Paris-Inspired Half Bath

I meant it last Thursday when I said that a bathroom is a good place to take a risk. And I’m going to take a BIG risk today and do something ultra themey. Many designers turn up their noses at themey rooms, and rightly so, as I believe they’ve had their heyday and today’s rooms lean more towards a cohesive “house-story” (I just made that up but it sounds so HGTV) with nods to certain themes here and there.

But you know what? What’s life if you can’t have any fun, and why do I blog if I can’t put something together like this? It has been bouncing around in my head for weeks!! I can see it really working in a hotel, a rental, a public space… anywhere where people don’t spend long periods of time is OK to go a little more over the top than normal, and make it memorable.

Walls: The paint colors are inspired by what makes Paris stand out among so many other European Cities… the more-or-less uniform paint colors on building façades imposed by the Haussmann renovation. Really, look at most photos of Paris (especially the city center) and these tones will prevail. Not to mention they look so lovely with wrought-iron or other dark metal playing off of them. I don’t have paint color recommendations but look for a smoky purply-blue (but with prevailing gray tones) and something pinkish gray-tan (almost a weathered limestone color). I would paint the ceiling of the room (that’s right! Paint the ceiling!) with the purple-gray and bring the color down onto the walls about 12 to 18 inches. I’d paint the rest of the room with the tan. A purple-gray molding along the line where the colors meet (I tried to give the impression of this on the inspiration board) would be a lovely touch.

Floor: I’d go with your classic small hex tile on the ground with gray grout. Gray grout will hide dirt and prevent the inevitable depression felt when once-white grout looks dingy. Additionally, the gray highlights the white classic hex shape. This style of tile has been around for hundreds of years and is not going away anytime soon… timeless is definitely the right word. And, it is so affordable!

Sink: The pedestal sink was inspired by what I saw when I looked at the bridge in the above picture. I thought, “those thick columns would make a killer sink.” Since I’m impatient, I did not find a sink exactly like them, but it’s close enough to make me happy. (Also, yes, every half-bath needs a toilet, but you’re on your own for that one…)

Lighting: Here I have selected two different lights: a 24-inch sconce for above the mirror, and a hanging mini-pendant one for additional light. You’d wouldn’t want to put these too close together, but I like how they “go.” They are very different styles (square vs. organic) in the same finish on purpose. If you get two that are too similar, but slightly different it will look like you tried too hard and didn’t quite get it right. These two both lean toward art nouveau which helps tie them together. They look like they were plucked out over the years and give a good eclectic layer.

Mirror: The lighting and hooks (and sink and door hardware, if you can swing it) would ideally be a dark bronze or cast iron color, so there’s no need to darken up the space with a dark mirror frame. This one from World Market brings the Marché aux Puces look in. Since this is a half bath, a normal mirror will do; no need for a medicine cabinet. Make sure the mirror is not too close to the wall color. Darken or lighten with paint (a drybrush technique would be ok) as necessary.

Cast Iron Hooks: Anchor the light paint colors with dark finishes like the dark aged bronze lighting and these art nouveau cast iron hooks.

Wastebasket: This cute little French Apothecary wastebasket would fit right in.

Art: Skip the Eiffel Tower nick-knacks and look for some more subtle Paris-themed artwork. Things were starting to look really cold in here. Bring in this warm-toned Camille Pisarro print and have your own little piece of the Musee d’Orsay. Art.com can even send it to you framed and matted as shown.

Towels: Dark green is another unofficial color of Paris. From the famous metro entrances to the booksellers’ booths on the Seine, it is a great accent for the tan and gray-purple. For hand towels, stay away from anything too jungle-y, and get the darkest, deepest green possible.

None of the online stores linked to here have provided any compensation for this post; I’m sure they don’t even know this blog exists! 

Spruce Your Bathroom

Yesterday I shared what my bathroom looks like (when it’s all cleaned up). I’m blessed with a large amount of cabinet space on the left when one first walks in, which allows Doug and I to have a shelf apiece(!) and also space to keep more than just bathroom items in it–stuff like extra queen-sized sheets and a huge metal toolbox). That said, I know that a lot of bathrooms don’t have as much storage as I do and sometimes things must live on the counter. Here are a few things I’ve seen around blogland that can help decrease the clutter factor and increase the cute factor… all on a budget!! 

A Fun Shower Curtain: Okay, this is hands down the easiest thing. If you are stuck in a boring beige and white and tan bathroom, you can push the limits of shower curtains. Explore options like normal curtain panels, big Urban Outfitters tapestries (use these with curtain clips instead of regular shower curtain rings), or making something yourself from fabric found at a thrift store. Image from Urban Outfitters.

Make Storage Work for You: If all you have is under-sink storage, putting things in caddies is super helpful. You can pull the whole caddy out to find the item you need, and better yet–they will prevent items from getting pushed all the way to the back. That is, the pipe zone. The danger zone. I don’t know about you, but under-sink pipes give me the heebie jeebies. Image from The Container Store.

Color: If you are able to paint, choose a great color and stick with it. In a small room like a bathroom you can take a chance you wouldn’t necessarily consider in a large or more prominent room. Try a moody dark gray, navy blue, or a saturated teal paired with a bright white shower curtain and fluffy white towels. Be careful when considering yellows and reds, these colors can bounce around the room and make you look a funny color (just try doing makeup if your face is a weird greeny color!) Painting test swatches is a good tip in these situations.  Image from a Young House Love house crashing post.

Paint the cabinetry: Again, for lots of people this isn’t an option, but then again it makes a huge impact for the dollar spent. In this example, the plain-ole plain-ole cabinet base got a pretty coat of pale blue which immediately took it from “snooze” to cute. Photo from Katie at Bower Power.

Cute storage containers: Personally, I keep all my jewelry in my bedroom, but I know lots of people who keep it in the bathroom. Free up drawer space for your makeup or hair products by using something small and unobtrusive like this cute little wooden set of drawers on the counter. Larger wooden containers can also be used to corral straighteners, curling irons, tubes of toothpaste, etc. Image from Carrie at Dream Green DIY.

Frosting the window: The mini-blinds in our bathroom were seriously nastytown, but at the same time I’m also not crazy about using fabric to dress the window in a room that gets so moist. So, Doug and I took a cue from  Young House Love and frosted the window. This eliminates the need for a window treatment, but still ensures privacy. It also diffuses the light nicely. Image by me.

Bling it out: Pretty hardware can add up, and fast, but if you only have one or two cabinets (like many apartments do) you can splurge for something fabulous. Save the old hardware in a ziplock somewhere safe and put it back on when you move out. But don’t drill holes if there weren’t preexisting ones. That’s just bad form. Image from Anthropologie.

I know this list is by no means exhaustive. Every bathroom has its own particular solution. Got any tips? I would love for you to share them in the comments! 

Bathroom Mini-Tour

It’s a mini-tour because the bathroom is pretty small and straightforward.

Thought I ought to hop back on the room tour train, since I left off after showing the guest room and the bedroom, so here’s the last piece of the west part of the house. The bathroom. It’s really nothing special, but it’s an awfully important room in the house to have, for obvious reasons. And it definitely could be worse. After having a bathroom tiled in Easter egg colors (right off the living room where everyone could hear your business) this bathroom is a MILLION percent upgrade. Except the other one had a bigger/better/deeper tub.

Let’s get started! Mostly I wanted to show off some items I got at a design swap one of my gal pals hosted a month ago (it has been a month already! sheesh!). The colorful placemats you’ll see here are in the bathroom mostly because there were only three instead of four. If there were four I would use them in the dining room for (duh) placemats but I got creative and I love how they bring a little bit of pink in and really perk up the room. They also make it easy to tidy up. They help me tell myself, “Objects do not belong on the tan section of the counter! Hide them in drawers or cabinets!” It’s a little strange, but it works.

The third placemat got tucked into my open shelves and injects a much-needed little perk. The little sake bottle is from who-knows-where, and is cracked. The jar with sand in it is from our wedding (we did unity sand instead of candles)! My vintage train case made its way to the bottom shelf (much easier for short little me to get it out). The wicker basket (from Target) moved from the bottom shelf to on top the tank:

I was wary of putting anything on the tank because right when we moved in I had put a candle there and one night it slid off and shattered. However, seeing that this is much larger and less slippery, not to mention nothing in/on the basket is breakable, this has worked well so far.  The art in the little frame says “Happy Day” and was made by Libby as a housewarming present. :) There is a series of holes next to the toilet paper holder that need to be patched, but does it make it any better if I say they were there when we moved in? Maybe not, since it means we’ve lived with it like that for 8 months… (has it been 8 months already!?)

Here you can see the arch that I’m not crazy about, but everyone who comes over comments on how much they like it. Personal preference, I guess. It does tie in with the arched ceilings in the living room and dining room, but personally I fell that closing in the top of the shower like that makes it feel a little claustrophobic.

Last I’ll share two more little details. We have towels practically coming out of our ears, so we have an extra little storage basket (also from Target) below the counter, along with my scale (don’t remind me) and a step stool:

And I really like the art I have in the tall black frame (it’s from Target) so I thought I’d share it with you. They’re photos cut out from a semi-recent Conde Nast Traveler magazine, and all the photos are of spas in the Middle East. It reminded me of my hammam/Turkish bath experience in Morocco and felt appropriate for a bathroom.

Oh, and the paint color is Valspar’s La Fonda Mirage, the same color used in the kitchen, to not only bring in the Southwestern element of the house, but to save money by only buying one gallon, and to create a sense of continuity within different rooms.

There you go: the bathroom. Short and sweet for what I think is kind of a sweet little room. Did I mention it’s narrow and therefore super hard to photograph?

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