If you’re thinking it’s the kitchen, you’re wrong. It’s the bathroom.

“As a Realtor, I can attest to the popularity and desire for an updated bathroom, which some professionals will tell you should be 10 percent of your home value,” says Barbara Mount of Barbara Mount Designs and Windermere Realty Group in Lake Oswego, OR.

But if a full remodel is out of the budget as you’re putting your house up for sale, there are a number of simple, affordable swaps you can make to spruce up your bath in an afternoon (maybe two.)

1. Pull the Rug Out

If you still have carpet or bad linoleum on your bathroom floor, it has got to go, says Mount, citing it as the No. 1 turn-off for potential buyers. She recommends porcelain tile as an investment well worth its cost to make the bathroom look fresh, new and clean.

Hand Grouting Tile

2. Re-grout Your Tile.

That dingy grout in the shower and tub is also a disgrace.

“Go to your local hardware store, pick up a tub of grout, watch a tutorial and get busy. You’ll add value immediately,” Mount says.

3. Paint it White (or Periwinkle)

White paint is where it’s at for a clean look, even if you just touch up the trim, says real estate agent Sam Lazar of Triplemint in New York City.

Although, if you’re feeling like going for a new look, you might want to consider a light blue or soft periwinkle bathroom, which one study found helped houses sell for almost $5,500 more than expected.

4. Buy New Fixtures.

Bring your bathroom into 2018 with new knobs and towel rods in the same finish, says Mount. She recommends choosing chrome, antique bronze, black or pewter finishes for a modern look.

“It’s a little thing, but replacing drawer and door pulls can completely update the design of a room, agrees Lazar. “People don’t usually notice the pulls when they’re blah, but when it’s something really gorgeous, their eyes are drawn to the drawers and cabinets in a whole new way.”


Another easy swap is your shower head, Lazar adds.

“A new shower head not only can make a sleek difference in design, but it can improve water pressure, lower water usage – and thus water bills — and filter out chemicals in water that can mess with your hair texture and color.”

Light bathroom with two sinks

5. Add Sparkle and Shine.

Swap out the old, dilapidated medicine cabinet over your vanity for a new, framed mirror, recommends Mount. And of course, your bathroom should sparkle and shine because of your thorough cleaning. Leave no spot unscrubbed in the quest for a squeaky-clean bathroom.

6. Declutter Cabinets and Drawers

Once you empty your medicine cabinet, don’t just add the contents to your already-overflowing storage areas. Instead, safely get rid of expired medicines and dump or consolidate multiple shampoo bottles. Since liquids can be challenging to move, you’ll want to take unopened excess toiletries to a shelter. Make sure you get rid of any cleaning supplies too – after you’ve used them, of course.

Once you’ve purged, take the time to organize the drawers. Remove anything you can, such as first aid supplies, cosmetics, hair accessories and the like. Pack what you can, and put those you still need into a wicker basket that you stow during showings. No one wants to think about your bathroom prep when they are touring a home.

Washbasin with towel and decoration in bathroom

7. Create a Spa-like Oasis.

Fluffy white towels, artfully folded and hanging, or carefully rolled into a big basket. Luxurious toiletries on a pretty bamboo tray. A potted plant or two strategically placed. All these elements can contribute to a calming atmosphere to make your bathroom that much more appealing, points out Lazar.

Candles placed around the tub are another nice touch, but can turn a homeowner into a ball of stress, wondering if they have been left burning. Instead, she recommends using a diffuser.

“I’m extra partial to the ones by Nest, since they look like a gorgeous decorative piece but also add a light scent to the room that removes any lingering bathroom odors.”

One last tip—ditch the scale! Nothing ruins the peace of a spa environment faster than thinking about weight.

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Cathie Ericson