Behind closed doors

Reprinted with permission from the Jerusalem Post

THE bathroom is a paradoxical room: while it is the most private place in the house, it ii also pub­lic. Guests will more likely see this room than the kitchen. The bathroom must be practical, as well as warm and com­fortable; convenient when you only have fleeting minutes (or weekly ablutions), yet suitable for lingering in a long, luxurious, scented bath.

Before hiring a plumber or buying tiles many decisions have to be made. Begin by appraising the bathroom as it stands and consider which category it tails into. Is it cold, dark and antiquated, with visible pipe-work and audible plumbing? Or, is it just dated, dingy and not particularly convenient, with few creature comforts? Or, perhaps it is merely dull – modern, perfectly service­able, but rather bleak and lackluster?

If your bathroom falls into the “anti­quated” category, a complete refitting is most likely the correct course of action. Total refurbishment can start from 5,000 Shekels to “the sky is the limit,” de­pending upon room size, materials cho­sen and amount of cabinetry required. However, the refurbishing will be a valu­able, long-term investment. Apart from the pleasure and satisfaction of having a beautiful bathroom, it can pay off when you sell your place: it’s as much of a marketable feature as a modern kitchen.

Bathrooms in the “inconvenient” cat­egory can be made more practical and livable by adding extra facilities such as a shower in the bathtub or e hanging the door to open outward instead of in­ward, thereby saving valuable floor space. A little ingenuity plus a few me­ters of cheerful fabric will transfer an ugly wall hung sink into a decorative asset, when the sink has a “skirt,” attached with Velcro. Using soft textures and warm colors will do much toward making the room attractive. An outlay of 2,500 to 5,000 Shekels is a reasonable expenditure for these improvements.

It may seem extravagant to spend time, effort and money on a bathroom in the third category, which is perfectly ad­equate but just insipid. But you can spend even less. Adding matching .accessories such as toilet-seat cover, hooks, paper holder, cup and brush holder, towel holders in the same color will liven up the room. a new shower curtain carefully matched to wallpaper can do wonders.

And, yes, Virginia, wallpaper – as long as it is washable and professionally hung is very practical. It adds instant personality as does decorating with paint effects like marbling, stenciling and ragging. Again, depending on the amount of work, 500 Shekels, if no wall work is required, or 2,500 Shekels with painting or wallpapering should cover the cost of an average bathroom face-lift.

In the complete refitting of an exist­ing bathroom the plumbing work will probably be straightforward if you maintain the same layout. New toilets, sinks and faucets, tubs and new accessories to replace the old, will magically produce an exciting new room. However, if the appliances are not in convenient places, this is the time to reposition the sanitaryware for the highest satisfaction return. For economy’s sake, try to use existing waste pipes and waste stacks.

In planning for additional conveniences, consider doubling up on the washing facilities by installing twin ba­sins. Keeping the toilet area separate from the main bathroom will alleviate the morning crush by family members.

Costs for the refitting can be calculat­ed as follows: white sanitary appliances (colors cost slightly more):

toilets, 700 – 1,400 Shekels;
bathtubs, 300 – 1,000 Shekels;
basins (table-top to place in cabinets) 200 – 800 Shekels.

Suitable countertops in the materials mentioned below are available:

Marble is the most familiar counter-top in Israel. There are many grades of quality, but on the whole it is durable and will retain its beauty for many years. A number of drawbacks do exist, how­ever, first, unless marble is treated cor­rectly decorative- wise, it appears cold, even harsh-looking. Second, should any­thing drop, it will break immediately upon impact; third, it comes in only the limited shades that nature provides An important point in unifying a small area such as a bathroom is that a countertop should be part of the color scheme and not an afterthought. The cost is approximately 600 – 1,800 Shekels per running meter.

Caesarea stone, relatively new on the market, is a mixture of stones and glass It looks like marble, is durable and comes in an array of beautiful colors. Mauve, light blue and green, sand and peach among others make up its color palette and so far reports on its performance have been excellent. Prices: 600 – 1,000 Shekels per running meter.

Formaica outside of the United States is not a popular choice due to the inferiority of the available material.

Corian is space-age import for cabinet tops. It comes in various colors including one that resembles a cloudy sky. It is very smooth, durable and has a silky, rich finish. It has many desirable attributes and a room containing

Corian will appear to be finished in ev­ery sense of the word. However, its one drawback is that it is quite pricy, at 1,000 – 2,000 Shekels per running meter.

Another idea which works well is to carry the ceramic tile on the wall right across the countertops. If this course of action is chosen, avoid the use of plain, white tile on walls and counters as the look will be sterile and cold-looking. Cre­ating a pattern with different color tiles is a practical, charming way to bring warmth to a plain area. Ceramic tile is sold by the square meter, at anywhere from 100 to 350 Shekels.

While a bidet in the bathroom is of­ten thought of as an unnecessary luxury, it is a valuable aid to personal hygiene as well as washing feet and even soaking laundry. For convenience, plan it next to the toilet. Bidets are made from vitre­ous china and are available in many bathroom supply stores.

Decorating to create space is an important aspect of remodeling. If a room appears cramped, a mirror is the perfect medium. Cover an entire wall with it, in sheet or tile form and fix it along the bath panel to open up the floor area. Choose your wall carefully. You don’t want to reflect the underpinnings of the plumbing or have to cut around a light switch.

Choose the mirror carefully. One that is steam-resistant in a peach or pink tint will give the warmest and most flattering reflection. Mirrored doors or a wall of cabinets have a similar effect. If your reflection appears everywhere you turn; that is not desirable, use minor-mosaic to break up the picture. Foil wallpaper will reflect the light, not you, and looks particularly striking in a small room.

Pale colors always make a room seem airy and spacious but they can also make it boring. By painting the baseboard and dado – normally, a chair height rail that runs around the room or picture rail, a stronger tone of the same color, the scheme will be given impact and emphasize the horizontal color, visually pushing back the walls. Wallpaper borders applied at ceiling, baseboard and dado do the same job. In the bathroom the tile and or mirrors would accomplish the same end