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Small spaces, big ideas
Bathrooms today are simple and sleek, spa-like and calming, says Molly Madsen, vice president of AB&K, Greenfield and Mequon. The easiest way to ruin the mood is by loading up counters with toothbrushes, hair dryers, makeup and more of lifeís daily essentials. Madsen and interior designer Karen Kempf of Karen Kempf Interiors, Waukesha, offer some tips on how to reduce clutter and keep your Zen.


Robernís 36-inch wall-mount vanity offers creative storage solutions.

1] The Vanity. In the past, vanities offered very little storage ó if any ó but todayís designs are more creative, Madsen says. Newer designs have drawers that wrap around the plumbing. And you can always have storage built into a custom-made piece, Kempf says. Even sleek, Italian-style wall-hung vanities without legs are deceptively creative with storage options.

2] Drawer Dividers. Those tray dividers that make kitchen drawers more functional are finding their way into the bath, Madsen says. Acrylic pullout trays can double storage within a drawer. There are also units that make storing hair dryers and curling irons convenient and accessible, Madsen says.

3] Countertop Storage. Install a cabinet that sits on the countertop and keep all manner of items out of sight but still within easy reach.

4] Outlet Subterfuge. Install outlets inside of cabinets or drawers so electrical appliances can stay inside the cabinet and off of your countertops, Kempf says.

5] Create Alcoves. Instead of mounting shelves or cabinets on top of the wall, Kempf suggests building storage inside the wall to free up space. Create recessed spaces in showers or between wall studs above the toilet. A recessed tub can provide an alcove on either side for shelves that can house a TV, toiletries and folded towels.

6] Illusion as Reality. Kempf says using glass walls in your shower takes up less thickness than a wall and gives illusion of more space. If your bathroom is small and opens into the room, replace it with a pocket door to clear up floor space inside the room, Kempf says.

7] Mirror, Mirror. More and more people are incorporating flat-screen televisions into their bathroom renovations, Madsen says. You can have your mirror do double duty by mounting your TV behind a two-way mirror so the TV can only be seen when itís on. Another option is to install the TV behind a mirror that slides up for easy viewing.

5 Bathroom Trends

1] Green is Golden. The green movement in home design shows no signs of slowing down, says interior designer Karen Kempf of Karen Kempf Interiors. "People are more and more interested in environmentally friendly features, like low-flow toilets, low VOC paints, bamboo and other renewable woods for flooring or cabinetry, she says.

2] Hot, Hot, Hot. Heated floors are not only a little luxury but also energy-efficient, says Molly Madsen, vice president of AB&K. "It makes a huge difference in the comfort of your bathroom." Tile holds heat and costs less to run than a 15-watt light bulb. "And itís not a dry heat so it doesnít dry out your skin," she says.

3] Sink a Showpiece. There is a current trend to make the sink more of a design feature, Kempf says. "There are so many options for sinks now it can really become an interesting focal point."

4] Modern Movement. "Things seem to be trending toward the contemporary or transitional," Kempf says. "People are getting tired of the same old, same old."

5] Power Showers. A handheld shower unit is a must-have for every bathroom, Madsen says, for the ease of use and ease of cleaning. It also helps save water, she notes. "Some of the best products aesthetically are also environmentally friendly".