Decorating Small Spaces

Question: Dear Luise: I am wondering about decorating small spaces. I’ve been following your decorating advice with interest because I want to redo my bathroom. It’s so tiny you can hardly turn around in there. I don’t see why it has to be so blah-looking but I have no idea how to cure its ills. Do you suggest I just ignore it and focus my time, energy and money on the rest of the house? I know I have seen decorating ideas for bathrooms but they are usually bigger than my kitchen! Please understand that I’m not talking classy powder room, either. I live in a very old, small house with one bath that was built in the forties. It’s been well maintained and I feel everything I do honors its over all integrity. I’d be interested in any feedback you might have on the lowly, mini-bath. Thanks, Glenda

Answer: Dear Glenda: I love decorating small spaces. Why should anything, even a pantry, be overlooked? As far as your time, energy and money is concerned…I wouldn’t start with the bathroom, obviously. But I’d work my way around to it eventually, and have a high old time sprucing it up.

Aren’t those grand, bathroom schemes in the glossy, decorating magazines a hoot? To me, they look like ballrooms with a toilet tucked handily in the corner, out of sight. To each his/her own…right?

OK. I recently redid my bathroom for no reason at all except that I was tired of my design after seven years. It has a standard tub in it and just about enough floor space to stand up and dry off after a shower. The toilet and sink are both regulation size also…with just inches separating each fixture. The other wall contains the towel racks and allows the door to swing in.

I picked a very soft color scheme of beiges, and tans with a dash of dull, eucalyptus green and a touch of black. I had to leave the walls white because we are renters. I found luxurious towel sets in beige at J.C. Penney. I found my mini-rug there, too, in a gentle, geometric design of light and dark beige and tan. The interest is in the two pictures I hung. Beside the towel racks, opposite the sink and toilet, I hung a tall, narrow, oriental scroll in the colors I have described. It looks abstract but on further inspection it’s a mountain scene with a waterfall cascading down it. Over the toilet I hung a stark print of a lone tree near a road with fencing around in. Then I gave the room a touch of life with a lovely, wrought iron candleholder on the toilet tank. It is almost as wide as the tank top. I wove artificial eucalyptus through the base and inserted an electric, votive candle in place of a real one. The bathroom is still a small space, but it no longer appears to be so utilitarian. It’s gently restful and attractive.

The trick is to give decorating small spaces the attention it deserves. Take your time, experiment and don’t hesitate to do the unusual like I did with pictures and a wrought iron sculpture. Blessings, Luise

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