It’s a beautiful day, and you just moved into your very first house. It’s perfect; just the right size, and everything you had ever hoped it would be…until you get to the bathroom. Why in the world anyone would have chosen those horrible tiles to cover the walls is beyond your comprehension, but there they are-big, bright, and not going anywhere! Many homeowners have faced this type of situation before. It’s the one little thing that stuck out to you in the walk-through, but you pushed it back because it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Or maybe you were able to see the potential right from the start! Either way, the time has come to do something about the bathroom, and breathe new life into the artistically abandoned, outdated style.

For most homeowners and renters, retiling the walls or floor of a bathroom is not a financially reasonable option. However, there are several other avenues that you can take to give your outdated or overwhelming bathroom a whole new look! These avenues revolve around the simple concept of focal and accent colors.

If the tiles in your bathroom are oppressively colored, and specifically if they cover your walls as well as your floor, the goal is going to be to offset their appearance-meaning, accessories are going to be key. Most tile designs involve a variety of colors, so look at your tiles and choose the color that is easiest on the eyes. This is going to be your focal, or main, color. When choosing your focal color, remember that the goal is to offset the audaciousness of your tiles, so you want something that is going to tone them down. Next, choose the color that has the smallest representation in your tiles-this is going to be your accent color. The objective of the accent color is to pull your eye to specific objects that accentuate the underplayed color in your tiles. By accentuating the underplayed color, we are also minimizing the oppressive colors that are more dominant.

To illustrate this concept, let’s start with a bathroom that has dark navy blue tiles covering the walls and floor. This creates a very dark and overwhelming atmosphere for a bathroom! Suppose these tiles are broken up by one row of cream colored tiles, and in the center of each is a smaller, burgundy tile. In this scenario, we would select cream as our focal color, and burgundy as our accent color.

We want to use our focal color as much as possible when decorating to offset the darkness of the navy, so we should select cream as the color of choice for our larger decorating items. This may include (depending on the size of your bathroom) the shower curtain, and any type of cabinetry. If you have wooden cabinets, paint them! The more we are able to lighten everything else in the bathroom, the less overwhelming the dark tile will be. Your shower curtain does not need to be a solid color; however, it should only include colors that you wish to incorporate in your decorating scheme. In this case, an ideal shower curtain would be predominantly cream, with a simple burgundy design to break up the monotony. Your main towels should also be cream, with hand towels or washcloths of the same burgundy color found in your tile.

Since we selected burgundy as our accent color, we are going to use it for the smaller decorating items, like the hand towels we already mentioned. You may also choose to use your accent color for a simple rug on the floor, but make sure you do not try to fit too many rugs in your bathroom, or they will become the overwhelming factor! Other decorating items might include the soap dispenser, toothbrush holder, or perhaps a candle. Space these objects out around the bathroom as much as possible, so that the eye is drawn to many different places at once. This will allow people to absorb the big picture initially, and with balanced focal points and large areas of predominantly cream, the tiles are only going to be a backdrop.

Decorating wisely and tastefully can cover a multitude of previous decorating sins, including that garish tile! So don’t lose hope. Take a step back, choose your focal and accent colors, and turn your bathroom into the tasteful alcove you always knew it could be!