larger and can even take the focus off the smaller space. Mostly, the bathroom is a great sized room to do some testing and get creative. Let your creative juices flow and give it a shot. The worst that will happen is you'll have to re-paint.
Along those lines of painting a highlight wall is the creative (but limited) use of wallpaper. Filling the whole room with some pattern could be very overwhelming and might even cause seizures! But if you have a fairly mellow tone of paint, don't be afraid to spice it up with a top border of wallpaper or (again) even target a single wall. Much like with the painting exercise before, if you hate it you can easily strip it off and start again. The task won't be nearly as daunting if you had done a whole bedroom with that pattern.
Lastly for the walls is artwork. Obviously the standard beach scene is a safe bet, but don't be afraid to be bold here as well. There are plenty of great deals at the thrift store that would make a perfect addition to your bathroom. Not only can they be conversation starters, but they will draw your eye away from the other “toilet-y” things in the room and add some creativity and life.
Something we incorrectly tend to shy away from in the bathroom is furniture. I'm not saying you should throw a love seat next to the toilet, but you can add some pieces in here to help the layout. Remember when you're staging a room; smaller furniture makes the space feel larger. Follow the same tenet in the bathroom and add a small bookcase or even a small chair to the area. It will break up the room, provide an additional place to put “stuff” and help keep you organized if you don't have a sizable vanity.
In small spaces and in dark places (like New Hampshire in the winter), lighting is key. The bathroom is no exception here, and lighting should be thought out well and experimented with a bit. So often we are tied to the same old notion that a couple of vanity lights or even an overhead light/fan combo is all we need. While that may be true, toss out those old notions and get a bit more creative.
“I always like the presence of lighting other than the standard wall sconces and vanity lights so ever-present in most bathrooms,” notes Badger Realty agent Susan Solar. “A lamp on a shelf or bookcase or even a simple hanging light can bring so much more taste and design to this small but important room,” she continued.
Lastly, don't be afraid to replace your hardware and allow it to coordinate with the theme you have created with all your new additions. The sink and tub are pretty prominent pieces in the bathroom, and, if you've gotten creative with the rest of the room, don't stop there. The variety available today is simply mind-blowing and you'll be able to put the finishing touches on your awesome bathroom to complete the look.
Have fun with your bathroom and your kids will look forward to bathing and brushing their teeth more. OK, maybe not, but at least you'll love one more room in your home!