People shopping for a home have some specific numbers in mind. They are focused on the number of bedrooms and the number of bathrooms. 

Even if your bathroom is a small one, it's still a bathroom. And, staged right, it will be an important selling point. 

Here's my best checklist to make it easy. 

1. Stage it to look big

Yes, it's possible to have a fully functional small bathroom without it looking crowded. 

Ideally, the small bath should not have to also serve as dressing room, beauty salon, laundry drop-off, and linen closet. If your bath is everything to everybody, it's time to rethink storage.

Look for ways to relocate the non-daily essentials.

Keeping the room pared down to the must-haves means you'll probably need to do some decluttering and then re-organizing, but the payoff can be a quicker home sale. If it seems inconvenient, remind yourself that it's just temporary. 

You can still find clever ways to find storage space in a small bathroom. Make sure the medicine cabinet is a roomy one. Consider installing two matching cabinets, if wall space allows. Here is an excellent article on installing a medicine cabinet, both a wall-mounted one and a recessed one. 

Oftentimes, space between studs can be opened up, and recessed shelves added there. A good handyman will make quick and simple work of that project, especially if a premade shelving unit is used.    

I like the look of open shelves on bathroom walls, as long as what's arranged on the shelves looks tidy. A shelf added above the bathroom door is one clever way to provide a place for extra towels or supplies. 

Floating shelves like these are economical and easy to install, 
and they add a natural element. Photo: bloomingdiyer.  

2. Get it sparkling clean  

There's no such thing as a bathroom being too clean! If ever there was a time for you to spring for a professional deep cleaning, it's when your Realtor is ready to book the real estate photographer.   

Since Covid, more people are aware of the importance of cleanliness. And a home that looks immaculate is especially appealing to women buyers. It "feels" move-in ready, and gives buyers confidence that the home has been well-maintained.  

The older the home, the more important cleaning is. Sometimes vintage bath fixtures are charming, and other times, a complete turnoff. It depends on the style of your home and the market for buyers. 'But no one wants an old-fashioned toilet. Adding a new one needn't be expensive, but will make a big difference, especially if it is an ultra-high-efficiency toilet (UHFT) or even a high-efficiency toilet (HET), both of which significantly reduce water use. 

Do you have a bathtub that is showing signs of age? Here is how to hire a refinisher for your tub. Take it from me, it's not a fun DIY project. 

A new coat of pure white paint on the ceiling will go a long way toward making the bath look fresh.  Finally, make sure you have maximum wattage in your bathroom lights. A bright room looks cleaner than a dim one. 

Make white your go-to color if you want to emphasize cleanliness.
This see-through shower curtain fits the vintage vibe of this
bathroom and might provide the statement piece that makes
your house more memorable to buyers on tour. Photo: Foter

3. Demonstrate economy 

In addition to that high-efficiency toilet you could install, another amenity that wins the hearts of cost-conscious buyers is a tankless water heater, whether gas or electric. You'll get the use of it until your home sells, and you'll be spoiled if your next home doesn't have this never-run-out-of-hot-water feature. 

I've found that new faucets can jazz up a bath that needs a facelift, and I prefer single-lever faucets. They're sleeker, smaller, and look more modern. If your sink has three holes for a faucet, it can still be converted by choosing a model with a wide base plate, or adding what's called an escutcheon that might come with your new faucet.

If you do add a new faucet to the sink, opt for an aerated faucet that mixes air with the water which saves water without compromising performance. A faucet replacement can be a DIY project, but if you decide to change the tub or shower faucets, spouts or showerhead, you'll need a plumber. Think of these hardware upgrades as adding jewelry to your bath. 

Reminder: Money spent on minor bath and kitchen upgrades has a better return on investment than other home improvement projects.  

A single-handle faucet is easier to use, easier to clean,
and easier to maintain because there
are fewer parts to it. Photo: Clayton Homes 

 4. Keep decor to a minimum

By necessity, a bathroom has lots of hard surfaces. And that calls for some soft touches when you stage it. Use props that have interesting textures and are made of natural materials like wicker, wood, fabric, and pottery. Please, no chenille toilet lid covers! 

A plant or some flowers -- real or fake -- will add that softening, natural detail. Choose decor items that don't take up precious floor space.

Art with French motifs is popular for bathroom artwork. But pastel
abstracts or black-and-white photos are appropriate as well.   

Wallpaper is having a moment now, and the results are striking. But I never endorse wallpaper in a staged home because everyone has such personal taste. Rather, wall art is one way to add some character to a boring bath. Instead of choosing some small framed prints, drawings, or photos, hang a statement piece like a framed poster. There's no shortage of bathroom humor posters, so be careful that you don't choose anything that could be considered vulgar or sexist.  

5. Create an experience

I've blogged about how to tantalize all the senses when you stage your own home. Having your whole house heavily scented will make buyers think you are hiding a problem. But the bathroom is a natural place to keep fragrant soaps and scented grooming products. You have several ways to get a bathroom to smell good.

A reed diffuser with essential oils is a simple way to scent the air. A reed diffuser doesn't take up to much space or call attention to itself. Some scents like orange, lemon, lemongrass, sandalwood, and lavender are especially evocative of cleanliness. Or, you can arrange some unwrapped, pleasantly scented soaps or bath bombs in the room to help it smell nice.   

Professional drain cleaning will get you a thumbs up on a home inspector's report (faster drainage) and guarantee that your drains aren't the cause of a build-up of mold, minerals, or other yucky stuff that can create odors. Aromas are powerful messengers. You want potential buyers to feel like they are stepping into a little spa area rather than a funky public restroom when they enter your small bathroom on a home tour.  

A simple reed diffuser can scent your entire bathroom and 
look stylish doing it. Buy one or make one. Photo: Luna Oceans

Simplify the details

You don't have to be a minimalist to have a clutter-free bathroom. Think about how you can organize what needs to be there so there is less visual "noise." Think in broad strokes. Cluster necessary items onto one tray, box, or basket. For personal items, use containers that are opaque rather than ones where the assorted contents are visible.  

Work with a simple color scheme of light, neutral colors that match the existing fixtures. Avoid dark colors, clashing colors, and too many different colors. If you can tuck things like bath mats, the toilet brush, and the wastebasket out of sight, so much the better. Don't display rolls of toilet paper or extra hair products. Put away the Squatty Potty and any medical equipment.

Keep all your towels the same color. Treat yourself to a new set. It's not unusual for staged homes to reserve one set of pristine, fluffy towels for showings. It depends on your level of commitment, the price of your home, and how frequent showings are. 

Subtle decor in this small bath gives it character
without overwhelming the space. Greenery delivers  
the finishing touches. Photo: Young House Love 

 Get the look, get the book

Staging a small bathroom can be a creative challenge, but small changes make a big difference, and I know you can do this! It's often the details that make one home desirable over another. Take it step by step, following my checklist. 

When you stage your own home, you have the advantage of fine-tuning it to show what is special about your property. If you want more staging inspiration and tips, download my homestaging eBooks now. You'll discover how easy and economical it can be to add value to your home on the market.  

Top Photo: Curated Interior