Failing that... what features in a bathroom make you want to take a bath?
February 28, 2011 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Pimp my bathroom! Help me transform my smallish shabby chic/cottage chic bathroom into as dreamy (and manly man-friendly) a bathing space as possible, on a budget.

I do not have the proper vocabulary to describe what I want to achieve in my bathroom, and it's making it hard for me to find inspiration online. Also, I don't quite know what I want. What I do know is that with my measily $300 budget I want to take my existing bathroom and make it as enticing a place I can possibly make it to take a bath.

Here's how I would describe our bathroom: light, large travertine tiles; mildly scuffed white claw foot tub; no shower curtain (we took it down and are thrilled with that ); half way up the walls there is white, plastic wainscoting; the rest of the way up is brand new "Athens Blue" paint; white crown molding; sheer white breezy cotton curtain hanging over the one window; a super fugly chrome light ficture hanging on one wall; a similarly fugly large mirrored corner medicine cabinet hung over a tiny, quaint, old-fashioned white basin sink with two taps (like this but more quaint and a bit scuffed too), and a regular white toilet. We have a cheap chrome bath caddy, fluffy white towels, fluffy white throw rugs, a white wicker laundry hamper, a simple white trash container, and a dark brown wooden basket for the airdryer etc. which is tucked away between the bath and the toilet. It's not bad - we actually love it - but I want to take the bathroom to the next level.

Here's what I would like: without spending more than ~ $300, a room that lures us in to luxuriate in a bath.

Here's how I would describe my style: I don't like shabby chic or cottage style decorating (but I recognize I've got some strong existing shabby/cottage style going on in the bathroom already). I like rooms that have a mixture of shiny (granite counters, hardwood floors, glass shower doors, shiny stainless steel appliances) and gently worn (worn old rugs, distressed wood cabinets or furniture, distressed metal, scuffed leather couch) together. I love light, sunlight, breezes, nature influences, but I also like the warmth of dark furniture, leather, etc. I don't like rooms that are overly stylized or crammed full of decorations. When a room can do both light and airy at times (i.e. windows open on a sunny day) and cozy and warm at other times (i.e. by fireplace on winter night), I'm thrilled. I love romance - i.e. tons of candles oozing wax all over the place, flowers galore. I don't like spaces or furniture to feel too generic, but I am not into antiquing and there's something I find off-putting about too many antiques in one place (like I'm living in a museum?). Most of the rooms in our house are strongly inspired by places we have traveled and loved (even the new "Athens Blue" color), but nothing has inspired us for this room. (We have been fortunate enough to bum around much of the world, so almost anywhere is game style-wise.) This bathroom looks dreamy to me (but I can't imagine being able to incorporate any of these elements into a small second floor bathroom.)

Ideas? I think I should get a new light fixture for the wall, but I'm not finding one that looks 'right' with the kind of room I'm trying to create. I think I need a dimmer, and a way to incorporate tons of candles and possibly vases. I think a table squeezed in by the bath would be helpful for resting a cocktail, but in the way the rest of the time. A good bath pillow would help. And an upgraded bath caddy for the resting of the book. And/or a distressed wood shelf for resting cocktails, candles, vases (I would hang it above the wainscoting within reach of the bath) but I haven't been able to find one online that isn't too rustic. Maybe a ledge for our ipod + ipod player?

Bonus points:

- Great bathroom design blogs for inspiration (I've been reading apartment therapy and designsponge, but finding it hard to filter just to see bathrooms)
- stores that sell the kind of products I'm inartfully describing
- design blog + links to actually purchase items
- design blogs geared toward people who favor distressed wood + eclectic international inspiration + sunlight + shiny but not modern
posted by semacd to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Try Lots of inspiration regardless of the style you're after, and many ways to filter down.
posted by Jubey at 5:53 PM on February 28, 2011

Honestly? i think you answered your own question by describing most of your bathroom with positive terms, and then calling two things fugly. So, replace your medicine cabinet and your light fixture. Because you hate them.

I'd also recommend getting wood/bamboo accessories (like this bath caddy) and bathmat - they warm rooms up, and complement different styles.

Oh, and put your light on a dimmer. Makes taking a bath sooooo appealing.

(Also, i just renovated my bathroom, so i have a brain full of bathroom advice, but it would be helpful if you could post a photo of your bathroom.)
posted by Kololo at 6:48 PM on February 28, 2011

Ebay has a collectables>lighting>sconces category that you can search for bathroom fixture a porcelain pair above the sink would look nice. Browse around for nice old ceiling fixtures too.

I've found that vintage fixture give huge bang for the buck. The new stuff from China depresses me.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:51 PM on February 28, 2011

Response by poster: I'm on the road so I don't have any pictures.

Part of what I'm looking for, though, is design elements that would add alluring bath ambiance, if that makes any sense.
posted by semacd at 4:50 AM on March 1, 2011

The DIY channel and it's associated website are probably your best friend. $300 is a tiny budget, and I don't know how handy you are, or how willing you are to to do things like break into your walls.

If you're ok with doing some demo, and rebuild...for $300, with careful shopping, you could replace the medicine cabinet with one that sits flush with the wall, you could remove the sink/vanity and replace it with a pedestal sink, and you could replace the the fugly light. But I mean seriously careful shopping...any one of those items can/will run over $300.

This assumes that you're comfortable finding studs, that you have tools, that you know how to sweat a pipe, and that there is no electricity running in the space you want the cabinet.

I'm just now in the process of redesigning the house I just bought. This isn't my first time at the rodeo; this is the 4th house I've remodeled in the last 25 years. Over those years, I've learned a lot, and learned that there are some things for which professionals should be paid.

Keep in mind that retail is not always the way to go. For example, for an eclectic style to match a claw foot tub, you should find out where contractors take stuff when they do demo/remodel work. There will always be some place down by the junk yards where you can find the most amazing building products, like stained glass, antique faucets, pedestal sinks, marble counters, odd wallpaper that can be framed as art...etc. I think google "architectural salvage YourTown", and you should get some hits. (Back when I traveled a lot, I would hit the salvage yards where ever I was...I've shipped weird stuff back from all over the world, there's no telling what you'll find and fall in love with.)

Salvage yards, at least around here, aren't selling great stuff at junk prices...they have experts that know the value of most stuff...but they have an astounding array of things that you will never find at a retail big box building store.

Also keep in mind, that when working with teeny budgets, you have to be willing to let the project take longer, because it'll take you longer to find the right items at the right price. Even if there is no budget, you shouldn't rush these sorts of things...or you'll find yourself unhappy with the results, and spending triple the budget to fix it.

Also: carry around swatches of your colors. I can't tell you how many times I've found the "perfect" thing...only to find that it's entirely the wrong color.

Hope this helps!
posted by dejah420 at 7:20 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Previously! (And very recent!)
posted by liketitanic at 6:44 PM on February 28 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

This is similar, but also kind of the opposite of what I'm after - I'm trying to minimize the shabby chic elements.
posted by semacd at 2:32 PM on March 1, 2011

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