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Perfecting the Privy

by Brian S.

Whether you refer to it as the “Loo”, “Bog”, “Head”, “Dunny”, “Washroom” or “Privy”, the bathroom is arguably the most important room in any structure. The average human uses the toilet a minimum of six times per day. Add two showers, four or so hand washings, three teeth brushings and at least six or more additional trips that cover a whole host of other possibilities, such as flossing, plucking, preening, shaving, clipping, trimming, waxing, coiffuring, inspecting, the application of cosmetics, ointments, gels, and sunscreens, first aid and occasionally some light reading. Like I said, the “bathroom” is one of, if not the most important room in the house.


Consisting primarily of a tub, shower, sink, mirror, medicine cabinet, and a lone bright light, the “lavatory” is, for all intents and purposes, strictly utilitarian in nature. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the “washroom” needs to be less than luxurious. If you’re considering fixing up your “facilities” or redoing your “restroom”, here are a few tips that may prevent you from creating a crappy-looking “crapper”.



Budget Blues

If your bathroom budget is bleak, refrain from moving any of the plumbing. Switching the sink and toilet around means tearing up walls and floors. That of course, equates to soaring costs. Save that money and spend it on fancy fixtures and a terrific tub.



Source & Selection

Look further afield than the local home centre for such things as vanities and their stone or marble counter tops, tiling, fixtures and lighting. Local independent suppliers who specialise in just one product often have a wider selection of styles, colours and textures to choose from, more affordable pricing and a quicker delivery time on anything that’s custom made.




Excess moisture is the “latrine’s” number one enemy, especially in a humid climate. Be sure to install a ventilation fan that is capable of removing the appropriate cubic feet per minute (CFM) for the square footage of your “water closet”. Also, a vent fan that directs the moisture-laden air outdoors will improve the humidity levels throughout the entire household.



Try it on for Size

When shopping for a tub, bigger isn’t always better. A huge tub looks great on the showroom floor but, in the close confines of your “john”, it could look gigantic and overwhelm the entire room. Unless you’re a beanpole, if you try a tub on for size (yes, that means laying in it) before buying it, you’ll probably find that a 60-inch tub offers enough room to stretch out in and you’ll still have some space leftover for your rubber duck. It will also provide enough of a toe hold so that you don’t float off into the sunset when the tub is full. While you’re sampling your fit in the tub, pay attention to the angle of the back and lip in respect to the comfort of your back and neck support. If you desire a tub built for two, it’s the one with a slant at both ends, and the faucet in the middle.



Shower Storage

If you want to declutter the “can”, don’t settle for some cheap chrome or plastic basket that dangles off the shower head. Instead, incorporate some recessed shelves into the shower’s wall design or plan some ceramic tile shelving in a corner. By doing so, you’ll no longer be knocking off shampoo bottles with your elbow while doing whatever it is that you do when taking a shower.



Punctuate the Pattern

Let’s face it; a solid wall of tiles, all of which are of the same colour, is nothing short of an invitation to slumber. This sudden urge to sleep can be avoided by utilising a limited number of the pricey but pretty mosaic or glass tiles. When strategically placed in some sort of a pattern or used as a border or as a racing stripe, these brightly-coloured gems break up the monotony and provide just the right amount of colour and character to any monochromatic tiled surface.



Stop Nurturing Normal

As nice as normal is, it can sometimes be mind-numbingly tedious. This, of course, holds true in rooms other than the “lav”. For example, a rather innocuous detail found in most “privies” is the shower curtain rod—straight and held in place by means of tension. If you’re striving to design a divine “dunny”, opt for a minor detail whose form is abnormal, like a curved shower curtain rod. The bent rod will not only add a surprising amount of space to the shower, it also screws into the wall so it can’t be pulled down. How’s that’s for not normal!



Redo the Details

If your “smallest room” makeover doesn’t include replacing everything, don’t forget to redo all of the small details. What this entails is swapping all of the tired and worn taps, fixtures, showerheads, drawer and cabinet pulls, along with the door hardware, for some flashy new items in the finish of your choice.



Reflective Surfaces

As a rule, a single reflective surface, such as one mirror, is generally regarded to be more stylish than multiple mirrors or entire walls that are sheathed in same. Whether it’s in the form of a medicine cabinet or simply framed, make sure that the mirror situated above the sink or atop the vanity is attractive, if not beautiful. This main mirror can be supplemented by a secondary, wall mounted adjustable mirror to further aid in shaving or the application of cosmetics.



Let There Be Light

After going through all the trouble of revamping the “oval office” from the ground up, you definitely don’t want to overlook outdated light fixtures. Even though the size of the room may not warrant having multiple light sources, adding additional means of illumination will make the room seem larger than it is. If it’s done right, you’ll also find that the extra light is very useful. If you’re having difficulty determining if all of the nooks and crannies are clean, consider installing recessed lighting over the shower for better illumination while you’re scrubbing up a storm. Just make sure that the light fixtures are rated for bathrooms! If it’s a “ladies room”, sconce lighting near the vanity mirror is a must if you want even lighting on the face. By the way, if you install the fixture at eye level, you’ll significantly diminish the effect of unflattering facial shadows. In general, you want the lighting in the “powder room’ to be bright in order to facilitate such things as shaving and applying lip gloss and the like. However, if you happen to be a devotee of languishing in the tub for extended periods of time, the addition of a dimmer switch will allow you to control the ambience in terms of light to suit your mood.