While the sink, toilet, light fixture and linoleum had been replaced in recent years, the original placement of the tub and sink was awkward, allowing very little room to maneuver. Fixing those problems would have meant rerouting plumbing and ripping out the flooring.
"Bathroom remodels statistically give you the highest return for your dollar, but not if you're selling your house tomorrow," said Lori Matzke of Centerstagehome.com. "Our best bet here was to visually unify the space and try to create the illusion of a more open floor plan to draw attention away from the cramped layout." Here's what Matzke did to make this bathroom feel spacious, balanced and appealing.
Buyers will always open closets and cupboards to check for storage, so Matzke emptied the cabinets and boxed up the clutter. "I always tell my clients to pack up at least two-thirds of whatever they have tucked away in their closets and cupboards. They're moving anyway, and showing buyers how much free space is available will leave a positive lasting impression."
To make the room feel bigger, Matzke removed the cabinet doors and stored them in the basement. After filling the screw holes with wood putty, she painted them on the inside and outside with a khaki-colored eggshell finish that matches the pattern in the linoleum. She lined the shelves with a heavy-duty vinyl shelf paper to give the cabinets a cleaner and more finished appearance. She also painted the walls with the same paint to make the room appear larger.
To draw attention away from the yellowed fiberglass tub, Matzke painted the surround and trim in khaki. "The stark white trim and surround seemed to frame the problem and made the difference even more noticeable, so we purposely used color to downplay the issue," she said. To provide another distraction she painted the trim around the window bright white to grab the buyer's eye and to balance out the newer bathroom appliances. Matzke replaced the metal miniblinds with a softer shade.
The mirror had a number of foggy spots around the edges and a painted frame that made it look worn out, so she replaced it with a new mirror and attached shelf.
To hide personal-care items, she put several small wooden bins on the shelves along with several fluffy new white towels. She added shiny chrome accessories, including a small pedestal mirror, and she put a low-light potted palm in a white glazed ceramic container in the room to make it feel more inviting. A new corner shelf adds additional storage.
It's particularly important for bathrooms to be hospital-clean from top to bottom before the first showing, so Matzke used a cleaning solution with a fresh citrus scent, rather than something that would make it smell like institutional disinfectant. Sellers should always use a good grout cleaner and a toothbrush on wall and floor tiles to make them sparkle. And wet towels from the morning shower should be tossed in the dryer before you head off to work.