3 Things Making Your Bathroom Feel Darker than It Really Is, According to Home Stagers

published Feb 4, 2021
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Bathrooms come second to only kitchens in terms of importance for most homebuyers — and the ideal bathroom feels spacious and clean, says Sandra Ross, the owner of Home Staging by Sandra

“Some look at a bathroom as a relaxing place while others look at a bathroom just to get ready in the morning, so you want your bathroom to be universally appealing,” she says. 

It makes sense, then, that a bright, updated, small, and highly functional space will usually win over outdated, large and dark bathrooms, says Marissa Sorola, the CEO of The Luxe Design Group.  

“There is a great expectation that your home is your sanctuary, and your bathroom should be somewhat spa-like,” she says.  

If your bathroom doesn’t boost your (or a potential buyer’s) mood, that may be because it’s feeling dark, cramped, or both.

“Being that the bathroom is a highly functional space in the home, making sure it serves as a source of refreshment and comfort is important. A clean, bright, light-filled bathroom will boost anyone’s mood, and the lighter the bathroom the more spacious it feels,” says Sorola. 

Here are three things making your bathroom feel darker — and how to fix them, according to professional home stagers.

A lack of natural light

Many bathrooms lack natural lighting, Ross says. But you can fake it by upgrading recessed lighting, or adding sconces with proper cool white LED lightbulbs.

If your bathroom is on the smaller side and you have tall ceilings, move your light fixture higher so you can add a tall mirror to make the room look bigger, Ross says. A mirror that is too small or has too wide of a frame can also make the room appear small and dark. 

A bathroom with no windows is sometimes unavoidable, Sorola says. Her biggest tip is to make sure the bathroom mirror is as big as possible. That way, you have an “abundance of light coming from multiple fixtures to create a light filled room,” she says.

Too many accessories and color combos

Less is more in a tiny space. Sorola says to stick to white towels, for example, for a bright and timeless look. 

She also says you only need one bath mat for getting out of the shower. Having multiple mats on the floor creates unnecessary clutter. She recommends sticking with a large neutral rug or runner, keeping color combinations to a minimum.

Shelley Barndollar, the owner of Showhomes Houston, agrees. She says white towels and bath mats can lighten up the bathroom and mask an unsightly floor.

“I’ve even used a runner sisal rug that had white and silvers in it to help lighten bathroom floors that weren’t upgraded,” she says.  

Barndollar also recommends taking down heavy drapes and blinds in favor of white shutters or blinds. She suggests you go to Home Depot or Lowe’s stick-on products to make window glass translucent, which allows light to come in while still offering privacy.

Dark paint colors

Sorola says you won’t see many bathrooms painted dark colors, and that’s for a good reason — they make the room look smaller. 

“The sunlight doesn’t bounce off of dark walls like it does with light or white walls,” she says. 

White walls will amplify the sunlight, and when it bounces off of mirrors, will make the room seem bigger. Plus, if you have darker tiles, baseboards, or painted walls, you might be less likely to clean them, meaning they’ll hold odors and grime, Ross says. 

Paint is money in a can, Barndollar explains. It’s a cheap and easy way to immediately update and brighten a bathroom. She says her go-to paint color is Sherwin Williams’ Alabaster SW 7008. 

Barndollar also recommends taking out carpet and putting in new flooring, like an inexpensive tile or laminate floor that looks like hardwood. 

“You get the look of hardwoods, but they won’t have issues with dampness that hardwoods can have and they are easy to clean,” she says.