Creating a down-home bathroom decor

September 27, 1992|By Rita St. Clair

Not every bathroom, even if it's about to be renovated, needs to conform with the model of a high-tech, 21st century bathing environment.

In fact, I personally am none too fond of those sleek and gleaming settings that often look as though they belong on a spaceship rather than in a down-to-earth home. Count me as someone who regards bathing as a luxurious ritual, a floating escape from the strictures of time and the toils of the workaday world.

I want my bathroom to reflect and enhance that mood. A hard-edged, coolly functional design detracts from the enjoyment I get in spending an hour in complete privacy and relaxation.

If you share this preference, I have some suggestions for how to create a restful and attractive bathing area. But I must first point out that even though a bathroom is certainly a private and separate space, its design should still be consistent with a home's overall look. For that reason, the example shown in the photo would work best in a house that's traditionally styled but somewhat informal.

This particular bathing-dressing room combination was created by joining a well-ventilated spare room to an existing bathroom of average size. The portion of the floor behind the tub and under the dressing table was re-covered with large white ceramic tiles. A white-and-green stripe wall-covering is complemented by the Laura Ashley floral print that drapes the old-fashioned footed tub. The same material, in a romantic pattern of rich blues and greens against a white background, was used to make ruffled and gathered balloon shades and a slipcover for the armchair.

And please note the color-coordinated Chinese rug that has been placed under the chair. It adds to the room's warmth,

further indicating that this is no pre-fab, impersonal design.

The choice of a Laura Ashley fabric makes a lot of sense here, since this look is clearly English in its inspiration. I'm not exactly sure why it is, but the English seem to be unexcelled in producing an elegantly laid-back look that avoids being cloyingly quaint. They do it, in part, through an accumulation of interesting accessories -- mostly personal memorabilia but also including some exotic objects picked up on travels or in obscure antique shops.

Because it's so casual, this type of styling doesn't have to be meticulously assembled. The furnishings, for example, need not be brand-new and pricey, nor must the decorative items come exclusively from some chic outlet. The objective, actually, is to produce a natural and unself-conscious design that doesn't look as though it were copied from the pages of a glossy magazine. In that spirit, it would be nice to add a few scruffy but loveable animal pictures. You get the idea.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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