Smart choices, stylish accessories, and flea market finds make this renovation easy on the eyes and the wallet.
New Bath on a Budget
What's a quick, affordable way of hiding a ho-hum shower? Hang an attractive shower curtain in front of it.
| Credit: Van Chaplin

Morning routines have a lot in common with driving a car--sometimes they run smoothly, while other times they sputter. It's those mad-dash days when not having to battle for sink space can make all the difference.

That's why, when building their new master suite, Bret and Jennifer Franks put considerable thought into their bath and dressing area. Setting a workingman's budget to finish and furnish the space, this Little Rock couple got the bath they wanted.

You Can Do It Tip #1:

Plan according to the way you live.
To save extra steps and to avoid having clothes strewn everywhere, the couple combined their master bath and dressing area into one spot. "Bret and I get ready for work at different times, so having closet access directly from the bath maintains privacy for the person still sleeping," Jennifer explains.

They opted for one large wardrobe room with built-in bins for shoes, sweaters, and other items. This consolidation of space provided enough square footage for the adjacent water closet to have its own door.

You Can Do It Tip #2:

Find your look for less.
Determine what you like, research your options, and seek out the same look for less.

While selecting light fixtures, Bret and Jennifer kept gravitating toward a sconce in the exterior lighting section of the store that, while not a conventional choice, was certainly a cheaper one. The couple bought two and still saved a bundle.

You Can Do It Tip #3:

Dress up the drab.
The couple wanted a separate tub and shower, but their budget didn't permit paying a fortune for both. So, they splurged on a garden tub and selected a low-cost shower unit with sliding doors.

Taking an idea normally reserved for a tub/shower combo, Jennifer hung a fabric shower curtain in front of the shower enclosure to hide the doors.

You Can Do It Tip #4:

Be practical with your decorating.
Both Bret and Jennifer love the outdoors, so they filled their bath with prints of wildflowers and birds, hung on pale moss green walls. Even the shower curtain displays a lively pattern of ferns and dragonflies. But, as they selected items, the couple didn't forget that the bath can often be a hot, steamy place. "I knew that the moisture would harm valuable pieces," says Jennifer. "So I found things that didn't cost much--old seed packets, architectural salvage parts, and glass canisters--that fit the garden theme but were not irreplaceable." She also added a discount dresser to the space.

This cheery bath just goes to show that if you start your morning in an organized space, chances are the rest of the day will be smooth cruising.

This article is from the June 2005 issue of Southern Living.