Holiday Mini-Renovations: Sprucing up Kitchens, Baths, Grout and Cabinets

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you may looking around at you home – a not-so-sparkling kitchen or bathroom, a seldom-used guest room, or a less-than-dramatic family room – and wishing you had scheduled your home renovation back during the summer. Clearly there is not enough time to renovate now, but with two weekends to go before the holiday gathering, there is plenty of time to do a mini-makeover on your home.

During the coming days, we’ll share a few ideas you can use to spruce up your home quickly to prepare for the onslaught of visitors. Of course, these tips are DIY friendly and economical. You’ll have plenty of time to complete your mini-renovation and will save enough money for grocery shopping. And maybe you’ll be inspired to plan your major renovations for after the holidays.

Kitchens and Baths

When there is no time to renovate your kitchen or bathroom before visitors arrive, concentrate on cleaning the big surfaces. Countertops, floors, and cabinets occupy major space in your kitchen and bath, and polishing them to nearly new appearance can make you feel like you’ve done a custom renovation in a matter of hours.


Tile Bathtub

Grout is a great place to start to get your tile surfaces looking good as new.

For tile countertops and floors, grimy grout can make a once-stunning surface look old and worn, despite the condition of the tile. Here in Vancouver, WA, we’re already into the season where we are tracking in a lot of mud and gunk from the rainy season, all of which accumulates in the grout lines in the floor. Whether you’ve got mold and mildew, kitchen food stains, or high-traffic grime, you can work your own renovation magic by cleaning the grout on your ceramic tile counter or floor.

For a natural green approach, mix equal parts vinegar and water to use as a cleaning agent. Or make a paste with baking soda and water. For more stubborn stains, you may need to try generic household cleaners or a commercial tile and grout cleanser.

No matter what cleaning agent you use, be sure to follow the instructions to the letter. Rinse first with water to remove any debris. Then use a stiff brush to scrub away the dirt and stains – a toothbrush may not be strong enough for stubborn stains. Avoid metal bristle brushes because they will eat away at the grout.

Once clean and dry, seal the grout to keep that clean look. A couple of coats should to it, and be sure to purchase the correct sealant for the type of grout you have. Enjoy the look of your freshly cleaned counter or floor.


Kitchen cabinets get coated with grease and grime from cooking meals throughout the year. Bathroom cabinets are subjected to dirt and soap scum from hours of use. Spruce up those cabinets for your pre-Thanksgiving mini-renovation by cleaning and polishing them to look like new.

Begin by using a microfiber towel to dust the exterior surface of the cabinets. This removes any dust and loose debris on the outside of the cabinets and exposes any greasy spots. Then clean the outside of the cabinets using a rag or microfiber towel and a solution of vinegar and warm water. Dip the rag into the solution and then rub the cabinets thoroughly to clean them. Make sure to get into all the crevices and areas where dirty fingers repeatedly touch the cabinet doors. Don’t let water stand on your wood surfaces. Dry the cabinets promptly with a clean cloth to prevent any damage to the wood.

Once the cabinets are clean and dry, polish them to a high shine with the polish of your choice. Some people polish with a tiny bit of olive oil on a paper towel, working it in a circular motion into the wood. There are other oils for sale that are specifically designed to polish wood. You can also use a light coat of wax or a commercial polish like Old English or Murphy’s.

Your Mini-Renovation

Next week, we’ll discuss some other ways to give your home a mini-renovation when you’re short on time. In the meantime, what areas of your home do you focus on when you are planning to host the holidays?

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