Bathroom on a budget

March 15, 1992|By Sherrie Ruhl

Mrs. Slayton-Berkowitz's powder room looks like a million dollars, but she says the total price was under $850.

You can adapt many of her ideas if you're planning to update your bathroom. Begin by replacing cheap chrome fixtures, including the sink faucet, with good quality brass. Add a matching switch plate, with a dimmer control.

New light fixtures -- Mrs. Slayton-Berkowitz used recessed lighting -- add instant decorating clout but can be expensive. A less expensive option might be to replace the clear globes on existing light fixtures with frosted or etched globes.

Remove ugly medicine cabinets and hang a large antique or thrift-store mirror. An entire mirrored wall can be an ecomomical way to decorate. The wall-to-wall mirror above Mrs. Slayton-Berkowitz's vanity cost about $100 installed.

She completed the look with stock moldings and six-panel doors. The doors, about $25 each, are easy to substitute for garden-variety flush doors. Pair them with good-quality brass levers instead of door knobs.

Tie the room together with a painted finish on the moldings and door. The materials are available at larger hardware stores. Practice your painting on a scrap of lumber first. If you're starting from scratch, you will need to prime the raw wood. After this dries, apply one coat of base color -- Mrs. Slayton-Berkowitz used a deep maroon with violet-red undertones. Let dry.

Mix together equal amounts glazing compound, boiled linseed oil and turpentine. You won't need very much: Mrs. Slayton-Berkowitz used less than 1/2 pint to do her entire powder room. If the mixture is too watery, add more glazing compound, available at larger hardware stores. Add just a little oil paint, never more than 10 percent of the total mixture. Mrs. Slayton-Berkowitz used 1 part Mars black oil paint to 2 parts Prussian blue.

Brush on a thin coat of the glazing mixture and let set for about 10 minutes. Take a folded pad of cheesecloth and working from top to bottom, slowly pull it down the wet paint. Change cheesecloth frequently. This gives a striated effect.

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