Bathrooms Get Cottage Charm Makeover

Sometimes, I look at photos of homes with large, lovely, almost palatial bathroom spaces, and sigh wistfully. As a lover of historic homes, big bathrooms are not a reality for me, unless I knock out a lot of walls. But I have found that just because your home has little bathrooms doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful. All you need to do is add some touches here and there to give them charm.

When we were designing our little lake cottage, making our petite power room attractive was a fun challenge. I embraced the room’s small scale by making if feel like a snug cocoon, covering the walls in Twilight, one of my favorite Mary Carol Artisan Paints custom colors. On the wall opposite of the vanity (which is a modified antique chest of drawers), I papered the wall in old book plates, all framed identically, to make a dramatic floor-to-ceiling grid of artwork. (I snagged this entire set an an estate sale.)

If you live in an apartment, where you cannot paint the walls or change out boring bathroom faucets and light fixtures, you can easily use artwork to give your walls pizzazz. Walls filled with interesting art give a room an instant custom-designed look. This is a shot of my friend Nancy’s newly remodeled lake cottage. Her small upstairs bath is stunning, thanks to her creativity. She spiced up the walls with a collection of artwork, topped the toilet with a sweet tableau and turned an old bamboo music stand into a towel rack.

When Nancy’s builders installed the lighting above the vanity, they cut a few too many holes in the wallboard. To camouflage the mistake, Nancy decided to cover the wall with shiplap. Creative problem-solving is essential whenever you renovate a space. Note how she hung artwork between the two vanity mirrors. Love!

In an earlier blog, we revealed the living area in Nancy’s cottage. The photo above is of the bathroom off this main living space. Because the bathroom is pretty small, Nancy picked a space-saving pedestal sink. She topped it with an antique mirror, which is so old, the glass is streaked and flawed, which makes Nancy love it all the more. She did a halo of artwork around the mirror to make the presentation more interesting.

When we bought the little house next door to ours for my mom to live in, the bathroom had no redeeming qualities except it functioned. We wanted to rehab it in a hurry, so we hit the local hardware store and bought a pedestal sink, toilet, and tile for the floor and shower. The changes were modest and inexpensive, but they really upgraded the look of the room. To give the blah space more personality, I filled the main wall with this cheerful oversized botanical print. The shower curtain was a custom creation from Nell Hill’s.

My remedy for a stressful day is to take a long soak in a hot bath. So when we renovated our own cottage, I knew I needed to put a little more time and budget into making the master bathroom more spacious and inviting, my own little spa getaway. My big splurge was turning this beautiful sideboard into a vanity.

Another fast and easy way to add charm to a tiny bathroom is to get creative in how you store your stuff. I raided my china cabinet to create this attractive yet functional display. A silver tray holds a glass compote filled with my jewelry. A mug collects my makeup brushes. The space around holds treasures that make me smile, like a photo of Dan.

Next Week … One of the toughest places to decorate in your kitchen is above the stove. I’ll share some ideas and inspiration.