There are many ways to make any bathroom more attractive. The finishing touches include coordinated towels, plant holders, interesting perfume bottles, ceramic containers, towel racks, and shower curtains. For an all-white theme, I always use fluffy, oversized bath towels in neutral colors. A white gardenia plant in a white ceramic soup tureen or interesting bowl is lovely on a wicker plant stand, a whitewashed, old-fashioned wash-stand or a small footstool. The deep green leaves of the gardenia plant add just the right color accent, and when the flowers are in bloom, they give off a wonderful scent. These plants do well in a humid environment.

Shower and Window Curtains
Use decorative, inexpensive sheets to make a window curtain and matching shower curtain. This is one time when a cheap sheet is best. Polyester is better than 100 percent cotton because the sizing makes the material stiff and the fabric won’t wrinkle in a moist environment. A sheet with a pretty border gives you the option of a curtain with a border at the top or bottom. If you want the finishing touch of matching towels, buy an extra single sheet, cut off the border and apply it to the edge of the towels. Another way to customize plain towels is to add a border of ribbon, eyelet or rickrack.

Pretty Containers
Look for interesting containers to hold Q-Tips, makeup brushes, cotton balls, bath beads and shampoo. Rather than hiding these items in a medicine cabinet, keep them out and use them to arrange an interesting display.

I always pore over catalogs from such places as Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel, more for ideas than for things to purchase. For example, I have a silver tea set in an art deco design that I inherited from my grandmother. I never use it because I rarely serve tea, but I often use it as a vase for a bit of elegance on the bathroom vanity. The creamer holds cotton makeup pads. It’s easy to find inexpensive painted vases in interesting shapes to be used for holding everyday things. Group a few silver and glass containers on a silver tray. Yard sales and thrift shops are wonderful sources for all sorts of pretty containers. I especially like old terra-cotta plant pots to hold odds and ends.

Plants Do Well in Moist Rooms
There are many plants that thrive in the humid environment of a bathroom if there is enough natural light as well. Plants make wonderful decorating accessories. Even if the bathroom is old and uninteresting, plants will definitely distract the eye. A large potted rubber plant or hibiscus can sit on the floor if the room is large enough. Ferns and ivy also do well in a bathroom.

Lighting Tricks
Even if you have overhead lighting or chase lights around the mirror, consider a small table lamp, especially in the powder room. When you have guests, leave this light on rather than switching on the brighter lights. Even the tiniest space will hold a small bedroom lamp with a 40-watt bulb. A pink bulb creates a rosy effect and gives off a subtle glow.

Miniature Art Gallery
Photographs and artwork complete the picture. Treat a powder room that is used mostly for guests as if it’s a miniature art gallery and fill the walls. I display framed photographs as well as drawings, framed cards and paintings from friends who are artists.

Displays in Small Spaces
Look for little niches to create a display. A corner shelf unit might work. In my bathroom I have an interesting carved shelf, salvaged from an old desk, over the toilet tank. It fits between the walls and holds an ever-changing display of nostalgic collectibles. There’s a container of shells gathered on the beach, a flowerpot filled with miniature spools of colorful thread, a few framed photographs, a basket of ivory buttons and a ceramic dish that holds lavender and rosebud potpourri. Collectibles find their way into this area. The walls on each side of the vanity are filled with old family photographs. Even though the room is only 4×6 feet, I sometimes squeeze a small wicker plant stand into a corner to hold an array of miniature botanical picture books. Sometimes the plant stand is replaced with a stool that I painted and decorated with pressed flower petals. I try to make this room a surprise for my guests.