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Budget-brainy Bathroom Updates

(ARA) - Ah, the bathroom - it's far more than just a room where we take care of business. For many of us, it is a sanctuary of solitude, a room for relaxation, and an investment for that day (however distant or close) when we'll need to wow potential buyers with a knockout bath.

Without question, beautiful baths help sell houses and enhance homeowners' enjoyment of their living space. If your bathroom is leaving you less than flush with pride, you may be longing for a remodel. But with Remodeling Magazine reporting the average mid-scale bathroom remodel costs a draining $15,789, and the economy pinching your wallet in so many ways, it makes sense to seek budget-friendly ways to update your restroom.



"Knowing what's in and what's out in bathroom design is important for homeowners deciding just where to spend their makeover dollars," says celebrity interior designer Will Smith, a finalist and fan favorite on HGTV's "Design Star." "I suggest they look at four key areas: Paint, the mirror, hardware and lighting. Each can be easily and inexpensively updated to provide a new, modern look for the bathroom."


Known for creating high-end looks for less, Smith offers the following tips for making over a bathroom on a budget - without sacrificing style:



Paint the Town 

Painting any room is a tried-and-true way to make a big impact with little cost and effort. If you want to change colors, go for it, but remember that color trends do change. Stay away from dated color choices, like mauves or pinks, in favor of timeless, like earth tones. Chocolate, aqua, olive and golds, all colors drawn from nature, are hot right now and promise more enduring style and class than some trendier hues.


"When choosing color, remember that the more contrast, the more 'pop,' " Smith says.



Mirror, Mirror on the Wall 

If your home was built in the past decade, chances are you have one enormous, unframed mirror - because that's usually the cheapest way for builders to give big visual impact. But unframed mirrors are out, Smith says. The mirror is the focal point of your bath, and frames complete the mirror, giving a bath a finished, updated look.


Replacing the entire mirror can cost big bucks - both to tear out the old one, which may be stuck to the wall with glue, and to buy a new, framed replacement. A better option is to frame your existing mirror, a process made easy by Web sites like www.mirrormate.com . MirrorMate sells more than 40 frame styles, and the site walks you through measuring, ordering and installing your frame.  The frame is shipped in pieces cut to the mirror measurements you specify and assembles easily. The pre-taped back makes installation quick, as the frame presses right onto the mirror's surface while it is still on the wall. The frames cover ugly clips and work even with mirrors that bump against an adjacent wall or sit on a backsplash.


When choosing a frame style, Smith advises you select a frame that reflects the style you would choose for a piece of artwork for the room.



Hardware isn't Hard 

Few accessories shout "last year" - or even "last decade" - like outdated hardware. Fortunately, updating hardware is a quick, easy and cost-effective fix. If your hardware is mismatched - a glass knob on this drawer, a silver handle on that cabinet - get yourself to a home supply store and check out their collections of matching drawer pulls and cabinet handles. Don't forget your hardware should also complement your metal fixtures.


If the finish is simply dated, like brass, replace hardware with more "in" styles, such as brushed nickel, pewter, antique or oil-rubbed bronze. These finishes coordinate well with current lighting and fixtures, bath bars, knobs, pulls, and switch and receptacle covers. These quick fixes pull a room together with one modern, cohesive look.



Make Light of Things 

Quit blinking in the morning glare of that bright, bare-bulbed Hollywood lighting bar that casts a harsh light and cruel shadows. What's in? Fixtures that add beauty and soft lighting with shades or sconces. They can run above your (newly framed) mirror, or flank it on each side. And remember, these accent your room's greatest focal point, so be sure to select a style that is right for you and makes a statement in the room.



"You don't need to do a full-scale renovation to get the look of an updated bath," explains Smith. "Some strategic and cost-effective changes can go a long way to giving you the look you desire."


Courtesy of ARAcontent

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