Consumer and Home Design Trends

Keep, Stop, Start: How to Design Bathrooms That Sell More Homes

Maegan Sherlock photo

Maegan Sherlock

November 15, 2023
Bathtub in bathroom staging model home house or hotel with modern luxury white cabinets interior, window with light and mirrors

In today’s high-interest rate environment, consumers have proven themselves willing to compromise throughout the home—giving up a built-in island in the kitchen, perhaps, or trading down from a laundry room to a laundry closet. But what about the bathroom? Homeowners are bound to notice if you remove the toilet, so what are they willing to compromise on in this small yet essential room? Here is what you should keep, stop, and start doing to add value and minimize costs in the bathroom. 

Keep adding secondary doors to secondary bathrooms as cost permits.

If a bathroom is designed to be shared, having the toilet and shower behind a secondary door creates value. Consumers most prefer this configuration within a secondary bathroom, and that perceived value frequently exceeds its extra cost.1 Whether the bathroom is accessed from the hallway or is Jack and Jill style, a secondary door provides an extra layer of privacy for household members who share the space. However, removing the secondary door from the floor plan is an acceptable tradeoff if trying to reach a more attainable price point. (Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee siblings won’t still fight over who locked whom out of the bathroom.)

Stop including more bathrooms than homeowners actually need.

Over the past 50 years, the number of bathrooms per person in American homes has doubled from one bathroom per two people to one bathroom per person.2  However, most homeowners with two bathrooms—the most common configuration—typically consider that sufficient.Furthermore, most consumers with three or more bathrooms would be willing to give one up if they were to move to a new home. While the ideal bathroom count will depend on the home’s layout, it’s worth giving your designs a second look to ensure you are not pouring construction dollars down the drain. Besides, who wants to clean more bathrooms?

Start putting a bathtub back in the primary bathroom for parents.

As designers edit out the bathtub, including one in the primary bathroom could be a competitive differentiator. When space and cost permit, most consumers want a bathtub in the primary bathroom because they simply enjoy taking a bath. This is especially true for Young Families, who want one more for themselves than for bathing their children. Including a bathtub in a secondary bathroom doesn’t address this preference because the tub is prioritized for personal relaxation, and while it might not be a dealbreaker, it will be a tradeoff. Much like stepping on a stray Lego, we challenge you to find a parent who thinks sitting in a bathtub full of Paw Patrol toys is relaxing.

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1 New Home Trends Institute by John Burns Research & Consulting, LLC May 2023 survey of 1,308 homeowners and renters with household income of $50,000+ (approximate income prior to retirement for retirees).

2 Derek Thompson, “America is Overrun With Bathrooms,” The Atlantic, January 23, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/why-do-american-houses-have-so-many-bathrooms/605338/.

3 New Home Trends Institute by John Burns Research & Consulting, LLC May 2023 survey of 1,308 homeowners and renters with household income of $50,000+ (approximate income prior to retirement for retirees).

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About The Author

Maegan Sherlock photo
Maegan Sherlock
Senior Research Analyst, Consumer Insights
Maegan writes and programs surveys, analyzes survey data, and helps create the New Home Trends Institute’s monthly survey insights reports. She also researches consumer and design trends within the housing industry.

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