If your brand new but boring condo bathroom lacks five-star style, it’s easy to add detail.
The six-by-12 inch Crema Marfil tile in my master bathroom at Hoboken’s Maxwell Place was a bit dull, and the wall tile stopped halfway up without trim to finish it. I installed a contemporary stone mosaic border from Artistic Tile incorporating the Crema Marfil with other natural stones in brown, beige, gold, and cream. Beneath it, we added a taupe stone “pencil” and above it, a matching stone chair rail.
To customize even more, we cut a 12-by-15 inch niche in the wall to hold bubble bath and scrubs about six inches above the tub, outlined it in the stone pencil tile, and filled in the interior with vertical strips of the stone mosaic border.
The same concept translates easily to bathrooms tiled in plain white ceramic—add a ceramic border, which could be as simple as a row of colored three-by-six inch subway tiles or as fancy as a four or five inch chair rail with an impressed design. A few rows of glass mosaic tile coordinated with the color scheme in a nearby bedroom create an “en suite” look.
If pricey custom mosaics aren’t in your budget, check out the tiles at Lowe’s and The Home Depot. Both offer stock stone, glass, and ceramic mosaics.
Here are some other ways to embellish your bath:
• Paint or wallpaper above the tile—and don’t forget the ceiling!
• Use color that complements your tile, or take a chance on a bold accent color used in an adjacent space. Don’t limit yourself to pales and pastels—mid-value colors deliver more punch and will give your bath a more finished look.
• If the ventilation in your bathroom is good, try wallpaper—especially the stylish new vinyls. I papered the walls above the tile chair rail with a nubby-textured brown and cream Osborne and Little vinyl which adds depth and interest.
• Whether you paint or paper the walls, consider a pale tint of the wall color for the ceiling (one cup of wall color per gallon of flat white ceiling paint). A pale sky blue or light watery green works well.
• Change the hardware on cabinetry and built-ins.
• Beautifully designed knobs and pulls, available from many retail and Internet sources like Restoration Hardware, Gracious Home, or knobsforless.com, can add individuality to cookie-cutter cabinetry without costing a ton of money.
• Upgrade cheap or unattractive sconces. Stylish replacements can be found at Restoration Hardware, Shades of Light, and Circa Lighting. Match the finish on your faucets for a cohesive look, and consider sconces with fabric shades (instead of the standard frosted glass) for a softer look. While you’re at it, have your electrician put all lighting on dimmers for maximum flexibility.
• Add to your accessories. A quick surf through the Kohler website or a call to your building’s sales or design center can help you identify the make, model, and finish of existing accessories so you can order more pieces. A 12-by-15 inch towel bar mounted about 20 inches above the countertop next to your sink or vanity puts hand towels within easy reach. Decorative hooks installed by the tub or shower can hold towels, robes, or a change of clothes. If you need storage for extra towels, a “train rack” above the toilet will fill the bill with hotel style. Surplus toiletries can be displayed on a single or multi-tier glass shelf. Make sure you store your prettiest bottles and jars out in the open, and hide the “uglies” behind closed doors! PM