A bathroom can reveal all about a property and its current owner – when the house was built, if it’s a high-tech, energy-efficient space, whether it’s been maintained or if the homeowner keeps a rigid cleaning schedule. All of that and more can be revealed in a room that holds your most private moments – that’s why it’s crucial for a home seller to spruce up this room before the home hits the housing market.

The bathroom should be light, bright, spacious and clutter-free. Mimic your favorite luxury hotel or spa to make this room one a buyer wants to escape to, especially in a master suite. Like the kitchen, the bathroom is always a priority for homebuyers. Consider the amount of time that will be spent there getting ready for work and events, bathing the kids or taking a break after a hard day’s work with a soak or steam shower.

According to home design website Houzz's 2014 Winter Bathroom Trends study more than half of homeowners start their new full bathroom project from scratch, though a powder room is more likely to be updated rather than gutted than other bathrooms. In most instances, it’s not a wise investment to do a costly renovation just for a home sale, because you’ll never get the return on your investment.

[See: 8 Ways to Stage Your Home in the Winter.]

But that doesn’t mean you have to leave the bathroom as-is. It’s important to maximize on what you already have on a budget, which will help homebuyers visualize the potential of the room. Here are a few projects a seller can implement to freshen up the bathroom for less than $1,000.

Clear off surfaces. Start by removing all your personal items laying around on countertop surfaces, in your shower and surrounding the throne. By leaving your personal items on public display, buyers are naturally more interested in the products than the features of the room, and can be easily distracted. A lot of personal items can also make buyers feel as if they’re intruding on your personal space. Keep toothbrushes, hair products, magazines, scales, plungers and toilet brushes at bay – find them new homes under the sink or in a closet close by.

One tip to consider: Use baskets to corral shower items so you can easily access them when needed, and put them away just as fast for showings.

Clean up. While this is a budget-friendly solution, and it can be labor intensive and time consuming depending on the bathroom’s condition. Buyers will pay a premium for new, so clean the space to make it feel like new. If your bathrooms are immaculate, it gives buyers the impression that your home has been well maintained and cared for.

Apply a fresh coat of paint. Painting a room is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to update the space. Choose an off white, beige, gray, green or even a blue to give the bathroom a facelift. Paint the cabinetry, countertop surfaces, even old, worn-out wall tiles with specialty paint in neutral tones, rather than gutting the room.

Sell it with storage space. Buyers will be looking inside bathroom drawers and cabinets to see how much space they offer. Make sure they are organized by removing half of the items being stored in those spaces. Consider using shelf paper or liners to add some hidden personality, as well as pretty boxes with a lid to contain smaller items.

[See: Weird Home Features That May Confuse Homebuyers.]

Make minor upgrades. Spend your money wisely, only making small, inexpensive improvements where it will show. Try replacing shower door glass, or repaint the shower door frame in a popular metal color like gold, silver or bronze. Replace a leaking faucet and opt for a showerhead that has multiple pressure options, including the rain feature. Update towel bars, broken tiles and replace rusty mirrors. You can also frame old, worn-out mirrors.

Outline the details. Grout lines and old caulking can show any bathroom’s age. Take the time to clean the grout lines between tiles with a combination of baking soda, water and vinegar. For tough stains and discoloration try using Polyblend Grout Renew. Don’t forget to re-caulk around the bathtub, shower, toilet and sink areas.

Make the hardware shine. It’s amazing how small details can personalize a bathroom. For less than $100 a seller can replace the knobs and pulls on their cabinets to create a completely different look. Want to keep your old hardware? Wash them well with warm water and soap, then spray paint them in a metal finish.

Upgrade fixtures that flow. Buy a new faucet to mount if your old one has seen better days. There are a variety of styles and finishes that can vary in cost. If your sink can handle it, choose a faucet with a considerable spout height and reach to look more sophisticated. Remember all the fixtures in the room should have matching metal finishes and materials to create a cohesive look.

Light the way. Is your lighting fixture dating the room? If so, replace it with a newer version. Look for sconces, chandeliers, vanity lights or semi-flush mount ceiling fixtures that fit your home’s design style.

[See: 10 Unorthodox Ways Your Real Estate Agent May Market Your Home.]

Add finishing touches. Choose accessories to add a layer of warmth, elegance and luxury. This is where you can consider using soft, tranquil colors to complete the spa-like look. Use luxurious towels, a flower or plant, display fragrant soaps, bath oils and natural loofahs inside apothecary jars and display candles around the tub. Make sure to group these items together to create a uniformity that looks less cluttered.

Tags: real estate, housing market, existing home sales, pending home sales, home improvements


Tori Toth is a best-selling author, DIY and lifestyle expert, award-winning home stager and lifestyle authority. She can show anybody how to add more value to their home by giving the tools needed to prepare and showcase any home for sale. She works with consumers, real estate agents, or anybody else who wants to make their home look its best quickly and easily. Home staging is a strategic marketing tool for the biggest return on investment of a home, focusing on renovation and creative design. By creating a lifestyle that buyers will find aspirational, Tori Toth will demonstrate methods of rearranging, organizing and in many cases, adding or editing furniture and home décor. The best, clearest, most helpful information of how to stage a home with and be an immediate success can be found in Tori’ best-selling book "Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell."

Recommended Articles

How Much Does It Cost to Sell Your Home?

Dima Williams | May 20, 2019

From the real estate commission to taxes, a slate of costs accompanies the sale of a property.

The Most Desirable Places to Live

Devon Thorsby | May 17, 2019

Check out where U.S. residents would live if they could.

How to Finish a Basement

Devon Thorsby | May 15, 2019

Before you dive into a massive construction project, know the cost and process involved when finishing a basement.

10 Affordable Spring Renovation Projects

Andrea Woroch | May 14, 2019

Transform your space without overspending on a home renovation.

Deal Breakers to Spot Before Moving

Wendy Arriz | May 14, 2019

Before deciding on your next home, consider the sights, smells and sounds around a house or neighborhood that can become a problem later on.

Apps for Finding Your Next Apartment

Devon Thorsby | May 10, 2019

These apartment for rent apps can help you find a place, submit an application and even pay your rent.

Selling Your Home in Spring and Summer

Devon Thorsby | May 8, 2019

Prepare to put your home on the market during the hottest selling seasons.

How to Decide Where to Live

Lisa Larson | May 8, 2019

For college graduates deciding where to move next, keep these key details in mind.

How Much Down Payment Do You Really Need These Days?

Teresa Mears | May 3, 2019

Conventional wisdom says 20%, but you can buy your first home with much less down.

The Best Places to Live for Allergies

Devon Thorsby | May 1, 2019

Consider these spots for your next hometown if you're fed up with seasonal allergies.

Popular Home Updates Worth the Money

Devon Thorsby | April 26, 2019

With a few tweaks to your home, you can save money and get more back when it comes time to sell.

Considerations When Renting Out a Room

Geoff Williams | April 26, 2019

Before renting a spare room, discuss pets and parking to ensure a prospective tenant is a good fit.

The Best Places to Live for the Weather

Devon Thorsby | April 24, 2019

Where would you move to enjoy blue skies and sunshine year-round?

What to Consider Before Signing a Lease

Geoff Williams | April 23, 2019

Before you commit to signing a lease, consider these expert-backed tips.

Best Places to Live for Quality of Life

Devon Thorsby | April 19, 2019

These metro areas offer the best education, access to health services and crime rates.

Why Spring Is the Perfect Time to Sell

Devon Thorsby | April 17, 2019

Spring is here and interest rates are low – it's a great time to make the most of eager buyers.

Home Selling: Real Estate Team vs. Agent

Dima Williams | April 17, 2019

Solo agents are an industry standard, but teams offer a novel alternative. Here's what sets the two arrangements apart.  

The Priciest Repairs for Homebuyers

Lisa Larson | April 16, 2019

Avoid the repairs that will cost you the most before you move in with a sharp eye and the right inspections.

The Best Places to Live in New York

Devon Thorsby | April 12, 2019

Find out where in the Empire State you'll find the best opportunities.

What’s Dragging Down Your Home's Value?

Devon Thorsby | April 10, 2019

Find out why your home isn't worth as much as you think.