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Ideas for a bathroom makeover

A once-ordinary small bath makes quite a splash with aqua tile, glass shower wall and a double-helping of mirrored cabinets. Photo Courtesy of John A. Buscarello, Inc. Interior Design.

By Rose Bennett Gilbert

Creators Syndicate

Q: How come you never talk about redecorating a bath? We have one so tiny my husband can touch both sidewalls with his elbows! We're thinking of remodeling, keeping the same floor space (5 x 7 feet) and changing fixtures and maybe the tile, which goes a half-wall up over the tub. We need inspiration and information.

A: A dose of experience wouldn't hurt either. Who would have rehabbed more tiny baths than a designer working in New York City, where every square inch of space is precious? So I've picked the talented brain of designer John Buscarello (, who specializes in making more of less.

The bath we show here is as space-deprived as yours, a weenie 5 x 7-ft. But John has waved his magic shoehorn and made it feel both larger and quite elegant in the process. Among of his professional suggestions:

-- Get rid of your tired old tub. Ditto whatever "dreary" shower curtain goes with it. That space is better spent on an updated standing shower behind a stationary glass panel (a 30-inch opening lets you -- not splashes -- out on one side).

--Think tile allover. Tiling right up to -- and often, over -- the ceiling, European-style, will put your old-fashioned bath in a sleek, contemporary mood. Here, John has used subway (rectangular) tile but stacked, instead of staggering, it "to create a more modern feel."

--Work magic with mirrors. Not only are mirrors de rigueur in any bath, they double the space you see. John also doubled their usefulness, installing a pair of matching mirrored wall cabinets over the pedestal sink.

--Aggrandize the floor. Never mind that it's small. Laying oversized tile -- John used 12 x 24-inch porcelain tile -- will make the space look much larger.

--Other tips from the pro: "Don't be afraid of color in the bath," John counsels. The owner of this apartment was looking for tranquility in her new bath, he reports.

Hence his choice of cool, calming aqua tile. Another colorful idea: Create a feature wall with tile. Or opt for a paint color that speaks to you. "Just be sure to choose a paint that has a sheen finish" for both practical and esthetic reasons, he advises.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design. To find out more about Rose Bennett Gilbert and read features by Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at