9 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Bathroom

If a bad layout, poor lighting and leaky fixtures are getting in the way, it might be time for some changes.

A bathroom should be a place of comfort — the optimal environment for a relaxing soak or getting ready efficiently during a harried morning.

“You’re going to spend time in there every day,” says Sarah Hurd, part of the mother-daughter team behind Short Story Renovations, a Baltimore-area design, rehab and staging company. “You should not hate your bathroom.”

If a bad layout, poor lighting and leaky fixtures are getting in the way, it might be time for some changes.

Here are nine signs that your bathroom could use a little work.

1. Not photogenic

“It’s weird how you can see in a picture what you can’t see anymore with your own eyes,” says Angela Hurd of Short Story Renovations.

The fix: She and her daughter, Sarah, recommend that clients take a photograph of their bathroom to get a better sense of what they might not otherwise notice. People can become blind to the discord — from a mismatched color palette to accumulated junk on the vanity counter, she says.

2. Outdated colors

Funky hues can be one of the most noticeable signs that a bathroom is out of date.

The fix: White, gray and black palettes will lend an element of ageless beauty to any space, says Michael Merschat, an architect with high-end residential design-build firm Wentworth Inc. of Chevy Chase, MD.

People are coming back to “that white, timeless look, be it a very modern-style white or something with a little more traditional flare,” he says.

 

Crisp, neutral palettes can lend calm sophistication to any bathroom. Photo from Zillow listing.

3. Smells like a bathroom

“With some bathrooms, you walk in and they just have an old bathroom smell,” Sarah Hurd notes. It’s another indication that it’s time for a renovation.

The fix: Replacing a toilet’s wax seal, fixing a persistent, mold-causing sink leak, or adding better ventilation to a windowless bathroom can all be sure fixes for a fresher-smelling experience.

4. Bad layout

Awkward bathroom layout is another indication that it’s time for an update. Odd arrangements, such as a toilet directly next to the bathtub, are typical in bungalows and houses built in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, when plumbing was a new phenomenon.

The fix: Installing a separate water closet can be a winning move, Merschat says. “It gives a nice bit of refinement to the room when the toilet isn’t sitting out in the middle of the space.”

An outside-the-box arrangement can refine an otherwise predictable space. Photo from Zillow listing.

5. Leaks

When brown water stains appear on the ceiling below the bathroom, it’s definitely time to make repairs and update.

The fix: Take the opportunity to put in modern fixtures that conserve water and speak to your style, Merschat advises.

6. Poor lighting

“If you’re either blinded by the lights that are overhead, or it’s so dim you can barely see yourself in the mirror, that’s a problem,” says Sarah Hurd.

The fix: Better light fixtures and brighter light bulbs may be the first step on your path to a bathroom redo.

New light fixtures easily brighten and modernize the space. Photo from Zillow listing.

7. Stylistic relics

If you have wallpaper or popcorn ceilings still hanging around from decades past, your bathroom is due for an update.

The fix: Wallpaper is making a comeback, so think about using it in a new way. “We’ve actually redone powder rooms where we’ve put wallpaper on the ceiling to give it a different pop,” Merschat says.

8. Low on storage

Can’t store all the things you need in the bathroom? This calls for action.

The fix: Install a larger vanity, or add shelves above the toilet. You could even knock out a wall and steal a little space from another room to create a linen closet.

Install a new vanity with broadened storage options, like open shelving. Photo from Zillow listing.

9. Time to sell

If you’re not interested in fixing up your bathroom for yourself, do it for your home’s next tenants.

The fix: A fancy new washroom can add just the right panache to spur potential buyers to action. “Redoing a bathroom that’s just an eyesore within the house might make a huge difference,” Merschat says.

If you’re ready to renovate, start thinking about the look you want for your new bathroom. At Short Story Renovations, the Hurds use Pinterest to share ideas with their clients.

“[We] start a board that all of us can put stuff on,” Angela Hurd explains. “That way [our clients aren’t] in the dark about what we’re trying to do.” This practice helps everyone involved get a feel for one look and stick with it.

 

Posted by Becca Milfeld on Zillow

 

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How to Brighten a Dark Home

Dreading the end of Daylight Saving Time? Trick your way into a brighter space — even when the natural light prospects are dim.

Whether you live in a large home with a dark interior or a small apartment with only one window, follow these tips to bring in more sunshine — or at least make it look that way.

Paint it light and bright

Colors and values are nothing more than the light that reaches our eyes after bouncing off objects.

The amazing thing about white is that it reflects most of the light that hits its surface, creating the illusion of light. Case in point: that glowing ball in the sky we call the moon.

Paint colors that are saturated yet light in value create a similar effect, while lending their own distinctive personalities to a space.

Keep the contrast

A kitchen with white cabinets, countertops, walls and backsplashes is about as bright as it gets, yet the lack of variety can leave the overall effect a bit dull.

To keep things interesting, introduce contrast. Choose accessories, cookware and decorations in your favorite color, or even decide on an entire palette.

Sneak in some style and personality with a colorful mosaic backsplash, or add drama to the scene with dark furniture, picture frames or patterns.

Strategically place mirrors

Mirrors cannot make a room look brighter on their own, though there is some truth to the mirror myth, since they’re excellent at reflecting natural light in rooms that already receive it.

Don’t expect to get the same effect in dim hallways and bathrooms, though, since it does no good to duplicate a dim view. So, go ahead — replace those huge panels of mirrored glass in your bathroom with more attractive framed mirrors. You won’t miss out after all.

Install new windows

Yes, installing an entire window or two is the nuclear option, but if your home is so dim that you’re forced to keep the lights on all day, then it could be taking a toll on your utility bills — or even your mental well-being!

This isn’t a decision to take lightly (no pun intended), so talk to a contractor to discuss options and pricing before you break out that sledgehammer. You might be better off installing a skylight or light tubes.

Eliminate glare

Sometimes the problem isn’t the amount of light, but rather the quality. Overhead lights can brighten up a room, but the effect is harsh as high-noon sunlight.

Instead, you want the diffuse, indirect light of early morning. Place lights near the walls, and place LED strips under cabinets to cover the wall in a soft glow. Be sure to include task lighting wherever it’s needed most, such as the home office or wherever you need to read and work.

Rethink window treatments

If your curtains cover up too much of the window, replace them with something less obstructive. Sheer and semisheer window treatments let in plenty of light, without sacrificing privacy during the day.

If you’re tired of pulling up the Venetian blinds or plantation shutters every day, replace them with blackout window treatments you can open all the way during the day and close at night.

Brighten the view outside

Maybe you’re too busy focusing on the indoors to see the forest for the trees. But all those trees and overgrown foundation shrubs can block natural light from reaching the house, so cut those bushes and trim those tree limbs. If necessary, call an arborist.

Also, use plants with variegated or silver leaves in your landscape to reflect light indoors, and consider renovating your patio and paving it with something brighter.

 

Replace doors

Doors present a great opportunity to let in more light, improve the view from inside and make the entry more welcoming.

Since your front door is a reflection of your home’s personality, as well as your own, pick a style that’s appropriate to the architecture. If you’re concerned about privacy, choose one with stained glass or small windows at the top. Even a small amount of natural light will make a huge difference.

Clean windows

It ought to be obvious, but when was the last time you cleaned all your home’s windows, both inside and out?

To avoid streaks on outdoor surfaces, don’t bother with the window cleaner and paper towels. Wash the windows with a sponge and mildly soapy water (dish soap will do), wipe dry with a squeegee, and finish them off with a soft chamois.

 

Posted by Steve Asbell on Zillow

10 Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger

Can’t knock down walls? No problem! Work a little design magic to make even the tiniest bathroom feel spacious.

Small bathroom spaces aren’t found just in apartments and condos — they’re in our guest bathrooms and powder rooms, too. Since no one likes feeling crowded, here are a few tips for making any small bathroom seem bigger — no wall demolition required.

Brighten the room

Bring in as much light as possible. Light, bright rooms always feel more spacious than dark and drab ones.

  • Wall color. Paint the walls and ceiling the same light color to make the bathroom feel double its size. Anytime an area of the room is a different color, it chops the room into different compartments, making it seem smaller.
  • Windows. If you have a window, use sheer window coverings to maximize the natural light.
  • Lighting. Install additional flush-mount wall or ceiling light fixtures to increase the light in the room.

Add mirrors

Install larger — and more — mirrors than you typically would in a bathroom. The reflected light will open your small space into one that feels more spacious.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Install a sliding door

Swinging doors can take up almost half the room, depending on how small the space is. A sliding barn door or a wall-pocket door won’t encroach on your bathroom’s already limited real estate.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Think pedestal sink

The added bulk of a full vanity takes up valuable space, so try a pedestal sink instead. You may not have a place for soaps or towels on the vanity, but there are plenty of wall-mounted solutions perfect for bathroom accessories.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Streamline storage

Keep all storage as flush with the walls as possible, because anything that sticks out will chop up the space and close it in. Install recessed shelving and medicine cabinets instead.

Choose light-colored flooring

Even if your walls and ceiling are light and bright, a dark floor will negate their effect and close the space in. Keep the flooring light to create a space with a bright and open flow.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Eliminate clutter

Nothing crowds a space faster than clutter. A good rule of thumb: If you don’t need it there, store it elsewhere. Pare what you keep in the bathroom down to the bare necessities.

Hide the bathmat

Having a bathmat on the floor all the time can make your bathroom feel smaller. Put your bathmats away when you’re not using them to expose the flooring and make the space appear larger.

Raise the shower curtain bar

Raising your shower curtain bar all the way to the ceiling draws your eyes up and makes the ceiling seem taller, creating the illusion of a larger space.

Photo from Zillow listing.

The same goes for any window treatments. Raising sheer curtain panels to the ceiling also creates the illusion of a larger window, making the small bathroom seem larger.

Go frameless, clear, and cohesive in the shower

Clear glass shower doors make the room appear larger, while frosted glass breaks up the space and makes it seem smaller than it already is. The same goes for a frame around the glass. A frame can make the area seem choppy rather than smooth and open.

Additionally, install the same shower tile from floor to ceiling. The seamless look from top to bottom adds cohesion and openness.

Just a few changes to your small bathroom can make dramatic differences in how open it feels. Once you’ve tried these tips and tricks in the bathroom, apply them throughout your home! It’s all about creating the illusion of space.

Posted by Christina El Moussa on Zillow

 

We Asked Interior Designers: What Small Changes Make the Biggest Difference?

Give your rooms a fresh look with these designers’ best tips. Image: Catherine Staples Interiors

Sometimes interiors need change. Whether your style feels a little too outdated or your tastes have changed, making over the rooms in your home is a great way to give yourself a fresh start. However, for most of us, taking on the cost of a complete redesign is not always feasible, even if an update is sorely needed.

With that in mind, we called in the pros. We asked top interior designers to share their best tips on which small design changes make a big difference. Keep reading to learn how you can make a huge impact on your home without breaking the bank.

 

Go bold with your accent wall. Image: LMB Interiors

1. Add an accent wall

“To drastically change the look and feel of a room without spending a lot of money, paint an accent wall,” advises Todd W. G. Corder, the founder of Deja vu Decor. “A pop of color will instantly draw the eye and is a great way to liven up a room with no more than the cost of a can of paint.”

Where accent walls are concerned, there are a few details to keep in mind. The first is placement. Technically, any wall can be used as an accent, but it really should highlight your focal point. In living rooms, this can mean placing the accenting color around a mantle or some built-in shelving. In bedrooms, by the headboard is best.

Aesthetics are the other consideration. A bright paint color certainly does the job, but it’s not the only option. Darker neutrals like black or chocolate brown serve the same purpose. Contrasting materials can also be used. Wallpaper is an excellent choice, as is a patterned tile or even wood paneling.

 

Use texture to add visual interest. Image: Thomas Towne Reavey Inc

2. Vary the texture of accessories

“Texturizing a room is a game changer. Accent pillows in varying fabrics and shades can add another layer of depth to a room. Another opportunity to add texture is through the materials that your accessories are made from. Consider using metals, woven baskets and blankets,” says Dawn Stafford, the owner of Gathering Souls, a concierge design service in Fairfax, VA.

Conceptually, texture can be a bit hard to pin down. The best way to think of it is by evaluating how an item looks like it feels. Take the picture above, for example. Consider how you’re easily able to tell that the surface of the coffee table feels rough, while the blanket on the couch is soft.

Successful interior design is all about layering these contrasts. When you’re sprucing up a room on a budget, take stock of the textures in the accessories you already own. Then, look for additional items that would serve as their opposite. If need be, consider moving your existing accessories to different rooms as a way of giving your home an update that’s free of charge.

 

Include various types of lighting. Image: Black and Milk

3. Re-evaluate lighting

“You’ll need lighting in all the corners of the room; try to avoid just one ceiling light,” says Sarah Elsley, the voice behind Dream of Home. “Use wall lights and floor lights together, so the lighting isn’t concentrated to one place and spreads in an even glow around the room.”

There are four distinct types of lighting you can incorporate into a space. They are:

  • Natural: Any light that comes into your home from the outside via doors and windows.
  • Ambient: Light meant to illuminate the entire room, usually from an overhead source.
  • Accent: A light source that’s meant to highlight a particular feature of the room.
  • Task: Lighting used for a specific purpose, such as desk lamps or reading lights.

Ideally, a room involves a combination of these light sources. Take stock of the lighting you have in place and then look for which types are missing. Fill in the gaps where needed and you’ll be surprised how much of a difference you’ll see.

 

Styled surfaces give your home a curated look. Image: Alvhem Mäkleri & Interiör

4. Give surfaces deliberate style

“Coffee tables, side boards and bookshelves scream to be styled. It is amazing what you can pull together from the items in your own home. No need to go shopping for knickknacks; try shopping in your home first,” suggests Ana Cummings, the owner of ANA Interiors.

Pulling off this tip is all about having the arrangement look intentional. In all honesty, the items you put on these surfaces aren’t as important as how you display them. Do your best to lay out your items in groupings, stick to odd numbers and be sure to vary the pieces in terms of their direction, size and color. If need be, you can always look for some design inspiration to help you get started.

 

Sometimes small changes make a big difference. Image: International Custom Designs

No matter what your personal style is, at some point, you’re probably going to want to change things up. When that happens, there’s no need to wait until you’ve saved enough money to redo the whole room. Even the pros say small design changes can make all the difference. Keep their advice on hand for the next time you need to shake up your interiors. Their tips will help you make a huge impact at an affordable price.

Posted by Tara Mastroeni on Freshome

8 Home Improvement Hacks From the Humble Dollar Store

Want some home improvement ideas on the cheap? How about the crazy cheap? Whether you want to spruce up the garden or streamline your closet, there are plenty of insanely clever creations that hail from the humble aisles of your local dollar store. Check out these simple DIY hacks that can transform a space—and best of all, no one will ever guess where they’re from.

Reflect your good taste

Build this work of art to be as “compact” or grand as you like. Thistlewood Farms

Anyone who’s priced wall decor knows it doesn’t come cheap. But, as KariAnne Wood of Thistlewood Farms points out, there’s no need to go broke when you can build a beautiful focal point all on your own.

This stylish mirror, made with dollar store compacts, set this DIY-er back a mere $19. Not too shabby!

Drip-dry boot trays

Simple stones make a great boot tray. Dollar Store Crafts

In lieu of throwing down a pile of dish towels to dry up puddles left behind by soggy boots, consider a simple tray and a bag of stones.

Heather Mann of Dollar Store Crafts decided this river rock boot tray was a more elegant addition to the entryway. We couldn’t agree more. Give your regular doormat the day off.

Grow an indoor greenhouse

This simple project will add a pop of color to your home in no time. The Wicker House

If you crave a little bit of nature indoors, this greenhouse terrarium should satisfy your green thumb.

Emily Sweeten of The Wicker House made this picture-perfect piece with picture frames from the dollar store. She put it together in no time, though she admits, it helped to have another pair of hands to construct the rooftop.

Posh spice rack

If you’re really good, you’ll alphabetize them.The Stonybook House

Want to free up some coveted cabinet space? Lori Leeper at the Stonybrook House was inspired to create this back-of-the-door spice rack, made from dollar store cooling racks.

Fresh herbs flourish at your fingertips

 

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme—all within reach in your kitchen. Vanessa Brady

Want an innovative wall hanging that doubles as your very own produce aisle?

Vanessa Brady of Tried & True and her sister, Adriana, shared this Minimal Modern Herb Garden, which, depending on size, might cost you less than a bunch of fresh cilantro from the market, thanks to galvanized tubs priced at $1 a piece.

Tea for two … birds

Your backyard just got a bit more beautiful thanks to this oasis for your feathered friends. Morena’s Corner

Morena Hockley of Morena’s Corner added a little Mad Hatter’s tea party influence to her garden when she built this teapot birdbath with cups, saucers, plates, and, of course, a teapot she found at her local Goodwill (but dollar store housewares work just as well). Go ahead and spray-paint your creation to match your outdoor decor.

Keep the bugs at bay the natural way

Bug repellent never looked so good. A Little Claireification

If you’re sick of your outings reeking of citronella, consider this natural and cost-effective way to repel pests.

These Mason jar luminaries, designed by Claire of A Little Claireification, offer a chemical-free alternative to those pungent candles and sprays. Plus, they make attractive centerpieces.

Just grab a few rosemary sprigs, along with cedarwood, lavender, and lemon essential oils (or the real thing), which Claire says will make your gatherings bug-free.

Thumbs-up for word art

Nothing “tacky” about thumbtack art! DIY Ready

Want to make a statement, literally?

Lisa Loperfido of DIYReady notes that this thumbtack word artproject costs just $3. Spell your way to stunning decor for only pennies.

Posted by Liz Alterman on realtor.com

 

 

 

3 Design Tricks That Will Make Your Small Space Feel Big

With tiny homes and personal decluttering trends taking the world by storm, many people are learning to do more with less.

Do you have a small space in your home that you’re unsure what to do with? Or is your cramped apartment forcing you to be creative in your living arrangements? You’re not alone.

Make your small room or living area fit your needs with clever solutions that will streamline your life and maximize your space.

Paint can work wonders

Choosing the right paint color for your small room can instantly give the impression of more space or emphasize its cozy feel. Traditional neutrals like white, cream and light gray are great choices because they provide a clean and streamlined look, while making the room feel brighter and more expansive.

Painting the ceiling white to draw the eye upward is an easy way to create visual openness overhead. You’ll have an airy and inviting space in no time.

Courtesy of Orlando Soria.

On the other hand, if you want to play up the small space vibe even more, go bold with dark colors. It’s a fun and unique design choice to emphasize the smallness of a room by making a cozy den-like atmosphere with colors like black, dark gray and navy.

Courtesy of Allison Lind.

Whether you decide to go light or dark, adding paint to your small space will help you get the effect you are going for in a quick and budget-friendly way.

Savvy storage

With tight spaces, there isn’t always room for all the storage needed for belongings, clothing, office supplies and more. By incorporating creative and flexible storage solutions, you can easily keep clutter out of sight, while still keeping everything you need handy.

For example, the kitchen is a great place to implement clever storage. Roll-away islands and pantries create an adjustable cooking area to fit your needs.

Courtesy of Sandra Bird.

Add storage by using the space beneath your cabinets for hanging spices or wine glasses, and attaching holders to the backs of cabinet doors to keep foil and cleaning supplies neatly out of sight.

Don’t forget about uncommon spaces like ceilings for hanging items like bicycles out of the way, or adding shelving high up in closets for rarely used items.

Multi-tasking furniture

When you have limited floor space, it’s important to make your furniture work double duty. Choose pieces that have hidden storage and multiple functions, or can be compacted and stored when not in use.

Photo from Zillow listing.

If you can’t fit a dresser in your bedroom, try using drawers or crates under the bed for clothing and extra linens. A pouf or leather ottoman can easily transition from a seat to a footrest or side table.

Add function to your entryway by employing a bench with storage inside to hide extra shoes, gloves, and scarves. And if you have wall space to spare, hang a fold-down dining table.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Using modular pieces that can serve different purposes or fold out of the way frees up room to make your space comfortable and livable for you and your guests.

Limited square footage doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice function and style. Small space living is a great way to lead a simplified and streamlined life. With creative thinking, you can go from a cluttered, cramped mess to an organized and inviting space with room for all.

Posted by Erica Sooter on Zillow

5 Retro Decorating Trends That Deserve a Comeback

If you’ve been yearning for the return of the conversation pit, you’re not alone.

Some home decor looks are just too good to let go. The boldly colored kitchen cabinets of the ’50s are taking on a sophisticated modern look. The late ’80s country kitchen look is enjoying new life — minus the gingham frills and bonneted goose motif — in today’s farmhouse chic trend, and mid-century design has taken over the home furnishing offerings of retailers at every price point. Rattan furniture and velvet upholstery, both popular in the ’70s, are showing up in designer collections again.

Our pick for the decor trend  most deserving of a second chance? The brightly colored bathroom fixtures (and sometimes even matching tile) that became popular beginning in the 1930s, and evolved from cool pastels to the much-maligned avocado and harvest gold hues of the 1970s. We’re not seeing these offered new yet, but salvage stores are a great resource if you simply must have a mint green or bubble-gum pink sink for your bathroom renovation.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Here are some of the blast-from-the-past home decor looks designers are happy to have deja vu over.

’50s-style dens

We are loving the reemergence of the den or the basement as a gathering space. Instead of having family and friends centered around a 50-inch television in the living room, we’re seeing people move toward intimate areas like listening rooms for their favorite vinyls, or casual seating in the den with headphones and their iPads. This setup is more conducive for connecting and catching up, or simply taking time for one’s self — think wood paneling, updated and re-imagined bean bags in designer fabrics, and high-quality retro audio sound.

– Kerrie Kelly, Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Photo by Brian Kellogg.

Macrame textile art

Macrame from the ’60s and ’70s, but with a whole new twist. I love the beautiful heavy knotted textile hangings as art, or the thin delicate hangings for room screens. [They can hold] hanging flower vases and even light fixtures. This time it’s all about texture with a Scandinavian vibe.

– Susan M. Jamieson, ASID, Bridget Beari Designs, Inc.

Big macrame on a white brick wall in bedroom; Shutterstock ID 671446057; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Conversation pits

We want big living rooms with circular, sunken conversation pits. They need custom built-in sofas, space-age floating fireplaces hanging in the middle, and plush shag carpeting deep enough to swallow your foot. Give us this dedicated zone for hanging out with friends and family, a space that isn’t centered around a TV screen. Give us bold colors and wild graphic patterns on pillows. And, most importantly, give us a live-in housekeeper, because those shag carpets are a nightmare to keep clean.

– Chris Stout-Hazard, ROGER+CHRIS

Photo from Zillow listing.

The home design trend from the past I’d love to see make a comeback is the conversation pit. Our technology age has created a digital life and physical separation. The classic conversation pit promotes togetherness and community. The conversational pit arrangement organically encourages people to face each other with comfortable deep seating. It also can be an advantage in design strategy, with a flexibility to promote a stylish streamlined modern feel or a casual bohemian aesthetic. Inspiring our clients to ditch the television and engage with family and friends is part of our design practice, creating space as experience.

– Elena Frampton, Frampton Co.

Timelessly practical kitchen features

Two of our favorite features making a comeback lately are banquette seating and library ladders, especially in the kitchen. A lot of our projects are in the city, where space is at a premium. Banquette seating works great in a tight space, plus it creates additional storage opportunities under the bench. Same goes for the ladder: It’s all about space. If you don’t have to haul out a clunky ladder to access everything out of reach, you can double your kitchen’s storage capacity with cabinets or shelves that go all the way up to the ceiling.

– Jeff Pelletier,  Board & Vellum

Photo from Zillow listing.

Brass hardware and fixtures

Used in smaller doses like pull handles and faucets with a more sleek and modern shape, [brass hardware and fixtures] can really up your design game in a cool classy way. My favorite bathroom look right now is dark navy cabinets with Carrera marble quartz counters, oversized white sinks, and printed cement floor tile incorporated with brass pull handles and faucets.

– Christina El Moussa, HGTV’s “Flip or Flop” and SuccessPath

Photo from Zillow listing.

 

Posted by Cat Overman on Zillow