Improve bathroom look from ground up Decorative flooring for solid footing


February 21, 1993|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: We recently bought a house that we plan to live in for only a few years. Even so, the bathrooms are in such bad shape that they have to be redone. What kind of inexpensive floor and wall XTC treatments should we consider? Also, can you suggest a way of bringing some light into the dark part of one bathroom that's broken into compartments?

A: You should recognize, first of all, that even the firmest plans don't always come to fruition. "A few years" can easily wind up being a much more extended period.

Because of this, I generally caution against a paint-and-powder approach. While the range of design options will certainly depend on the size of your budget, you really should give full consideration to your family's physical comfort and to your home's appearance.

Besides, well-designed bathrooms in good condition usually count for a lot in determining the resale value of a house.

Let's assume, however, that you don't want to go to the trouble and expense of installing, say, ceramic tiles on the floor. You might then choose carpeting in a tightly woven, low-pile yarn. A medium shade of your favorite color could result in a floor treatment that looks far more luxurious than its price tag would suggest.

Commercial-grade carpets made specifically for such use will withstand both spotting and humidity -- conditions common in a bathroom. Even greater durability can be obtained with sheet vinyl flooring in a hard finish. It will resist soiling and scuff marks as well as guarding against discoloration due to alkali, mold and mildew.

The walls can simply be repainted, of course. But here, too, a vinyl-coated covering, perhaps in a marbleized pattern, could be a more effective solution. Such a selection will introduce a pleasingly decorative touch while also giving the walls extra protection in a damp and heavily used space. This kind of marbleized wall treatment can be seen in the photo. Its peach coloring is accompanied in this model by a marbleized sheet vinyl floor from Mannington Silverado Collection that simulates two shades of jade green marble.

The flooring's geometric pattern, known as "Whitney Place," echoes the glass brick divider wall in a compartmentalized bathroom that may be similar in its layout to the one you mention.

Installing glass block on an entire wall or part of it will produce both a visual and a sound barrier even as it allows light from the brighter of the two areas to stream into the darker section.

Large mirrored panels will also help brighten a dark compartment and make it seem bigger as well. That approach also offers the advantage of portability when you do move. As the photo shows, a mirrored expanse of wall -- in this case, above the sink counter -- need not be a permanent installation.

A mirror that size will usually provide all the brightness that is needed. And if its frame is attractive and attention-getting, the decorative effect will actually be greater than for a plain wall-to-wall or floor-to-ceiling mirror.

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