If your bathroom is cluttered with several family members cosmetics, half filled bottles, and grooming tools—it’s time to clear it out, clean it up and convert it to a space that is fresh, green and rejuvenating!

First, empty the room and edit all of your belongings. That means you’ll need to sort like things together and let go of duplicates, products no one uses, and expired medicines and make-up. For a detailed description of how to eliminate clutter, please see the DeCluttering Blueprint: Step 3.

Before you cart all the things you need to keep back into your space, give it a facelift. You can create a bath that is healthy, functional, and pleasing with color, smart storage, and easy to clean surfaces. Start at the top and work your way down to ground level.

1. Ceiling – While you might not spend much time looking at your ceiling, don’t pass it over.

• Paint – If it’s been a while since you’ve painted this space, freshen it up with a new coat of no-VOC interior ceiling paint. And, if you have any vents in the ceiling that are looking a little dingy, take them out, wash them, and revive them with low-VOC spray paint.
• Ventilation – A fan in the bathroom will remove odors and moisture that can lead to mold. So be sure your fan is in good working order. Take off the cover, wipe it down and give the cover a dusting of low-VOC (volatile organic compound) spray paint if needed.

2. Walls – One of the most dramatic yet budget friendly changes you can make to your space is to freshen up the walls.

• Patch – If you have any nicks or small holes in your wall, apply a dab of spackling paste to create a smooth surface for painting.
• Prime – If there are stains, crayon marks or dark paint on your walls you’ll want to apply a good quality primer before painting. Special stain killing low-VOC primers will ensure stains don’t bleed through your topcoat. Plus, they’ll provide a more even finish and reduce the number of topcoats needed. Smart tip: Primer typically costs less than paint so use it to reduce the overall cost of painting.
• Paint – Picking a color for your walls is where you can express your individual style. That said, it’s a good idea to avoid a dark color as it can distort reflections in the mirror which might cause you to apply too much makeup. Another important consideration is the type of paint to use. Select a semi-gloss or kitchen and bath paint. This type of paint is easy to wipe and resists mildew. As a final point, there are many low or no-VOC color choices available.

3. Cabinets – Hidden storage is a must-have for every bath. To determine how much you need, measure the volume of materials you want to conceal, measure your available space, then purchase a unit that suits your style and budget.

• Vanity – A spacious vanity is a real plus. You can tuck away each family member’s toiletries in a handy organizer, store clean towels—and no one will be the wiser. Smart tip: Converting an antique dresser into a vanity is a smart way to go green. If it’s not in the cards for you to purchase a new vanity, splash a fresh coat of paint on your existing vanity and add new hardware for an updated appearance.
• Medicine – Medicine cabinets are the ideal space to corral unexpired medications and remedies for: headaches, cuts, burns, coughs, colds, etc. Modern medicine cabinets are not only functional they’re almost wall art. They are available in a variety of styles and shapes and you can even get one with fog proof mirrors. If you want to use your existing medicine cabinet and it has a wooden or laminate door, update it by painting it with the same soothing color you use on the walls.

4. Water Hogging Devices – Nearly 60% of indoor home water usage takes place in the bathroom. Here are some things you can do to curb your consumption and save a few dollars.

• Toilet – You can purchase a low-flow toilet for about $200.00 or if you need to work with your existing model, put a 1 liter plastic bottle (filled with rocks) in the tank and you’ll get the same results. Smart tip: Make sure your toilet isn’t leaking and avoid using it as a wastebasket—both are a huge waste of water.
• Shower head – Convert your shower head to a low-flow model; prices range from $10.00 to $50.00. This change will reduce the amount of water you use without impeding performance. Smart tip: A bath uses more water than a short shower.
• Faucet – Get a low flow faucet aerator, they’re easy to install and can be purchased for $3.00 to $10.00. The device mixes air with water to reduce the amount of water used. Look for one that is rated 2.75 gpm (gallons per minute) or less.

5. Lighting – Whether you update your lighting fixture or keep the one you’ve got, be sure to switch to energy efficient bulbs. FYI, according to energystar.gov, “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.”

6. Flooring – If your bathroom floor has stains, tears or worn vinyl, fix it now.

• Linoleum – One of the most durable, economical and eco-friendly flooring options is linoleum. It’s mostly made of linseed oil and comes in hundreds of color choices. While it’s available in both tiles and sheets, stick with sheets of linoleum as tiles can turn up at the corners.
• Vinyl – A cost-effective way to give your floor an updated look is to purchase some of the new peel and stick vinyl. It’s easy to install—you can do it yourself and save on the cost of labor. In addition, it can be placed over a variety of existing materials. This product is available in 12 and 18 inch squares, thus making it possible to mix colors and patterns. Clean up is a breeze, just wipe it with a damp cloth or mop.
• Tile – This product is beautiful, durable, and easy to care for. If you decide to buy it, be sure to select a tile that is moisture-proof and slip-resistant. Installation ranges from easy to challenging, so factor that into your decision making.

7. Organizers and Accessories – Keeping your bathroom clean, clutter free and organized will be easier if you use some of the gadgets below.

• Wall hooks – Mount one for each family member so they can hang their robe or damp towel after showering. Even little ones will be able to use this tool without assistance.
• Shelving – When cabinet storage isn’t enough, go vertical and install wall shelves. If possible, reuse old lumber you’ve got in the garage. Then purchase a basket for each person, label it with their name and corral their toiletries.
• Over the door hook rack – This handy organizer comes with as many as 6 hooks. Just slip it over the door; it won’t interfere with the door closing. This apparatus easily captures any type of clothing.
• Pocket shower curtain – This clever device does double duty. It’s a shower curtain and it’s got pockets for storage. The shower curtain can be used as a liner or a stand alone curtain, plus the pockets can face in or out of the shower. This item is great for storing beauty products and bath toys within easy reach. Smart tip: If you plan to purchase a decorative shower curtain look for one made of hemp as it resists mildew.
• Adjustable shower caddy – Simplehuman makes a nifty unit that fits over your showerhead and has two shelves that move up and down and side to side to accommodate tall bottles. This caddy holds a lot of product, plus bottles can be stored upside down for easier dispensing.

Follow the foregoing tips and you’ll find a clutter free, serene bath with energy saving devices doesn’t have to be a dream.

© 2009 Pam N. Woods

Author's Bio: 

Pam N. Woods, CPO® is co-author of a bestselling book, "Create the Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies from the World's Greatest Mentors"; endorsed by Ken Blanchard and Dr. Stephen Covey. She is a respected authority on personal effectiveness who has mentored hundreds of executives, managers, and professionals over the last three decades. Now, through her business, Smart WorkLife Solutions, she is helping individuals at home and at work to declutter their space, their schedules, and their lives.

Pam speaks to groups large and small on personal and professional challenges. Her fresh perspectives and practical solutions cover the topics of organizational skills, e-mail overload, time management, productivity and stress.

Pam’s website is a resource with information and services to help a diverse population of individuals organize their office, home, and life. If you want to save time, boost productivity and reduce stress, visit the Smart WorkLife Solutions website today.

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