16 February / 2018
13 Ways To Update A Bathroom: Go From Old To Bold
A single change produces multiple benefits. A new shower, sinktop, or potted plant is sometimes all it takes to not only get a more up to date look for your bathroom, but also turn that space into an inviting oasis, impress guests, and increase the value of your home.
1. Freestanding Bathtub
This is a no-brainer. Take away that dated looking standard bathtub, and opt for a freestanding model. Sculpted curves, clean lines and zero interface between floor and tub are a visually arresting modern fixture. As the single largest piece of furniture, a freestanding tub forms the spatial anchor and thematic centerpiece of your bathroom. Space permitting, use the previous plumbing hookup so you won’t have to add pipe or do expensive upgrades.
2. Wall/Floor Coverings
You already have modern furnishing in your bathroom? Then maybe all you need to complete the picture is find some textured or patterned wallpaper in a timeless neutral or ‘70s hue like avocado and burnt orange. Put down vinyl floor covering in faux-wood or a herringbone brick pattern. Hanging art is another approach provided it’s an interesting design as opposed to quotes, kitsch or anything too topical or of the moment.
3. Vessel Sink
It’s a big statement in a small package. With their sculpture-like architecture, vessel sinks rise up from the countertop to create a stark spatial differentiation and break up the horizontal and vertical planes of a traditional bathroom. Their stone material, polished or unfinished, in shapes that range from restrained to rococo, further contrasts with your bath’s surroundings. You can get them in all natural materials too such as bamboo for a more spa-like experience.
Tiling your bathroom floor, even just the shower pan, is big job, yet it’s the most effective way to refresh a traditional bathroom, plus it waterproofs surfaces – always a good thing in a busy bath. Strip out dominoe-shaped subway tile for large squares in a clean geometric pattern. Do away with tacky linoleum for slabs of terra cotta, stone pavers, or unfinished naturally water absorbent rock like basalt. For those venturing above the floor but not ready to do the walls, a tile backsplash above your countertop pays visual dividends and protects your painted surfaces and wallpaper against water damage and stains.
5. Smart Accessories
You could place an Amazon Echo on your sink and call it a day but why not make your smart bathroom even smarter? Lights that turn on automatically during a midnight trip to the bathroom, pre-heat the bathroom in the morning before your shower from your phone, or remotely turn off the curling iron you left on thanks to wi-fi-enabled outlets. And for those slow jams, there’s even a showerhead with built-in speakers.
If anything is giving your bathroom a dated look, it’s those individual round incandescent bulbs surrounding the mirror like a theater actor’s makeup station. If you want some light in the looking glass, get an LED mirror – it looks sleek and offers better, more efficient illumination. And forget the standard ceiling light with globe cover. Opt for a streamlined chandelier, subtle wall sconces, decorative pendant lights or artfully placed LEDs. There is now a cottage industry of artisanal lamp makers that can brighten your bath with a hip, modern glow. Or you can start shopping right now.
If you’re not a wallpaper person a fresh coat of paint is a perfectly viable approach to beautifying bathroom walls. Look for bathroom-specific paint with moisture- and mildew-resistant properties. It’s more expensive but you’re doing a room, not the whole house so you’ll likely only need one can. Also, the better brands tend to have more color choice
That new tile or wallpaper in your shower will be negated if you have a tired plastic shower stall or a chintzy PVC curtarin. Opt for some nice glass, acrylic, or other material of varying degrees of opacity for a truly modern look. It might be more expensive but the superior hardware really pays off when you see how securely and evenly the doors latch each time you open and shut it. Not a given with the standard shower package.
A vanity is a major upgrade to any bath, traditional or otherwise. With this single piece of furniture your bath space will no longer be dominated by an unsightly space waster but reconfigured around a sleek centerpiece. If you don’t need all those drawers and countertop space you can get an airy cool look with a pedestal or a wall mount sink.
10. Earth Friendly
More of today’s homeowners are eco-aware whether it’s water-saving showerheads or rooftop solar panels. Skylights are one way to use less artificial light but this is a major overhaul. Reclaimed wood or tile is also hip and green-minded but you’re talking time and expense. If you’ve followed any of the 12 tips listed here you already have earth-friendly fixtures: One-piece toilets are more water efficient, LED mirrors save energy and leave a smaller carbon footprint, and decorative plants absorb CO2 and emit oxygen.
11. One-Piece Toilet
These are hands-down one of the best ways to update a traditional bath. Slim, sleek and sculpted, one-piece toilets as their name suggests have the tank and bowl in a single piece, boasting a look that’s more décor than hardware. Tucked into nooks and alcoves, one-piece toilets by design maximize available space. Wall-hung varieties open up your room even more, and we haven’t even got into all the advanced features. Paired with a solid surface or acrylic freestanding tub and you have a seriously au courant bath space.
Seen a faux-Victorian plywood shelf in a traditional bathroom? Of course you have, and its forced ornateness, hopelessly out if sync with the stripped-down look du jour, made you gag, right? This species of shelf was meant to display bric-a-brac, while the modern racks, bars, and storage hardware we’re talking about – sleek metal tubes, natural-finish wood planks, etc. -- are décor pieces in and of themselves. Bottom line: Shelving reduces clutter, a fundamental design principles of the modern bath.
13. Leafy Plants
Notice we said “leafy.” That’s the operative word because succulents and cacti are played out. We still love them in xeriscaping for their low-maintenance H20-sipping hardiness, but in the 2018 bathroom it’s all about ferns, ivy and broad-leaved varieties. Ok, we’ll let it slide if you want to stick an aloe vera plant on your countertop.
You can make all these changes or just the ones that are appropriate for you. Sometimes a single update is all it takes for a complete bathroom transformation.
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