Sunday, 19 August 2012

bathroom bliss - part two

Last week I wrote about how to get your rented bathroom into a habitable state. Once the hard work of cleaning and repairing is done, you can get stuck in to the fun bit... accessories! Think of your newly cleaned space as a blank canvas but before you even think about setting foot in a shop or going to a website, consider what you're going to need and plan carefully. Firstly, do you have any colour left in your bathroom? If a wall, or some of the tiles have a colour that you're keeping, take time to work out what will go well with it, there's no point falling for something while you're shopping only to find it clashes horribly with the existing scheme when you get home. Take a photo of a section of the colour so you have at least a rough idea what it looks like while you're out, it can be hard to remember the exact shade when you're shopping. Either find a complimentary colour, a contrasting colour, or opt for neutral accessories, often best if you're unsure of colour with the added bonus that anything you buy will also work in your next home. If you're unsure about what will work, see here for an introduction to basic colour theory or try Design Seeds for some great colour schemes.

The second issue to address is storage. Most bathrooms are small and sorting out storage space is a must. Bathrooms without adequate stroage get cluttered and dirty more quickly. Assess the needs of everyone in the house and find out what people need most, is it more space for towels? Somewhere for medicines? Or something as simple as a hook on the door for a robe? Here are my top picks for solving storage issues in small spaces, none of which are permanent, need any advanced DIY skills or cost a huge amount of money:

1. If your shower lacks storage space for your essentials, this smart Combination Basket, £13.96 from Homebase requires no drilling. Perfect for renters and DIY phobics alike. The range also includes hooks, a towel ring and even a mirror. It does require smooth gloss tiles for the suction to work effectively though.
2. Perfect for open shelving (see 7 below) these plastic lined Jute Baskets from H&M Home keep all sorts of bathroom essentials neat and tidy. £9.99 for two as shown.
3. An alternative to wall mounted storage, this Toilet Roll Stand doubles as storage for spare rolls. £25.99 from Lakeland.
4. All the products from Never Drill Again are a renters dream, this Smooz Glass Shelf has fixings that require 12 hours curing time, but as the name suggests, no drilling! It's £56.02 from the Never Drill Again website and they sell replacement fixings to re-mount the shelf when needed. Seems too good to be true? Read the technical stuff over on their FAQ page.
5. If you have the room, this floor standing Bamboo Ladder, £24.99 from Graham & green, provides lots of space for spare towels. The colour and material also add a warm textural contrast to the clinical surfaces in a bathroom.
6. This Wire Storage Unit, £25 from Next, can be wall mounted but is narrow enough to sit on a shelf or a window ledge.
7. If space is really tight, this Over Cistern Unit could be the answer as it doesn't take up any additional floor space. Use with boxes or baskets to store smaller items or bottles. It's a mere £29.99 from Argos, making it excellent value for money.
8. This neat Fullen cabinet from Ikea has a footprint of a mere 30x30 cms, making it perfect to slot into a spare corner. The open shelving with a discreet cabinet on the bottom is the perfect combination for all your storage needs. At £28 it won't break the bank either.
9. Having a seat in a bathroom is a bit of a luxury, but this one doubles as storage too, handy for loo rolls and cleaning products or as a laundry hamper. New England Storage Seat, £57 from The White Lighthouse.

Small storage is just as important as the larger pieces. You'll need jars or containers for all your bits and bobs as well as a few essential accessories like a mirror and a soap dispenser. This selection is very neutral, so nothing will clash if you have colour on the walls. If you have plain walls you may want to consider brighter accessories, or keep it neutral so that your new purchases will fit into future bathrooms too.

1. Perfect for storing everything from cotton wool to plasters and hair grips, line up several of these Glass Jars from H&M Home for functional storage that's too good to hide away. £5.99 each.
2. This Lillholmen table mirror from Ikea is £11 and perfect for  standing on a windowsill. What sets it apart from similar mirrors, is the tray at the bottom, perfect for storing jewellery while you're in the shower, or hair pins etc while you're getting ready.
3. Ikea really is great for small inexpensive accessories. This pair of ceramic dishes called Norrora are only £4.50 and could be used for soap, cotton wool or other small items.
4. This gorgeous liquid Soap Pump is a bargain at £5.99 from H&M Home.
5. Add some interest to plain walls by using a decal. This Salle De Bain Wall Sticker is from Nutmeg at Not On The Hightstreet and costs £25.
6. This simple, industrial Wall Mirror With Rope is £40 from Next. If you don't want to drill a hook to hang it, a Command Hook will do the job just as well.
7. Keep your bathroom clear of mess with this simple retro styled Pedal Bin by Simplehuman. £17.97 from Tesco Direct.
8. It's the attention to detail that really elevates a rented home. This chrome Solo Light Pull from John Lewis is £7 and much nicer than those horrible plastic things that come as standard. Don't forget to keep the horrible plastic one safe though, unless you don't want to take this swanky replacement with you!
9. This is actually an Acrylic Pen Pot from Muji, but I use them on a shallow shelf in my bathroom cabinet to store small things like plasters, hair grips and cotton buds. At £1.95 each you can afford to buy a whole run of them to keep your  cabinet organized.

After storage, textiles are the next consideration in any bathroom. Towels, bathmats and shower curtains (if you need one) are all essential and there's a dizzying array out there to choose from across all price ranges. The old mantra should still apply though, buy the best you can afford. Egyptian cotton towels are softer, wear better and last longer so are worth the investment and machine washable shower curtains cost a little more, but are easier to clean, saving you time and the expense of more frequently replacing a cheaper one.

1. Fancy a bit of designer colour to brighten your bathroom? The full bath sheet may be an eye watering £99 but a Missoni Multi Hand Towel is only £19 from Selfridges.
2. Add a touch of the exotic spa look with this Bali Duck Board in solid acacia, £30 from Next.
3. This Shower Curtain, £35 from Urban Outfitters, has the perfect combination of smart nautical stripes with a girly flourish.
4. For a bit of Turkish bath luxury without the luxury price tag, you can't beat these Hammam Towels from The Sleep Room (soon to be re-branded as Loaf) Elegantly understated and wonderfully soft, they are just £15 for the small and £25 for the large.
5. No bath time is complete without a crisp White Waffle Robe and no one does them better than The White Company. This classic currently has 15% off, making it £34.
6. I love the vintage style of this Shower Mat, 6.99 from H&M Home.
7. The classic Marimekko Unikko print is available in black and khaki as a shower curtain. The perfect way to get some pattern into a plain bathroom and a design classic to boot. Approx £43.99 from Finnish Gifts on eBay.
8. This Stardust Shower Curtain, £20 from John Lewis will inject some colour into a plain bathroom. It's machine washable too, so easy to keep fresh and clean!
9. For good quality towels at reasonable prices try Next. This Graphite Towel Bale is £35 and contains two hand towels, two guest towels and two bath sheets. Also available in a staggering 25 other colours you're bound to find the perfect shade.

Having taken the time to clean, maintain and accessorize your bathroom, extend the same design principles to your toiletries. If space is tight or you have open shelving, choose toiletries that are also good looking enough to be left out on display. Your current favorites might already fall into this category, but here's a selection to consider:

1. To make your bathroom smell like a spa year round, you can't beat a fragrance diffuser. My favourite is the Clasic Fragranced Diffuser by Sanctuary. Available country wide from Boots is around £15.
2.Great looking toiletries aren't just for the girls, the aptly named Bullocks range from Cowshed caters for the guys. This travel/mini set contains body wash, shaving cream, facial wash and moisturizer in a wash bag fro £18.50.
3. Grotty old bars of soap are absolutely not allowed! Get some hotel-chic without the expensive price tag by buying this Mandarin & Grapefruit Duo from Bayliss & Harding for just £4.99 from Occado.
4. Marks & Spencers Skin Revitalizing Sugar Scrub, is just the thing to brighten tired skin and get your circulation going.
5. Neils Yard are quite rightly a bit of a classic. Their completely natural bath and beauty products contain no chemicals and only natural perfumes. Their handmade English Lavender Soap is £6.50 and the scent is enough to lift any early morning blues.
6. I think candles are a must in the bathroom, especially if you like a good long soak in the tub. Diptyque make some of the best scented candles and this Figuier Candle is delicate and bright, but not too sweet. Available in 2 sizes, the small is £20 and burns for up to 30 hours, the large is £38 and can burn up to 60 hours.
7. If a spot of luxury is your thing and you've got the cash to splash, Molton Brown is a good choice. This Rose Granati Duo is £32, but it is absolutely divine
8. Philosophy is not only a great range, their packaging contains soothing phrases printed on the bottle. Perfect for  early starts or frazzled nerves at the end of the day. Great for small bathrooms this Shampoo, Bath & Shower Gel £19, does the job of 3 products without the storage issue.
9.If all this is too fancy and all you want is a plain old bar of soap, The Natural Soap Company has just the thing for you. Just Soap is just that and costs £1.70 a bar. Still has lovely packaging though!

Hopefully this has covered everything you may need in your smallest rented room and given you inspiration to get going and get your bathroom sorted!

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