Bathroom Updates for Resale

by Ashley Wirgau

Kitchens and bathrooms are where it’s at when it comes to bang for your buck on resale, but unfortunately, these two areas tend to be the most expensive. Can a homeowner really tackle these projects without costing them the down payment on their next house? Of course, they can…with a little compromise. While kitchens can be tricky with pricey appliances and larger square footage, a quick bathroom remodel is an easy option where cheap and simple changes go a long way.

For a noticeably nicer look, try one or all of these quick fixes and get your bathroom open-house-ready in no time.

Deep clean

Like really, really deep. It should go without saying, but one of the cheapest and easiest ways to update your bathroom is to really clean it. A quick swipe with a Clorox wipe isn’t going to do the trick this time. Get out the big guns: a bucket, bleach and a toothbrush to get every nook and cranny sparkling clean. The floor, the toilet, the shower, countertops, cupboards, walls, everything. Scrub away the mildew, cemented toothpaste, hard water stains, all of it. Empty each drawer and cupboard, replace the contact paper, and minimize what remains. No one wants to open a cupboard door and have a box of tampons and old hairbrush fall out, so do not overfill storage areas. Drawers chock full of stuff give the impression that space is limited. Leave plenty of room for potential buyers to picture their own items inside.

Get some fancy towels

Also grab a new shower curtain and maybe a rug or two. It might seem small, but for homeowners who can’t afford a giant overhaul, a set of trendy matching textiles will take your tired old bathroom from frumpy to fabulous. These minor changes go a long way toward making your bathroom feel pulled together and stylish. Still worried about the cost of new linens? There are lots of great options for bath towels that won’t break the bank. And the best news, you can take it all with you when you go!

Buy a shiny new potty

Or, just switch out the toilet seat if the rest of the unit is still in good shape. Nobody likes doing their business on the same plastic rim perfect strangers have perched upon for years on end. For $20 you can spruce up each commode and give those house hunters a fresh place to rest their bum.

Think storage space

Everybody is looking for storage space. These folks walking through your house are going to open every cupboard and closet, so if you are shy on built-in storage, you’ll want to beef up your options. Lack the funds to rip out and replace the current cupboards? Think outside the box and bring in additional shelving. Sometimes people just need to see how to make a room work, so show them.

Replace that old flooring

Maybe even the subflooring depending on how good your family’s aim is. Bathroom subfloors can be pretty gross, retaining unpleasant odors that no new homeowner wants to combat. Do yourself and the future buyer a favor - just start over. The plus side of bathrooms is that square footage tends to be minimal, so even a big project like flooring can remain affordable, especially when you consider cheaper options like vinyl and linoleum. For a deeper look at inexpensive flooring options specific to bathrooms, check out The Spruce.

Throw a coat of paint on the walls

Paint the cupboards if they need it, too. You can take that 90’s style oak finish to a modern look with a quick coat in a gray tone. A fresh layer of color (or even some quirky wallpaper) can perk up a bathroom faster and more affordably than nearly anything else. Martha Stewart has some fashionable suggestions for color palettes for those less skilled with interior decoration, as well.

True remodels can be expensive, so take a lighter approach when updating your bathroom for resale. Just because the real estate agent swears you need to strip that half-bath to the studs and start again, that doesn’t mean the sledgehammer is your only option. A good scrub, some plush towels and a bright coat of paint might be all you need to go from crusty old water closet to a 30-day close.

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