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Simple Bathroom Renovation Tips for Selling

By Dana J. Smithers

At all of my public talks on Preparing Your House for Selling home sellers want to know 'Which are the most important rooms for selling?. My answer is always - the bathroom and the kitchen. Other rooms are important but since women make 85% of the buying decisions you need to pay attention to what we look at first! Many a restaurant has lost our business because of the condition of the bathroom – right ladies!

As a professional home stager I have worked with hundreds of clients getting their home ready for selling. Home Stagers are part of a growing service sector in the real estate industry. We know our business and we know how to give a home that 'Open House Ready' look.

Before and After picture of bathroom

One of the most important criteria that home stagers work with is determining who your target market is. We provide many services that allow us to assist the home seller to save them TIME, MONEY & ENERGY. Make no mistake – selling is a very, very big job.

My advice to you is not to spend too much money on major renovations in your bathroom or kitchen. These are very personal rooms and they are the ones that are most often updated once the new owner has moved in. Do what you need to do to make the rooms look good. There will be other places for you to spend your money.

I am going to share some simple tips that you can take to get your bathrooms looking great for selling no matter who your target market is. You can make these changes to your bathroom on a very small budget.

TIPS For Selling & Simple Bathroom Renovations:

  1. After Bathroom PictureRemove all the clutter and all of your personal items. Buyers don't want to see your hair brush, tooth brush or your cat's litter. (Honestly this is what I walked into one day...) Now is the time to sort through what you really need to keep, give away, sell or throw out. Recycle where you can. Counter tops should be clear with the exception of a few accessories.

  2. Clean until every single thing sparkles in this bathroom. If you have a shower curtain buyers will pull it back to see the condition of the tub so clean all the grout until it is white.
  3. One of the biggest changes and best investments is painting your walls. Choose a paint colour that will go with the colour scheme of your home which will be in a neutral colour. Light blues and/or greens are easy on the eye colours in bathrooms – think 'spa' and calm – a warm beige is always a safe colour.

  4. If your lighting fixtures are old then replace them. You can buy very current brushed nickel light fixtures for very reasonable prices at Home Depot, Ikea, Canadian Tire or Rona. The old brass plates just don't have the look home buyers want.

  5. Flooring does not have to be an expensive item for your bathroom update. There are many excellent products on the market. Peel and stick tiles work beautifully in small bathrooms and powder rooms. Linoleum works well in bathrooms. Choose a neutral tile not too dark and not too bright. Avoid using carpet in a bathroom.

  6. If you have an old sink and counter tops you can purchase some inexpensive replacements at ReStore Habitat for Humanity, Costco, Home Depot, Canadian Tire and/or Rona. There are many excellent low cost laminates that you can use for new counter tops. Double sinks are the rage right now but not worth the investment for selling.

  7. Toilets that are dated in colour such as green, pink, burgundy or blue are to be replaced with new white toilets and toilet seats. Try and keep all of the furnishings in the bathroom white or off white.

  8. Tubs and shower stalls can be more of a challenge if they are old and full of mildew. At the least clean as much as possible. Sometimes you can create a cleaner look simply by cleaning with a strong environmentally friendly cleanser and a toothbrush; then add a new grout. If you need to buy a new tub or stall while they may seem inexpensive it is the labour that will cost the most. Buy a new shower curtain in a fabric cloth rather than plastic as this will add warmth to the room. White is always the best colour but other colours will work if they match your towels. Think 'spa' and hotel ensuites. You may need to call in the experts if your bathroom really needs fixing up!

  9. Cupboards and shelving should be white or off white. If you have wood such as oak now might be the time to consider painting it. You can buy a primer and then a latex paint to update the look. Keep the contrast of colour to a minimum in the bathrooms.

  10. If your mirror is cracked or slightly damaged then replace it. The current trend is to individual mirrors if you have double sinks, or one large mirror with a brushed nickel-like border around it. Find a mirror that suits the style of your home. Home Sense, Ikea, Home Depot, Canadian Tire and/or Rona are good sources.

  11. Depending on the size of your bathroom hang some art that is restful to the eye and in soft colours. Abstract art is not a good choice in the bathroom but ocean scenes & florals are good. Home Sense is a favourite store for accessorizing for staging.

  12. Select contemporary accessories for the finishing touches in the bathroom:

    1. Towels – choose towels that are big and fluffy – white, beige or matching paint colour towels are a good choice. Make sure everyone in the family knows that these clean, new, fluffy towels are for show only at this time. Put them away when you are not having a showing.
    2. An orchid or small plant or vase can be a nice addition to any ensuite, bathroom or powder room.
    3. If you have space wrap some hand towels up in a basket and put them in a corner or center if you have double sinks.
    4. Avoid using bathmats when showing a bathroom. You can cozy up the room with your paint colours, towels and shower curtain. Keep the floor clear and clean.
  13. Avoid potpourri in the bathroom and the use of heavy deodorizers. Try putting some fresh lemons in the bathroom in a glass bowel.


About the Author

Dana J. Smithers, President of the PRES Staging Resource Centre is the author of Start & Run a Home Staging Business, and has written several eBooks for the DIY Home Seller. She appears regularly on television, international radio, podcasts and is a frequent guest speaker at conferences. She left a successful 20 year corporate job to pursue her passion of decorating and teaching and fell in love with the results one-day home makeovers could bring. She launched her first solopreneur business, Sun On My Back Redesigns over a decade ago and now thrives on teaching her certified professional PRES® staging training courses on-line and off-line. She offers business support through coaching and mentoring home stagers worldwide; professional development courses, teleseminars and webinars so graduates are supported and the learning is on-going. In 2002 she was a founding member of the Canadian ReDesigners Association and several years ago launched her own PRES® Staging Resource Centre. She is passionately committed to the success of women entrepreneurs in the home staging industry and is expanding her reach to other countries around the world where home staging is just becoming known.


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