Giving your bathroom a facelift

Redecorating the bathroom

Bathrooms are often the most neglected room in the house - visitors may prompt a clean set of towels and a spray of air freshener, but that is usually as far as it goes, hence why giving your bathroom a facelift is a great investment!

Lavish a little attention on your tired old bathroom, and you will be amazed at the results. Forget forking out a fortune - a little money and a spot of creativity goes a long way. Read on for some new ideas for your bathroom; it's just a few steps away from being the most chic room in your house.

Get grouting

This will only take you a few hours, and will make a big difference. Give the grubby grouting around the tiles a good scrub and dry the area. You do not need a great deal of skill, just a steady hand. Forget slapping it on with a trowel and then having to clean up the mess from the tiles - handy grout pens are now widely available which make regrouting a piece of cake. To the untrained eye, it will look as though you have had the whole area re-tiled.

Top Tips
  • If you have white tiles, try black grouting. This will immediately give the whole room a completely modern monochrome feel. It is also much more practical than white and will not stain so easily.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

Mirrors are not only practical necessities but are also handy for creating an illusion of more light and space in a small room. Replace tired, scratched, chipped and dirty mirrors with new ones - they don't need to cost the earth. Framed mirrors can be more expensive, so try getting a plain one framed yourself. You can pick a frame which matches your bathroom perfectly, or you could always buy a mirror with a very simple wooden frame and paint it.

Don't worry about marks left by an old mirror when you remove it from the wall. Any small holes or chipped paint can be covered by the replacement.

Ikea sells a range of different shaped 'tile' mirrors at very reasonable prices. For a modern twist, try one with a wavy shape or a triangular design - you could fit a couple together to make the mirrored area larger. These can be stuck flat against the wall with a water and steam proof adhesive such as No Nails. Try a DIY store such as B&Q or Homebase.

Top Tips
  • Keep mirrors and windows crystal clear by wiping regularly with a drop of vinegar or lemon juice and warm water.
  • Positioning a mirror opposite the window reflects the light around the room and gives the illusion of a much lighter brighter larger room.

Tidy up your tiles

To add a funky twist to a tired bathroom with simple decor (it may not have the same effect in a very floral room), try replacing any chipped or cracked old wall tiles with the odd mirrored tile. It will give it a modern touch and means you do not have to spend a fortune retiling the entire bathroom, or hunting down tiles to match.

If your tiles are in good condition and do not need replacing, but you still want to brighten up your bathroom, try using adhesive designs to stick on to a few of them – try decorating alternate tiles with the stickers. If you stick them on one complete row of tiles around the room, it can act as a border. Have a look at a DIY store for a wide choice of designs. They are easy to apply and jazz up the room instantly. This is a much cheaper way of getting a newly tiled effect without the mess and forking out a fortune!

Top Tips
  • For a less expensive alternative to retiling (and less disruptive), invest in a tin of special tile paint and get creative!

Creative colour

A splash of colour can go a long way in brightening up a bland bathroom. A quick lick of blue gloss paint on a skirting board or picture rail can lift the whole room, especially if it is decorated in a neutral colour. Try painting the middle panel of a wooden door the same colour, or replace the door handle and door knobs on any bathroom cabinets with handles of the same colour.

Make a feature of any exposed pipes. Instead of ignoring them and letting them gather dust, paint them the colour of your skirting board. Highlight the pipe and make a statement.

Top Tips
  • Pick out the contrast colour with the same coloured towels and bathmat and the room will look both chic and complete.

Suite dreams

A whole new bathroom suite – matching sink, bath and toilet - will obviously make a huge difference to the look of the entire bathroom. You may find that when this is in place, it looks so fresh that you don't need to decorate. Check out Bathstore for a wide choice of many different styles.

Top Tips
  • If you do not want to spend cash on a new bathroom suite, try getting some swish new taps - they will make your entire bathroom sparkle and shine. Browse the full range of styles at Taps 4 Less and bag a bargain.

Hot stuff

An ugly radiator or heater can spoil the style of the room if it does not fit in. Buy a tin of special heat proof radiator paint at your local DIY store to give it a new lease of life and help it blend into the décor of the bathroom. Better still, look into replacing the radiator altogether with a more modern and attractive heater. Heated towel rails are much more aesthetically pleasing, more practical when it comes to cleaning, and they are purpose built to hold (and dry) soggy towels. Some styles have several bars so will hold more than you can drape over a radiator.

Top Tips
  • Heated towel rails usually come in a chrome finish, so snap up chrome toilet roll holder and bin, and complete your bathroom’s new modern look.

Banish the carpet

Changing the flooring of your bathroom from carpet to tiles can make a huge difference. It will immediately make the room seem larger and the upkeep is also easier - a quick mop or sweep makes a world of difference. Gone are the days of soggy post-shower carpets!

Top Tips
  • You do not have to get the mop out every time your floor tiles need a clean. Using a vacuum cleaner will get rid of hair, dust and talcum powder, so you will not have to reach for the mop as often

Brilliant blinds

If you have curtains in your bathroom, try switching to blinds. They are more practical to keep clean because they can just be wiped rather than unhooked and washed. It will also give the room a more modern look, and they are more steam-proof than curtains, which can become discoloured.

Top Tips
  • Fussy lace or net curtains are a common feature in bathrooms. They can stand out if the room is ultra modern and the design is not as cutting edge. An alternative to net curtains is frosted or patterned window panes. This will also protect your privacy and also means you can wave goodbye to washing and bleaching net curtains every few months.

Take a seat

If you are lucky enough to have a large bathroom, pop a wicker chair or two-seater in a corner or along a wall to create an inviting and peaceful oasis. Cushions can add comfort and colour and a throw can also soften the look.

Top Tips
  • A discreet magazine rack on the floor beside the seat can home your favourite magazines and newspapers.

Basket case

Make sure you do not allow used towels or your family’s grubby clothes to ruin your beautiful bathroom. A pretty and practical wicker linen basket could fit into a corner and will keep it all hidden away until wash day.

Top Tips
  • Pop an adhesive air freshener underneath the lid of the basket to make sure the room remains sweet smelling.

Bits and bobs

Do not forget your bathroom when it comes to accessories for your house. Flowers and plants keep it smelling fresh and looking homely. Try getting a plant which will thrive in a humid atmosphere. Orchids are native to steamy rainforests, so should thrive in your bathroom – and will add a colourful exotic touch. A constant supply of fresh cut flowers can cost a lot, so try investing in an arrangement of dried or artificial flowers. Dust them regularly and add a few fresh stems every few months for a change.

Create an air of relaxation with glass bowls filled with water and floating tea light candles. Add a drop of food colouring to the water so it matches your towels and accessories. A plate or shallow bowl of rose petals with a drop of essential oil (lavender oil will enhance the calm mood) is a decorative and modern twist on pot pourri. Refresh the oil weekly and you can save money on an unsightly can of air freshener. Next offers a wide selection of home furnishings – look for the finishing touch for your bathroom.

Top Tips
  • Photographs and paintings on the bathroom walls will soften the room, particularly if it is decorated in stark white colours.

Clear the clutter

The most important thing to remember when it comes to making the most of your bathroom is to avoid clutter. Vases, bowls, plants and paintings may all look fantastic in the shop, but in a small bathroom too many accessories will simply make it appear even smaller. Do not go overboard. Choose one or two accessories wisely to make the most of their effect.

If you lack storage space, resist the temptation to clutter up the windowsills and other surfaces. A hanging fabric or plastic storage unit could be the answer. It could fit neatly into a corner or behind the door and is a great ready-made place to stack spare towels.

Open shelf units overflowing with bottles of lotions and potions may be unavoidable, but are not what you want visitors to see. One untidy corner can ruin the gorgeous and gleaming effect of the whole room. Either install a more practical cupboard unit to shut away your essentials, or hang a piece of fabric from the top shelf to act as a small curtain. Shop around for the perfect material which should match the colour of the room, and hide away your mess – no one need know what is behind it.

Top Tips
  • Keep your bathroom looking fresh and stylish by swapping accessories every few months. If you just can not resist buying a beautiful vase, put your current vase away for a few months. When you want a change, swap them around for a new look.

Glass class

Ditch any scruffy storage boxes or baskets and opt for stylish matching glass jars and bowls. They are practical because they are much easier to wipe clean than dusty old baskets, and you can immediately see what they are holding.

Top Tips
  • Create some order to your mess by gathering bits and bobs together in a glass bowl - minimalist chic and practical too.

From drab to fab

If you want to create a bathroom fit for a disco queen, think glitz and glam! Chrome accessories look great, and towel rails and toilet roll holders are readily available. A string of fairy lights framing the mirror gives a starry effect. Always make sure they are plugged in safely and the plug itself is completely protected from water. Why not go the whole hog and hang a mirror ball above the bath and float away to disco dreams.

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