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Beauty & the Bath

Wood Project Inspiration

You can create a classic-looking bathroom that radiates warmth simply by applying a touch of style - and the right wood stain.

America's newfound passion for the ultimate bathroom shows every sign of blossoming into a full-blown love affair. In the new American bath, bigger is better, special features and amenities are all-important and traditional style tops the design wish list. That was the aim of this renovation: to transform a patently plain space into a spectacular statement by putting in a roomful of sumptuous natural-wood paneling.

For a bath that had little more than the basic fixtures and next to nothing in the way of warmth and style, the first step was picking a specific, distinctive look - one that reflected a love of tradition but with a crisp, up-to-date design. The inspiration came from British Colonial style - at once familiar and a tad exotic - which provided a way to unite all the elements with a simple paneling motif. Framed with clean-lined moldings, the flat panels not only cover the walls but also skirt the new whirlpool tub, form each side of the vanity cabinet and provide the facing for the combination window seat/storage bench. And even though the panels and moldings were made of light-colored birch and poplar, the right Minwax® stain and protective finish produced a deep, richly toned result. It took just one coat of Minwax® Wood Finish™ Red Mahogany to bring out the subtle grain patterns, create an appropriately mild contrast between the panels and the moldings and give the wood a mellow richness. And to stand up to everyday splashes and moisture, only one finish would do: Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane, which added a tough layer of protection and made the wood glow with a tone and depth that recalls grand rooms of the past. It's a look that once again proves the power of natural wood, elegantly finished, can turn a once functional-only space into an inviting retreat.

Tips

Ordinary woodwork - such as birch and poplar - can take on a rich feel when working with Minwax® finishes. Here, Minwax® Wood Finish™ Red Mahogany stain was applied with a Minwax® Wood Finish™ Stain Brush. A liberal coating was allowed to penetrate for several minutes and then followed by a wipe-down with a soft, dry cloth to ensure even coloration. After the stain dried, the woodwork was given a first coat of Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane in a semi-gloss sheen with a natural-bristle brush. For ultimate smoothness, this coat was sanded again with 200-grit paper and wiped free of sanding dust before the final coat was applied. Finally, all nail holes were filled with Minwax Wood Putty® Red Mahogany. The result: gorgeous wood paneling that looks like the work of a skilled craftsman.