Give Your Bathroom a Facelift

Decorating, Home, Home & Family, Living Green
on May 18, 2003

Sometimes a ho-hum bathroom needs only a facelift, not a major overhaul. Here are some do-it-yourself decorating ideas to give a bathroom an almost instant makeover. The materials you need are as near as your local home center and hardware store.

Paint a stencil border. Add a light touch to walls with a decorative painted stencil design that coordinates with towels and shower curtain. For about $25 you can get all the materials neededa precut acetate stencil design, stencil brush, and acrylic paintto transform a small bathroom.

Paint walls and trim. A can of paint is the best bang for your decorating buck because it splashes a fresh color on the walls of a room. For a typical bathroom youll spend about $70 on a good quality latex paint and the equipment you need. Before you paint, wash any dirty surfaces with a household cleaner and patch any holes or cracks with wallboard compound.

Paint tiles. Yes, you can paint tile, as long as the tile is sound and not in direct contact with water, like inside a shower or bathtub. The job involves washing the surface, applying a shellac-based primer, and applying two coats of alkyd, an oil-based paint. The primer and paint are each about $20 a gallon.

Add a border. Transform boring painted walls with a decorative wallpaper border at the ceiling or as a chair rail 3 feet above the floor. Most borders are pre-pasted and sold in rolls 15 feet long at upwards of $8 a roll. Measure the width of the walls and add them together to find the length of border youll need.

Hang wallpaper. A wallpaper design creates the look and feel of a room, so spend time examining wallpaper books to find whats right for you. Choose a vinyl-coated, fabric-backed and pre-pasted wall covering that is durable, pliable, and easy to apply. A double roll covers 56 square feet and costs about $45. Get a starter kit of wallpapering toolsrazor knife, plastic water tray, smoothing brush, and seam rollerfor an additional $20. Take a sketch of the room with measurements to the store and get help ordering from the salesperson at the wallpaper desk.

While youre at it, check the temperature setting on your water heater. Not only will excess steam degrade some wallpapers, a too-high setting can result in burns. Most manufacturers recommend settings between 110 and 120 degrees.

Add accessories. Dress up a bathroom with a stylish new wooden or metal soap dish, glass holder, and wastebasket. Install towel bars and rings and glass shelves by drilling holes and fastening them to the wall with anchors.

Combine storage with style. Install a space-saver shelf unit thats designed to fit over a toilet, which provides added shelves and storage space. These units, which require some simple assembly, are sold at bath shops and home centers for about $100.

Make it pretty with linens. No installation required, just buy colorful or patterned towels, shower curtain, and a rug.