By LESLIE LINSLEY Citizen Columnist
Asmall room like a powder room or an entryway is often overlooked when sprucing up a home. We might take great care to decorate it when we first move into a house, but these spaces often stay stagnant. Lately our studio has been designing new bath products and my attention is suddenly on these accessories that pull a room together. Whenever I am at the hair salon or getting a manicure, I have the luxury of catching up on back issues of all the magazines. The other day in Boston I had this chance and found myself checking out the decorating pages for bathroom ideas. My bookmark at the moment is a strip of color swatches from the paint department of my local home center because I'm trying to decide on my new wall color. I've found that procrastination on this decision has paid off since last year I was definitely sold on the idea of coral . This year I've switched to tones of gray. The room is still the Atrium white from the last indecision.
I picked up some folders put out by Farrow and Ball, the English high-end paint company, that show how a room can look totally different with a change of paint colors. This is enough to send the indecisive totally over the edge. Every page has a different color combination, each as interesting and appealing as the next. It is impossible to figure out what you like so I began with what I didn't like. A black wall behind my bed was the first to go. But the combinations of shades of aqua and yellow and navy showed that it's possible to be daring when the professionals are showing you colors combinations you wouldn't feel confident choosing on your own. These booklets really give you an idea for how creative uses of color can work together to make a tired room fresh and new.
Many people I meet seem to be into renovation and or making small changes like new appliances in an effort to update their homes. Several people I passed on my way in and out of the home center told me about various home projects they were doing both, major and minor. It put my bathroom paint job in perspective.
There are many considerations when redoing a small bathroom like replacing the vanity, toilet and faucets. Then there is the wall covering. Should it be paint, wallpaper or tile? New flooring? Then there are the small necessities like a soap dispenser, tank tray, soap tray, tissue covers and such. There are the towels and shower curtain or glass shower enclosure to be considered. Once the room is painted or new fixtures installed, consider using this area as an art gallery and arrange framed items or paintings on the walls. Shelving and items of display can be another consideration. While I've ignored my own rule of thumb, I really don't like to have things that are simply dust catchers in a bathroom. However, a tall beaker filled with collected shells from jetties beach years ago seems to stay in my bathroom year after year, even though I've vowed to get rid of it.
For about a half a second I thought I might wallpaper with crinkled paper bags cut apart, flattened out and applied, then covered with an acrylic finish. "Too retro!" my daughter the color consultant announced. At one time in my life I thought I'd decoupage the walls of a bathroom with rejection letters from publishing houses. I thought it would be entertaining for guests. Fortunately, I didn't amass enough of those letters to cover the walls before my career as a writer took hold. I like to think I can be more creative with the walls than simply coming up with a good paint color, but nothing "brilliant" has revealed itself. I resist doing anything that might seem clever at the moment and then get tired looking real fast. Painting, even painting the wrong color is easy to redo and every year there is a new "hot" color that might be better than what is already on the walls. Right now navy with accents of yellow is favored in the magazines. It's something to consider if you are changing a room. Black is also very in for kitchens with lots of white and stainless steel.
If you are in a quandary over paint color as I am, it might help to choose the accessories first. If, for example you find a new set of towels that just speak to you, or a new set of accessories in a pattern and color you love, this can influence the color you choose to dominate the room. If it's any help, neutral colors are always safe and, according to the experts they are elegant and sophisticated and create a good environment in which to introduce almost any color for the decorative accessories. Now that I think about it, I might go toward shades of a warm brown rather than cool gray - but for now, I'm definitely over coral.
Leslie Linsley has written more than 50 books on crafts, decorating and home style. She resides on Nantucket with her husband, photographer Jon Aron, and has a store on the island that specializes in her one-of-a-kind creations. Her latest book is "Key West, a Tropical Lifestyle" (Monacelli Press), with photos by Terry Pommett.