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Mouldy grout and dated tiles are just some of the not-so-redeeming features of a tired bathroom, but regular renovations are an expensive and unsustainable option, so how do we fancy-up the bathroom without ripping out the tiles? We spoke to some experts to find out.

1. Spring clean

“The first step would always be to declutter your bathroom and give it a thorough clean – the tiles, any dust and water marks,” says Leah Peretz of renovation experts Just in Place.

Interior designer Suzanne Gorman suggests attempting a DIY re-grout or re-seal on the tiles for a fresher look, but warns: “It is a lengthy process and the dust from removing the existing grout can be major.”

2. Between the lines

If your bathroom has the traditional sand-based white grout, Gorman recommends changing things up a bit.

“There are a vast range of grout colours available on the market,” she says. “The grout colour and finish really does make or break the overall feel of your bathroom. For a subtle, contemporary look we choose grout that blends with the tile colour. If you feel game you can try a contrasting or even coloured grout.”

3. Spray it

Just because you can’t afford to rip the tiles out doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the brown and tan floral forever.

Mary McManus of Lavender Hills Interiors suggests spray-painting outdated tiles. “Old, stained or old-fashioned patterned tiles can be spray-painted fresh bright white to look almost new.”

4. Tapping into trends

The aesthetic impact of a new toilet is greater than you’d imagine. Architect Ben Johnson of Benedict Design says replacing tapware and sanitary fixtures makes a huge impact on the look and functionality of the bathroom.

“The options have exploded in recent years and you can get anything from matte black to gold,” says Johnson. “If you’re replacing your toilet, go for a back-to-wall model as this will keep lines clean and make mopping easy.”

5. Exhausted fans

If you feel your exhaust fan isn’t at its best, give your electrician a call and have it replaced with a higher powered unit. They don’t cost too much and will prevent unwanted mould build-up and condensation.

“An old exhaust fan not doing its job properly can have a huge negative impact on all your finishes in the bathroom,” says Gorman. “Paint, mirrors, tiles and shower screens age dramatically without proper ventilation.”

6. The sky’s the limit

Go one step further with real ventilation via a skylight – a worthwhile investment, according to Johnson. “Getting natural light into a bathroom will have many benefits, from lifting your spirits in the morning to keeping mould at bay.”

Aesthetically, it can also highlight a particular area such as the basin or shower. “If you can, build it with an open shaft that will improve the sense of space by giving additional height and breaking up the ceiling.”

7. You’re so vain

Peretz suggests upcycling an old piece of furniture with a lick of paint then sitting a basin on top for a unique vanity. You can replace a run-of-the-mill shaving mirror with a glamorous vintage one or opt for a contemporary black statement mirror.

Tip: If you just want to replace your shaving mirror with a smarter version, Gorman says a larger mirror will hide any evidence of previous wall fixings. Alternatively, ask your local glazier to make up a replacement.

8. In the details

From framing your children’s art to displaying your towels on a ladder, all our experts agree that small touches can make a big difference.

“Bring in some texture and colour with thick ribbed bath mats and fluffy towels,” says McManus.

And fluffy towels are even better when they’ve come straight from a heated towel rail. “Most towel rails come as a plug-in,” says Johnson, “which helps if you’re not planning on cutting into your walls or replacing tiles. A warm towel on a winter morning is a wonderful thing.”

9. Go green

“A living plant will bring colour and texture into your bathroom,” says Peretz. “A ficus or a palm in the corner can be a beautiful statement if you have enough space. Orchids and bamboos like the humidity.”

McManus suggests placing some blue-and-white ginger jars and an orchid on the vanity for that final touch.

Written by Joanne Gambale. Republished with permission of Domain.com.au.

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