Decorating Around Garish Bathroom Tiles Decorating Around Garish Bathroom Tiles

Q: My husband and I bought an older house to fix up, so we could practice our remodeling skills. The bathroom has pink and light green tiles, and the bathtub is pink. The other people who lived here had wood cabinets and a mirror with wood.

Since we don't have a lot of money to spend on this room, we decided to stick with the pink tub and tiles and do a sponging technique on the walls (pink first layer with the green color sponged as stripes), and we painted the window trim white and the door trims white also. Do you have any other suggestions to help this room?

A: Ah, the perennial question of how to make-over a bathroom with tiles in garish, or at least intrusive, colors. Maybe the frequency of this question being addressed here by the Anxious Decorator will make readers everywhere think twice before slapping up the bright pink, turquoise, or purple tiles in the first place.

Take it from me; my anxiety level spikes just thinking about making a permanent change in any room in the house. If you're re-tiling a bathroom, stay with neutrals, like white. In fact, stay only with white. That might seem a bit dull, but you can do a lot with bath décor by using the white tiled floor and walls as your canvas, and adding color with towels, shower curtain, and other accessories.

If you must use colored tile in your bathroom, stick with colors that are easy to match, like navy blue, deep red, and yellow. And don't forget that a little color can go a long way; a bathroom tiled in white with just 1 small stripe of thin red tiles around the bath enclosure is striking, and yet not overwhelming. Also remember the tried and true black-and-white combo for the bath: it worked for Grammie Martha, and it can work for you, too.

Here you are, stuck with pink and pale green. I like the solution you've come up with, which is to use the colors to your advantage rather than to try to hide them. The former owners' choice of wood cabinets would, I'd think, make the room seem dark and would muddy the pink and green. Offsetting the colors with white seems like a great idea, because this brightens the room and will make the green and pink stand out more clearly.

The pink on the walls will work best if it isn't too bright; you don't want to feel as if you're walking into a big bottle of Pepto-Bismol every time you go to the bathroom. And the green stripes should be pin-stripes, almost invisible.

Think of the mood of this room. The pink and green gives it a somewhat playful mood, and you could play this up, with a polka-dot shower curtain or towels. Adding more bright white will also help, so you may want to find white towels and bathmat; if you can find them with a green or pink trim, all the better.

Reprinted with permission by the Sheffield School of Design

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