Kitchens & BathsStaging

Staging a Bathroom Efficiently and Inexpensively

bathroom staged

Bathroom and Master Bathroom Staging Tips

If there is one thing we’ve learned when selling a home, it’s to not underestimate the importance of a squeaky clean bathroom.

Baths are one the most expensive spaces in a home to remodel or to fix up (the other is the kitchen). If your bathroom, or bathrooms, are in perfect, meticulous condition, then a buyer will not have to make the mental calculation of what to deduct from your selling price to improve those expensive square feet. And don’t doubt that they will do just that if your bath gives them anything to think about.

Baths are a personal space to you. They are an expensive project to buyers. It will add to your bottom line to spend as much time as necessary to stage your bathrooms for the pickiest of buyers.

Remember, a buyer is buying real estate space, not your things. Even small baths can be made to look more spacious if you edit out the clutter.

We recommend a four staging tips for staging bathrooms.

1. Remove everything

2. Preparation phase

3. Cleaning phase

4. Home staging phase

This is the most efficient processes we have found to accomplish the objective of a bathroom that looks and feels immaculate.

1. Remove everything

A bath is not like a bedroom where there is heavy furniture to move out of the way. The stuff in a bathroom is just stuff. It probably arrived in the bath in a shopping bag; it can leave the same way.

Go through all the cabinets, drawers and linen closet and remove everything including errant cotton balls and half used rolls of toilet paper.  Throw away everything that has been sitting around for months and not used. Set aside those personal items you use all the time. Make a pile of those items in the hallway. We’ll come back to what to do with these things later.

Tired decorative items are also candidates for the trash. Anything faded, tattered or broken should be tossed as well. Remove the shower curtain if you have one and any window treatments that are made from fabric. Get rid of the shower caddies. Stow away your bathroom towels for you next house.

Now you have a completely empty room.

Take a good look at the condition of the tile, the walls, the ceiling, the baseboards and moldings, the light fixtures, the faucets and take special note of the condition of the cabinetry. This is the critical eye that a potential buyer will have when examining the space.

This is also where you will develop your list of things to do to stage the bathroom.

2. Prepare

Your critical eye should see what needs repainting and what just needs a touch up. Any strong colors (this means any paint color other than the lightest shades of cream, grey and ivory) should be repainted with a light color.

What is the condition of the cabinetry? Knicks and scratches you overlook everyday will stand out to a buyer. Wood tone cabinetry can be brought back to life with scratch repair pens or tinted furniture polish. We’ve even used tinted polyurethane to liven up stained wood. The drawers glides should work effortlessly.  You’d be surprised how many people look inside drawers.

Check under the sink for signs of plumbing leaks. Fix any leaks. If the bottom of the cabinet looks like there have been leaks over the years, you can camouflage it with a rubber or plastic mat to make the under cabinet storage look tidy and show there is ample bathroom storage.

Caulk. There is nothing that will give buyers the creeps more than moldy caulk. Remove all old caulk and replace it neatly with fresh caulk that is designed to repel mold and mildew.  If this is beyond your skill level, hire one of those grout guys you see advertised to freshen up the tub and shower stall and make them shine again.

Make sure the toilet works and that it doesn’t run constantly. Check around for leaks from under the toilet and the supply lines and get them fixed. It is not necessary to make expensive home improvements in the bath if everything is clean, bright and functional.

The faucets and shower heads should be clean and shiny.  If they have rusted, get new ones. You don’t want to give a buyer a moment’s hesitation that your bathroom isn’t in perfect condition – or they will start to wonder what else hasn’t been taken care of in your home.

Not technically preparing or staging, but take a critical look at the light fixtures. Anything from the last century should be replaced with a more modern fixture.  Fortunately, nice looking fixtures are available at surprisingly affordable prices. Make sure the light bulbs are working. Light and bright sells.

It is at this point where you need to make an honest evaluation of whether your bath needs any bathroom renovations to sell your house.  If you can’t bring it up to the minimal standards of cleanliness, functionality and appearance, you may need to invest in a face lift for your bath.  Remember, what you miss home inspectors might find and your home value will suffer as a result.

3. Clean the bath to like new condition

It must be immaculate. Clean the walls, the wastebasket, and the toilet thoroughly.  Now is the moment to do everything you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. Get rid of soap scum.

Pay attention to tile and floor grout and get them white again. This will brighten the room considerably and help make the tile look new, too.

We usually recommend conducting a deep clean and then a light touch up (or whatever is needed to bring it back up to this level) before showings.

You need potential buyers to feel at ease the moment they come in. It should be spotless and odorless.

4. Keep it simple when you stage the bathroom

So now we’re down to a pristine blank slate. All personal items have been removed from the bathroom, which has been thoroughly cleaned. Now it’s time to put the finishing touches to make it look gorgeous, current, and inviting. Consider a spa, a show house, or a luxury hotel. This is the aesthetic we’re looking for: clean, impersonal, and luxury. And, fortunately, the staging costs for bathrooms don’t break the bank.

Because the bathroom is such a little space, and because to style it correctly is so vital for selling your home,  it is one location where investing in some very particular styling accessories is well worth it.

There are only a few things you need to stage a bathroom when selling your home.

The first are white or off white towels, brand new and unused until the house sells.

Second is a new bar of soap and a small dish to hold it. This won’t be used until the house sells either. An unused bar of soap says ‘clean and unused’. Just the impression you want to give to buyers.

The third thing is a new shower curtain. Again, white or off white. No pattern, no color, plain and not wrinkled. A fresh shower curtain also conveys the message that the room is clean and unused.

You don’t need a bath mat, rug or other coverings on the bathroom floor. Just a clean floor.

A bathroom’s styling goal is to be simple and clean for home buyers.  Always go for light and airy over dark and heavy.

It’s fine if the bathroom looks  to you to be a little empty – remember, this isn’t a home, and it’s not about your own style or what looks and feels nice to you. This style is all about selling your house, and what appeals to potential buyers the most is a bathroom that feels almost brand new and certainly underused.

Remember, you are selling space. The fewer items in the bath, the more visual space there is.

Final home staging tips

If your bath has a free standing shelf or other furniture items, don’t put them back. It is not your bath anymore in that respect.  Likewise for things hanging on the walls. Pack them up for your new home.

We recommend white or off white towels because they always look clean and fresh. Fold them neatly on your towel bars. Two bath towels or hand towels are sufficient.  Perhaps a white fingertip towel next to the soap dish. Nothing else. Luxury hotels use white towels for a reason. They always look clean.

All of your personal items that you use daily in the bathroom should be corralled in a container of some kind. One of our favorite staging tips is to use wicker boxes, gift boxes or even hat boxes to hide these items under the sink. Remember, people will look inside your cabinetry. They should see nothing that tells them someone uses this bathroom.

A big pet peeve is leaving shampoo bottles in the shower.  No one wants to see your personal hygiene items. They want to see a bath they can use tomorrow with no effort on their part.

If you have a pedestal sink, counter top space is scarce. We usually don’t put anything on a pedestal sink at all.

No fake plants, fragrances or knick-knacks of any kind should be in the bath.

Don’t use the shower immediately before showings as the humidity and shampoo odors will linger for hours after you use it even using the best exhaust fans. Remember to pack up your personal items and stow them under the sink in your decorative box after every use.  The time you forget to do this will be the time that you have a showing in 30 minutes.

Interior designers have a tendency to recommend over staging spaces. To stage your bathrooms, remember that the person you are trying to impress just wants clean and issue-less.

The first people you have to impress with the bathrooms staged are real estate agents. They usually visit the new listings when their association of realtors has open house days. Agents can either recommend your home or give it a thumb’s down to their clients and other agents.  You want the former with an enthusiastic thumb’s up.