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Finishing Touches Make the Difference Between Drab and Fab

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Published On : 04-30-2005
Author : Steve Donegan
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ARA) - Three thousand parts. According to the National Association of Home Builders, that's what the typical home contains. And when you're building a home, you're faced with hundreds of decisions regarding those 3,000 parts. One or two car garage? Carpet or hardwood floors? White or oak cabinets? Paint or wallpaper? Chrome or polished brass fixtures? And the list goes on and on.

While these questions may seem overwhelming at first, it's important to take your time and closely consider each decision you make. And it's not just the major choices that matter when building a home. Equally important, if not more so, are the smaller decisions, such as accessories. Items such as lighting, towel bars, glass shelves and more can make all the difference in a room's décor.

These items make a significant difference in particular areas of the home, especially the bathroom. According to Eric Jungbluth, vice president and general manager of Creative Specialties International, a leading designer and manufacturer in the bath accessory marketplace, "A bathroom is a reflection of a homeowner's personal style. Our research shows consumers truly seek an emotional benefit from their baths ... a sense of comfort, serenity, and of style. The right accessories and finishing touches can add these feelings to the bath in an instant."

But, how do you know where to start? Do certain accessories match a specific decorating theme? What accessory options are available? Read on as we explore the world of accessories.

Accessories 101

We all know that an outfit isn't quite complete until you add the finishing touches. A vintage belt, stylish glasses or brand-new necklace can tie an ensemble together and give it a unique style. So, why stop with your clothing? The right mix of accessories, combined with a splash of creativity, can really make a house a home and show off your own unique style.

But how do you actually accessorize your home? According to Sherry Ruggieri, host of HGTV's Design & Decorating program, "Accessorizing is the art of placing and arranging objects to enrich the style of a room, add personality and most important, create visual interest."

Whether accessorizing a bath or an entire home, a recent survey found style is extremely important to Americans when decorating. The research conducted by Creative Specialties International and Rooms of America, a consumer research organization, determined 74 percent of those surveyed believe style is "very important" to "extremely important" in their overall decorating decisions.

In terms of specific style preferences, the survey found consumers typically decorate in three primary thematic approaches: country, casual/contemporary and traditional. Thirty-eight percent of the population decorates in a casual style (also referred to as contemporary); following closely behind, 35 percent of consumers choose a traditional style of decorating; lastly, 27 percent of Americans decorate in a country theme, which includes secondary themes such as Shaker, Country French and Mission.

Accessorizing the Bath

Once you have a style chosen for your home, how do you translate that into the bath? Where do you start? And what types of accessories should be chosen?

An important tip, according to Jungbluth, is to remember there are no rules when it comes to accessorizing the bath. "If your family room and kitchen are decorated in a traditional theme, it doesn't mean you necessarily have to accessorize your bathroom in the same style. It's a personal decision -- experiment with different looks and determine which style combination works best for your home."

In terms of accessorizing the bath, where should you start? Recently, on HGTV's Web site, host Joan Kohn asked two well-known designers for their "words of wisdom" when it comes to creating different looks in the bath, simply with accessories. According to designers Jean Zoller and Nancy Redifer, it's as easy as "1, 2, 3":

  1. The first design decision to be made in any bath is the type of tub to be used, since it must be installed before the walls and windows go up. The color chosen for the tub will affect the rest of the color choices in the room.

  2. If neutral colors are chosen for the large elements that form the background in the bath -- walls, floor, fixtures -- it's easy to change the room's looks, simply with accessories.

  3. Accessories for the bath include candles, towel rings, plants, mirrors, robe hooks, glass shelves and more. Color can also be used as an accessory, with deeper colors being more traditional, while lighter colors have a more contemporary feel.

Jungbluth offered a final tip when choosing accessories, "Think of traditional accessories in untraditional ways. Try placing a grouping of different accessories together on a wall -- perhaps a towel bar, glass shelf and robe hook. The combination of the varying sizes and textures can add an interesting flavor to a room."

Choices Abound

Until recently, chrome or polished brass were the only finish choices in the bath accessory marketplace. Fortunately, the industry has changed dramatically in the last decade, and manufacturers now offer dozens of finish and style options in bath accessories.

"The bath accessory marketplace has really come to life in the last few years," added Jungbluth. "Consumers today have more choices than ever before. From 'retro' styles in oil-rubbed bronze to contemporary designs in brushed chrome … dramatic wrought iron finishes and even accessories made in maple and oak, homeowners have a wide variety of new and innovative design options for the bath."

With all of the new options, Americans still hold true to a traditional finish. According to the aforementioned survey, chrome is still the most popular bath accessory finish, but consumers' second choice, brushed nickel, is on the rise. In addition, other finishes, such as oil-rubbed bronze and wrought iron, are also increasing in popularity with consumers. In fact, non-chrome finishes now represent almost half of bath accessory sales.

Relying on this extensive research, Creative Specialties International recently introduced four new bath accessory collections designed to reflect the styles used in today's bath. Sold under the Inspirations brand, the Kelsey, Vernini, Sienna and Westbury collections each fall into one of the three design categories -- traditional, contemporary/casual or country.

Featuring a distinctive retro flair, the Kelsey collection offers a unique look that combines simple curved lines and soft details. Perfect for a bath with a casual style, its design features a round base with ceramic accents and curved posts.

For those looking for a bath accessory with contemporary style, the Vernini collection is the ideal choice. Drawing from a modern European look, it offers a crisp, decorative style for the bath. What sets this collection apart is its sophisticated, architectural elements including geometric-shaped posts and finials.

The Sienna collection brings a fresh, new look to wrought iron, making it more style-oriented and updated in appearance. With a dramatic black finish that highlights the collection's handcrafted workmanship, it works in many design contexts to make a bold statement in the bathroom.

To enhance a country feel in the bath, the Westbury collection features the warm look of decorative wood. It brings classic bath accessory design elements to a wood collection offering a streamlined, clean appearance. Like fine furniture, it utilizes metal accents for an updated look and is designed to match today's popular cabinetry finishes and is sized so it does not overwhelm the bath.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations! By this point, you should be completely comfortable with adding the finishing touches to your home through the world of accessories. You know what accessorizing is, how to select a style, and carry it through to the bath. The room has been well planned and includes your own personal stamp.

Whether you're building a home or simply redecorating, we can all see the dramatic effect accessories can have in creating your home's style. Remember to keep the style consistent, and have fun in trying new things.

The best advice? "Experiment and try different techniques," added Jungbluth. "Decorating with accessories is a cost-effective way of changing the look of a room in a matter of minutes."

For more information on bath style trends, or accessory products available from Creative Specialties International, write 25300 Al Moen Drive, North Olmsted, OH 44070-8022, call toll free (800) 321-8809, or visit their Web site at www.moen.com.

About The Author

Courtesy of ARA Content, www.ARAcontent.com; e-mail: info@ARAcontent.com

EDITOR'S NOTE: For more information, contact: Wendy Glancy, merchandising & communications manager, Creative Specialties International, (800) 321-8809, Ext. 2245; or Jennifer Morgan, Robert Falls & Co. Public Relations, (216) 696-0229.

Creative Specialties International, a division of Moen Incorporated, is a market-leading organization that provides creative and innovative solutions for today's bath. The company designs and manufactures a complete line of fashionable bath accessories in a wide assortment of styles and finishes. Creative Specialties International manufactures four brands of bath accessories. These include: Inspirations, Moen, Donner and Home Care.

Moen Incorporated is an operating company of Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE: FO, www.fortunebrands.com), the consumer products company.

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