3 Simple Things Home Stagers Do to Make Your Kitchen and Bathroom Look Nicer

published Dec 25, 2022
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If there are two places in the house that could almost always use a little extra tidying, it’s the kitchen and nearby bathrooms. These spaces get lots of use all day — spills, stains, dirty pile-ups and other mishaps included — making it seem impossible to have that photo-ready finish for longer than a couple of hours. 

That’s why it’s nice to have little cheat codes for keeping kitchens and bathrooms looking nice, especially when you don’t have the time to do a deep clean on a daily basis.

I asked home stagers to share their secrets on how they style kitchens and bathrooms to appeal to potential buyers, and if there are any tricks to steal for everyday occasions. These are the three must-dos to follow in order for your home to feel more pulled together, even when no visitors are passing through. 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Keep countertops clear.

Flat surfaces are often magnets for knick-knacks and random items. Coins, pens, keys, junk mail, and an array of other personal items love to find their way to our kitchen and bathroom countertops. And because these spaces are typically wide-open, they can begin to look cluttered in no time. 

“Reduce the number of countertop appliances you have sitting out,” suggests Kate Touhill, a designer at Seattle Staged to Sell & Design. “Having open and clear spaces makes our brains feel happy when we see it and creates focal points for your eyes to rest on.” 

Small countertop appliances can feel like a hassle to remove and find storage for every time they’re needed — but the fact of the matter is, they’re usually not being used every single day. One-in-a-while items like food processors, blenders, and other small tools can be stored for more space, or donated if you haven’t used them much at all. But if there is an appliance you use every day, like the toaster or your coffee bean grinder, then go ahead and leave it out. 

“Move everything off of the countertops: All small appliances, utensils, paper towels, you name it,” echoed Molly Marino, owner of Home by Molly Marino Staging and Design. “I usually leave behind a stack of three or four cookbooks with a vase on top, and perhaps a glass storage container to create a sweet little vignette.” 

Speaking of which, you’ll want to use some of this blank space for style and function, and a fruit bowl is a great way to add both. “A bowl of fruit adds a pop of color to your counters, and is easy to throw together with things you have laying around,” Touhill continued. “We prefer apples.”

“Bowl of fruit, that’s it,” Marino adds. “Let the counters shine.” 

Place fresh towels in the bathroom.

“Towels that are freshly laundered, folded nicely, and matching in the bathrooms are always nice to have,” Touhill said. “The simplest towels make a big difference.”

So, if you have a few matching towels mixed in with older ones that are in a variety of colors, get the older mismatched ones out of the bathroom. You can still use them as rags for cleaning pets, or to have on hand in case a large-scale spill happens. But in the bathroom, keep only the matching ones together. Or, if you’re willing to spend a little money, get brand-new matching towels instead. 

“Replace all of the towels — hand, bath, washcloths — with new, white, extra-fluffy towels,” Marino said. “I fold them neatly, or roll a few and keep them stacked on the edge of the tub, on a shower bench, or even on the back of the toilet.”

Target, IKEA, Walmart, and other stores will have nice towels that are inexpensive, allowing you to achieve a fresh look in the bathroom without breaking the bank. “I use this technique in every stage that I do,” Marino said.

Credit: Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images

Add a few (faux) houseplants. 

Houseplants can go a long way to making your home look nice: They never go out of style, and they always bring brightness into any room they’re in. If your kitchen or bathroom is feeling a little bit bland, don’t be afraid to transport some houseplants into these rooms, as long as lighting conditions are appropriate.

“If you have any houseplants, place these strategically in the kitchen or bathroom to bring freshness to the space,” Touhill said. If there’s no natural light, place a faux plant in the room for a pop of greenery. 

“In the bathroom, the only thing I leave on the counters is a hand towel and a small plant,” Marino said.