A full renovation of a bathroom can easily run thousands of dollars. Fortunately, most bathrooms only require a thoughtful refresh if the fixtures and tile are sound. With some clever planning a bathroom can take on a completely new look without replacing the tile and tub. We’ve helped countless customers redo a home bathroom with new lighting and mirrors. Tiny powder rooms have become little jewel boxes with deep toned walls and a single stunning light fixture that looks like art. Family bathrooms that are in use 24/7 become user friendly with a bigger mirror, useful lighting, and some fun accessories. Master baths and en suite become a haven for stressed execs with layers of light, from recessed, to vanity lighting, to a chandelier over the tub. We know it’s easy to get bogged down in a project so we’ve made it simple. And we’re sharing tips on some of the parts we don’t do. (We’ve picked up some gems from interior designers along the way.) Let’s get started.

1. Take a good look at your space. Take a measuring tape to it. This is what we have to work with. Storage an issue? Lighting too low to be useful? Vent fan noisy? Colors outdated? Unless you are really good at decorating and have an amazing eye for décor, you may need help from experts along the way. Grab your iPad and take photos of what you have and start on a list. Bring it along as you visit Madison Lighting’s showroom, your fave linen department and the paint store. Take more photos as you go. Leafing through favorite photos with customers helps us help you.

2. Lighting. Great bathroom lighting is a real necessity. And you may be lucky enough to have 2 sources: natural and electrical. No windows? It’s ok. Today we can create wonderful effects with lighting and mirrors. The thing to remember is to layer your light: Placing recessed lighting in a bathroom ceiling adds a tremendous amount of ambient light. Lighting at the mirror is task lighting and should be balanced on the left and right, at 60” or so off the floor. Using lighting sconces will put the light at eyelevel for the majority of people and eliminate shadows at the mirror. A good second choice is a lighting bar across the top of the mirror. This spreads the light out which helps to reduce shadows. Mirrors are not a source of light, but they do a great job of embellishing the light from windows and your lighting fixtures. They instantly add to your space. Choosing lighting fixtures is a big part of establishing your bath’s decor. Glitz and Glamour brings a touch of Hollywood to your bath. Think mirrored accents on the vanity and sophisticated sconces on the mirror of chrome, linen and glass. Coastal Spirit offers up that spa feeling as the sea inspires it. Beachy colors are sun-faded and lighting might be accented with sea-glass, abalone, and natural stone. We sample the trends in our Madison, WI showroom to make the design process easier for you. Embrace the trend to mix metals, its quite freeing: chrome and bright brass, or, chrome, gold leaf and glass embellishments, or brushed nickel with brass and glass. You get the idea and you may see a theme here- by mixing metals and embellishing with glass you add some sparkle to the lighting in the bath. It’s the beginnings of a palette of materials that will become your beautiful new bath.

3. Color. Your tub and sink are probably white but that’s ok. The trends are to a fresh balance of white and navy, white and grey, or white on shades of white. And taking a closer look you may find a passion for other colors. Like merlot, a deep jewel-tone of reddish purple. Its one of the top colors for 2015 and it looks great with white. What color do you love? Chances are you’ll find a shade of it to mix with those white fixtures that looks spot on. You’re going to pull this color in with one or more of the following things: towels, paint/wall covering, or window coverings. Shop it, and not just on the Internet. Steep yourself in colors at the paint store, look at more color, textures and patterns in the linens department, and bring some of ‘em home. You may find one color looks awful in your space, while another unexpectedly makes you smile. Add to your materials palette and return the rest.

4. Vent fan and other necessities? These are the harder realities of a good makeover! Your fan probably really needs updating. A good vent fan pulls the moisture up and out of the bathroom quickly, and rather quietly. Hard to believe if you’ve been living with a plumbers special for 10 years. A quality fan makes a big difference. It will take good care of you and your home by reducing humidity and therefore the risk of mold and moisture damage. Take a good look at your windows and be sure the frames and caulk are in good condition. Water stained woodwork is another sign that moisture may be a problem. Be sure to have leaking toilets and faucets repaired or replaced. Water is too precious to waste and your water bill will confirm that. All of these issues need looking into in order to make your mini-reno a success.

5. Paint or wallpaper? You choose, and have some fun with the colors and patterns. Personality is everything in a bath. If it’s been awhile be sure to update yourself on the new paints available. You could paint the vanity, walls and woodwork in stunning colors that are developed to look good and wear well by standing up to the use most bathrooms get. Your walls are going to set the tone for the room. Back to the tiny powder room- you don’t need something light and neutral here, you can be dramatic if you like. And that spa-like master bath you wanted? The wall color will envelope you every time you steep yourself in a bath. We suggest bringing those small jars of paint home and trying a few shades on a wall before you commit. YouTube is your friend here. And so are the folks at a quality paint store. We aren’t paint specialists, but we have worked on lots of projects and know the value of asking for advise from those who know.

6. Storage. Everyone has storage issues. Period. People are acquisitive! Start by letting go of what is no longer useful and make space for the 10% you actually use. Matching baskets, pots or metal boxes from Pier 1, The Container Store, or TJ Maxx, help you gather the clutter and organize it. They get crummy with use over the years so don’t hesitate to replace them. Organize by family member, by task, or whatever makes sense to you. Gather makeup brushes and other tools into one vertical box, and shampoo and hairspray into another. If you choose your storage well it will make a hug difference by clearing the clutter. And these storage vessels add to your materials palette, so keep them in the mix.

Good luck with that bathroom remodel. Once complete you’ll wonder why you waited so long. We hear it all the time from our customers, “Light changes everything!”