How to Stage an Old Vintage Bathroom
When it comes time to sell your home, bathrooms and kitchen are of utmost importance and will get lots of scrutiny. There is quite a lot of home staging you can do yourself when the time comes, and since we’re all about DIY over here at ZenShmen, taking care of the bathrooms would be no different!
To Renovate or Not to Renovate?
No two ways about it, our master bathroom was o-l-d. And small. And yellow. Yikes.
So when we were getting ready to sell our house, we were faced with a major decision: should we do a quickie renovation job just to sell it (the old, “you have to spend money to make money” school of thought)?
Or save ourselves the hassle and expense, and try to salvage what’s there?
Before adding a bathroom in the $15,000 to $20,000 or more price range, consult a professional to make sure the upgrade will pay off with the appraised value. If a home has depreciated due to location or market values, you might break even adding on a brand new bath addition, but you might not.
What about if we did a 1/2 reno, with just a new tub? But what would happen to the tile wall that wraps around the room? Hello, 1950’s bathroom design. (At least we weren’t alone – most of the houses in our 50’s neighborhood had these same bathrooms in a rainbow of different colors.)
And if we did renovate, could a contractor we’ve never met deliver the goods on time and on budget? (A quick note on being DIY-lovers considering going with an outside contractor: I was 7 months pregnant and we had about a week or 10 days to do everything we wanted to do!) We were short on time and cash… this wasn’t the time to start experimenting.
After conferring with our real estate agent, we concluded that doing a half-assed reno was not the best use our of resources.
It was very likely that the new owners would tear it all out to build something that suited their needs or style better, especially if they’re younger and coming from a more ‘urban’ and modern place. (In retrospect, this turned out to be the right decision for all the above reasons but also because the new owners planned to tear out the tub and put in a giant walk-in shower, thus negating the whole point of updating this room!)
So our job was clear: make this little yellow budgie of a bathroom the cleanest and most well-cared for little yellow budgie of a bathroom in the neighborhood.
Also, we needed update the things that were easy for us to update ourselves: lighting, medicine cabinet and caulking.
Here’s how we did it:
The toilet and sink had been updated by the previous owner, but the floors and banana-yellow tiles (with fancy-in-the-50’s black trim, no less!) were intact. Here’s a breakdown:
Tub: original. Yellow. Perfectly functional, just very dated.
Floors: original: black and white tile. Pretty good shape. Actually back in fashion now! Bonus or scapegoat… who’s to say?
Lighting: needed updating. O-l-d and tacky lighting fixture.
Ventilation Fan: already there + we had added a timer on it in our Home Greenifiying efforts.
Medicine Cabinet: original, of the metal-framed-mirror-door persuasion, too small, too shallow.
Overall look: As it can happen to very good people (ahem), with little kids around and nobody taking pictures of their bathroom to put them on a blog (let alone on the housing market), our bathroom was overflowing with stuff — our everyday bathroomy clutter.
|Wait a minute – Do I really want to be putting these online? Yikers!|
Here’s a tip: When you’re selling your house, nobody wants to see your everyday bathroomy clutter.
Not your weird creams for your weird ailments, not your medications, not your lady products or 12 kinds of dandruff shampoo. (I list these because I’ve seen them all on home visits. #Shudder)
They also don’t want to see goopy toothpaste clumps and your husband’s whiskers on the sink. In the case of bathrooms (but not in all your home staging efforts), I’m a believer of the make-your-home-look-like-a-fancy-hotel-room school of thought. (Except perhaps for the basket of tiny toiletries and take-home plastic showercap ;-). Clean and bare.
Meanwhile, downstairs, we had another old bathroom (a blue one) that also wasn’t going to get remodelled for the sale.
Its key features:
- Small old-school mirror / medicine cabinet.
- Boob ceiling light.
Have nothing in the bathroom unless it’s absolutely essential. Take everything out. Here’s what you can add back in:
- Nice lush white towels, arranged nicely in a manner of your choosing. Folded or rolled up = easy.
- Artwork, if the space calls for it. Nothing that will get damaged by the humidity of the shower – but something nice to look at.
- Maybe a candle.
- Hand soap (bottled, not a bar)
- Toilet paper and its holder; tissues.
- A plant or small flower arrangement, if space allows. Ours did not.
- A nice jar/container of cotton balls or cotton swabs, if you use that sort of thing.
- Maybe – just maybe – a really nice bathroom mat. White is best. But I draw the line at toilet-seat covers! Specifically shaggy ones!
Replacing the Medicine Cabinet
In the guest bath, we chose to replace the minuscule medicine cabinet with a very large mirror. This brightened the tiny space and made it appear larger.
Note: The fact that the medicine cabinet in the guest bath had remained empty for 5 years gave us the confidence we needed to replace it with a big flat mirror instead of another cabinet: we just had no use for one in there. However, in the process we did learn something important: when updating a bathroom, you shouldn’t remove any of its functionality. The mirror (but not necessarily the little cabinet behind it) is what was considered a basic part of this bathroom’s functionality.
In a main bathroom, by comparison, storage is absolutely essential! That’s why we replaced the yellow bathroom’s cabinet with a more modern and spacious one.
Meanwhile, in the upstairs bathroom, we hung the new cabinet:
Updating the Lighting
In the guest bath, we put in a modern, semi-flush-mount black drum fixture. The black was a creative risk, but one that paid off well. The black worked perfectly with the black tiles and black-and-white floors.
The End Results
If I’d had more time and more money, these bathrooms surely would have been very different. But in the end, I’m happy with the results… and so were all the people who came and visited the house.
They loved the retro vibe, and how “well-maintained” they were. The real story will remain our little secret 😉
Moving Soon? You might enjoy more Home Staging posts:
Curious to know more about the sale of our home went? See:
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If you know anyone who’s moving soon, please share this post with them! Thanks 🙂