Better Bathroom Breaks

By Domitilla Lepri

When renting an apartment, one of the most disappointing areas is often the most important: the bathrooms. The reason is often because of the poor selection of tiles made by your landlord, which are seldom satisfying, not to mention faucets or other design features.

The good news is that, contrary to what you may think, in China the restyling of your bathroom can be done quickly and with a low budget. You can easily find a wide variety of bathroom fittings of different shapes and styles and a wide selection of mosaics, tiles and stones for walls and floors. These can even be imported from Italy, Greece, Spain, or other European countries, but remain affordable.

Depending on your budget you have several options. The smallest intervention is simply to repaint the tiles or refresh them by applying some stickers. Alternatively you can cover the walls with wooden panels, avoiding the shower area where you will be obliged to keep the original tiles (this will allow you to revert back to the original decoration upon vacating the residence; generally landlords are not very enthusiastic about modifications). Play around with contrasting colours and you will get some nice results.

However, if you want a complete overhaul, go ahead, remove everything and commit to a total renovation project. You will have several choices to protect your walls and floor from water damage: varnish, mosaics, marble, or even cement. A good contractor will be able to mix up cement in many different colours.

Marble is the most elegant option; you can use it on the walls, the sink top and the floor. If you dare, using black or very veined marble will add character to your bathroom. If you want something a bit more understated, use white Ariston marble.

Mosaics are another inexpensive and easy-to-source option, and if you like Shanghai’s art-deco style, it will not be difficult to replicate the typical 1930s Shanghainese floors using octagonal mosaics (you can easily find them in black and white).

For the bathtub or shower curtain, use a double curtain with plastic on the inside and fabric outside. This gives you the ability to create a customised fabric curtain (sourced at the Fabric Market), to give a stylish touch to your bathroom.

Last suggestion: treat your bathroom as any other room of the house. Install several mirrors to give the room the feeling it is larger, but also add a few pictures or paintings, a flower arrangement, or even an armchair, bookshelves or a small collection of collectibles if you have the space.

Domitilla Lepri is the owner of Shanghai-based DL Architecture, a firm specialising in renovation and interior decoration. If you have an interior design question you’d like her to answer in a future column, please email her at [email protected].

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