Staging the Bathroom Without Breaking the Bank

nicely staged bathroom
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Perry Mastrovito / imageBROKER / Getty Images

Many homebuyers feel slightly uncomfortable looking at bathrooms while touring homes. Buyers will spend more time in the kitchen, living room, and bedrooms than they will in a bathroom. Perhaps they don't want to think about what usually goes on in the bathroom. Bathrooms are not generally a place where strangers share communal experiences.

So, they poke their heads in the door—often without stepping foot in the room, like if they don't actually step into the bathroom, they're not really in the bathroom—glance around, and leave. That takes all of three seconds. So, that's how much time you've got to impress a buyer—three seconds. Sellers can spend hours staging a bathroom for that three-second reaction.

It's time well spent. According to a report from the National Association of Realtors, 44% of buyers' agents say that home staging increased the winning offer on a home sale. Plus, it's far cheaper than a full bathroom renovation, which can cost over $15,000, per data collected by Home Advisor.

Getting the Bathroom Ready for Staging

Get out the bleach and start scrubbing. If you prefer not to use bleach, find an organic substitute, but bleach works best. Your goal is to clean the bathroom from top to bottom. It should sparkle and radiate cleanliness.

  • Remove the covers from light fixtures and the exhaust fan. Wash, dry, and replace them.
  • If your light fixtures are rated for 100-watt bulbs, replace your existing bulbs with 100-watt bulbs.
  • Remove prescriptions from the medicine cabinet, and take out any other personal items you don't want a buyer to find and store this stuff in a safe place.
  • Throw out worn, frayed, or outdated rugs and towels.
  • If wallpaper is peeling, steam it off the walls and paint the walls with a light-colored semi-gloss.
  • Use Lime-A-Way or a similar product to remove soap grime and calcium residue from shower doors.
  • Fix leaky or dripping faucets.
  • If cabinet hardware is weathered, replace knobs and pulls.
  • Get rid of mold. Almost every bathroom contains some form of mold, especially in corners.

The CDC advises wearing an N-95 respirator, as well as gloves and eye protection, when cleaning even mild occurrences of mold. For more serious infestations, consider a half- or full-face respirator—or hire a professional mold remediation company.

Shop for Bathroom Staging Supplies

When staging your bathroom, you're trying to create a spa-like atmosphere. Choose accessories related to water and nature. Opt for tranquil, soft colors when selecting paint hues. Don't be afraid to incorporate contrasting textures by combining smooth surfaces with rough material, such as polished pebbles nestled at the base of an aloe vera plant.

You don't have to spend a fortune to create the illusion of a spa. Check out discount stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Costco, or Tuesday Morning for inexpensive supplies. Here are are a few types of spa accessories to inspire you:

  • Towels, rugs, washcloths
  • Bamboo or wooden trays
  • Candles in various sizes
  • Green plants
  • Small water fountains
  • Scented soaps
  • Glass containers filled with cotton balls or Q-tips
  • Ribbon and rough twine
  • Berries and twigs
  • Seashells
  • Fluffy white robe
  • Padded satin hanger
  • Creams, lotions, shampoos, or bath salts with unusual or antique packaging
  • Sea sponges and bath brushes

Staging the Bathroom

Now that you've bought all this stuff, what do you do with it? You don't want to clutter the vanity or make the room feel overcrowded. Less is more. Think simplicity.

  • Start by layering a few towels on the rack. Artfully fold a larger towel in thirds and place a smaller towel on top. Tie the center loosely with ribbon or twine. You can also glue berries and twigs to the ribbon.
  • Create displays by grouping items together in odd numbers such as one, three, or five. Vary the height of candles and jars.
  • Slip a white robe on a padded hanger and hang it on the door to the room or the shower.
  • Put a stack of folded towels on a bamboo tray. Arrange a few unwrapped bars of scented soap next to the towels.
  • Consider a placing a new rug next to the bathtub or shower.
  • Use greenery sparingly to add life and color.
  • Arrange bath products and drop a few flower petals around them. Be creative.