Wednesday, 30 September 2015

How to make your bathroom look less like a cave.

Warning - the tiles in these photos may cause offence. 


It's not lost on me - get shorlisted for an interior design blog award and then post about how to make a horrible room slightly less horrible. But this is our family bathroom, small and dark and sad like a little tiled cave. Not exactly the best room in the house. At first glance it doesn't look too bad but after a while the dodgy plumbing, floor that doesn't fit properly, terrible DIY, wobbly bath panel and lack of daylight will grind you down. It doesn't look any better when it's clean. The tiles are the worst shade of beige/grey (greige?) and suck all the light out of the room and no amount of scrubbing will get rid of the limescale on the taps. I know, I've tried.

Next year we will gut it and make it light and lovely, but for now it's what we have and I had to make some changes. Mostly very little ones, but together they all made a difference.

1. De-clutter

It's hard to clean a sink when it's covered in, well, everything. Find somewhere to put stuff - a shelf, a cabinet, a wash bag - anywhere but on the edge of the sink. (This is blindingly obvious, so why did it take me four months to do this...?)


I know, that chrome towel storage thing on the left of the sink looks just the ticket, right? No! It's useless and a pain in the neck. The towels all have to be folded just so or they don't fit on and if you take off one, four more fall off with it. I don't need that many folded hand towels next to my sink, I'm not running a hair salon.


Ok, stuff has been moved. Much better.


And that leads me on to the next important thing:

2. Storage

These plastic boxes weren't really doing it for me, too untidy and hard to clean around.


This is where you need to get your drill out. (Or badger someone else to do it. Who am I kidding, I've never drilled anything in my life.)

A mirrored bathroom cabinet holds the toothpaste, hair products, contact lens solution, plasters and Calpol that we use on a regular basis.



And the little shelf underneath is where I put my contact lens pot while I put in or take out my lenses. It's so convenient, right under the mirror. Such a small thing but so important. No more dropped lenses on the floor while I lean over the little cracked mirror!


3. Light

If you cover the one, small, high, north facing window sill with boxes, it will appear darker. I know, incredible!


Also - mirrors help bounce light around a small room. I'd completely forgotten about this trick until the cabinet went up. Instantly there was more light in the room. 



4. Colour

Those two screws above the toilet were from a cabinet that was once there. They annoyed me. That whole wall annoyed me.


Thinking about how much we needed storage in that room, I decided to hang something from them. I crocheted two net bags using cotton and a 2 mm hook, one for flannels and the other for bath toys. The pattern is from Modern Crochet.


Instant colour and storage. 



The print makes such a difference too, just having something pretty and colourful on the wall too look at instead of endless beige tiles. 



5. Scent

Bathrooms are much nicer to be in when they smell nice. One of these room diffusers by an almost permanently open window makes a huge difference.


So, there you have it. It's far from perfect but it's an improvement on what we had before. And a reminder as well that, in a small room, every little inch of storage or daylight can make such a difference to how the space feels.




51 comments:

  1. Good solutions, I particularly like the diffuser, I use one too.

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  2. I don't know, Gillian. Every time you show me something in your house, I'm supposed to dislike, I have the opposite reaction. I think the tiles are nice and they must be easy to clean. Your sink is nice. I have a big countertop vanity in our bathroom and I'm pretty obsessive about keeping it cleared of clutter. It's nice to be able to spread out while you're getting ready and not be adding to a jumble of things already there.

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  3. I think your bathroom is charming. I do have serious bathroom envy though - R gutted ours when L went away to uni and, 3 years and 1 Law degree later, it still isn't finished! I've stopped noticing it now. I can't finish it myself because the tiles are too heavy for me to lift, let alone cut and every time I mention getting a little man in, R has a brief spurt of activity and will do a little more. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm rapidly wanes! Have you tried Limelite (spelling?) on your taps? It's pretty nasty stuff but, if you leave it on long enough, it usually works. Love your print and crocheted storage bags. xx

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    1. No, but I have just written "limelite" on the shopping list - thank you!!

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    2. Viakal also works great, though you may have to use it a few times for full effect.

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  4. The "greige" tiles don't look too bad, really - they provide a neutral background for whatever colour scheme you want to adopt there. The print makes it a lot more cheerful, and the two net bags take up colours from the print very nicely.
    Decluttering makes a huge difference, no matter which room! But of course there are things that we really do need to be in our bathrooms, and then a mirror cabinet as yours is a great solution.
    I like it!

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  5. What a wonderful difference. The splashes of colour and the extra light really change it. My favourite part are the bags. What a great idea. Now I need to work out how to make some. X

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  6. You did a really great job on your bathroom. Small things can make a difference and the more small things there are, the bigger the difference. Well done!

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  7. It looks great, such a difference. I love those beakers, the colourful print and crochet bags looks brilliant too. Oh and well done on the award lovely, so well deserved. xx

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  8. You've made a lovely job of it Gillian, you really have the magic touch. It's a great idea to put the glass jar on the window sill so that the light shines through it. I'm a big fan of putting the clutter away as well. CJ xx

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  9. Oh storage,the bane of my life in our house. Sometimes I feel like emptying the entire contents of our house into a skip! I love your solutions. Simple, effective ,and colourful. That interiors short listing is SO well deserved! X

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  10. It's amazing what just a little bit of thought can do. Well done Gillian. Take care.

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  11. I haven't seen the other entries for the interior design award but this is just the sort of interiors post I like. Not how to make your 18th century Parisian apartment look beautiful with a strategic £3000 rug, but some achievable, useful pointers to how to make the sort of room I actually have look so much better. I've been really enjoying looking at how you are decorating your house - it looks lovely.

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  12. You've done a great job bringing more light and colour in your bathroom. Ours is small too and also coveted all over with dark beige tiles. We can't afford to change it but at least there's a good sized window that lets in a lot of light so it's a little less cave like. It can still do with a bit more colour though. Thanks for all these clever tips and tricks. X

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  13. Ever wondered why you were shortlisted? The post above says it all! :-) xx

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  14. Wow your changes made it look way better! If you think your bathroom is bad you should see ours, horrible lino on the floor, peeling wallpaper on the walls... and 'cos we're renting we can't do anything to it :-(

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  15. what a great makeover, little things can make so much difference. I'm off to have a look at our bathroom:-).

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  16. A cheaper way of removing limescale is using toilet cleaner with limescale remover - the tesco own make one is the best I know. I squirt mine over the chrome, leave it and then rinse off. It doesn't harm the chrome or the porcelain and is very effective. I have very, very hard water and this is a constant problem. If I didn't do this, my chrome would be permanently frosted!

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    1. Thank you - we've been using limelite which is great, but this limescale, it gets everywhere!

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  17. I agree with you, the tiles are not great. To much grout to clean.... I don't like clutter in my bathroom either and forever fight it (it appears out of nowhere, honestly, it does). I love your print, very cheerful. xx

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  18. So much to love here - though I'm not sure love is the right word! I'm with Christina on the grout. Why do people tile their bathrooms from floor to ceiling? I inherited this one and it's a nightmare trying to keep the grout clean - NEVER again! Your comment about the useless towel rack made me laugh out loud too. x

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  19. Small changes do make such a difference. I live in an extremely hard water area and find the best thing for limescale on and around taps is to soak some kitchen roll in white vinegar, which costs next to nothing, and then wrap it on/around the tap and leave for a few hours - preferably overnight and hey presto the limescale will just wipe away.

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  20. The small changes make a huge difference. A transformation!

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  21. Completely agree with you about the greige. We have a lot of it and it is pants. Can't help with that but re the lime scale... Try soaking a cloth in white vinegar and wrapping it round like a poultice then cover with a plastic bag and leave overnight. Makes the bathroom temporarily smell like a chippy but small price for shiny taps!

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  22. it looks great! clutter is such a challenge in the bathroom - yours looks so light and lovely now. i LOVE those bags - thanks for the link!

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  23. Inspiration for one [yours truly] who majors in catastrophic clutter! Thanks for sharing your very clever observations and ideas, Gillian. I have had trouble finding a diffuser scent that is effective. What scents have you found that are successful for you? xx

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  24. Hey Gillian,
    No clutter for me in a bathroom, either. I like how simple changes can change the feel of a space. It looks lovely.
    Leanne xx

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  25. Lovely how those small changes make such a big difference !
    It is a bit sad that the person who initially placed the tiles, didn't use the same colour grouting as the one "in between" the fake mosaics. Now you see the form of the square tiles (or maybe it is just an optical illusion in the photos ?)
    I really like the two crocheted bags - instant colour in your bathroom, and very handy too !!

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  26. It is surprising what a difference just a few changes can make isn't it. A mirror is a great sharer of light around a room isn't it. xx

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  27. What great, simple improvements you made! Looks great!

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  28. Super ideas! And your honest, simple explanations bring them into the realm of "I can do that, too!" Now I'm looking at my own bathroom....what are a few simple changes I can make? Hmmm.....

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  29. I read on one blog years ago to get rid of the clutter in a bathroom it helps for everyone in the house to use the one shampoo. only have one tube of tooth paste that everyone uses. So simple, but seriously cuts down on bottles all over.

    Good post, good reminder. Simple solutions are best!

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  30. I see 2 more bits of clutter. The hurricane lamp and the radio. Apart from those I think your bathroom looks very nice.

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  31. Problems solved! And done so easily and inexpensively! I love your net bags -more colour and practical storage to boot! Well done, Gill!

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  32. Looks much better! Sitting here with 'declutter bathroom' on my to-do list! Better put down the Dairy Milk and go and do it. Thanks for the inspi x

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  33. Oh yes, don't cover the windowsill. Good work Gillian. jo x

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  34. Those teeny tiny tiled squares look a cleaning nightmare. One of the best things we bought was a bathroom cabinet to ram in all the stuff like tiny bottles of shower gel we get bought for Christmas, the next toothpaste tube etc.
    I put the orchid in the bathroom when it needs a lift. It takes up space but is worth it for the moment it flowers.

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  35. Brilliant work Gillian. It is amazing the difference sparkling clean windows make to a small room too. I find Method bathroom cleaner shifts the limescale from my taps. You can also buy refills which not only saves money but means there is one less plastic bottle to recycle. I love the crochet bags too, great idea.

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  36. The print caught my eye right away - it's so cheery, and the crochet bags go perfectly with it. I have a quilted wall hanging in our bathroom - totally not standard decor but it does liven things up.

    Have you tried vinegar-soaked paper towels for the limescale? Press firmly so they adhere well to all scaly spots, and leave for an hour or more (if you can keep people from using it that long), then wipe firmly with them. Sometimes that will do the trick (but sometimes not).

    Honestly your bathroom didn't look that bad "before", but it does look much nicer "after". :)

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    1. Thank you, that sounds like a good non-chemical tip, I'll give it a go.

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  37. The pictures and the print decoration really lightens the room up and makes it look very styled up! I might "steal" the idea of the prints for our bathroom which always looks messy and dull!

    Take care
    Anne
    Crochet Between Worlds

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  38. Yes those grey/beige tiles covering the walls don't do anything for me but your makeover has made a huge difference - I too am a great fan of mirrors for adding light and a feeling of space (in our old narrow hall we had 2 ) and your bright crochet bags and the print really brighten the room - well done on your nomination, well deserved!!
    Caz xx

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  39. Decluttering looks great! Have you thought about painting over the tiles if you hate the greige so much? I saw this feature recently where they painted some small tiles rather like yours and totally transformed them: http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2015/09/how-to-paint-a-tile-backsplash.html

    I really enjoy your blog - always read it but have never commented before! x

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    1. I meant to say before Hannah, but forgot - I found that link really inspiring, thank you. I'd heard of that blog but never really looked at it. I don't know if painting the whole room would really work for us but it looks amazing in that kitchen.

      And thank you for your lovely comment!

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  40. Don't care what you say...... you are soooo clever!! That looks so much better & brighter. I wish idea's would pop into my head!

    Jane xx

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  42. Another very useful piece of advice on my journey to creating my new bathroom improvement – so thank you!
    In particular your insight on colour schemes, mirrors (placed closed to the light - great idea!) and of course the de-clutter are area that I will need to work on to improve my bathroom space.

    I also found some useful and similar words in this article: http://www.lionshome.co.uk/en-uk/magazine/details/id:38/seeking-comfort-and-simplicity-go-minimal-with-your-bathroom-/ which may also be interesting for some!

    The insight as to how to simplify and to make more comfortable may be of interest to some!
    Thanks again for the great article.

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  43. Small changes which make a big impact and make you happier, win win situation.
    Lisa x

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  44. Bathrooms seem to breed clutter, but you got yours nicely under control. Love the bags xx

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