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5 quick-fix bathroom remodel ideas

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | June 9, 2015

You've lived with your dreary bathroom for years. You'd love to gut it and start from scratch with new bathroom remodel ideas like tiled walls, fancy fixtures, and new flooring. Unfortunately, you've got other priorities. It may have to wait a little longer.

Why let the bathroom gross you out another day longer when a little DIY TLC can fix a few of its more disturbing symptoms of age in almost no time at all -- sometimes just a couple of hours or less. These remedies for five common bathroom bringdowns can lift your spirits while leaving your wallet mostly intact.

Mirror, mirror: What's that spot?

Stains and speckles on mirrors distract you from your beauty routine. A shiny, spot-free mirror, on the other hand, can brighten a depressing bathroom and reflect a smile on your face, free of faux blemishes. It's also one of the best small bathroom ideas to create the illusion of spaciousness.

The fix: If the stain is around the edges of the mirror only, you can build a molding frame to cover up the edges of the mirror that are stained. Wood stain, paint, or decorative touches such as mosaic tile or shells add a finishing touch to the frame. You can also purchase DIY mirror framing kits at big box stores and online. When your mirrors are just grimy or splattered with grease, makeup, oil stains, or toothpaste, wipe them squeaky clean using balled up newspaper dipped in white distilled vinegar, and use some elbow grease on the tougher spots. The newspaper doesn't leave behind lint like paper towels do.

Moldy ceiling and tile enclosures

Moisture and bathrooms go hand in hand; mold loves moisture, and bathrooms specialize in providing plenty of it, especially if you have poor ventilation or live in a humid climate. Mold can grow everywhere in a bathroom, but you often notice it most on the tub or shower enclosure tiles and caulking.

The fix: Loosen mold-stained caulking by carefully slitting along the bottom and then top of the silicone caulking with a utility knife, then removing the rest of the old caulk with a flat-bladed utility scraper. Scrub with all-purpose cleaner and a nylon-bristled brush; allow to dry thoroughly and re-caulk with a 100 percent silicone, anti-microbial caulk. To clean mold off shower grout, make a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the grout. Spray it with vinegar, let it bubble up, scrub, rinse, and dry. Keep bathroom moisture and drain clogs under control to prevent regrowth, and spray down the shower regularly with a vinegar and water mixture -- or straight vinegar, if you can stand it.

Musty, mystery odors

If you're greeted with the smell of mildew wafting up every time you bow your head over the sink, it's could be gunk growing in the drain.

The fix: You may have to loosen the p-trap from the wall and clean it out. Be sure to place a bucket under it to catch the crud. If this DIY job sounds too D-I-R-T-Y, you can try rinsing the drain with 1/4 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda mixture. Turn on the water and pour it slowly into the drain to kill bacteria. The odor might originate under the drain stopper, which can be removed and sanitized in the dishwasher; or it could be coming from the overflow drain. In that case, a foaming drain clog remover does the trick. If all else fails, it's time to call a professional plumber.

Mending chipped porcelain sinks

Porcelain sinks consist of a porcelain enamel coating over either steel or cast iron. Both types look lovely until they chip when you drop a heavy object like a full glass bottle onto the surface. If you don't repair it, it doesn't just look tacky -- the metal will eventually rust and your sink will be sunk.

The fix: Wash the chipped area thoroughly with a soapy sponge. Use a 400-600 grit sandpaper to rough it up and apply two-component epoxy in a matching color using a matchstick or small brush. For deep chips, apply multiple layers and allow the instructed amount of drying time between applications. When you're all finished, allow 24-hours for it to dry before using the sink and seven days before scrubbing it.

Museum vintage

Bathroom tiles and fixtures from last century's '40s and '50s qualify as vintage even if they're the color of Pepto-Bismol® or a shade of green that makes you reach for the iconic anti-nausea meds. Whether you find them "retch-ro" or retro, vintage typically also means small. Bathroom ideas may also need to counteract claustrophobia as well as upset stomachs.

The fix: Play down the pink or green tiles by keeping the walls painted a light neutral color -- white, light gray, or creamy beige -- and add pure white towels, and black and white accents and accessories for a sophisticated look. Remember that trick with mirrors to visually expand the space.

With a handful of easy to find, inexpensive supplies and a few hours of your time, you can make your dingy bathroom respectable enough to get by until you can fulfill your real wish list of bathroom remodel ideas.

Photo credit to Myryah Shea Irby

About the Author

Iris Price is a single Baby Boomer whose antidote to a lack of retirement funds was to launch a long-delayed career as a writer. While others her age concoct bucket lists and travel the world, she bought a new-construction home and obsessively creates lists of must-have home improvements and personal realization goals. She specializes in writing about home services and self-motivation.