Next to the kitchen, the average family bathroom is arguably the hardest working room in the house. Bathrooms take a beating and all the activity and humidity causes wallpaper to peal and paint to dull. No wonder the bathroom is the most frequently remodeled room in the house.

Each year homeowners spend billions of dollars remodeling bathrooms, giving them facelifts, makeovers and even adding on additional ones. Remodeling or renovating a bathroom can increase the value of a home. That’s why so many homeowners are taking advantage of lower interest rates and remodeling the bath. Regardless of how you choose to spend your money, the bathroom is always a safe investment.

The bathroom is the most personal and private room in the home not to mention the most frequently used. In addition to being a functional necessity, they offer a private oasis and a relaxing retreat from the outside world. Large bathrooms are fast becoming second living rooms. The fast-paced, up-scale professional quite often demands a room that is not only relaxing to lounge in, but affords the ability in which to exercise and even socialize. Walking through a bathroom showroom confirms that consumers today are paying more and more attention to details. With so many options to choose from, one can easily become overwhelmed. Many decisions are required to create the perfect bathroom. This is not a project one should do twice. First time right is my motto!

Start by asking yourself if your bathroom has seen better days. Do you wonder which bathroom to start with? If you think you might want a complete new bathroom don’t start tearing down walls and fixtures until you have a clear action plan. There are many things one can do to make a bathroom more appealing without going crazy and don’t require refinancing. A weekend “mini facelift” can transform an old tired bathroom into a fresh new one.

Finding Your Style:
Does your bathroom have personality? Without style, bathrooms have no personality. Take your inspiration from nature, technology and everyday living. In design, there is never one right or wrong way. Finding your style may take some time, however, but is well worth the energy. Libraries and bookstores have multitudes of books and magazines that are excellent resources. Take your time and don’t rush into anything. This is about decorating not renovating and little changes can make a huge difference in an old tired bathroom.

Everyday Water Faucets:
This could be the easiest part in planning your new look. From nostalgic reproductions to architecturally inspired designs, there are many looks to choose from. Find the look that fits with your overall design concept.

The Power of Color:
Color is totally in your control. Painting may be inexpensive for do-it-yourselfers, but it’s not a fun project to do twice. Small color samples are now available. Try several side by side on a wall for a few days. Living with the color is the best way to make your choice. I prefer natural earth tone colors for my bathrooms. A color can make or break the room. Just because it’s your favorite color doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for a bathroom. Think twice about this!

Not Just A Toilet Seat:
This is the most used and abused item in the bathroom. For years, women have complained about it and men just don’t care about it. The toilet seat has come along way and is an important part of any bathroom update. Seats now come in many finishes, but standard hardware means that they be fastened to most toilet bowls. Shop around and don’t buy at a discount store. I absolutely love a wooden seat because it’s often more comfortable than plastic and feels much warmer. Waterworks offers one of the best wooden seats that is simply called – the “Water Closet seat” www.waterworks.com.

This beautifully crafted toilet seat gets my vote. Made of mahogany wood and long lasting, it makes a grand statement in any bathroom, no matter the size. It’s a bit of a bite in the budget, but well worth it.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall:
Be particular and stylish here. If storage is not a concern, forgo the medicine cabinet. Don’t limit yourself to traditional bathroom mirrors that are found everywhere. There are endless possibilities for creating an interesting new look. My guest bathroom has two fabulous 1900 barn windows (originally from Maine) that were incorporated into the design from the start. By using mirror instead of glass, they are the focal point of the room.

Let There Be Light:
The bathroom is a great place to experiment with light. Ambient or daylight is the best complement to any room. Everyone loves a sunny, cheerful room and natural light makes us look our very best. In general, illumination can come from fixtures, recessed lights, or even my favorite, wall sconces. But the room will look best when the light does not come from any one particular source. Lighting is often overlooked in bathroom design. Like any other room, the bathroom should receive adequate attention to this very important detail.

Good bathroom lighting begins with the switch. Dimmers, perfect in any room, are also perfect in the bathroom now that they are considered real living space. Candles add soft, romantic light while disguising any undesirable odors. Keep a supply available and displayed always. It’s a good thing.

Bathroom Furnishings:
Natural interiors make sense on many levels including emotional, spiritual and environmental. Keep this in mind when selecting furnishings. A perfectly placed chair can be decorative as well as functional.

Storage in All the Right Places
Storage space is often limited in the average bathroom. But, if planned correctly, you can have shelves and open units that will accommodate all your bathroom accoutrements. Remember that a bathroom or powder room that is actively used can reveal a great deal about its’ owner. If you share it with visitors, keep your personal products hidden from view. I learned this last tip from my lady friends. Storage is necessary but so is access to supplies and toiletries. For example, toilet paper should always be accessible from the toilet but having toilet paper visible is not always pleasing. If there is insufficient space to keep several rolls hidden, keep them in a wonderful basket on the floor which might also contain towels or other useful items.

Accessories “To Die For”:
How do you outfit the perfect bath? Proper etiquette lists are rather simple including towels and soap of course. But I like to add a few little extra luxuries like the ones listed below:

(In full view)
Fresh Flowers (small bouquet)
Clean towels (bath towel, hand towel and washcloth for each guest)
Tissues
Cotton balls, swabs, and Q-tips in a glass or stainless jar
Room spray
Hand soap
Guest water tumbler
Candle and matches

(In a drawer or cabinet)
Extra toilet paper (reachable from the toilet)
Extra soap
Paper cups
Still Unwrapped toothbrushes, dental floss, toothpaste
Disposable razors, shaving cream
Hand, Body and Face Lotion
Small hand mirror

(In the shower)
Shampoo and conditioner
Face and body scrub
Bath and shower gel
Loofah mitt

What’s more inviting than a stack of fluffy towels displayed perfectly folded? Don’t forget soft goods such as robes, a beautiful shower curtain and window treatments. A toothbrush holder, a stylish soap dish and cushy bathmat are basic staples that should never be sacrificed in a well appointed bathroom. A well stocked bath includes such delights as aromatherapy candles, tub teas, and bath crystals. Decorative containers that hold bath salts and oils are wonderful accessories that add charm and interest. Let your bathroom transformation reflect your own creativity and personal style.

The smallest details can make a big difference when decorating rather than renovating. Accessories and personal touches can turn any space into a distinguished one. Turn your bath into the perfect peaceful oasis that you and your guests will enjoy. Think about a spa experience and introduce those elements into your space. In the end, this is about you so make it your own.

And there you have it.