How to Get Around a Bathroom With Ugly Blue Tiles


Blue is not your favorite color, not this shade of blue anyway. But the bathroom is awash in it -- ugly blue tile everywhere. Either you can't afford a total reno, or the landlord would be most unhappy if you misplaced that unforgettable tile. So you'll have to get around it.

Edgy Alternative

A little home improvement may be in order -- just a bit to keep the costs down and the objections at bay. Add a border of decorative tile, such as a chair rail or a shoulder-high cap to the existing tile.

  • Choose something lively you can play off -- blue sailboats on a white background, or blue-and-orange chevrons for contrast extended to the bath towels, guest soaps, mat and orange-and-white striped curtains.
  • A blue-and-yellow checkerboard pattern glazed into the border tiles invites cheerful yellow rugs, towels, curtains and a big rubber duckie for the tub.
  • If the blue tile is patterned -- with green, brown, gray, red or another hue -- add top and baseboard borders in solid subway tile of the same blue shade.
  • Confuse the eye with a blue-and-white striped slipper chair and curtains with a shower curtain patterned in white and the other color in the multi-hued blue tile.  

The Brush-Off

Drastic but effective -- change the tile color by covering it with an all-in-one ceramic tile paint-primer.

Things You'll Need

  • Carbide sandpaper, 220 grit, or deglosser
  • Safety mask
  • Goggles
  • Protective clothing
  • Dropcloth
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Sand the tile

Create a grippy surface on the smooth expanse of blue with 220-grit carbide sandpaper or a muriatic-acid-based deglosser. This alternative is safest in a bathroom with good ventilation, but wear a safety mask, goggles and protective clothing as well when working with acid.

Step 2: Paint it

Brush on a good coat of opaque paint -- you'll probably end up covering the grout, but that's not fatal. A sprayer gives a more even coat of color with no brush marks.

Step 3: More paint

For tile areas that get wet, such as shower and tub surrounds, use a two-part epoxy-based paint. Those come in pastels only, but you will surely be able to find a happier choice than ugly blue. A drift of snowy towels and wicker or rattan accessories complement the new pastel tile.


  • A note of caution: Painting may not be a wise remedy if you don't actually own that bathroom.

Got Elegance?

You've got the bathroom blues, and a little razzle-dazzle might make things look better. Paint the ceiling white and hang a glittery crystal pendant lamp or chandelier in the center of the room or over the sink. Mount large mirrors on the walls, with ornate mirrored or silver-leaf frames. Put a blue-and-white striped carpet with silver threads woven through it on the floor, or toss down a couple of flokati-like fluffy white rugs. Accessorize the room with woven silver towel baskets, and silver or crystal bowls of potpourri, toothbrush holders and a bathroom scale. Pretend your bathroom is the sky, and you are among the clouds and stars -- at least until you can afford to rip everything out and have the room retiled.

The Coverup

When you can't stand it, hide it. That fugly blue came with the bargain rental, and it's not going anywhere. Put the flounciest ruffled floor-length shower curtain you can over the whole tub area and remove one expanse of blue from view. Hang stick-on towel hooks on a wall and keep drying bath towels draped over them. Put some art up -- a big poster or a framed painting puts a dent in the blue square footage. If there's room, move a cabinet -- in a finish or color you like -- into the room and park it against one wall. A full-length freestanding mirror reflects gorgeous you back atcha while it hides the blue.

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