NEW YORK – Personalizing your bathroom used to mean buying fancy soap, brightly colored towels and a slick shower curtain. But these days, specialized bathroom items range from the classy to the eccentric.
As people's interest in home decorating skyrockets, every last nook and cranny is getting the personal touch -- including the most personal room of all.
From monogrammed toilet paper to toilet seat covers that remind you to put the lid down to stylish plungers, unique bathroom accessories are in high demand.
"I love the way my master bath looks now," said Blaire Brenner of Boynton Beach, Fla. "I couldn't stand having a bathroom that looked like it belonged in the Marriott. I like the fact that I can include my own sense of style in the bathroom just as I did with the rest of my house."
Brenner, who imported a hand-painted sink from Spain and accessorized it with a matching hand-painted toothbrush and tissue holder, feels that having a signature look is key to enjoying the space you live in. And today, enhancing your space is easier than ever, she said.
"I was an interior decorator for 15 years. It used to be that I would have to search far and wide for something really different. Now all I got to do is go online."
If it's fancy plungers you crave or even a talking soap dispenser, look no further than the Internet. Web sites like BuyBathWare.com and JustToiletPaper.com, offer specialty items that many stores feel are too niche to stock.
"Everybody said it wouldn't work," said Marc Polish, owner of JustToiletPaper.com, a company that manufactures TP featuring everything from Usama bin Laden's face to initials.
Polish, a former retiree who started this venture out of "boredom" has seen an international response to his products. "A guy from England is doing a documentary and wanted the hundred-dollar bill toilet paper to put in it."
Robert Macdonald, owner of TalkingPresents.com, which carries a talking toothbrush holder that says, "Don't forget to brush your teeth," is getting a similarly strong response. "Things are getting very overwhelming. We are going global," he said.
"We have had people who have said, 'We have been searching for this for months,'" said Don Cole of BuyBathware.com. "People want a distinct look. They want something different … They are just tired of a plain old shower curtain."
Cole's business carries an array of items that includes a soap dish in the shape of a golf shoe, lighthouse switch plates and a full line of Southwestern accessories including a cowboy hat toothbrush holder and cowboy boot soap dispenser.
Over at MexByNet.com, decorating diva Shelly Hise offers up something a little bit more chic than a baseball bat plunger. Hise's hand-painted imported sinks are selling like hot cakes. "I think a lot of people have a vision of what they are looking for," she said. "And people are not looking for a typical or modern bathroom."
From toilet tissue that reads "I got the Enrons" to a marbleized plunger from Plungee, novelty items are doing more than revamping otherwise dull bathrooms. They are bringing smiles, chuckles and even a few "I can't believe you actually bought that" comments from amused friends using the guest bathroom.