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Let's solve this thing.

I got so many great emails today from readers with their own decorating dilemmas!

First up is Carmen. I just love what she wrote:

Hey Decorno,
I've attached my best decorating dilemma. This is my hall bathroom...where do I begin?

It has carpet.
It has wallpaper borders.
It's a depressing brownish-prison color.
It has no vibe.

I haven't touched it since moving in, still stumped as to what exactly to do and what colors to use.

Carmen, I don't think you have it so bad. (You did see MY bathroom, right? I post humilating photos so that you can be grateful for, say, carpet and borders and brownish-prison colors. This is the service I provide.)

Anyway, before you get to color, I think you should booze up, get a friend in there with you and start tearing off the border. That's #1. That will commit you to doing something. (Or could lead to you looking at torn-off chunks in your wall for years, as I did with my kitchen...)

Then make a plan for the carpet. I am not sure what's under there, but I am guessing you want it gone. Can you tile? Have you ever tiled? Can you poke around the web and see if it's something you want to tackle on your own? If your check-writing arm is ready, you may just want to call in a pro. I bet you can negotiate a good deal on that right now.

Next, consider the light fixture and the faucets. Can you update those? That might be an area where you can get a new look with a quick swap.

And then maybe consider the color. Because you are getting a free copy of the House Beautiful book, my friend.

What else does everyone think Carmen should do?


Abbie said...

We had the same half-carpet issue in our bath... only the paint was sponge painted in the first half with blue, yellow, and purple and had a midnight blue in the second half!

When we ripped up the carpet, we found out the floor was rotted through. We replaced the subfloor and then laid hardwood in front of the sink. Because it's a spare bath, we weren't worried about heavy wear on the wood. Tile is really easy if you use spacers, too.

Susan said...

I agree with our blogger. This is FAR from the worst I have seen. It's actually tasteful. That is a good thing. Sure, get rid of the wallpaper border and the carpet. They are the most offending. We can't see the fixtures--but you can update them. Choose a color you like better than classic khaki. What is the countertop?

Susan said...

Ok, I took a closer look by enlarging the photo. Replace the cabinet doors---with something classic. Replace the hardware---with the something more current. Look at what Restoration Hardware has to offer. They have good taste.

When you retile, you can do the whole room in the same tile.

What is the bathtub like?

Laurie said...

The curtain swag should leave also.

ks said...

Carmen--no, it's not so bad!
But some easy fixes would make a big diff.
You're lucky to have the window. A shade would be an easy solution instead of the swag for covering window.
I'd get some funky knobs for the closet doors at anthro.
A nice vanity and sink can be found at Lowe's if you just want to replace the whole thing.
You can get some great linoleums now that are way easier than tile for the floor. A colorful runner all way down would be a great way to add color.
Def need a fun chandelier/light instead of the current fixture.
This room would be great in a blue, check out some blues in your new book!
Don't forget art for the walls, esp that space by the sink. Maybe a sconce or two would work there as well.

Anonymous said...

I want simple heavy baseboards with quarter-round top and bottom painted in high-gloss white. Follow that theme around the window.

Purchase the wallpaper eater *it has a monster chomping on paper* and take off the border. It's like peeling a sunburn - addictive.

Wallpaper. Everyone is tired of geometrics, but I still love them. A small faded orange pattern on white background would still match all that beige.

Decide what you want in that closet. It could become a built-in shelving unit with cool drawers if you don't need a place to hang clothing or store a washer.

Until then, freshen up the doors with a new coat of paint (bathrooms are dusty and dark colors prove it). Get some knobs that match what you want on the vanity. If you have any pulls, take some time to measure out the distance between screw holes.

Before you do anything big like change fixtures, visit a Re-Store (Habitat For Humanity). They get great fixture and cabinet donations from contractors. It's cheap. The money gets recycled. You get stuff.

Fancy for nyc said...

Besides all the suggestions; repaint, update knobs, replace, wallpaper,faucet and carpet. Replace the generic towel rack with an open floor shelf,display white towels,a small plant like Ivy or button furn in a one of a kind planter, and finish it off with an art piece on the wall above it.

David said...

Paint and flooring are going to get you the most bang for your buck Carmen, start with those. And see if they can't make the floor all one level. Update your hardware next, it's easy and makes a big difference.

I was going to suggest new closet doors, maybe some mirror, but I really like Anon's idea about making it a built-in. You could mirror the back of the shelves, it could be pretty spectacular.

Anonymous said...

She should definitely not move back in with her parents. Tough it out Carmen! We're rootin' for ya!

Renate said...

I agree that this isn't that bad. But if it's not to your taste, go for the makeover!
I say, paint it white with a pair of horizontal lines across the back wall. I'd go for orange. Fresh and makes the space look wider. Lime would work too, or turquoise. Keep the floortiles a light colour. See if Ikea kitchen cabinet doors fit on your under-basin cupboard (the cheapest option, bet there's plenty of other places that sell them for a bit more) and switch the doors for highgloss white. Add a modern, chrome faucet. Accessorize with towels in the same colour as the stripe on your wall.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the window treatment - like right now! That is by far the most depressing thing to me about the bathroom, followed closely by the border. I can't totally make out the color, but I don't think it's so bad. A great color for a bathroom with white fixtures is Ben Moore's Hot Springs Stone. Very spa-like. But other colors could be a nice gray green, or a warm gray. I agree with others about getting a new light fixture and changing out the towel rods etc. What the bathroom most lacks is charm and character - so I would find some nice framed art for the walls. Sketches, or maybe a few little vintage oil paintings on ebay. I can't see the mirror over your sink, but putting in a large framed mirror would also add some character to the space.

modernemama said...

This is the perfect place to put one of the chandeliers Decorno loves, or perhaps this one.

Anonymous said...

First thing:

Paint the muntins--the criss-cross things between the panes of glass in your window. Paint them white.

A lot of that prison feeling will vanish immediaely.

Anonymous said...

Don't put art you value in a bathroom that has a shower. Humidity is bad for original art. Stick with prints or something expendable.

pve design said...

Bathrooms are so fun to bring up to date!
Taking down the border for starters and new flooring.
Get rid of that drab color and go for something light and airy - a pretty tiffany blue or all white-

Cristina said...

so much potential! minus the border.

I agree with pp, take out the carpet, check the subfloor and install hardwoods since it's WAY far away from your toilet.

THEN, take out the sink and cabinets. It's probably fiberboard anyway. Install a floating countertop (you have all that closet space, you don't need it.) and a pretty sink.

I like the spa look if you couldn't tell. good luck!

Anonymous said...

My two cents. Check what's under the carpet and linoleum flooring. Replace it with hexagon marble tiles. White subway tiles three quarters up the wall. Paint the walls some color that coordinates with the rest of your home (warm grey, dark chocolate). Replace the mirror with a large framed mirror of some sort. Replace the faucet with something classic and will instantly make the white cabinets and countertop better. Remove the window treatments, towel rack and louvered closet doors. Purchase some sort of armoire or dresser (dark wood tones) to fit in the closet space or do open shelving and outfit with WHITE folded towels and textured baskets to hide and organize bathroom clutter. Replace the shower curtain with a white shower curtain with contrasting hemstitch (Restoration Hardware). Replace the current hardware with something cooler. Hang some cool artwork...maybe a nude figure sketch? That's all I have to say about that.

CharmingDinnerGuest said...

Nobody's mentioned the thing that's most glaring to me.

I would not want to walk into the room and see the toilet bowl from 15 feet away.

Put up a folding door near the commode. The door needn't be closed. Just give the area a hint of privacy.

Do that or put up a low half-wall or storage shelves with some greenery or pretty glass jars on top.

Iheartfashion said...

First, take down that funny little valance on the window! I would change the color immediately. I like to use a bold bright color in a little bathroom, something like coral or saffron, nothing muddy. And I agree with the commenter who advised painting the window muntins white. And replace the light fixture with a small pendant or mini chandelier. Just my 2 cents...

LIMOM said...

First off Carmen, you need to set a budget. A firm budget will provide a frame for the scope of your work.

I'd paint, remove the border, and if budget permits I'd remove the carpeting. Installed carpeting really dates this room. Next you could swap out your cabinet hardware and fixtures like towel bar and toilet paper holder pretty cheap. As far as colors go, I'm big on white bathroom fixtures and using color as accents. White does not date and it provides a canvas for color via towels, accessories, window treatments, etc. Trust me, swapping out towels is a heck of a lot cheaper than swapping out a toilet.

Anonymous said...

Dear Charming Dinner Guest,
You said:
"I would not want to walk into the room and see the toilet bowl from 15 feet away."

"The room" you're referring to is the bathroom...a toilet is expected. Some people even enter into the bathroom looking for the toilet. And that "hint of privacy" you're looking for is already there in the form a bathroom door. Why add another door or even a half wall to make a small, narrow room even smaller? Silliness.

Anonymous said...

Why do we now have to say "swap OUT" and "change OUT"?

Just "change" or "replace." That's all you need.

(Agree about not needing to hide the horror that is the toilet. Sounds like something you'd see in a 1954 issue of Good Housekeeping. Plus a little fake folding door would just get in the way when you're trying to clean.)

lecaro said...

I've dealt with lots worse. The carpet/tile situation is the biggest problem. Everything else is gravy.

Of course you're going to take down the border and valence, replace the light fixtures and knobs, and find a color you like. Your biggest decision will be picking out a suitable floor material, so let that drive everything else.

If you like a cottage look, install beadboard paneling along the walls. It's a quick way to add some interest to a bathroom.

If the mirror is plate glass, replace it with a smaller framed mirror. Replace the faucet and knobs, too.

I don't think you really need to do anything with the closet doors or cabinetry except paint them white, along with the rest of the trim.

Kwana said...

Great ideas Decorno. Getting rid of the border and new color is going to really help out. The booze will help too because it's scary riping up the carpet but it must be done. Good luck!

cm photography. said...

Hey Guys,
Thanks for all of the helpful comments. As soon as budget allows, I'm going in there and not coming out until it's done!

Margaret said...

What stands out right away is the dated carpet and tile. The bathroom needs unity with the choice of floor covering. An updated neutral color tile would make an immediate improvement. The wallpaper border needs to go. I would like to see a grey/green light sage color. Use a bamboo shade in place of what you have on the window. Mount it high to make the window look taller and allow the bathroom max light. Paint trim white. Freshen up cabinets with new hardware. New light fixtures as well. Your personality would be in the form of towells, framed prints (framed nudes would be lovely) and area rugs. Pottery barn has some very nice shower curtains...white with colored trim. Lowes has some beatuiful framed mirrors that would work over the sink.

THis is a great bathroom. It just needs some updating.

Good luck!

CharmingDinnerGuest said...

About "hiding" the toilet.

I assumed this was the master bath so I think anyone using the room knows where the toilet is. No one else should be wandering into your bedroom looking for it.

It's also possible that this is the view one sees when walking into the bedroom or when in bed.

To each his own. If it doesn't bother you, fine. And I won't even call you "silly".

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of hiding the toilet with some shrubbery. It would be manicured, of course.

mary said...

Paint, new mirror at the sink, great little oil paintings or nudes, bamboo or rattan windows shade, and a standing brass or chrome towel rack would hold the towels and SCREEN the toilet, to start.

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