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Big Ideas For Small Baths

Ten Ideas for Doing More with Less Space

Most homeowners dream of a bathroom with the latest amenities such as a deluxe whirlpool tub, aromatherapy system and separate his-and-hers vanities. The reality is that only 16 percent of homeowners have a master bath in excess of 100 square feet that can accommodate these luxuries, according to a recent survey.

The "complete bathroom inventory" took an in-depth look at the bathroom backgrounds of more than 2,400 U.S. homeowners. This data indicated that more than half of those surveyed (53 percent) had master baths of less than 75 square feet. It also concluded that their second bathrooms (for those who even had one) were even smaller -- 57 percent of respondents reported room sizes of 65 square feet or less.

So what does this mean for someone longing to create a personal bath retreat but has limited space, budget and time parameters? The following are 10 ideas that can make a smaller bath more livable, decorative and inviting:

Showerheads

For a truly luxurious shower experience, consider changing your current showerhead to a new unit that offers unique spray and massaging patterns such as the Super 3 Shower. For even greater flexability, try turning this shower into a handheld shower. Because you can easily screw off your old showerhead and twist on a new one, this product is the perfect addition for consumers who want something different in their baths but don't have the space for large showering systems.

Shower Curtains and Doors

Although not necessarily by choice, a full 63 percent of survey respondents reported having a combination tub and shower in their master bath. So, how do you freshen up its look? Try a new shower curtain or even adding shower doors. Shower curtains of all designs, colors and materials are available at local department and home stores. Some of the latest shower curtains even have convenient pockets to keep lotions, loofas and all your showering accessories right at your fingertips. And for a more upscale design, try hinged or sliding shower doors that secure to the top of the tub. Choose from clear, smoked or etched glass to complement the décor of your room.

Vanities

Sure, you'd love to have those his-and-hers vanities mentioned earlier, but most homeowners have to consider the space constraints of their room. To make the most of a small area, consider adding a new, single vanity. Today's latest styles extend the "furniture" look of the master bedroom into the bath with decorative feet accents, crown molding and framed mirrors. This cabinetry also provides specialized storage spaces such as linen towers and vanity drawers. To save space, consider one of our dispenser units to attach to your wall or shower stall. The Aviva Line works especially well as a vanity.

Vanities offer a number of finishes to customize the look of your bath such as maples, oaks and whites. In addition, you can choose from raised panel, recessed or beveled flat-panel doors and even specialized glazes, including mushroom, cognac and chiffon. Many of today's vanities also offer increased height, so you won't have to bend down as far to wash your face or brush your teeth.

For a money-saving idea, refinish your old vanity -- even changing from a dark wood to a lighter finish can dramatically affect the complexion of the room. Or, simply paint the front panels and add hardware to create a new look in the bath.

Medicine Cabinets and Mirrors

The latest bathroom styles call for simple, wood-framed mirrors instead of medicine cabinets above the sink. These mirrors are inexpensive and come in a wide array of wood finishes such as a maple or oak to lighten up the room. If you still prefer the storage space that a traditional medicine cabinet can offer, visit your local home center or hardware store to see what's new in styles. As one of the focal points of your bathroom, it may do wonders to your bath design to replace a rusty or outdated cabinet.

Faucets

Replacing the faucet is an easy and inexpensive way to upgrade the bath.

 For small children, consider adding a sink sprayer to your sink, increasing the flexabilty of you existing faucet.

Accessories

Unlike the old, mismatched accessories of yesteryear, new suites of products allow a homeowner to carry the same theme throughout the entire bath.

Although chrome is still the most popular bath accessory finish, consumers now have a number of other choices including oil-rubbed bronze, wrought iron and wood. In addition, accessories can be found to match every decorating style from country to traditional to casual or contemporary. The key is that the latest collections have new, innovative designs to take decorating to the next level and add another dimension in the bath.

For added storage space, or to display collectibles, consider adding a glass shelf in the bath. This shelf allows you to display items that are reflective of your personality and design style. This shelf can also be used as added storage space for toiletries.

Lighting

If your current bathroom has a lighting fixture that could use an update, you will be amazed at the range of styles and finishes currently on the market. From the clean look of polished brass to the retro look of brushed nickel, you're sure to find something to add charm to your bath.

Not only is the fixture important, but so is the light it contains. In the bathroom, you need proper lighting to put on makeup, accessorize or shave. Brighten up your room with compact fluorescents. Fluorescents have come a long way in recent years -- they offer color similar to incandescents and light immediately without flickering. And, these bulbs can last up to seven years, saving between $26 to $86 in energy costs over the life of each bulb.

Paint and Borders

Painting is a simple makeover, especially in a small room such as the bath. Get rid of those mint greens, pinks and yellows from the 1950s and give a clean look with a shade of white such as ecru, oyster, almond or beige. These neutral tones will make a small bathroom appear larger. For a dramatic flair, choose darker colors in bold blues, greens and reds.

If you want to go beyond just painting, accent the room with a colorful or unique border. This might be just the thing to bring out the personality of the room. No longer do these borders need to be at the top of the wall, mix it up a little by putting a border at waist height or even eye level.

Adding Color

If you choose a neutral color for the walls, add livelier touches with brightly colored towels, soaps, candles and artwork -- anything to infuse the room with color. Bath supply stores today are stocked full of items that make your life easier and add to the character of your room. Even today's towels have whimsical prints and styles to liven up a bath or powder room, and can be changed regularly to create a different décor in a minute.

Window Treatments

Another great way to add to the décor of your bath is to focus on window treatments. Valences, tab-top drapes and curtains can provide that final element that pulls together the entire room.

So, if the fantasy bath of your dreams does not match the reality of the small bath that currently can be found in your home, following these 10, simple ideas can at least give your room the "perk up" it needs. And, you won't have to spend thousands, tear down any walls or turn your home into a construction zone. As you can see, no matter what the size of your bath, you can add warmth, style and elegance.

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