Q: I want to remodel my tired old bathroom, which has daisy-and-leaf wallpaper and beige counter tops, tiles and tub. This is a small, square room in a Dutch colonial home. Dare I go modern?
A: If people can go to the moon, you can certainly go modern -- and much more safely. After all, being completely true to your home's architectural style would require you to pump water in a galvanized metal tub. So why not create a design that isn't cloyingly cute?
Since your bathroom is small, the tub should be short but deep. It can be made to look like an integral part of the room by placing it on a platform covered with ceramic tile that matches the floor. Such a solution is shown in the photo.
Many tubs are now manufactured to fit in small, remodeled spaces. Like those common in Europe, they can be equipped with a hand-held shower hose and whirlpool jets. Whether protruding from the wall or tucked neatly into a corner, a multipurpose tub is a sensible fixture to install in a cramped bathroom.
Modern design, by the way, doesn't have to be cold or sterile. Large mirrors hung on the walls or even affixed to the ceiling will make a bathroom sparkle with light. Alternately, wall coverings used in an attractive and imaginative way will add glamour to a functional space.
I hope you're not one of those who still thinks a bathroom is no place for wall coverings. Today's technology ensures a complete protection against mold and peeling caused by steam. In general, any wall covering with a vinyl finish can be applied with confidence even in a small bathroom with poor ventilation.
Should you decide to save some money by doing this treatment yourself, it would be wise to invest $1 in a 20-page guide on how to measure and hang wall coverings. Write to Western Wallcovering Distributors Association, 3600 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200, Los Angeles, Calif. 90010.
I would recommend neutral colors -- not necessarily beige -- for the tile, tub, counter tops and any other surfaces. That choice allows more color options for the wall coverings, window treatments and towels.
You'll also be able to select interesting patterns for the walls. Since a small bathroom doesn't require much material, it's a good place to invest in high-quality design, as exemplified by the faux marble and granite wall covering shown in the photo. Patterns like these are fashionable now, but their classically inspired appearance virtually guarantees that they won't go out of style in a couple of years.
The coverings could be combined with something more elaborate than the pebblelike border seen here. Ropes and tassels, for example, would fit the neoclassical mode. But if you wish to accent the modern, stick to textures and forget the frills.
Don't be afraid, however, to make some bold statements in color and design. The bathroom is one place where you can give vent to your fantasies.