Superhero action figures saved the surfaces of my children's bathroom. My husband revived a tired decor by placing Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, King Kong, the Queen of the Elves from Lord of the Rings and other characters on a shelf.
Here are some other frugal bathroom fixes from the design pros:
• Banish flat mirrors. A framed mirror instantly updates a bathroom and becomes a decorative centerpiece, says Perla Lichi, owner of Perla Lichi Design in Fort Lauderdale. You can buy an ornate framed mirror or use liquid nails to attach a wood or resin frame to an existing mirror, Lichi says. Or consider framing a mirror -- like a window -- with curtains, recommends Kathy Wilson, editor of TheBudgetDecorator.com and home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com.
• Update fixtures. Change the towel bar, switch plates, faucets, shower heads and cabinet handles. ''It's amazing how much change you can make in your bathroom by updating the smallest things,'' says Karen Cobb, a spokeswoman for Lowe's.
• Buy paint. A splash of color and texture provides an instant face-lift, says Deborah Zimmer, a spokeswoman for Rohm and Haas Co., a paint company. A faux finish or a textured paint design is more forgiving than wallpaper because it does not become unglued with humidity or display tell-tale seams.
• Experiment with lighting. Track lighting, sconces or new vanity lights along the mirror brighten the powder room. Avoid lights that cast downward shadows.
• Update the shower. ''Listelo,'' a tile border, can freshen existing marble or tile in a shower. This border can be installed like a chair rail or wainscoting on a shower wall.
• New accessories: You can find soap dispensers, toothbrush holders, towels and shower curtains in dollar stores and clearance aisles of high-end stores.
• Cut the clutter. ''If you can't get most of the makeup and shaving cream under the sink, pick up a few baskets from the dollar shop to put them in,'' says Kathy Wilson of TheBudgetDecorator. Make sure there is a hamper.
• Clean up: Don't underestimate the power of soap, Cobb says. Clean the grout between floor tiles and in the bath/shower area -- high-traffic surfaces. It's an inexpensive way to brighten the room.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.
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