Bathroom renovations don't come cheap, but this isn't a place for compromises. As one of the most practical places within the home quality should always be a priority, and skimping on the job could come at a bigger cost than you first thought.
Whether you're planning a full-scale renovation or only have the budget for some DIY updates, you'll want to make sure your bathroom is free from features that could devalue your home. Be it a dated style or deeper underlying issues, there are plenty of things you might have learned to live with yet will stand out like a sore thumb to prospective buyers.
If you want to increase your chances of a sale, it's vital that you pay close attention to the modern bathroom features that will add value, as well as those that won't. To find out more, we spoke with some professional realtors to learn exactly what to avoid to give your bathroom the biggest appeal possible. Here's what they had to say.
1. Inadequate Ventilation
It might not be an obvious thought, but a lack of adequate ventilation in a bathroom can really impact the value of your space, say experts. As steamy spots, it's vital you avoid a build-up of moisture and condensation which could lead to bigger problems further down the line, especially in small bathrooms.
'Overlooking ventilation is a big mistake,' explains Yawar Charlie, director of estates division at Aaron Kirman Group. 'Without proper airflow, your sleek bathroom could become a damp, moldy mess. It’s like hosting a fancy dinner and forgetting to ventilate the kitchen – a surefire recipe for disaster.' To keep everything smelling fresh and looking clean, be sure to install a fan or, at the very least, functioning windows.
2. A lack of light
These days, it's increasingly common for bathrooms to be built without external windows. If you can't improve the natural light within your space, make sure you have plenty of artificial bathroom lighting, including a practical light source and one that serves a more aesthetic purpose. As California-based real estate agent Lindsey Harn notes: 'The bathroom should always be light bright and clean.'
Yawar agrees. 'Treating lighting like a trivial detail?' he asks. 'Think again. The right lighting can make your bathroom look like it’s straight out of a luxury magazine. It’s the difference between a masterpiece and a missed opportunity. Aim for a mix of overhead and accent lighting to keep your bathroom looking lit (in all the right ways).' A simple way to improve your bathroom and add a hint of luxury to appeal to potential buyers is by adding some strip lights behind a mirror for a backlit effect or flanking a vanity with sconces.
3. Signs of maintenance neglect
'Any signs of mold, mildew, or cracked tiles can really devalue a home, as it may be signs of even more problems that you can’t see,' Lindsey says. While you may have ignored these niggles for so long that you no longer notice them, visitors are sure to spot any signs of neglected maintenance as soon as they cross the threshold, so make sure you carry out any updates before your property goes on the market.
In the majority of cases, these sorts of updates are easy to do yourself. Treat any mildewy areas or flaking paint with a fresh lick of anti-mold paint, and consider regrouting and resealing your shower or bath if it's looking worse for wear. The same goes for the likes of dripping faucets, chipped tiles, or poor water pressure. these inexpensive bathroom upgrades can make a world of difference.
4. Uniform materials
You might think that mismatched materials make for the cleanest, most appealing look in a bathroom, but Yawar says that couldn't be further from the truth. 'Using the same material everywhere is like wearing socks with sandals – just don’t,' he says. 'Your bathroom deserves better.'
While decking your space with the latest bathroom trends might be tempting, a space that's dominated by only brushed brass hardware could be overkill. The same goes for stones like marble, too. 'Mix it up with different textures and materials,' says Yawar. 'It’s not just about functionality; it’s about creating a space that has its own personality. A little variety can transform your bathroom from blah to beautiful.'
5. Outdated fixtures and fittings
Outdated bathroom trends are a surefire way to turn buyers away from your home, according to realtors. 'Outdated flooring, such as carpet in the bathroom or vintage vinyl, can be a real turn-off,' says Lindsey. Rather than buy into passing fads that quickly date your space, opt for timeless features instead that will guarantee a return on your investment even in years to come.
The same goes for unique design choices, too. While we're all about expressing your own personal style, it might be worth toning things down if you're trying to sell. As Lindsey points out: 'Super loud colors, wild wallpaper, or outdated chandeliers can really devalue a space.' A lick of neutral paint before you put your home on the market can bring bathroom space back down to earth and will have wider appeal.
6. Insufficient storage
Last but not least, don't fall victim to the pitfalls of bathroom storage - and by that, we mean a lack of it. 'Neglecting storage is like having a library with no shelves - chaos ensues,' says Yawar. 'Sleek, smart storage solutions are essential to keep your bathroom looking organized and elegant.'
'A cluttered bathroom is a style faux pas you don’t want to commit,' he goes on to explain. 'Remember, a place for everything and everything in its place.' If space is at a premium, look for multifunctional solutions that don't sacrifice style for seamless storage that isn't even noticeable (but be sure to point it out to any prospective buyers!)
'By steering clear of these pitfalls, your bathroom renovation will be less about fixing mistakes and more about basking in the glory of a job well done,' Yawar adds. Now you can have a bathroom that buyers won't be able to forget!
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Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.
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