By Whitney Coy | Nov 14, 2018
When you host a party, there can be a disproportionate amount of stress over the condition of your bathroom. It's the place your guests will likely spend the least amount of time, but also the place they'll inspect the most closely in your home. After all, what is there to do while sitting on the toilet aside from studying your grimy grout or avocado-colored bathtub?
With the holidays fast approaching, party season is in full swing. And if you host, there's zero chance that none of your guests will venture into your bathroom. (Yes, that was a double negative.)
Thankfully, there's no need to do a full gut renovation of your bathroom before you can throw a party to remember. We asked the experts how to make a dud of a bathroom truly shine in a hurry. No matter what it is about your bathroom that bothers you, these tips will show you how to fix it on a tight schedule and within budget.
Go ahead and send out those holiday invites—your bathroom is going to shine just as much as your tree. Here's how to fix your biggest bathroom problem areas.
1. Outdated tile
How long has that same tile been on your bathroom wall? You probably don't even notice it anymore, but your guests sure will. Retiling the entire bathroom is probably too much of a chore for the holiday season, but according to the experts, you don't have to take it that far.
Property stylist Karen Gray Plaisted of Warwick, NY, suggests skipping the tile work completely and focusing on the untiled portion of the walls.
"Paint the bathroom walls to coordinate and give the room a fresh, updated look," she says.
If you really hate the tile in your bathroom, you may want to consider painting over them entirely, says real estate agent Leslie Zeanah of Montgomery, AL.
"Tile can be easily painted within a few hours for less than $100 by utilizing a tub and sink refinishing kit," she says. "It's a cost-effective way to quickly update the room."
Barbara Kavovit, founder and CEO of Evergreen Construction in New York City, says tile decals are another great option.
"They come in a range of modern patterns, easily adhere to the wall, and can quickly turn a tired backsplash into a piece of art," she says.
Leah Tuttleman, designer for Re-Bath, has the simplest solution of all: "New artwork can make a big difference," she says. "Find a piece you like that has a tiny element of the color in your tile. This will help tie in your tile to the space while putting the focal point on the elegant piece of artwork—a simple diversion."
2. Gross caulking
You know what we're talking about. That caulking around your tub looks great for a month or two, then it starts turning horrid shades of brown and black—and no amount of traditional scrubbing can make it white again. Of course, you can always just close the shower curtain, but who's to say your guests won't peek?
There's always the option of recaulking, but that can be time-consuming. Kavovit says there's an easy fix.
"Using a Clorox Bleach Pen is an affordable solution," she says. "Simply swipe the pen over the caulk, let the bleach sit for a few hours, and then carefully wipe it away with a damp rag. Afterward, your bathroom will be bright and sparkling."
3. Lack of lighting
If your bathroom doesn't have a window—or if it has a tiny one—it can quickly impart a dark and scary cave feel, which is not the way you want to welcome your guests. Fortunately, it can be fixed without putting a hole in the wall.
Zeanah suggests starting in the obvious place—with lighting.
"LED bulbs in bright white or daylight colors offer the brightest light, which will go a long way in a small room," she says. "Another option is to try removing dated shades and replacing with decorative bulbs such as the vintage Edison bulb, which also provides a modern look."
4. Outdated flooring
Those bathroom floors have probably seen better days. Whether it's water stains, worn spots, or a persistent sticky coating from who knows what, you probably want to fix 'em up before it's time to host.
According to J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, the solution could be as simple as regrouting the ceramic tiles.
Kavovit, however, has bigger plans. "If you have a smooth bathroom floor, rollable vinyl flooring can quickly make a dated bathroom fresh and modern," she says.
"Choosing a steely gray or wood print can change a bathroom from tacky to tranquil without the headache of a full renovation," she adds.
5. Cloudy shower doors
If you have a glass shower door, you're familiar with this struggle. No matter how long you scrub, it always looks cloudy and unclean.
Tuttleman has a handy trick for ditching the murk. "Use common household items such as white vinegar, baking soda, and salt," she says.
"Spray the vinegar on the glass door first and then create a paste with equal amounts of baking soda and salt—then wash and rinse. Be sure to never use hard bristles as this will damage the surface."
It seems like everyone has a different trick up their sleeve for this one, though.
"When my shower doors get cloudy, I reach for a Magic Eraser," says Kavovit. "It wipes all the soap scum and grime away, and is much more affordable than replacing the entire door."
6. Zero personality
Bathrooms tend to be more focused on function than beauty, so it's not surprising if yours needs a personality infusion before you're ready to welcome guests.
Sassano says the best way to do that is with a new shower curtain.
"Unless you have an unusually large bathroom, you won't be hanging large pieces of art there, so consider the shower curtain your statement piece," he says.
Whitney Coy is a writer and editor living in Lancaster, OH. Her work can also be seen on SheKnows, Mashed, The List, Techwalla, and more.