How to stage a bathroom to impress potential buyers

by Corben Grant on 12 Nov 2021

In terms of square footage, bathrooms probably make up a relatively small part of a home, but despite that, they can be one of the most important rooms to stage properly. As a very private space, the bathroom is crucial to feeling comfortable and welcoming in a home, especially to potential buyers touring your properties. If you can nail this room in staging, you are well on your way to making a huge impression on your viewers.

In this article, we will offer some tips for you and your clients on how to make sure a bathroom looks its very best, including some common things that people often miss.

Why it's important to properly stage the bathroom

Bathrooms are a pretty unique place in the house. Though we don't spend our whole days in them as we would in a living room or office, they are a very personal space for people. For most, they are one of the first rooms they enter to begin their day and one of the last places they go at the end of the night. It’s a private space where people's most intimate habits come out.

When staging a home, you ideally want to make it feel welcoming so the guest can imagine themselves in it. The thing is, it's not easy to make someone comfortable in a stranger's bathroom. That's where staging comes in - to help to turn even the dingiest bathroom into something more appealing.

The first step: clean. Really clean.

This one may seem obvious, but it’s really the single most important step. When preparing a bathroom for staging, you should take extra care beyond the usual cleaning activities to get your bathroom squeaky clean. The obvious stuff like cleaning the sink, toilet, and mirror should be done with extra care. If need be, clean everything twice. Get out the toothbrush or the bleach. Descale your shower head and taps. Make everything sparkle!

Beyond that, consider things like cleaning out drawers or spaces beneath the sink. Your buyers are going to want to know what sort of storage options are available for them to use, so pushing all your clutter into a drawer is not a great solution.

Also, be sure to clean all the small spots you may have a habit of missing, like the cracks between surfaces that can accumulate some serious grime. Take a close look at caulking and grouting in the bathroom floor, shower, or backsplash. These can honestly be a pain to clean, but they will make a huge difference in the overall impression of cleanliness.

Another consideration is the actual cleaning products you use for your bathroom. Odd smells in a bathroom can be pretty off-putting for most people and a lot of heavy-duty cleaners can have harsh chemicals. Consider using them only to start, but finish with nicely scented products to avoid any distracting odours. You may also choose to open the window (weather permitting) to allow fresh air into the bathroom. Or, get an air freshener or scented candle but ensure it’s not too strong.

Remove all personal items

Your potential buyers are visiting to learn about a house. They don’t care what sort of shampoo your client uses. Leaving personal items in a staged bathroom can range from mildly distracting to downright off-putting. Before showing a home, do your best to store away any unnecessary bathroom items, preferably somewhere out of sight like in a closet.

For everyday essentials, keep them together in a basket or bag you can easily put out of sight when a showing begins. The same idea applies to the shower. Keep any shower items to a minimum.

Put away toilet seat covers for showings and consider putting away the bathmat as well. For extra points, remove trash cans and laundry hampers from the bathroom before having your showing as these often look unappealing, especially if they’re full.

Change out your tired old bathroom items

This is a step beyond cleaning and decluttering that you can do to make your bathroom look even better. This relatively inexpensive trick can make your bathroom look magnitudes more appealing. Simply put, if your bath mat has seen better days, replace it. The same goes for your shower curtain, your hand towels, and really anything else that can be removed and replaced.

Now, how far you take this will depend on how bad your current bathroom items are and how expensive the upgrade is. For example, a new shower head is pretty easy to install. Replacing your whole toilet on the other hand may not be worth the effort.

Even disposable items like toilet paper or bars of hand soap should be switched out with brand new ones for the showing. Imagine the times you've seen hotel bathrooms and how nice it felt to see everything stocked and set for you upon arrival. This is the feeling you want to tap into for your guests.

Replace an old toilet seat

The toilet is potentially the single most uncomfortable area in the home. You want to do everything you can to make it as clean as possible. If necessary, get a brand new toilet seat to replace an old worn-out one. A toilet seat can be bought at any home improvement store and often doesn’t take more than a screwdriver to install.

Consider lighting choices

One big way to improve the way potential buyers see your bathroom is to take a look at the lighting. Generally, people like bathrooms that are bright and lit with a neutral tone. And, if your bathroom is too dark, it will make it hard to see that wonderful cleaning job you did.

If you have a window in your bathroom, you may have blinds for privacy’s sake. However, during a daytime show, open the blinds to fill the room with welcoming natural daylight. Even if you don't have a window, something as simple as changing out your light bulbs can make a big difference in the impression of the room and it shouldn't cost you much.

New towels

Get a new set of towels just for the purpose of hanging up for showings. After all, what's more inviting than a fresh set of crisp white towels on the towel rack? This will also give you the option to coordinate your towels with the design of your bathroom to really make a cohesive look. We will talk more about bathroom design later.

Get a new shower curtain

Changing your shower curtain can be another easy and inexpensive way to drastically change the appearance of your bathroom. If yours is old and worn or clashes with other elements of the room, consider changing it. There are hundreds of shower curtain designs and textures available, so you can easily find the perfect one for your space.

Consider a total design overhaul

You may have not put much thought into the design of your bathroom, but it can be really important for a showing. This will be one of the instances where it’s best to consult a design guide or ideally a professional stager or interior designer to help guide your choices. Just like clothing, homes have design trends and styles and picking just the right style can take some expertise. Even if you pick the right style, it can take a special eye to fully realize the vision.

Remember when we mentioned replacing your bathroom items before? You should keep your design in mind as you select new items to keep everything looking consistent. A design overhaul doesn't mean you need to do a full remodel of your bathroom (though that is an option explored later) and it can be as simple or as in-depth as you want it to be.

A fresh coat of paint goes a long way

A new coat of paint can make a big difference in your bathroom, especially if it’s been a long time since the last paint job. The thing about trendy colours is they may look appealing at the time, but eventually come to feel worn-out and old. If you have a bathroom that features the pinks, greens, and browns of the 1960s or 70s, for example, buyers will turn and run. Your designer can help you choose the best colours that appeal to modern buyers.

Paint doesn't only have to be for the wall either. In many cases, bathroom vanities or cabinets can be painted as well. Adding a new colour to cabinets can cover up any scratches or dents that were present as well as change the feel of the room greatly. You would be surprised how much new life an old cabinet can get from a simple coat of paint. Always consider this option before going out of the way for new cabinets.

Modern colour choices

Just what are the popular colours in home design these days? For bathrooms, the general advice is to avoid vibrant colours and stick to more neutral tones. White is a common bathroom colour, though a bit bland. Other popular colours are grey, tan, and light blue. These colours help make the bathroom feel bright and clean and can even help a small bathroom feel larger than it really is. And while neutral colours are recommended, a vibrant accent wall may be a perfect finishing touch for your particular space. Again, consult a designer for the perfect colour options for the space in question.

Replacing fixtures

Short of a full remodel, replacing mismatched fixtures in your bathroom with all new pieces can make a huge difference. This could cost more than other options, but will give you a chance to really nail that style you want to present.

Additional details

There are many smaller decor items you can add to a bathroom to make it feel more welcoming. Though they might not be strictly functional, they can put people more at ease in the room. A popular choice is a plant, and there are many house plants that actually thrive in the bright and occasionally humid settings of a bathroom. If you aren’t great at caring for plants, a fake one will do the trick.

Add visual appeal with wall art

Another option to spice up your bathroom space is wall art. You shouldn't let your bathroom look like a crowded art gallery, but a frame here and there can add a lot of visual interest. Choose something tasteful and appealing to anybody, and aim for simple imagery over highly detailed attention-grabbing pieces. Remember, it is supposed to add to the look, not draw all the looks to it.

A good option is to hang your art above the toilet or the towel bar. A master bath may have plenty of room for art, whereas for a small bathroom, stick to only one or two small pieces or nothing at all.

Some more decorative ideas include decorative soap dishes or trays for bathroom necessities, bowls of scented potpourri or candles, a basket of neatly folded hand towels, jars with cotton balls or bath salts, and more. There are so many options to choose from, but whatever you do, try to keep it subtle.

When is it time for a remodel?

The final choice when trying to sell a home may be to remodel your bathroom entirely. A bathroom remodel can turn your bathroom into a completely different space and can make it much more appealing to potential buyers. However, the return on investment of a bathroom remodel may not always be favourable for you. Here are some times you may want to consider a full remodel.

If your bathroom is in very poor shape or is severely outdated it may be time to consider a remodel. This is especially true for the master bath which could be a major showpiece for the home. Another time to consider is if you are doing remodels or renovations to other parts of the home and want the bathroom to match. You may also consider remodelling a basement bathroom as part of a larger basement finishing project.

Conclusion

If you keep all these tips in mind, you will be surprised by how dramatic the difference can be in your bathroom. It may just look so good after all is said and done, that you nearly don't want to sell it! Now that you've mastered your bathroom staging skills, it's time to move on to the other rooms in the home that each have their own unique needs. Stay tuned to REP for more tips for your home staging in the future.

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