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Why the Bathroom Is the Most Important Room in Your Home, According to a New Real Estate Report

Even though it's an essential everyday space, it's also vital when you're trying to sell.

When you're putting your house on the market or looking for a new home yourself, the immediate criteria that come to mind are usually price, size, and location. But even though it's easy to tell a fixer-upper from a recently renovated property, it can be just as easy to overlook some of the finer details that make one place more appealing than the next. Surprisingly, it's not always about a lavish lawn or even an impressive bedroom count. Read on to see why the bathroom can be the most important room in your home, according to a new real estate report.

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A new survey found that the bathroom could be considered the most important room in your home.

a luxury bathroom with a curbless shower
onzon / Shutterstock

In an ideal world, a house is looking and functioning at its best whenever it's about to change ownership. Of course, structural or major mechanical issues are always a primary concern. But it's a property's design that genuinely elevates it to dream-home status. And now, new data shows what can really make a place stand out.

Recently, real estate website Opendoor released its 2023 Home Decor Report outlining the trends potential home sellers and buyers might expect in the coming year. To gather data, the site surveyed 929 homeowners between the ages of 25 and 74 who were considering remodeling or redecorating their homes or had done so in the past two years. The questions covered everything from architectural trends to popular color palettes, including what was enticing or off-putting about a potential property.

Results of the survey found that bathrooms were both important as a push and a pull for prospective buyers. Updated bathrooms topped the list of biggest turn-ons, with 61 percent of respondents calling it a main priority, beating out updated kitchen decor with 60 percent, new flooring with 43 percent, new appliances with 42 percent, and a well-maintained yard with 31 percent.

But the wrong design could also be a significant red flag, with outdated bathrooms topping the list of the biggest turn-offs for 54 percent of survey participants. It beat out old carpet at 49 percent, outdated kitchen features at 41 percent, textured ceilings at 32 percent, and outdated appliances at 30 percent.

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Experts say it's not surprising potential buyers put so much weight on bathrooms.

amazing home facts

There's no question that the bathroom is a vital part of daily life. But experts say there's a reason why many who are househunting put such an emphasis on them.

"We find that potential buyers are often drawn to rooms like the kitchen and living room," Yasmine El Sanyoura, home designer at Opendoor, tells Best Life. "And yet, the bathroom continues to make an impression on buyers."

"Whether it's the primary bath, the guest bath, or a half-bath elsewhere in the home, the state of this space can signal to a potential buyer that a home is updated and well-maintained," she explains. "Ensuring a costly renovation is out of the question—at least in the near term—and that the home is taken care of gives buyers a sense of relief while also exciting them about all the design possibilities that are available to them in those spaces. After all, bathrooms are spaces meant for getting ready for the day, as much as they serve other purposes."

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Data shows homeowners are prioritizing bathroom renovations this year.

A plumber installing a new faucet as part of a bathroom renovation
iStock / andresr

If there's even more proof that bathrooms are playing a more important role than many might realize, it's that homeowners appear to be focusing their time, energy, and funds toward redoing theirs this year. According to Opendoor's report, 26 percent of homeowners are prioritizing bathroom remodels, and for those who dream about renovating, 20 percent are most likely to choose that space to refresh.

Upgrades can be particularly alluring for anyone looking to put their place on the market—so long as they're done correctly. "If you're trying to sell and can do larger bathroom upgrades, entice buyers by opting for durable, high-quality materials that can withstand everything from stains and spills to kids and pets running around," El Sanyoura suggests. "I recommend quartz counters and tile flooring for their durability, in colors and patterns that mimic real stone for a timeless design."

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There are some easy ways to fix up your bathroom while staying within budget.

A builder installing new tiles in a bathroom
iStock / Mixmike

Any home renovation project can feel like a daunting and expensive prospect. But according to the experts, there's a way to simplify the process by focusing on the areas that matter the most—no matter your budget.

"Outdated bathrooms can easily be upgraded with minor updates—from replacing hardware to investing in functional decor items like shelves that elevate the space—while adding color and dimension to the wall with art and paint can detract from any flooring that is a bit out of style," says El Sanyoura. "Switching out light fixtures is also a small but mighty change that can have a major impact on how buyers perceive the space. I highly recommend replacing outdated vanity lights, pendant lights, or builder-grade flush mounts in favor of more design-forward options that can be found at a good cost."

There are also plenty of smaller steps that can come before a complete renovation or remodel. Applying a fresh coat of paint can be an easy way to start, especially if you focus on prepping correctly. And while a full retile may be a major job, El Sanyoura points out that peel-and-stick tiles are a fun way to try out a completely different look, and can be changed up often without any fear of commitment. "They work best on a completely flat surface so that you can cover every inch, and are easy to remove if you want to change it up for a different stick-on style soon after," she says.

And short of installing a new tub or shower, changing up accessories like knobs and handles can be a surprisingly cheap and quick way to get results. "Materials can run as little as $10 a knob per handle," El Sanyoura says. "In the bathroom, consider also upgrading accessories like towel rings, toilet paper holders, and robe hooks to beautiful yet highly functional pieces to give the space a more updated look."

And don't forget to stage your space. El Sanyoura suggests small, budget-friendly decor items including "candles, books, plants, textiles, and art."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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