6 Ways to Freshen Your Guest Bath

Posted by on October 9, 2009

Is your home holiday-ready? Think beyond Halloween; after all, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are literally just weeks away. Are you expecting house guests or partygoers this season? Take a long, hard look at your guest bath, powder room and/or guest room. Does it need repairs or updating? Has the guest room become a storage locker for unwanted furniture, exercise equipment and vacuum cleaners?

Now is the time to start making your home ready and welcome for guests, rather than frantic, half-hearted efforts the night before your mother-in-law or your best friend from college arrives.

One of the surest ways to freshen a room is to re-paint it. But, if you have neither the time nor the penchant for painting, nor the budget to hire it done, consider doing one or more of these easy and quick fixes to get your guest bath in hotel-perfect shape in time for the holidays. Be sure to pick a weekend to do your chosen project(s) and put it in your planner to stay on track.

After years of thinking about it, I finally re-did my guest bath a few months ago. Using these easy tricks it is totally transformed! (I must also disclose that I did re-paint the bath using a color washing technique that was a real timesaver. I still want to add crown moulding, but that’s further down the to-do list for now.)

1. Change the shower curtain. In a typical (i.e. small) hall bath, nearly a quarter (or more) of the visible area is the shower curtain. Invest in a shower curtain that blends with your current décor, and is inspiration for perhaps updating the bathroom further in the spring. I made my shower curtain and valance years ago but didn’t unpack it until recently (I’ve been in my home almost 8 years) so it’s new to me. Don’t forget to replace the curtain liner as well.

2. Give the guests new towels. OK, I admit it: some of my guest towels were purchased eons ago (seriously, like 20 years ago) and some were “hand-me-downs” from my master bath. With all the other effort I put into the room, I would have been remiss to keep the old towels. I donated most of them to charity (they were such good quality they were still in good condition) and saved just a few for backup. Otherwise, my guests are now treated to luxurious new towels from bath sheets to wash cloths. I found a department store sale and had a coupon as well, so they were very inexpensive.

3. Change the towels bars. Fresh, gleaming metal adds spark to any room, but even more so the bathroom. Before you head out to your favorite home improvement center, be sure to measure your existing hardware (towel bars, tissue holder, etc.) because you may be able to re-use the existing brackets or at the very least, cover up the holes left by the existing brackets. If you currently have a single towel bar, consider purchasing a double bar to replace it. Twice as many towels in the same amount of wall space! And while you’re in the store, pick up a couple of robe hooks for the back of the bathroom door.

4. Change the light fixture. I’ve installed or changed out several light fixtures. It’s actually pretty easy, and detailed instructions are in the box with the new fixture. If you feel like tackling this project, the single most important thing to remember is: TURN OFF THE POWER AT THE BREAKER BOX. Do not attempt any re-wiring job without turning off the power. It may take a few attempts to get the right breaker if your fuse box is poorly marked, but this step cannot be skipped. Shopping tip: Remove the existing light fixture before you go shopping. Do not assume that the junction box (where the wires come out of the wall) is centered over the mirror. I made that assumption and had to return the light fixture that I had my eye on for a year because the power connection was in the middle of the fixture, but not in the middle of the mirror. So I returned the $85 fixture and instead picked up a “mix and match” fixture that had a longer back plate (to cover up the uncentered wires). And I even saved money; the fixture body was $35 and 3 glass shades were $21 for a total price of $56. There were about a dozen different styles and colors of shades that would have worked with the fixture. It’s a great way to get a custom look for your room.

5. Update the faucet. When I sold my mom’s house, I wanted to replace the vanity top in the guest bath and I wanted to do it inexpensively. Unfortunately, I could not find a premade top to fit just right so I opted to just update the faucet to a more stylish design.

Before

Before

It was still under $50. When I went by the house after the handyman had been there, I could not believe my eyes: the entire sink looked new! It was cleaner, brighter and more modern, all with one little faucet. Depending on your skill and confidence levels, you might need help with this one. Changing a faucet is actually pretty simple, but there are special tools needed (a basin wrench, Teflon tape) and you have to squeeze into the vanity cabinet on your back, but other than that, it’s easy! Shopping tips: The new faucet has to fit in the place of the old faucet exactly (there are holes drilled into the sink, typically 3 holes). Does the old fixture have a solid bottom plate covering all the holes, or are the taps and the faucet all separate? Measure the distance between the centers of the hot and cold taps, write it down and take it with you to the store. Take a photo of the existing faucet with your camera phone for reference when you’re at the store. Keep your receipt so that if the new faucet does not fit you can take it back.

6. Trim the mirror. If you have a plain, builder-quality, plate-glass mirror in your guest bath, you can have it removed and then

repair, spackle, texture and re-paint the wall, or you can trim out the mirror with under $20 of materials plus the cost of a miter box (around $12).

For this project, measure the height and width of your mirror; multiple each by two and add it up: this is the total linear feet of trim you will need. I chose a classic fluted trim in a pre-primed

After

After

fiberboard material. In addition, purchase 4 corner rosettes and a tube of construction adhesive. (If you get stumped, ask the clerks at the home improvement store. I’ve always found them helpful and slightly amused by my DIY efforts.) If desired, paint the trim and rosettes with a trim color of your choosing. Affix the rosettes in each corner of the mirror with the construction adhesive and allow to set. (Note: Because the trim moulding is typically narrower than the rosette, and assuming you want the trim centered on the rosette, you may have to set the rosette slightly off the edge of the mirror.) Next, carefully measure the distance between each rosette. Measure it again. Measure and cut 4 pieces using the 90 degree slot on the miter box, one for each distance between rosettes. (Tip: square off the end of the trim before measuring and cutting; simply saw off about ¼ inch using the 90 degree slot on the miter box.) Attach each length of moulding directly to the mirror between the rosettes using the construction adhesive. In all, this should take about one hour, and it gives a real custom look.