Bathroom counter options for resale?

rnmomof2March 20, 2014

I am thinking of updating counters in two of our bathrooms--the master and one of the kids. I am confused on what to use for the counters.

Back story--We built the house 23 years ago. It is one of the more expensive/biggest houses in a middle class neighborhood in the midwest. Our kitchen counters were replaced 10 years ago with solid surface. Granite was fairly new to the area and would have cost 12K for the cheapest options per the KD. Even though we have no thoughts about leaving, I am wanting to keep the house somewhat "updated". You know, so in 20 years its not completely Grandma's house when we sell! Some but not many of the houses have been updated with granite.

My DD's and I have been out looking. Options seem to be solid surface which I was told today is more $ than quartz or granite. I have concerns about chi's melting the counter but was reassured by two sales people today that was not possible. I am not a big fan of most granites. I believe I want a very light counter and not tan/taupe/brown. I have seen some quartz samples that we all liked.

Some granites, many quartz, and remnant pieces of solid surface will all be basically the same price. That surprised me. So if you were buying a house what would your preference be or what impression do any of these give off?

As long as I have you guys this far, feedback on color would be appreciated. The girls bath is two rooms, first section has 6 ft long counter on the left with solid wall with hooks on the right, pocket door heading into next area. Tub/shower is directly ahead with toilet on the left. There is a circle top window opposite the toilet that is north facing. We will be replacing the floor as well. Cabinets are a medium toned oak in good condition. Any thoughts on counter colors? I am afraid of making the room too dark. We are thinking of a spa type blue or green for the walls.

Thanks for any feedback.

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I would look towards quartz counters, much easier to maintain. A picture would be helpful for your second question.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 9:36PM
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I getting my hall bathroom redone. I want a mid-tone stained wood vanity with a honed carrara counter. I have dark gray quartz counters in my kitchen and I'm ready for something light.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:50AM
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Difficult to say without seeing the space. Some thoughts:

1. Oak cabinets are also very likely to say "grandma," even more so if it's obvious they are original and the counters are new.

2. Back splashes in separate pieces (those four inch by one inch long pieces that sit on top of the counters) can make a brand new counter look clunky and dated. A similar sized / similar height run of tile along the back (and sides if the vanity top is in an alcove) will look newer.

3. What material is your tub and/or shower? Updating one element can make the others look even older. A new counter cannot offset dated tile with cracked or soiled grout.

4. Finally, if you are not planning to move any time soon, I would put in what you like and not worry about resale, especially if the counters are the only elements you're changing. In 10 more years you may be looking at replacing those bathroom counters again for resale, especially if at that time you update everything else.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 7:31AM
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Ok, here is the bathroom in all of it's messy college girl on spring break glory. In the mirror, you can see the window that is opposite the toilet. The tub /shower is a one piece acrylic in good condition. I have wanted to remove the wall between the two rooms but have been over ruled even though I don't think both of my girls have ever both been in there together.

It is bright in there with the lights on (and the paint color doesn't hurt!) Often during the day , the vanity light is not turned on to go to the bathroom or do something quick at the vanity. Would a dark counter make that necessary? I will probably replace the Hollywood style fixture. I have had problems finding a fixture long enough for the 72 inch long vanity locally and will probably need to order one.

I knew I would get comments about the oak cabinet but I don't feel that it needs replaced now. This is the land of stained woodwork and oak cabinets (which I don't have in my kitchen!) I hope new chrome handles would give it a minor facelift.

Kswl, I hear what you are saying about the tile blacksplash but I am not sure how I feel about that in a kids BR. Just another caulk joint to keep clean?

Suggestions for counters or floor colors? Again this bathroom is only used by kids as the master and guest rooms are on another floor.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 8:47PM
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I agree with Kswl, oak cabinets are dated for most buyers. Although, on the positive side, this is something that is completely relative to the neighborhood and area that one lives in. In the Midwest, this would be seen as a perfectly nice, spacious bathroom even in a moderately higher end home.

I sympathize because we had this same color trim and cabinets in our last home and orangey/brown wood tends to limit color choices dramatically. It's not so much the counters that are dating that bath as the cabinets. If it were me and I desired a fairly inexpensive refresh for a guest bath, I'd paint the room in a more neutral color that is in keeping with the color of the trim. If at all possible, I'd choose carefully so I didn't have to replace the countertop, if that was possible. I would add a frame to the builder grade mirror, change out the lights, change the hardware on the cabinets, buy an updated faucet, and find a marching shower curtain. There are a lot of elements dating this room; it's not just the countertops--although, I would also budget to replace those if I could. I guess it depends on how much of a priority updating this room would be.

We don't have oak in our current home but we had a very similar dilemma in our mater bath. We had your same light fixtures and same faucet. I wish this was a better pic but this is all I have. We kept the original countertops which are a solid surface but certainly not granite or quartz. Actually, it was a fairly inexpensive update and at least we can live with it for now.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:14PM
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I've always liked solid surface in a bathroom. Even with kids, I think it is pretty durable. If you want to update the overall feel a bit, I would paint the cabinets and all the trim white or off white. I would pick a light neutral countertop like sandalwood, hazelnut or sagebrush. So many to choose from.

(if you look at this pic in a separate window, it will zoom a lot to get a close look at all the colors and their names)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:19PM
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I agree with Wendy--painting the cabinets/trim white or a more neutral color would actually have the largest impact on the room but that's not always practical if you have a large home that has all oak trim and cabinets.

As far as dated things I love, Corian would be at the top of the list. Out of all the surfaces we've had, it maintained its look the best over time and was the easiest to fix/maintain, if there were any issues.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:32PM
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Painting the woodwork is not an option. We have over 4000 finished sq ft and 2 staircases. That would be a huge undertaking that hubby would not buy into. Plus I believe it would be a negative in our market as few houses have painted trim and they are usually the cheaper ones.

As mentioned, a spa type color is planned which would necessitate a new curtain. Faucet would come with new counters. The flooring has yellowed which has got me thinking about changing more than just the floor.

We have no current plans to move but if one of the DDs heads south , we may follow!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 6:03AM
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I agree that the trim and cabinets are what is dating the bathroom but you can't paint the trim in just one room.

I would either get new cabinets and countertop or paint just the cabinets and get a new countertop. Frame out the mirror and paint.

Ikea has some nice bath vanities that are very functional. We just put one in a bath that had nearly the same cabinets that you have and it looks so much better.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:59AM
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I've got a different take, but be forewarned, I do NOT have any problem with dated finishes, IF they are in good condition. While I don't care for your wall color, the rest of the bathroom looks very nice in a late 80's - early 90's style.

1. Since your entire house has beautiful oak trim, I definitely would NOT paint the trim and doors. If the vanity wood, doors and drawers are in good shape, I would also not paint them. I'm in the Chicago area and the experience is similar here - painted trim is typically used to hide (cheaper) pine (or now even cheaper MDF), while oak is left stained. Change the vanity hardware; you'll have to be careful about the footprint of new hardware. If it's smaller than the old, it might reveal a ring of different colored wood. You could, if the vanity is not in great shape, paint the vanity only. There's no concrete rule that says every scrap of wood in a home has to be the exact same finish. There is also the option of cabinet refacing, if the vanity is structurally sound but the finish is bad.

2. Change the countertop, sink, faucet and light fixture. I'd use a Corian type surface for the counter. Your daughters would not have to worry about being extra careful with the counter.

3. Since you have no intention of selling at this point, do what YOU like. Pick the counter and floor to complement each other. Then pick wall paint to match; it can easily be changed.

4. Because of the large light, consider installing a dimmer. Pick a style where the dimming and on/off functionality are separated in the same switch (many styles available). That way, you can dim it to medium, leave it there and then just turn it on and off. When you need the brighter light, you'll have it.

This post was edited by DreamingoftheUP on Sat, Mar 22, 14 at 10:53

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 10:49AM
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When you remove the light fixture you will find one standard box behind the metal--and easy up date to switch it out, if smaller is desired. I agree granite counter top is a maintenance head ache. Not for water used areas. Do you really want to spend your life sealing and protecting it? Big box stores have many options for updating without a lot of fuss. I shy away from painting cabinets due to the chipping factor. DYI painted cabinets will not wear as well as a stained finish. It will look worn out faster. We found it well worth the money to replace bathroom vanities for no other reason than the height of older ones. Save your backs bring them up to kitchen height!! Oak will always be my favorite wood. What is HOT today is not tomorrow. Get what you like.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 12:41PM
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