Just recently a home stager pointed out to me that of all the staging offenses she had witnessed on a listing photograph was a bathroom shot that had caught a toilet with both the lid and seat in the up position, demonstrating the classic argument between male and female members of the household.
I must confess that in my own listings, I frequently don’t post photos of bathrooms at all because, let’s face it, they can be the least attractive rooms in the house. Maybe it’s just that there’s a mental process we must go through to find beauty associated with bodily functions and basic hygiene. Or maybe it’s an evolutionary kind of thing, considering that the bathroom is the very latest room to appear in American households and hasn’t had time to catch up in our consciousness when we think about decorating our homes. It’s probably last in the lineup.
It wasn’t until the 1840s that architects who made pattern books—books that everybody could buy and then build according to the patterns in the book—added a small room that was called a “bath-room” for the first time, which signaled that, eventually, there would be fixed plumbing in that room. But that wasn’t to be until well into the 1920s. Until that time, especially in rural places, people would just move a tin tub into the kitchen on a Saturday night, fill it with warm water, and everybody in the family, one by one, would get into the same water and bathe.
As for me, I’ve always been lucky to have exceptionally large bathrooms because they didn’t start out that way. When my antique homes were built, there was no indoor plumbing, thus no bathrooms. In those days, outdoor privies served for eliminating body waste and indoor bowls, pitchers and washtubs for personal hygiene. With the advent of indoor plumbing, bathrooms were carved out of smaller bedrooms.
That kind of spaciousness gave me the opportunity to play and reach beyond the practicality of bathrooms to make them so much more. In my experience as a Realtor, I’ve found many instances where other homeowners have been playful as well. And in new homes today, master baths are designed so spaciously that any homeowner has the opportunity to make them really interesting to enjoy an experience beyond hygiene while they relax in the Jacuzzi or shave leisurely.
While it might be as simple as installing a television from the ceiling, in my own case, I’ve always treated my large bathrooms as mini art galleries. There was one exception to that rule during a period when I had put on more weight than I ever thought my frame would accommodate. Rather than art, I placed large mirrors on each of the three walls that didn’t have a window so that I couldn’t escape surveying all the damage every morning when I was in the altogether. It worked like a charm and during the course of a year, I whittled that excess weight away and, for good measure, I kept those mirrors there for another couple of years after I had achieved a normal weight, just as a double-check to the bathroom scale.
There was another period when the theme of my master bath was seascape paintings and seashells, started after a trip to the Caribbean. Other themes followed: a collection of paperweights were lined up along our new double sink counter, then there was my collection of large crystals. In our latest master bath, on the inside wall of a condo, there is no window, so we’ve decided to bring the indoors inside. Our Jacuzzi is set cattycorner which leaves a large triangular corner for placing things in the corner and there, we’ve brought outdoor sculptures from our former poolside—a large metal heron perched next to a fern and the fancy stone capital from a Corinthian column.
Creative decorating in bathrooms extends an otherwise perfunctory experience and, further, offers an opportunity to invite guests to the master bath, rather than the powder room, to share your whimsies as they spend time there.
And in that regard, there is one bathroom practice I’ve occasionally seen which I’ve never understood and that is the idea of placing a basket of magazines or even books on the tank or next to the toilet. It seems to me that anyone who has to sit long enough to read a magazine article waiting for that final stage of peristalsis to take place should be thinking about visiting a gastroenterologist.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com, and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call (914) 522-2076.