The 14 Best Bathroom Renovation Tips We've Picked Up From Unsellable Houses

Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis are twin sisters with a knack for transforming unwanted properties into houses that homebuyers are fighting over. In their HGTV series "Unsellable Houses," they take on homes that have been dwindling on the market for months and renovate them so they are practically unrecognizable. Typically, the bulk of the budget gets spent on kitchens and bathrooms because, as Lamb explains in her blog, Lamb & Co., "81% of buyers say that an updated kitchen and bathrooms are the most important features when purchasing a home."

With more than 50 successful property renovations in their portfolio, Lamb and Davis know a thing or two about bathroom makeovers. Here, we share some of the best tips we've learned from the sisters throughout their four seasons of "Unsellable Houses," from simple hacks like making your restroom appear taller using a shower rod to more in-depth advice like reconfiguring a bathroom layout.

Highlight focal points in your bathroom with contrasting colors

In Season 2, Episode 13 of "Unsellable Houses" (via HGTV UK), Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis wanted to draw attention to the shower as the main feature in the bathroom. Lamb says, "So in here, we really really wanted to emphasize the shower. We wanted it to be a statement. Most people want something that's really nice to show off to their guests, so we wanted to make sure we did this bathroom right." The home renovators achieved this by installing gray marble subway tiles on the shower walls finished off with black edging strips and black faucets. This contrasted beautifully against the sleek white paint on the walls and succeeded in making the shower the showpiece in the space.

In most rooms, we naturally identify focal points and feature these, for example, a fireplace in a living room or the bed in a bedroom. In the bathroom, a focal point is often overlooked. Instead of the shower, you might prefer to highlight a soaker tub or a custom vanity. Establish what your focal point will be, and then make it stand out by using contrasting colors. Bathroom tips for decorating with complementary colors include setting a white freestanding tub against dark gray tiles to make it pop or painting your vanity unit in yellow to help it stand out against pale blue walls.

Use spa-inspired finishes to make your restroom more relaxing

Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis know exactly what buyers are looking for when they're on the hunt for a new home, and often it's the same thing the homeowners themselves would love to have in their property. Regarding bathrooms, the sisters believe these should be soothing spaces where you can unwind and feel completely at ease. Discussing the bathroom she created with her twin on "Rock The Block," Lamb writes on her blog, "An ideal ensuite should be private, luxurious, relaxing, and remind you of a trip to the spa! After all, it's the place you spend quiet mornings getting ready for the day and where you retreat after a long day. "

Incorporate high-end fixtures into your bathroom renovations, such as luxury faucets and cabinet handles like these black and gold bar pulls to create a sense of indulgence. Consider which shades of paint will make your bathroom feel like a relaxing spa, such as Benjamin Moore's Nantucket Fog for a cool and soothing vibe or Farrow & Ball's Jitney for a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Accessories and scents will also contribute to a spa-inspired environment, so invest in some luxury candles or make your own DIY reed diffuser. Lavender and cedarwood are among the best candle scents you should have in your bathroom.

Incorporate long and slender storage pieces to maximize bathroom space

The hosts of "Unsellable Houses" know that to keep a bathroom looking great it has to have plenty of good storage options that will keep clutter at bay. Lyndsay Lamb makes a great suggestion in her blog for the types of storage furniture we should be looking for in restrooms. She says, "Use tall and skinny items when bringing additional pieces into a small bathroom. A tall, skinny rack that fits in a corner, makes for perfect storage space. Open shelving is another great option and easy to add above the toilet or on any blank walls in the room."

Storage in a bathroom can be tricky because this is typically the smallest space in the home. Avoid having a cluttered and cramped restroom by utilizing clever storage solutions as Lamb suggested. Since bathrooms tend to have a compact footprint with plenty of low-level equipment like toilets and vanities, you have plenty of wall space higher up in the washroom that could be used for incorporating storage. Shelving units, wall racks, and corner cabinets can all make better use of space in the bathroom to aid in keeping your toiletries organized, while hidden bathroom storage ideas can keep your belongings out of sight. 

Carpet does not belong in the bathroom

Carpet in the washroom is an unfortunate throwback to decades gone by. It was once seen as a luxury to have the soft texture underfoot when emerging from the tub. Still, many designers consider it a crime against interior decor style, and it's also unsanitary. Lyndsay Lamb shared, "Whenever we walk into an '80s home, the first thing we notice walking through the front door is that it's very original. We can almost guarantee there's carpet in the bathroom up to the toilet. That's very, very common. So that has always had to change," (via House Beautiful).

Carpet in the bathroom is a long-gone trend, and hopefully, it's one that never returns! Carpets in humid environments like kitchens and washrooms aren't practical because the absorbent fibers hold onto moisture, becoming a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mildew. Installing carpet is the one thing you should never do with your bathroom floors. When renovating a bathroom, remove any last remnant of carpet and replace it with a surface that repels moisture, such as tile or vinyl. Non-slip materials are the best choice for the safest bathroom floors.

Create a sense of height by raising the shower bar closer to the ceiling

In her blog, Lyndsay Lamb shares an unusual hack for making the bathroom appear more spacious. She writes, "I haven't actually tried this myself BUT I have heard it is a tip that works wonders! Raise the shower bar higher to the ceiling and pair it with an extra-long shower curtain. This elongates the space and adds more of a luxurious look to the bath. Your future home buyer won't be able to resist!"

Washroom feeling cramped? Visually extend the space upwards by installing the shower rod at a taller height than you typically would. You can use a tension rod for a no-screw DIY hack that won't leave holes in your walls if you change your mind at a later date. As Lamb suggests, you'll need to buy an extra long shower curtain to make up the gap at the bottom. Standard shower curtains come in lengths of 70 and 72 inches, but extra tall options are available in lengths of 84 inches. Choose a curtain that is long enough to reach into your bathtub, but not so long that it drags along the floor.

Prioritize functionality in the bathroom

In Season 2, Episode 2 of "Unsellable Houses" (via Realtor), Leslie Davis and Lyndsay Lamb are faced with a bathroom that, despite being a good size, wasn't very functional. The sisters shine a light on the fact that bathrooms if nothing else, should fulfill the practical needs of the users. After renovating the room, Davis explains, "This was probably the biggest transformation in this house. Even though there was that huge soaking tub, it was really not usable. What we wanted to give this main bathroom is a really high-end custom shower so that they felt like this wasn't a letdown of a bathroom."

Don't lose sight of functionality when renovating, and instead prioritize your practical uses of the space. If you rarely use a bathtub, swap it out for an extra large shower you'll enjoy daily. Lighting is another big consideration for ensuring a bathroom is functional because this is a space where you need to be able to see what you're doing. Forget moody wall sconces and install high-wattage bulbs around your vanity mirror instead. Dimmable lighting units allow you to benefit from bright light when applying make-up and then transition to low light for a relaxing atmosphere while in the tub.

Use tile to add charm and character to bathroom walls and floors

In Season 1, Episode 8 of "Unsellable Houses," Leslie Davis and Lyndsay Lamb took on a Craftsman-style renovation that included a neutral makeover in the bathroom. They used a hexagon porcelain mosaic tile on the floor, which tied together all of the black and white elements in the room. On her blog, Lamb explains, "We got a lot of comments about the tile floor in this bathroom. We love it for its modern look and subtle vintage charm. It was truly the finishing touch that completed this bathroom's look."

Your choice of tiles could be the difference between a bland or brilliant bathroom. Opt for raw textures like natural stone or slate to achieve a rustic style, or give your bathroom a luxurious feel using mosaic tiles with metallic accents. Large tiles on the bathroom floor make it look cleaner; however, more intricate tiling can create a vintage feel. Whichever tiles you decide to use, be sure to follow the three-tile design rule when designing a bathroom or shower. This means sticking to a maximum of three different types of tiles in one room to prevent the space from feeling too chaotic or mismatched.

Cut down costs by painting bathroom tile instead of replacing it

Tiling a bathroom can be enormously expensive, but there are cheaper options to consider. Peel and stick tiles are not one of those options, according to Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis, who revealed to the Salt Lake Fall Home Show that this was the biggest DIY fail they had ever seen. They said, "Peel and stick tile — WE HATE THAT." A better alternative to giving the room a new look is to paint the existing tiles. In Season 2, Episode 6 of "Unsellable Houses" (via Realtor), Lamb says, "Ripping out tile is so expensive. It's easy to damage the subfloor under tile. Painting it is absolutely the easiest and most cost-effective way to go."

It's no secret that bathroom renovations can be expensive, but making cost-effective decisions can help to minimize overspending. Painting tiles rather than replacing them can represent huge savings, and you can still achieve an impressive transformation. You should also be aware that some types of tile should avoid being painted, such as glass and marble, unless you're committed to serious prep work. Painting tiles not your thing? Opt for shower tile alternatives like the plaster wall trend instead.

A neutral color palette will make any bathroom appear bigger

Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis are huge advocates of neutral color palettes to make rooms feel more spacious. Lamb tells the Denver Home Show that her favorite paint color is Evergreen Fog by Sherwin-Williams, which is a muted shade of gray-green. Davis states her color of choice as Urbane Bronze by Sherwin-Williams, which is an earthy shade of gray-brown. Lamb explains on her blog, "Changing up the color palette to more natural colors will not only make the room feel bigger but will also create a more relaxing, spa-like experience! You can do this easily through paint, tile work, wallpaper—the options are endless."

Consider which direction the windows in your bathroom face to help you decide which shade of neutral will give you the best results. White will always be a clean and classic color in the bathroom, but to create the most airy space, opt for white shades with suitable undertones. In a north-facing room, cool whites with blue or green undertones can make a small space feel hostile, so instead, choose warm white paint with creamy undertones. In a south-facing room, you have more options because this space will be naturally brighter.

Reconfiguring your bathroom's layout makes all the difference

The "Unsellable Houses" hosts aren't afraid to reconfigure the layout of a bathroom to make it more usable. Referencing the challenge she faced with the ensuite in Season 3, Episode 12, Lyndsay Lamb says in her blog, "The ensuite in the main bedroom was definitely a work in progress, and we all knew it would be one of the essential renovations needed to give this home the 'wow' factor. Although the bathroom was a decent size, the original layout wasn't the most functional use of the space. To utilize the space better, we reconfigured the floorplan by removing the infamous heart-shaped "love tub" and the tiny, dark pocket shower and replaced them with an oversized walk-in, dual shower."

Even big bathrooms can benefit from a floorplan reconfiguration, especially if your existing layout isn't working. If your kids are forever arguing over who gets to brush their teeth first in the morning, reconfigure the space to allow for two vanity units with separate sinks. If your freestanding tub is taking up half of the floor space, swap it out for a corner bath. If your bathroom is too small to allow for a floorplan reconfiguration, it may be worth knocking down a wall and stealing space from the room next door.

Spend money on the bathroom for a big return on investment

A bathroom renovation can increase the value of a property by as much as 10%. This means a home valued at $500K could be worth $550K after benefitting from a bathroom makeover, making the renovation a good investment. Lyndsay Lamb echoes this sentiment when talking to 425 Magazine, saying "We always advise people to put money into the kitchen and into the main bathroom off of the main bedroom. Those are the main areas we're going to see our return in. If you don't have a main suite, let's find a way to add a main suite to your main bedroom. That's definitely going to bump up the value of your home."

Splashing out on a room you don't spend a lot of time in might seem strange, but it does make sense if you're planning to sell your home. Bathrooms and kitchens are the spaces that potential homebuyers are most interested in because these rooms are the biggest hassle to change. Even if you don't plan to sell your home any time soon, a bathroom renovation will give you a good return on investment, making it a sensible room to spend your money on.

Home buyers want unique bathrooms

Discussing the home she helped to transform in Season 3, Episode 9 of "Unsellable Houses," Lyndsay Lamb says in her blog, "The hall bath needed to be unique as it would be the bathroom that everyone in the home would use to get ready in the mornings and the bathroom most guests would use. We removed the old vanity, replaced it with a new one, put in a luxury tile surround bath, and finished the room with a beautiful blue penny tile that was complemented by new hardware throughout."

Avoid ordinary finishes, especially in the bathroom that guests will use. Instead, opt for eye-catching tiles like these sage green chevron mosaic tiles and luxurious hardware such as a gold rain shower head. Adding handmade or vintage accessories, like a rustic terracotta vase, will also help to set your restroom apart and make it a conversation piece amongst guests.

You can use wallpaper in the washroom

Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis openly admit they will use interesting wallpaper at any opportunity they get, and this includes the bathroom. Lamb talks on her blog about the renovation she completed with her sister for "Rock The Block," saying, "A bold wallpaper with a unique design is such a simple way to make a statement in any space. If you already didn't know, we are obsessed with wallpaper. To continue the earthy eclectic theme, we teamed up with one of our favorite companies, Hygge and West, and used the Secret Garden wallpaper in Ebony! The dual green vanity and gold sconces complemented the wallpaper perfectly."

Many homeowners avoid using wallpaper in the bathroom for fear of it becoming unstuck due to the high moisture levels in the air. Fortunately for wallpaper fans everywhere, you can now buy wallpaper designed explicitly for humid spaces like kitchens and bathrooms. You can place it on one wall to create a focal point or use it on every wall for a sense of envelopment. 

Wet room additions to bathrooms are rising in popularity

In Season 3, Episode 11 of "Unsellable Houses," Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis take on the challenge of a huge home in an affluent neighborhood that is stuck in the 1990s. In her blog, Lamb discusses the bathroom renovation, explaining, "When buyers shop close to the million-dollar range, they are looking for an oasis for themselves! The bathroom that was currently in the home was not doing it. I designed a wetroom to make the bathroom into the retreat buyers are looking for. A wet room is what it sounds like, a space that keeps all the wetness in with your tub and shower. We have seen a massive surge of popularity in this design lately, and it is one of those trends to keep an eye out for in the coming years!"

Want to ensure your renovation is still trendy in years to come? Transform the traditional bathroom into a wet room. In a wet room, any surface in the space can get wet, so you'll want to prevent water damage by making sure waterproof finishes are used. This usually involves tiling all of the floor and walls. Opt for water-resistant materials when selecting accessories; for example, a metal shelf is going to fare better than a wooden one.