Your key to a beautiful bath (and 3 looks you can shop today)!

Staring at your dated bath and feel like the only option is a wrecking ball? Don’t despair. You can create great style for your bathroom without ever lifting a sledgehammer. The key is to know what questions to ask.

What do I want to see when I open the door? Don’t worry about style or specifics, just pick one or two words that describe it. Light and bright. Colorful. Minimal. Eclectic. Sophisticated. These words are the anchor for your project. Use them to find inspiration and to make decisions about everything that comes in and goes out of your bathroom.

What do these words mean to me? Everyone needs inspiration to get started on a design project. But it’s hard to know how to translate a word or two into a clear image that drives you over the finish line.

Here’s an easy way to zero in on your concept. If you’re digitally-inclined, head straight to Pinterest. Type in “light and bright bath” and you will have a visual buffet of options. Scroll through and see what kind of “light and bright” you’re drawn to. Create a board and pin the images you like. (Or follow my board on Pinterest: Beautiful Bath.)

If you prefer paper options, hit the newsstand and choose home design magazines that catch your eye. Tear out pictures that make you say, oo! (OK, that could just be my reaction. But the point is, don’t tear out maybes. Hunt for things that look seriously good.) Use a sharpie to draw circles around specific things you like.

How do I decide what’s in or out? Now that you’ve done a little research, choose one picture that captures the look or feel you’re going for. Go into your bathroom with the picture and look at everything you’ve got. If you’re going for a light and bright bath and you have a dark purple shower curtain, gray paint, a dark wood vanity, and forest green towels this isn’t going to work.

But you know just what to do. Piece by piece, ask yourself, what could I do to make this feel like my picture? Choose a new paint color for my walls. Maybe use it to paint my vanity, too. Replace my textiles. Bring in art or plants. Change my mirror. Go step by step and it will all come together.

Here are three bath concepts I came up with using a word or two for inspiration. It took a little mixing and matching until I had something I liked, but sticking to my anchor and (another little tip) finding one piece I loved that I could build around got me there.

For my first look, my words were classic and lovely. I started with a white and black shower curtain. Then I searched for things that would feel luxurious and add color. I chose a paint shade that added a little warmth and the tiniest hint of color but still felt white. This gives the pure whites in the room a little background accent.

If you want to go a little bolder, try a Tiffany blue, soft sea green, bright coral, or buttery yellow. 

My words: Classic and lovely

My words: Classic and lovely

 Here's my shopping list.

  1. Tailored pique cotton shower curtain. $135 AllModern
  2. Zigzag bath towels. $12.95 H&M 
  3. Gold storage basket. $24.95 H&M 
  4. Glass storage jars. $9.95 H&M
  5. Squared bath mat. $14.89 HonFleur 
  6. Marble bath accessories. $9.95-14.95 CB2 
  7. White Opulence Paint. Benjamin Moore

My word for the second concept: sophisticated. Again, I started with the shower curtain. It's an easy place to begin because it's such a significant design element in the room. Then I went for pieces that felt clean-lined, slightly masculine, and had fun textures. (The textures keep it from feeling slick and cold.) I decided to go with a warm white with the most subtle hint of yellow because yellow enlivens gray.

To add a little more drama, consider painting the bottom half of each wall navy and the top half this warm white. (Tip: For the perfect paint line, lay down your painters tape and then paint over the edge with the existing color. This blocks the new color from bleeding through your tape line and you've got a razor sharp look.)

My word: sophisticated

My word: sophisticated

 See something you like?

  1. Rippled stripe cotton shower curtain. $169  AllModern 
  2. Ribbed bamboo channel towels. $19.99 CB2
  3. Cotton Balls Paint. Benjamin Moore 
  4. Glass storage jars. $44-50 Fitzsu 
  5. Teak bath mat. $39.95 CB2 
  6. Faux crocodile tray. $20 PierOne

For the third layout, my words were colorful and eclectic. This time, I started with the blue glass jars. They were so lovely that I let them be the inspiration for everything else. I was drawn to the bright yellow shower curtain because it could "stand up" to the deep blue. But the soft gray on the bottom half felt like it needed similarly soft colors to complement it. That led me to choose the lighter shades of blue and green. The white accents keep it all feeling crisp and clean.

To take the look further, consider adding open shelving in a natural wood 18-24" below the ceiling. Then find fun pieces at a local vintage store or your friendly, neighborhood HomeGoods to add more color and style. 

My words: Colorful and eclectic

My words: Colorful and eclectic

You know I'll never deny your need for retail therapy. Here's your shopping list.

  1. Chevron shower curtain. $22.99 AllModern
  2. Turkish cotton towels (set of 4). $38.99 Overstock 
  3. Ceramic bath accessories. $12.50-24.50 Pottery Barn 
  4. Blue glass jar set. $29.70 Wayfair 
  5. Cotton bath mat. $58 Anthropologie
  6. Creme de Mint Paint. Benjamin Moore

I hope this gets you started. There's a lot to cover when it comes to a great bath, so next week, look out for 18 things you can change about your bath (in a day!) for a whole new look. 

Thanks to one of my Facebook blog readers for this great post idea!

Got a design question you'd like me to blog about? Leave me a comment at Design Adventures.