The golden rule about interior decor accessories is to collect them over time – buy them as you stumble upon them, and stash them away. Some accessories are only available for a limited season; others only in particular stores. You also never know when you will need to use them to elevate a space. Collecting them gradually is more gentle on your pocket.
This little rule rang true last weekend when I hosted my pals for lunch. I have been playing the interior decorator in my home most of this year, spending plenty of time on Pinterest and Houzz. We moved to a bigger house in May and the extra space awoke the stylist in me.
Ann, one of our guests, returned to the living room from washing her hands in the bathroom and said to me, “Gosh, Bett, I love how you’ve made your toilet! I have a thing for toilets, and I want to sit in yours and not leave.” I smiled like the Grinch.
I have the basics in the toilet – a lavender-scented hand wash, a stain-resistant towel, tissue and a toilet brush. There are also the toilet-cleaning supplies (Harpic, Vim and Tropikal).
The wall tiles, sink and toilet bowl are colour cream. Thankfully, this guest toilet is separate from the bathroom. Our previous house had the shower, toilet and sink all in one room. I did not like it. The floor was constantly wet and unwelcoming, the room damp, lingering with the tang of bathing soap and toothpaste. Having the toilet in its own distinct space is a small blessing.
I now needed to elevate the toilet from functional to fabulous. I used the accessories I already had in the house. Here is how I styled the space:
Floor: I got a matching three-piece toilet mat in walnut brown from Toi Market. I had one non-negotiable requirement for a toilet mat – that it will not show dirt and is resistant to staining.
Toilet mats are essential for styling toilets and bathrooms. You can mismatch the pieces. You can also consider other types of general-area mats and rugs. Whatever you select, ensure it has a rubber anti-slip padding for your safety.
Remember also that it is the holiday season and the toilet will have high traffic. Guest after guest will be in there to wash their hands, powder their noses, take a leak and do a number two. We do not want people going in there to run into an eyesore of a mat. The hassle of maintaining clean light-coloured mats means they will age from frequent scrubbing.
I would have much preferred to have the mats in navy blue – stain-resistant as well but with a burst of colour – but hey, this is the second-hand market. You take what is available and make it work.
Windowsill: The trick with the windowsill is to mix different tactile materials in different colours. I got an artificial succulent to centre the windowsill (greenery). To its right, I placed a candleholder in turquoise (glass and wire). Red would have been a gorgeous contrast to the greenery but this is what I had ready. To the left of the succulent was ceramic flowerpot in white (texture and character).
Play around with these items to add some variety to your windowsill. As I mentioned, collect them as you stumble upon them.
Cistern: I got a small crate handmade from faux wood. Its distressed finish lends it its character. Inside it, I placed extra tissue and a huge decorative scented candle. The candle is still wrapped in its pretty packaging; I doubt we will ever light it up.
Another style option is to light up your candle burner with a natural scented oil such as lavender or lemon. The candle will sexily illuminate the room, and the scented oils will freshen it while soothing whoever is in there.
Kiondo basket: The cleaning materials needed to remain in the toilet because this is where they are of use. I had placed them on the windowsill – as everybody does – but they were eating up prime styling space.
I got a size-eight hand-woven kiondo basket and placed them inside. Exposure to water kills kiondoo baskets. I stuffed an old face towel at the base of the basket then sat the supplies on it. The Tropikal air freshener is the closest to reach.
You can also use a wicker basket, or one draped with a textured fabric such as burlap.
Other styling elements: Consider one of those male/female door signs; they add an element of fun to your bare door. Shop around to see what other characterised items you can hang behind the door. A hand-lettered sign saying ‘Take a seat’ – or something as playful – is also a recommended plus.