6 Ways to Make Your Bathroom Look More Expensive, According to Real Estate Pros

published Oct 5, 2021
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If you’ve ever lived in an antique building like I have, you know that older bathrooms aren’t always the most attractive. Whether it’s aging fixtures or outdated tile designs — sometimes the bathroom can end up feeling messy without an actual mess present. Luckily, there are small changes that can help subpar bathrooms look more sleek and expensive. Ahead, find some bathroom upgrade wisdom from real estate experts.

Update the Shower Curtain

“Remove the shower curtain if it’s old and replace it with a new, clean one. If possible, replace the curtain and rod with a glass door or enclosure. That makes a big difference.” Rachel Lustbader, broker for Warburg Realty

“Think about replacing shower curtains with sliding glass doors for the tub. They come in all shapes and sizes and even ‘off the rack’ from Home Depot looks better than a shower curtain and makes the bath look renovated.” Michael J. Franco, broker for Compass

Declutter and Go Minimalist

“When you have some open counter space, a shelf, or appropriate nook, think of adding fresh cut flowers or a lush green plant to complete the luxury ambience, especially if the bathroom is dark and has small or no windows. For the rest, less is more! A bathroom needs to look clean, airy and ‘fresh.’”Caterina Francisca, founder of Caterina Francisca Design

“Minimalist decor and decreased clutter is a great way to make your bathroom look more expensive. It gives a feeling of space and cleanliness, which are great elements if you’re looking to give a different feel to your bathroom. Including an air diffuser with a fresh scent is another way to subliminally make your bathroom feel more expensive.” Mihal Gartenberg, agent for Warburg Realty

“Remove all visible shampoo, soap, other bottles, and free standing soap dishes from the bathtub and sink rims as well as window sills. Neatly organize the contents of all drawers and vanities and remove old or dirty items.” —Rachel Lustbader

“Declutter — just like in any other room, clutter will cheapen the look of a bathroom. How many half-empty bottles of body wash or shampoo does anyone really need out and in view? Keeping the sink-top clear and the bathtub/shower stocked with only the necessities is a great way to declutter. If the bathroom looks cleaner and less busy, it elevates the whole look.” Steve Gottlieb, agent for Warburg Realty

Credit: Rachel Manns

Make Any Necessary Repairs

“Make sure all grouting is clean and regrout areas where it is missing. Reglaze mirrors if glaze has chipped off anywhere. Deep clean all tiled areas. Clean all light fixtures and replace any dead light bulbs. Repair any chips in the vanities.” —Rachel Lustbader

Upgrade Bath Products

“Changing out tiles (or other forms of renovation) can be time-consuming and costly. Changing out your products is faster and cheaper. Displaying higher end (and usually more expensive) bath products is a quick and easy way to convey a more elevated look and feel. For a powder room, which may be used by only guests, it can be useful to get some extra small luxury products from your next hotel stay and bring them home as a somewhat permanent display. Even if your everyday products are purchased at the drugstore, you can put soaps and lotions from an international luxury brand in the guest bathroom.” —Steve Gottlieb

Swap Fixtures, Hardware, and Tiles

“When it comes to fixtures and hardware, and when working with a budget, steer clear of the trendy finishes as they can be much more expensive, and significantly harder to maintain. Simple and clean chrome finishes are the most affordable and wear far better than the satin nickel and antique brasses. Porcelain tiles in lieu of natural stones will also help bring down the budget a bit, and there are beautiful options to choose from.  If a renovation is not in the cards, then simply updating the accessories, like towel rods, hand towel rings, shelving, and medicine chests can also do the trick.” Jeremy Kamm, agent for Warburg Realty

Credit: Lana Kenney

“Many people are surprised that their medicine cabinet and/or sink with a vanity cabinet underneath can be more easily switched out than they had thought. This can seem like it should go under the ‘renovation’ column, but it can be done in a non-intrusive and affordable manner. The medicine cabinet, sink, and vanity take up a lot of visual real estate in the bathroom. Upgrading these can elevate the entire look. Installing new faucets and fixtures might be less expensive and intrusive than you initially thought, too.” —Steve Gottlieb

“Before bringing the home to market, stop and do a fresh, light remodel/retouch: white subway tiles are cheap and always do the trick, and porcelain tiles are great for bathrooms as they are not porous and can look like marble or other natural stones. Always regrout and freshly paint a light color before listing.” Peter Riolo, licensed associate real estate broker and founder of The Riolo Team NYC at Compass

Credit: I Spy DIY

Spring for New Decor

“Finish it with some new fluffy towels, and fresh soaps for a warm welcoming vibe. I usually prefer to use white towels with some texture, as they look clean and comfy. Or work with contrast colors like white and black, or white and blue.” —Caterina Francisca

“Monogrammed towel sets, pretty soap dishes, and matching plastic glass are also great ways to spruce up your bathroom. You can also use soft incandescent lighting, lay out a new, thick rug, and get a new paint job if it’s needed.” Hala Lawrence, broker for Warburg Realty

“Hang wall art. A lot of people don’t realize that they can actually decorate a bathroom. Hanging art in a bathroom can add so much to the look and feel of this small room. Be careful not to hang expensive art (as it will be exposed to steam), but framed wall art can go a long way. Then, throw down a nice bath mat. If the bathroom is mostly monochromatic, adding a colorful bath mat, or even a small rug, can add a pop of decor. Anything added to the bathroom that gives the impression of thought and consideration should make the room look more expensive.” —Steve Gottlieb