Makeover ideas for your bathroom from Matt Muenster

“Bath Crashers” with host Matt Muenster airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on DIY Network.

No longer simply a place to freshen up, the bathroom is taking on a new role as focal point, according to Matt Meunster, the host of “Bath Crashers” on DIY Network. People are looking to create “a retreat within the home, a spa, a getaway,” he says, and now, more than ever, the rooms are expanding to make way for such designs. “You can look at any house from maybe 1940, 1975, even the early ‘80s, and you have a hard time finding a bathroom bigger than 6-by-10 [or] 7-by-11. Now I’m doing bathrooms that are over 150 square feet.”

So how can you turn your (likely cramped) water closet into an all-out haven? Meunster gives the following tips.

Resurface your space
“The end project is a completely almost brand new looking tub, shower, whatever, and it’s gonna last you 15 years. It’s one of those things that makes a bathroom sparkle like new without all of the impact of a real, full-on remodel. And it’s quick! You can have that room back in a day. And this used to be kind of a toxic process, but there’s a lot of companies doing it green now and I’ve been impressed with it when I used it.”

Switch out your showerhead
“There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in the whole showerhead design revolution. Kohler has a great showerhead called the Flipside, which gives you all different kinds of spray patterns, just by rotating the head around. There are [also] showerheads that bring in chromotherapy, which is kind of like light therapy, and the showerhead actually lights up just powered by the water passing through it.”

Get a better toilet
“I try to go green whenever I possibly can, so a real easy thing to do is swap out your toilet and get a dual-flush or at least a low-flow type toilet. Not only is that helping the planet, you’re gonna be saving yourself like 30 percent on your water bill every month.”

Don’t underestimate a fresh paintjob
“I think it’s often overlooked,” he says. “You have to keep in mind [that] in a bathroom, just try to make it scrubbable. Color trends I don’t really like to interject on, because I think color’s a really personal thing, and it’s almost like picking out art for someone else. Take a risk with it. At the end of the day, if you don’t like it just realize it’s just paint and it’s in the likely the smallest room in your house. You can try it again.”

Create accent areas
“If you’ve got a back wall of tile in your shower-tub combo that’s little white 4-by-4s, you can take out just a few of them. There’s a lot of techniques you can find online to remove, let’s say, a center section of that tile, like three tiles high by ten tiles wide, without damaging the adjacent tiles. Spend ten bucks a sheet on four sheets of really, really cool accent tiles and do a small tile job like that. You get some color in there without tearing down everything on the wall. That’s a project you can do in a day.”

Let the light in
“I always try to preach that lighting is key. Hang a couple pendants above your vanity [and] bring in some colored glass there. Don’t be afraid to do something bold. These are small rooms — even a small, bold blue will be perceived as something big.”

Go for a monolithic floor
“If you have those little hex tiles there initially and pull all that out, I would try to go bigger than 12-by-12 on the floor. Do something large for a number of reasons. One, that floor’s gonna feel more expansive, it’s gonna feel more like one giant slab of material.” The second reason? Bigger tiles means less grout to clean — Huzzah! “Install tiles as close to each other as you can. Do an 1/8 inch [or] smaller,” he says.

Ditch the standing vanity
“If you’re replacing the vanity, a lot of vanities now just have floating vanities that are wall-mounted — they don’t go all the way through to the floor. It’s one of those mental eye tricks where you can see the flooring continue underneath the vanity. There’s this perspective thing that makes it feel like the space is much larger than it really is. That’s a really good trick.”

Rethink your ceiling space
“A lot of the bathrooms have soffits above their vanity [or] above their shower. I would say a good nine times out of ten it was just an aesthetic move and it’s not hiding anything. Just demo those out and re-sheetrock the areas. The volume of the bathroom feels a lot better.”

Choose the right mirror
“I’ve done I think about 110 bathrooms now and I’ve probably done 110 different things with mirrors,” he says. “There’s a ton you can do with mirrors.” If you have a large, unbecoming slab of glass, “take that mirror down and buy a smaller scale mirror.” Don’t want to part with your big mirror? “Buy two small mirrors and hang it right on top of the mirror, there’s nothing wrong with that.” And don’t forget a nice frame: “There are mirror frame kits where you can literally, with double-stick foam tape, apply a mirror frame to one of those giant plate glass mirrors that looks like a wood frame. It adds a little bit of extra layered detail, and that’s cheap, especially if you’re scared of taking a mirror down and doing any footwork yourself.”

Find a new faucet
“You can replace a faucet fairly easily if you can go to the store and find a new faucet from the same manufacturer that your existing faucet is, because then you don’t have to change up the valve or any of the junk behind the wall. You don’t need to be a plumber or anything close to it to get that done.”

Try tiling
“Everyone’s afraid of tiling, but quite frankly, if you just do it, you realize that tiling’s not difficult. The only difference between you and a tile person that’s been doing it for years is that the tile person is gonna do it a lot faster than you are. If you take your time and really understand what you’re doing, it’s a huge impact and it would save you so much. Take what you spend on tiles and double or triple it: That’s what you would spend on the labor to do it. If you can buy tile and install it yourself, the bang for your buck is gigantic. Don’t be afraid. Smash that old tile out and just give it a shot.”

Watch the details
“Make sure all your metal finishes match. If you’ve got chrome faucets, have chrome towelbars. They feel like small things but in a small space like a bathroom, there’s some big impact there.”


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