Bathroom the new health spa

Bathrooms have lost their plain utility status - and are fast becoming a deal maker or breaker in real estate sales.

The reasons are not hard to find, says Martin Schultheiss, CEO of the giant Homenet estate agency group. "It all started with the retreat of homeowners into their private space - a trend known as 'cocooning' in the lifestyle industry.

"The trend has gathered momentum as the pace of modern life speeded up and consumers started expressing a need to relax at home, and in keeping with this the bath ritual has gained a faithful following, with an attendant emphasis on the layout, finishes and fixtures of the bathroom.

"Indeed, many prospective homeowners now attach as much value to bathrooms as they have hitherto attached to functional and stylish kitchens."

The trend is very evident in new developments, where bathrooms can be baronial or resemble Roman spas, to say the least. And while that may not be encouraging news to owners who want to market older properties with functional bathrooms, there is much that can be done to spruce up the look and feel of older bathrooms, he says.

Ideas that will not cost much, but will add value to the home and enjoyment to daily ablutions include:

* Replacing outdated countertops and floor and wall tiles and choosing co-ordinated materials that will tie the whole room together and create a more spacious look;

* Untiled wall surfaces can be painted in a light, fresh colour to enhance the new scheme;

* Large mirrors with clean lines above the vanity unit or on a blank wall will further increase the illusion of space;

* Baths and basins that have seen better days can be re-enamelled at reasonable cost; and

* Tired old light fittings, taps and towel rails can be replaced with sleek alternatives.


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