Wednesday, July 20, 2011 11:29 AM EDT
Let's get one thing out of the way: more bathrooms is always better than less. This is not a post about first-floor powder room or no first-floor powder room because I think we can all agree that given the choice, most people would take the house or condo with the extra bathroom.
The topic yet to be resolved is how the particulars of a bathroom (the main, if not the only bathroom) figure in the overall sale of a home. What kind of bathrooms sell houses? What can you do to make your bathroom more attractive to buyers? What splurges will yield the best return on your investment?
I canvassed Twitter, recent home buyers in our office, and finally brought out the big guns: Real Estate agent/first-time buyer therapist, Sandra Rinomato of Property Virgins. And here are my findings...
The Reno Appeal
It seems there are two kinds of buyers: the ones who love a turn-key home and the ones who need to put their own stamp on it. For the former, Sandra reports that if you're going to substantially invest, the biggest oohs and aahhs go to bathrooms with both a walk-in shower and a stand-alone soaker tub, as well as expensive-looking natural finishes -- marble tiles, stone countertops and anything glass such as glass enclosed showers and glass tiles.
My HGTV.ca sisters Mia and Vanessa, both of whom are in the dizzying throes of making nice in their recently purchased homes (see Vanessa's bathroom shoestring makeover, and Mia's master bedroom bay window solution), seem to be of the latter persuasion. The more style savvy the buyer, the less they are likely to find someone else's tastes copacetic, and hence are less likely to be swayed by the 'newness' appeal of a reno. Both ladies unanimously agreed that, as Mia puts it, "..living with the fantasy of what we CAN do, is so much more satisfying that living with someone else's [renovated] reality". The bathrooms in Mia's house, though she still considers them her private shame, were at least clean, neutral and functional, and hence not a deal breaker. So know your buyer -- for the picky, urban young couples on a steady diet of decor mags and Style Sheet blog, simply make sure everything looks clean and don't bother about the reno. They'll probably rip it out anyway.
This came up across the board: if the bathroom is ample in size and has the potential for a premium layout, it really doesn't need much else. Buyers are visibly elated by the discovery of a big bathroom, in many cases more so than upon discovering a renovated bathroom, if it's smaller in size. Seeing as you can't grow your bathroom on command, it's something to keep in mind if and when you're renovating your home: if faced with an opportunity to expand a family bathroom without taxing the home in some vital way, do it!
The Look for Less
So, your bathroom is small, you have no reno budget and you need top dollar for your home to make the down payment on a home closer to your dreams -- how does one actually prepare for the gamut of buyers and cast the net as wide as possible?
Sandra says the look that reigns over bathrooms is still very much 'spa'. She confessed to her own bathroom being spa-like, and incidentally, Vanessa used the spa reference when a simple can of barely-blue paint reincarnated her dark bathroom. Mia would altogether be happy if her bathroom looked like a Philadelphia cream cheese commercial -- white, antiseptic and blinding -- and in support, the ol' Twitter chirped back with an overwhelming preference for clean, white or neutral tones, and natural finishes.
Another point that Sandra made is on storage. Many buyers don't remember to consider storage in a bathroom until they're faced with one that has none. Sandra suggests that if you've only one bathroom and it's small, don't go with a pedestal sink -- put in a unit with cupboards and counterspace, as well as a medicine cabinet vs a flat mirror to provide a place for toiletries.
Additional tips to creating the spa look on a dime:
- Get all your toiletries out of sight. Clutter in any room is never good, especially in a bathroom.
- Put a few candles on the toilet tank, sink or bathtub.
- Hang colour-coordinated fluffy towels, preferably in blue tones. In fact, any accessory in a soft blue tone creates instant appeal.
- Other accents that work well with blue tones are brushed metal and natural wood -- make sure your metal fixtures gleam, and get a wicker or seagrass basket to hold extra towels or to use as your waste basket.
- Clean your grout and get rid of any water stains! Sandra suggests using a grout colourant available at any major hardware store, which makes a $10 investment look like a $100 refresh.
- Sandra also suggests that if you can scrounge together $100, the best place to spend it is on a stone countertop. Getting rid of your old composite counters definitely helps to seal the deal!