­

If you're in the midst of selling your home, or plan to do so soon, you probably know all about staging your house so it will "show" well. One area that deserves special attention is the bathroom.

Aside from the kitchen, which most homebuyers consider to be the most important room in the house, the bathrooms are considered a key selling point. That's especially true with the master bathroom or suite area.

This is indicated by the trends seen among buyers of new homes.

"Our second-favorite room is the bath," said Joan McCloskey, a former Better Homes and Gardens Magazine editor who talked about new-home buyer trends at this year's International Builder Show. "Even humble folks are pampering themselves with luxurious bathrooms in the master suite. Our bathrooms set the mood for the day and homeowners want it light, comfortable, and cheerful. Toys in this room and the master include heated floors, little refrigerators, steam showers with multiple shower heads, soaking tubs, towel warmers, fireplaces, and coffee nooks."

The National Kitchen and Bath Association says today's bathrooms are more elaborate and luxurious; one emerging trend is adding columns in the bathroom for a roman spa feel.

While there are common preferences among buyers purchasing move-up or luxury homes, the trends tend to trickle down to entry-level homes -- often in the way of options and upgrades -- and remodeled homes. Potential homebuyers will take note of the state of your bathrooms, whether it's a 1,200 square-foot starter home or roomy executive-style digs.

When it comes to color for fixtures and floors, neutrals are dominant and woods, especially cherry, are in vogue. Granite countertops are popular and nickel is being used more often than stainless steel for faucets. Shower areas are getting more elaborate and multiple shower heads are popular.

If your bathroom is dated, you may want to consider a minor remodel before selling. Remodeling Magazine says you'll recover, on average, 88 percent of the money you spend once you sell. The minor remodel costs an average of $9,720.

If you are willing to spend, some improvements you may want to consider include:

  • Replace your bathtub with a whirlpool bath. Or if you don't want to spend that much and your tub is unattractive, replace it with a non-whirlpool variety. A nice shiny tub will make a lot more points than one that is dingy and decades-old.
  • Change out your toilets. There are many attractive models on the market, many available for less than $200. And many new models use less water than older ones, another plus for would-be homebuyers.
  • Install new flooring. If that old vinyl is worn or unattractive, consider installing tile. If you purchase modestly priced tile you can plan to spend anywhere from $300 to $3,000 tiling two bathrooms and a powder room, depending on the cost of the tile, size of the rooms and whether you do the job yourself or hire someone.
  • Add a new vanity. This can be especially impressive in the master bathroom and the powder room. Storage is especially important in the master bathroom, so make sure your new vanity has plenty of storage.
  • Replace your sinks. A pedestal sink is a stylish option for the powder room. They come in a range of styles and generally have a large bowl. The drawback to a pedestal design is that you won't have storage space. Also, if you're considering a free-standing basin, you'll need to be sure you choose a spout that can reach the bowl. Another up-and-coming style is the vessel sink, which looks like a bowl on top of the countertop. Some can be installed with a wall-mount bracket. These sinks are stylish and work well if you're aiming to create a simple, geometric look. You'll have a huge variety of choice in materials: cast iron, glass, stainless steel, brass, nickel, copper, stone, and many others.

    If you're on a budget or need to sell in a hurry, there are many lower-cost options to make your bathroom look its best, including:

  • Add new faucets. Nothing will make your bathroom sparkle more than a stylish new faucet. Be sure you don't go for anything too dramatic. You'll want to choose one that will appeal to a range of tastes.
  • Paint. Nothing makes a bigger impact than fresh paint. Go for a light color. To be safe, go as neutral as possible. Light blues and greens are popular bathroom colors.
  • Light it up. Warm fluorescent vertical wall sconces will provide you with even lighting on your face -- essential for applying cosmetics or shaving. In addition, a halogen light placed above the vanity provides cross lighting when used with wall sconces. Indirect -- also called cove -- lighting through hidden light source provides a soft, warm glow to the bathroom.
  • Keep it clean. Make sure your mirrors sparkle, the water spots are gone and the floors are spotless.
  • Hang new towels.
  • Install new hardware -- towel and paper rings, and new pulls and knobs for your vanities.
  • Accessorize. If you don't have any art on the walls, hang a framed print. Fill a vase with flowers and place it on the vanity or counter. Place a candle arrangement on a bathtub ledge or counter, if space permits. Throw down a new rug to provide texture and color.
  • Log in to comment
    ­