By Michelle Locke Associated Press
You want a better bathroom, but don’t want to put a drain on your finances? Worry not. This is one room in the house where little things mean a lot.
On the other hand, if you want to go luxe, there are also a variety of new products that can turn the bathroom into a showcase.
Often small and poorly lit, bathrooms can end up neglected. But they’re probably the easiest room to make over, said Ingrid Abramovitch, editor and writer at Elle Decor magazine and author of “Restoring a House in the City.”
A very basic change is to buy a new shower curtain and good quality towels.
Is this a kids’ bathroom? Think bright colors and fun patterns. Or, to create a spalike retreat, look for fluffy towels in serene neutrals, and maybe add accessories like new soap dishes and towel rails in elegant materials.
If you want to up the luxe factor, think about installing a towel warmer.
Another easy change is to swap out your showerhead for a new, multifunction model. Some are designed to boost spray power too. A shower filter might also make an improvement in water pressure.
Basic models can be found from less than $30 from brands such as Aquasana and Sprite.
A hot trend is bringing music into the bathroom. The Moxie showerhead from Kohler has a built-in wireless speaker that uses Bluetooth technology to sync with your music device. (Suggested retail: $199.)
One of the cheapest ways to transform a bathroom — or any room — is color. “You can always very quickly change the aesthetics of a room with a can of paint,” said David Alhadeff, founder of The Future Perfect, of San Francisco and New York.
Is the room white? How might it look in bright yellow with towels and bath mat to match?
Look for the new humidity-resistant paints that come in flat finishes for a refined look.
Another way to make a big change is to re-evaluate the lighting. A lot of bathrooms still have a single overhead light fixture, which casts unflattering shadows.
“Lighting is everything in the bathroom, and there are a lot of tricks to how we want to illuminate ourselves within that space to make ourselves look best,” Alhadeff said.
If you already have lighting around your mirror, a change of bulbs can work wonders, and lighting along the side of the mirrors is preferable, Alhadeff said.
Creating layered lighting may mean hiring someone to add electrical outlets for sconces and mirror lighting, but it can make a bathroom much more inviting.
A cheaper way to create a soft ambience: Light a few candles.
But what if you’ve just won the lottery and are ready to make a really big splash?
Large, free-standing tubs are chic right now, Abramovitch said. Some people are making room for them by taking guest bedrooms and turning them into a bathroom-dressing room, with a free-standing tub surrounded by built-in closets and other accessories.
Hot tubs, too, have evolved, with new systems that create smaller bubbles, as opposed to the roaring jets of yesteryear.
And what high-end bathroom would be complete without a high-tech toilet? Take Kohler’s Numi model, which includes a motion-activated cover and seat, built-in bidet function, charcoal-filter deodorizer and air vents at the floor to warm your toes.
Naturally, there are illuminated panels with different colors that can be set for the day of the week. A remote control with a touch screen allows you to set your preferences on settings and, of course, you can play your favorite music via Bluetooth connection.
Sure, it’s not cheap, with a suggested retail of $5,978. But who can put a price on never, ever having to have the seat up/seat down discussion?
Ingrid Abramovitch, www.elledecor.com
David Alhadeff, www.thefutureperfect.com