HGTV's David Bromstad Says These Bathroom Updates Just Aren't Worth Doing

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Also known as the designer with the coolest tattoos ever, David Bromstad's colorful and welcoming design style is an HGTV staple. With a palette as vibrant as his personality, Bromstad has carved out a unique niche in the world of design ever since he first came onto the scene with his groundbreaking victory on HGTV's "Design Star." Since then, he has transformed countless homes on his show "Color Splash" and helped lucky winners find their perfect place on "My Lottery Dream Home." It's safe to say he knows what it takes to transform a house into a brilliant home, but he also knows what upgrades just aren't worth it.

When people renovate or upgrade their homes, the bathroom is often one of the first areas they wish to change. Whether the renovation aims to create a more modern space to enhance the home's resale value or simply to refresh an outdated area, certain changes make a bigger impact than others. Given the intricate plumbing involved, some upgrades can be costly and require a big commitment without actually providing benefits.

Luckily, Bromstad is here to help. Throughout his career, he has advised on upgrades that are worth making — those that give you the biggest design bang for your buck. However, just as Bromstad customizes each project to fit the unique preferences of his clients, it's important to recognize that no advice is universally applicable. Every bathroom is unique, and each homeowner has their own vision. But before you start that demo, consider Bromstad's advice about the bathroom upgrades that just aren't worth doing.

Removing your bathtub

The trend of removing bathtubs during renovations has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many modern homeowners prioritizing maximizing space in their bathrooms. By removing the bathtub, they can create a more open and spacious layout, allowing for larger showers or additional storage. This contributes to an airy, spa-like atmosphere that many people find relaxing. While these reasons may seem compelling, there are also drawbacks to removing a bathtub that should be carefully considered.

In Season 12, Episode 8,  Bromstadd declared, "I'd usually recommend keeping the tub for resale value." Bathtubs are often viewed as essential fixtures in a home, particularly for families with young children. Removing the bathtub could potentially limit the marketability of the house and reduce its resale value by creating extra work for potential buyers who would need to re-install one. Even if your shower is sufficient for your current routine, homeowners' needs and preferences may change over time. What seems like a practical decision now may become a source of regret if circumstances change, such as the arrival of a new family member, a shift in mobility, or the adoption of a new pet. If you stick to Bromstad's advice and keep the tub, you can still upgrade to a sleeker tub/shower combo while maintaining the option of taking a long, hot bath in the future.

Investing in themed decor

When some people are upgrading their bathrooms, they decide to go all out on buying themed decor. While renovators might think this is a way to create a cohesive aesthetic with a big impact, Bromstad advises against going this route. Instead, he recommends using select pieces and materials to evoke the mood you're after. Beach houses, in particular, can easily fall into the trap of being overloaded with kitschy decor that creates an atmosphere of clutter rather than nature. "Having seashells everywhere, fish netting, and every sheet and blanket covered in shells or some type of sea life is old news," Bromstad said in an interview with HGTV.

Pulling on his experience from his time on "Beach Flip," Bromstad instead suggested that "you can choose colors and materials that will offer the 'beach' feel without doing a themed space. The use of driftwood or reclaimed wood gives that sense of beach. Think about the natural materials and elements that surround the beach or water." Integrating a mixture of natural materials like these driftwood-inspired shelves from West Elm are inspired by the beach and replicate that rugged yet calm aesthetic. Bromstad's principle of using your theme as inspiration for thoughtful touches rather than overwhelming the space with literal representations is key to achieving a tasteful and timeless design.

Using only one tone or material

When creating an upgraded bathroom look, most people's first idea would be to tear out any mixed materials and swap them out to create a uniform, sleek feeling. This can also include wooden pieces like vanities and mirrors. For example, people might worry that having too many differing wood tones will make the bathroom seem dated or messy, so they go for only one stain throughout the entire space. However, Bromstad thinks that updating the space to having matching wood is an upgrade to avoid. In an interview with Pretty Handy Girl, he said, "Mixing wood tones is a necessary thing. Being too matchy-matchy — eww. Matching wood tones means it looks like it came from a set. You know, when you have a dark wood something with a light wood something, it shows that you have a design aesthetic and a design personality."

Integrate various materials and textures for a welcoming and visually engaging space. Bromstad's advice underscores the importance of balance and harmony in design. "But don't forget, with your woods, you need your metals; with your metals, you need your glass; with your glass, you need your fluffy. With your fluffy, you need your hard. All of these different elements must come together seamlessly," he emphasized. By carefully considering the interplay of different materials and textures, you can create a bathroom that not only reflects your individual taste but also achieves a harmonious and cohesive aesthetic without being completely uniform.

Removing dark countertops

Even if you daydream about the day you take a sledgehammer to your dark countertops, pause and consider that getting rid of the dark stone isn't necessarily the solution. While some may view dark countertops as outdated, it's crucial to remember that the current trend favoring light, bright bathrooms will inevitably evolve over time. Instead of automatically opting to replace dark countertops with lighter ones, take a moment to evaluate how they contribute to the overall room and the atmosphere you wish to create.

When discussing the impact of dark countertops on an episode of "My Lottery Dream Home," Bromstad shared his thought that "It makes [the room] very cozy and warm." Indeed, dark countertops can add a sense of richness and depth to a bathroom, creating an inviting, cozy feeling. Rather than adhering to trends that may eventually fade, consider embracing the warmth and elegance that dark countertops can bring to your space. Think about how the dark stone complements other elements in the room, such as cabinetry, flooring, and decor. You can also change the vibe of the countertops by pairing them with different wall paint, hardware, or accessories, which can help modernize or lighten them. By carefully considering the overall aesthetic and ambiance you wish to achieve, you may find that your dark countertops contribute to a timeless and sophisticated bathroom design.

Getting new cabinets

Your cabinets are likely the largest feature in your bathroom, commanding attention from the moment you walk in. Changing them will completely transform the feel of the room. While some renovators may view cabinet replacement as a worthy investment, it's not always feasible for everyone. With the average cost of a new bathroom vanity totaling $1,500, it's essential to consider alternatives. If your cabinets are structurally sound but in need of a facelift, Bromstad suggests turning to his trusty method of paint. In an interview with Apartment Therapy, he said, "Painting your cabinets is such a powerful [form of] self-expression. It's not gonna cost you an arm and a leg, and it's definitely going to make a huge impact." His personal favorite choice is pink for its bold statement, but he also recommended green or black as alternative options to avoid potential resale value concerns. "It's making a huge resurgence because it's sexy, it's bold, it's still classic, but also very daring," Bromstad explained.

There are many other ways to upgrade old cabinets. One option is to reface the inserts by covering them with a new material like bamboo or rattan. Alternatively, you can sand and bleach the preexisting cabinets, which is an effective method for lightening them without the need for replacement. Another approach is to replace the hardware, such as handles and hinges, with updated styles to give your cabinets a fresh look. These alternatives offer cost-effective ways to breathe new life into your cabinets without undergoing the expense and hassle of a full replacement.

Repainting the bathroom

Fans of Bromstad may be surprised about this advice, as he is typically the biggest advocate of taking risks, including painting your walls a wild color. He sees it as a reversible change that can make a big impact. However, this is just one of many options to add a burst of color to your bathroom. While a wall can always be repainted, it does require a bit of money and a lot of effort. When discussing the best ways to add color to a room with, Bromstad explains there are easier ways to add bold hues to give a sense of renewal and energy. "We can do rugs, we can do vases, we can do artwork," he said. "There are all sorts of ways to add color without having to paint the walls."

Integrating things like a fresh set of colorful towels, such as these multi-color towels from Target, or a bold bath rug like this pink one from Bed Bath & Beyond, will instantly bring energy to your space while still being easily changeable. These smaller accents allow you to experiment with vibrant hues without committing to a permanent change, like painting the walls. If you find that you love these attention-grabbing colors, only then is it time to consider making the jump to a full Barbie-pink bathroom. You now know the color scheme works well with your space, and you can commit to something a little more permanent.