I painted over the Masonite with a really good primer and then I decoupaged tissue paper in vivid colors over it — indigo blue, sunny yellow, even some silver tissue paper. It looks luminous, freckled, almost like water. Above the shower stall, I did much brighter colors and I sealed it all with a water-based polyurethane." While Cy applied his decoupage directly to the wall, his "simple French" look would work just as well applied to foam core or poster board, framed or not, and then hung on a bathroom wall for a splash of color you could change out whenever you want. "Paint the walls, or if they're mostly tile, paint the ceiling!" says Cy. "If the color doesn't work, you can paint it something else." And should you need to sell the house later, and believe the accepted wisdom that only white walls are appropriate in "For Sale" bathrooms, you can spend an afternoon painting it back. Or for just a minimal change, paint a frame and hang it on the bathroom mirror with Velcro.
For smaller bathrooms with tighter quarters, sometimes a smaller multipurpose vanity or a custom vanity with open shelves can make the room feel bigger. Another way to get the most out of a smaller bathroom is to choose an open vanity without cabinets. Mounting cabinets to the wall as opposed to having them under the sink will give your eye some breathing room, create easier foot traffic and potentially keep the doorway from being blocked by cabinet doors. Once you know how you want the space to function, you need to figure out the look and feel you want your bathroom to have. Use your cabinets and vanities to drive home the design, whether modern or rustic. Floating your cabinets is ideal in small bathrooms or as a way to make your room feel more open. Use vessel sinks that sit on top of your bathroom vanity to create a more luxurious look.
He recommends haunting estate and garage sales for bathroom art. "That's where you find that weird art like those little oils Aunt Martha painted. Think, 'Oh my gosh, there's a clown with a knife in his hand! Let's buy that and put it in the bathroom.' It's nice to see something to make you giggle in the morning." Of course, even the zaniest art should have at least one element that picks up other colors in the room, says LaDonna. And what should those colors be? Often, you're limited by the hard-and-fast items in the room, like the '60s style pastel tiles, says LaDonna. "When you add other colors, they'll have to complement, but the right selection can update the design and downplay the colors you don't like." Today's popular chocolate-brown accessories, from towel racks to curtains, for example, give old-style pastels a fresh look, says LaDonna.
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