Certainly, bathrooms have come a long way through the centuries and bear little resemblance to the outhouses of our American past. For one, the location has changed.
By now, generations of Americans have become accustomed to indoor bathrooms. The new location offers incredible convenience and the modern sanitation undoubtedly protects humans from the scorn of an entire host of long forgotten illnesses.
Now, of course, many new homes have two, three or more bathrooms. Bathrooms are attached to the master bedroom, the children's rooms, the spare rooms and the mud room or garage. They are called the main bath, the powder room, the guest bath, the half bath or bath and a half. Whatever the name, bathrooms are arguably the most indispensable room in the house.
As useful as they are, bathrooms are often overlooked when fix-up time rolls around. Even though few of us would want to live without our modern bathrooms, they sometimes remain dark, damp and prone to mildew despite being cleaned regularly.
Here are 10 ways to give your bathroom a makeover, no matter what your budget is:
l Change the shower curtains and bath mats. Eventually, old shower curtains and bath mats need replacing. They can become stained, discolored, faded and torn. Add a new shower curtain, choosing from the many styles available, most with coordinating towels.
l Add new towels. Purchase a few matching bath towels, face towels and washcloths to add a quick and relatively inexpensive way to "redo" the bathroom. Adding new towels is the least labor-intensive way to give the bathroom a cheery look.
l Paint the walls. A gallon of fresh paint will perk up any room, bathrooms included. This may be the easiest way to revive a room with minimal labor. Repair any wall damage beforehand and use a paint that stands up to moisture.
l Change the water fixtures at the sink and tub/shower. A shiny chrome sink fixture or a fancy new showerhead adds pizzazz to the bathroom. If the rest of the room remains unchanged, the new fixtures add a sparkle to the entire room.
l Change the countertop and sink basin. New and unique designs offer intriguing ways to spiff up the bathroom. Glass or hand-painted basins, tile or one-piece countertops in a variety of materials offer many beautiful ways to remodel the bathroom.
l Add new light fixtures. Good lighting is a critical function in the bathroom, given the grooming tasks that are done there. Luckily, many light fixtures extend the creative decorating details of the rest of your home into the bath area as well as provide the needed light. Be generous with the lighting.
l Repaint or replace the vanity. New cabinetry adds a high measure of style to the bathroom. Assess your needs for storage of towels and other toiletries before buying a new vanity. Also, be sure to take careful measurements. If a new vanity is beyond your budget, refinish or repaint your current one. It is the perfect way to brighten up the bathroom.
l Flooring. Fortunately, most bathrooms are not huge and can be re-floored without major expense. If your bathroom floor needs replacing, be sure to nail out all the squeaks in the floorboards beforehand.
l Install a new shower stall or bathtub. If the shower or tub area has seen better days, is chipped, cracked or discolored, it may need replacing, re-glazing or recovering. Many reputable businesses offer these services. A new or new-looking bath and shower area will improve the appearance of even the oldest bathrooms. And, it will look sparkling clean. Be sure to follow the manufacturers' recommendations when cleaning the new tub surfaces.
l Add accessories. Throw rugs, curtains, mirrors, medicine cabinet, pictures and flowers add personal touches to a room. These accessories give personality to the room, bring out your creativity and complete the bathroom makeover.
To be sure, our modern bathroom has evolved far from the chamber pots, earth closets, close stools and privies of yesteryear. Thankfully, technology has improved the function of the bathroom.
-- Carol Boncella is education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and home and garden writer for the Journal-World.