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Quick fix: bathrooms

Simple do-it-yourself ideas to transform your space without emptying your wallet

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The fastest way to refresh the bathroom is with a fresh shower curtain and new towels, says Cathy Reid, owner of Absolutely Fabulous at Home, a homewares and DIY store in New Minas, N.S. “That can change the whole look of the space,” says Reid.

Shawn LeBlanc, interior designer and owner of The Designers Den in Dieppe, N.B. agrees. “Changing to fresh towels can make a big difference and you’ll be able to tell,” he says. “If you want to elevate the look, it’s not expensive to take a shower curtain and add a beautiful fabric to the bottom for a floor-to-ceiling drape. Raise the curtain rod higher and make it custom.”

Cost: $70–$150
Time: 2–3 hours shopping and customizing shower curtain


“Create what I call counter boutique,” says Reid. “A new soap dish or soap pump, a toothbrush holder. Little details that are pretty and contemporary.”

Buy these items in metals and neutrals, and add a pop of colour with towels and a shower curtain. “Pop with yellows and reds, and I don’t think aqua is ever going away,” says Reid. “Carry colours from your living space into the bathroom. We never used to change up our bathrooms, they’d sit forever. Now they change like fashion does.”

LeBlanc suggests shelves above the toilet for displaying soaps or art. “If you have a beautiful tub, you need to have a place to set candles, and a wine glass,” says LeBlanc.

Cost: $30–$50
Time: 3–4 hours shopping, displaying items, and installing shelves


“I always have a cluster of greens, like eucalyptus, in my bathroom,” says LeBlanc. “It brings in an organic, spa-like feel. The steam from the shower creates a wonderful scent.” Lavender works too. Find both at a florist. A sprig hanging from your shower head will last about a month. It will dry up, but the scent will remain.

Reid is all about sweet smelling soaps and lotions. “The Perth Soap Company is Canadian and they have the most delicious smelling soaps like milk and honey, vanilla and coconut, and sparkling champagne,” she says. “They sound like we should be eating them.” Order them online at

Cost: fresh greens $10–$20, soaps and lotions $30

Time: 1–2 hours shopping


“We carry Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan and you can paint right over any wood, even melamine,” says Reid. The only prep is to wash the surface with water and a grease lifting detergent. No sanding, priming, or stripping.

“You don’t even need to empty the drawers, just pull them out to make it easier to paint,” says Reid. Pick a colour that ties in the flooring with the vanity. Seal with chalk paint wax or lacquer, depending on the finish you want, to protect the finish. Reid suggests carry on painting the trim on a mirror or towel bar to pull the colour scheme together.

Cost: $45 per quart of chalk paint

Time: 3–6 hours


“With faucets, I’m loving that the trend right now is classic chrome, the combo of gold and black or silver and black,” says LeBlanc. “Chrome is the least expensive element when it comes to plumbing, but it’s a classic finish, so fresh and crisp.”

Lighting is key in the bathroom and LeBlanc loves sconces here. “LED lighting is everywhere but I prefer halogen lighting for a bathroom,” he says. “It has a more natural glow, it’s a truer white. Halogen lighting makes surfaces sparkle even more.” If using LED lighting, LeBlanc suggests 3000K for the bathroom. He suggests a framed mirror, especially with a single vanity.

“For a more contemporary look, run the mirror the entire length of the vanity and up to the ceiling,” he says. “You can even cut holes, or have holes cut for you, and mount sconces directly on the mirror for a grander finish. That’s hotel chic.”

Cost: faucet $80–$150, sconce $80–$150, mirror $250

Time: 6-8 hours

East Coast Living