do it yourself, home inspo, my works

How to change the look of your bathroom with a few simple tweaks

For some weird reason, ever since we moved into our own home, I’ve been a bit anal (erm, pun intended…) about how our master bathroom looks. It’s weird because out of the three bathrooms in the house, it’s the one that is least likely to be seen by guests (given its location inside the master’s bathroom). But I guess I just want to be able to use a pretty-enough bathroom that makes me feel as if I want to get all dolled up myself. Does that make any sense?

Just to give you a brief “history” of what little has changed in the master bathroom, here are quite a few incredibly ugly photos of our bathroom when we moved in…

We replaced the shower fixtures with a vintage-style set with cross-type handles, which basically set the initial look I used for the bathroom.
We replaced the shower fixtures with a vintage-style set with cross-type handles, which basically set the initial look I used for the bathroom.
The wall-hung, semi-pedestal sink and water closet came with our unit. I would have preferred a lever-type flush and a sink with a wide flat surface, but we didn't have the budget anymore to replace them.
The wall-hung, semi-pedestal sink and water closet came with our unit. I would have preferred a lever-type flush and a sink with a wide flat surface, but we didn’t have the budget anymore to replace them.
The towel bars also came with the unit, but we just replaced the bath towel bar with a double-rod one.
The towel bars also came with the unit, but we just replaced the bath towel bar with a double-rod one.

This is the shower set that I splurged on, and which initially got me fixing up our bathroom as a ’20s-inspired, art nouveau retreat.

This set me back by around P3,000 to P4,000 from DIY Handyman, and I had to purchase a longer telephone cable for the showerhead too. But it was worth the splurge, because I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
This set me back by over P3,000 from DIY Handyman, and I had to purchase a longer telephone cable for the showerhead too. But it was worth the splurge, because I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
This was our shower curtain for the longest time. Since the fixtures were vintage and the tiles were black and off-white and kind of mini-subway, the shower curtain defined the look I went for as 1920s art nouveau.
This was our shower curtain for the longest time. I found it underneath a pile of ugly curtains at DIY Handyman. Since the fixtures were vintage and the tiles were black and off-white and kind of mini-subway, the shower curtain defined the look I went for as 1920s art nouveau.
The S curves of the photo frame sort of mimic the art nouveau lines of the shower curtain. It's just plastic and came from National Book Store.
The S curves of the photo frame sort of mimic the art nouveau lines of the shower curtain. It’s just plastic and came from National Book Store. We also changed the integrated single-hole faucet with a cross-type faucet to match the shower fixtures. (Note also that this photo was taken in 2013, when we didn’t have so much stuff in the bathroom yet. Of course we have more toiletries now, and even put stuff on the window ledge.)
I must admit, I rip off illustrations from the internet and frame them. I initially thought of hanging vintage Through the Looking Glass illustrations for the nursery, but the period from which this drawing came and the pen and ink style kind of blended with our art nouveau-ish bathroom, so I hung it here.
I must admit, I rip off illustrations from the internet and print and frame them. I initially thought of hanging vintage Through the Looking Glass illustrations for the nursery, but the period from which this drawing came and the pen and ink style kind of blended with our art nouveau-ish bathroom, so I hung it here. I didn’t get the artist’s name who drew this, so if this is yours or if you do know who drew it, please tell me so I can credit properly.

Now how did my upgrade come about? I had a replacement shower curtain for this green and gold one, but I didn’t like it that much so we end up just using it for a couple of weeks and replacing it back to this original one. It’s been two years since I bought it, so naturally, it’s begun showing signs of wear and tear. I really regret not buying this botanical-print, Palm Spring-style shower curtain I’d also seen before (also in DIY Handyman, can you imagine that), because so far, it’s the only shower curtain I’d seen that matches my art nouveau one in color and style. So looking for a replacement curtain certainly took a while.

Then I saw this pineapple-print shower curtain from H&M Home.

Cost of the curtain was P899. Image courtesy of http://www.hm.com

The green isn’t exactly the same green as my art nouveau curtain, so when I put it up, the bathroom didn’t seem to have a cohesive look, design-wise.

It doesn't look art nouveau-ish at all anymore, does it?
It doesn’t seem to look art nouveau-ish at all anymore, does it? Especially with that pile of dirty laundry.

But I liked the curtain enough to think of changing the look of our bathroom a bit with some tweaks. It’s a pretty small space anyway, and needed just a few changes and additions. I looked closely at the print and noticed three noticeable colors: mint green, yellow ochre, and a very faint dusty rose (via the shadowing in the pineapple). (Pilit kung pilit, I know!)

Do you see the dusty rose? No? You should think of getting your eyes checked............
Do you see the dusty rose in the way the pineapple is shaded? No? You should think of getting your eyes checked…………

With the pineapple print, I figured we’d use a vintage Hawaiian theme this time (notice how I often let my things dictate the look for me? I often buy what I really really like, and try to work that into my space. Although I do sometimes have a peg in mind and let that guide my shopping choices. #excuses).  My husband and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon, so a Hawaiian look has some sort of meaning for us.

While in H&M, I picked up a rose-colored glass tumbler, to replace the gold earring holder that I use as a hair tie holder, which just looked really messy. I also picked up a couple soft pink guest towels (they were on sale at only P300 for two), to check if the pink towels would work. Of course, I immediately tried them out as soon as I got home. With the green curtain, yellow floor mat, and pink towels, the color palette seemed a bit too much, so I decided on using our semi-new (never used but kept in the closet for well over a year) yellow hand towels.

While decorating seems like a lot of trial and error, it can actually be approached from a scientific mindset. (Given that I’m no interior designer, I hardly remember to do so *insert sheepish grin here*.) I’ve read from various design books that when deciding on a palette of more than 2 colors, one may use the 60-30-10 rule: Pick a dominant color and use it 60% of the time, a complementary color and use it 30% of the time, and an accent color for use 10% of the time. My bathroom is already in neutral black and white, so I simply assigned those as my blank-canvas colors. For the bathroom, I limit my palette to the furnishings and decor. Mint green is my 60% color, yellow ochre is my 30% color, and dusty rose my 10%.

That definitely guided my shopping list the next time I went to the mall to purchase a few more additions to the master bath. I didn’t buy anything in mint green anymore, since the curtain already takes up a lot of visual real estate. I did, however, know that I wanted some plants in the bathroom—whether real or faux. There’s just something about plants that make a space seem more alive.

However, I have a killer black thumb, and with the exception of the golden pothos (yes, I now know what it’s called!) on my nightstand, I’ve killed quite a number of indoor plants in my lifetime. I am also a fan of home decor that isn’t too hard to maintain, so I went ahead and bought a couple fake succulents from Rustan’s flower shop for P195 per piece. I didn’t want to sacrifice another plant just to satisfy my decorating whims.

The bathroom doesn't have a lot of surface space, so I just stuck the succulents in the acrylic toiletries container on top of the water closet.
The bathroom doesn’t have a lot of surface space, so I just stuck the succulents in the acrylic toiletries container on top of the water closet. I also bought a mix of river stones from Rustan’s for P89.50 a bag. The products that used to litter this surface were relegated inside the medicine cabinet.

My husband also mentioned that we needed to put shades or a curtain over our solitary bathroom window already, since the house being constructed behind our property was well over two storeys and we could already be seen from the outside. I initially thought a tension rod would do for the niche window, but I couldn’t find one small enough to fit the space. The tension rod from Daiso was too short, while the one I saw in True Value was longer by five inches.

Now this put me in a bit of a quandary; I didn’t want to drill anymore into the tile, but it seems like I needed to do so. I didn’t want to hire a carpenter anymore since I have been wanting to learn how to use the drill myself for the longest time. So I watched a lot of “how to drill into ceramic tile” videos on youtube (like this one)…but still didn’t feel too confident to do something so permanent to the tile. Good thing my mom’s driver is also a handyman, and I asked him to come over to teach me how to drill into tile.

That's Mang Bong, marking where the screws were to be driven in.
That’s Mang Bong, marking where the screws were to be driven in.
Unlike the youtube tutorials, Mang Bong didn't use masking tape to keep the drill from skidding over the tile surface. Thankfully his grip was strong enough to keep the drill in one spot.
Unlike the youtube tutorials, Mang Bong didn’t use masking tape to keep the drill from skidding over the tile surface. Thankfully his grip was strong enough to keep the drill in one spot.

I asked all sorts of questions and tried to drill one of the holes, but my grip wasn’t too tight enough that I couldn’t even make a hole. Mang Bong ended up doing the task, and told me to just practice on scrap tile before trying it on an actual wall, which is probably what I’ll be doing…someday.

There's the curtain rod up, with our
There’s the brass curtain rod up, with our “window curtain”

I bought the extendable cafe curtain rod from True Value, which cost me P799.75. I didn’t like the choices for cafe curtains and wasn’t too sure about using fabric. I was actually considering customizing my own using a shower curtain, but then I saw these plastic lace table centerpieces from Daiso and figured I could use them as curtains. I didn’t want a curtain that would block out the sunlight, so these served the function of covering up the window but still look aesthetically pleasing enough with the rest of the space. I hung them up with clamp rings again from True Value.

Gold clamp rings from True Value, P319.75, and lace
Gold clamp rings from True Value, P319.75, and lace “curtain” from Daiso, P88.
The illustration of a pink gumamela (hibiscus) is by Cynthia Rothbard. As I mentioned earlier, all the toiletries that used to litter the top of the water closet were kept inside the medicine cabinet, and I just retained those that used colors from my  palette. A good exercise on how everyday functional items can also contribute to your room's overall look.
The illustration of a pink gumamela (hibiscus) is by Cynthia Rothbard.

I also replaced the Alice in Wonderland illustration with this pink hibiscus illustration (again from the internet). As I mentioned earlier, all the toiletries that used to litter the top of the water closet were kept inside the medicine cabinet, and I just retained those products that used colors from my palette, like a couple vanilla-scented fragrances, linen and room scents, my Pond’s moisturizing creams, and a skin salve from The Face Shop. A good exercise on how everyday functional items can also contribute to your room’s overall look.

I used glass jars to corral my cotton buds, cotton balls, and hair ties.
A simple yet functional jar arrangement on top of the medicine cabinet

I used glass jars to corral my cotton buds, cotton balls, and hair ties, and placed them on top of the medicine cabinet. The golden pothos that used to be on my nightstand now receives indirect sunlight from the bathroom window, which I think is a better place for it than by the bed.

{Now for a commercial break, maybe you were wondering—or maybe you weren’t, but I’ll tell you anyway—what plant now sits on my nightstand?

This faux echeveria rosette in a teacup.
This faux echeveria rosette in a teacup.
Looks pretty good, for a fake.
Looks pretty good, for a fake.

Again, faux is more low maintenance than a real plant—it still provides the same “lively look” as a real one (given that it doesn’t look too fake), and all I have to do is regularly dust it, just as I do the rest of the nightstand.}

Here’s a more complete look at our “upgraded” master bathroom:

P1030097
The “TOILET” sign was something I bought many years ago during a trip from Japan, which I spray painted a lighter metallic brown.
Yellow bath and hand towels, and yellow floor mats from our own closet
Yellow bath and hand towels, and yellow floor mats from our own closet
The toilet and sink
The toilet and sink
One more time, with feelings: the setup on top of the water closet
One more time, with feelings: the setup on top of the water closet
The medicine cabinet and lace
The medicine cabinet and lace “curtain”

Well, there you have it. It’s not much, but it really does make my bathroom feel a notch better than the worn-out, pseudo-art-nouveau-ish one. Sometimes, even when I’m on a different floor, I still run to our bathroom whenever I need to use. Just because. I’m weird that way!

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