When it comes to selling your home, kitchens are the room we most often recommend updating before that for sale sign goes up on the front lawn. Why? Because kitchens are expensive to upgrade or remodel and most buyers want a modern cooking space where they can visualize family dinners and an entertaining space that impresses their guests. Kitchens are make or break rooms so opting to let the new buyers renovate can really narrow down a seller’s buyer pool.
Does this mean tearing everything out and putting in cherry cabinets and granite countertops? No – it doesn’t. We don’t recommend tearing out what is there in a kitchen unless there is a huge problem or the cabinets are terrible shape!
Here is our list of top 10 things which will significantly upgrade a kitchen without costing a fortune!
1) Cabinet Re-Facing or Painting: Dated cabinets can really affect the overall feel of a kitchen, giving buyers the impression that it needs to be completed gutted. Often, that’s not the case. As long as the doors are in good shape, there are lots of less expensive options. We work with a great company which will come in, take off all the hardware, fill all the holes and then spray paint the cabinets and cupboard exteriors for anywhere between $1,000 – $3,000. When installing new cabinets can cost anywhere from $10,000 +, this is a significant cost savings and it completely changes the look and feel of a kitchen. Companies like the one we deal with can also, for a small fee, take off dated mouldings or trim and replace them with modern trim to give sellers such as sleek shaker doors which are in high demand!
2) Cabinet Hardware: Replacing dated hardware is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of giving a kitchen a facelift. Long stainless steel handles or brushed pewter pulls are a great way to add a sleek modern touch to a kitchen. The cost for replacing the hardware? Anywhere from $1 – $12 per handle or pull but usually you can find packs of these items which are a great deal. I found a pack of 10 brushed pewter pulls for $20 at home depot so trust me, this is an upgrade which doesn’t cost a lot to implement.
3) Countertops: Updating chipped, stained or simply dated countertops is a great way to visually update any kitchen. Sometimes countertops can be in great condition but they are green or blue or pink and those colours are extremely personal which means only a few buyers will appreciate them. Updating to a neutral laminate countertop in taupe, brown, grey or black provides both a great neutral backdrop against the cabinets but also anchors the space. In terms of the material, generally speaking unless it’s a luxury home, we don’t advocate anything other than laminate. Granite, quartz or marble are great choices however they aren’t for every home as not always do you get back the full investment value. If your home is in an area where these types of upgrades are not normally found nor can the house be priced to allow for that upgrade then its better to stick with a laminate. Buyers will appreciate the neutral upgrade and sellers will be able to recoup their investment.
4) Lighting: Upgrading the light fixtures in a kitchen makes a huge impact on how buyers view the space. We have seen some upgraded kitchens where sellers ignored things like fluorescent lighting panels and brass trimmed lights. Those types of light fixtures really affect the overall style of a space so we always advocate upgrading light fixtures. Adding some modern track lighting highlights countertops and cooking areas which instantly brightens and modernizes the space. Neutral pendants with soft cream linen shades are elegant and contemporary; they immediately tell buyers that not only has this kitchen been updated, but its got great modern style!
5) Flooring: When it comes to kitchens, flooring is important because not only does it have to work well, it also has to anchor the space, flooring ties all the elements together. For staging to sell, the flooring should have a neutral palette (neutral does NOT mean white) and should be either ceramic tiles or hardwood. Depending on your home’s price point, laminate may be an option but only the really nice laminate which looks like dark hardwood or ceramic tiles. Choosing a cheap laminate will only serve to offend buyers who will then start cataloguing how much they will have to do to make the kitchen livable. Don’t make them start that list because it’s always cheaper to do it before you sell and not after your house is on the market. Buyers will always round-up cost estimates because they are including their time as well as materials and as we all know time = money. For luxury homes, laminate flooring is never an option if you want buyers to justify your price point. Since only so many buyers shop in that price bracket they expect a certain level of upgrades and laminate won’t make the grade.
6) Appliances: In a kitchen, appliances are king! When it comes to selling, the most important thing is that all the appliances should be in good condition, clean and should match! For buyers, investing in appliances can mean anywhere from $5,000 – $20,000 depending on their needs and the style of the kitchen. If appliances aren’t making the grade, replacing them with either stainless steel (top buyer choice) or black is preferred. Ensuring that the fit into the areas properly is also essential. Don’t put a too small fridge into a space designed for a larger fridge – it will look strange to buyers and they won’t be impressed. Opting for too large appliances and then having to put them in a spot obviously not designed for a fridge doesn’t work either. Measure the openings in your kitchen and then fill them with the right appliances so you have a cohesive and well-appointed space. This also includes the fan hood over the stove and its often overlooked by sellers when they are replacing their appliances. Make sure it all matches!
7) Faucets: We love gorgeous faucets in a kitchen – they are like eye candy – and they really finish off a space. For luxury homes, upgraded faucets are a must! For smaller, family homes upgrading the faucet is a great style improvement. It also doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money on it. We have seen some awesome faucets with lots of modern pizzazz for under $200. So look for the specials and then make that style splurge!
8) Backsplashes: When it comes to art in the kitchen, backsplashes are taking center stage. When it comes to putting your house on the market, backsplashes are a smart upgrade. Again, choosing a neutral palette is essential but because there are so many materials which can be used, its easy to make a style statement which will impress buyers without breaking the bank. Our favourites are white, taupe or chocolate subway tiles – they infuse the kitchen with great colour and texture while at the same time connecting the upper cabinets to the base cabinets and creating a cohesive and welcoming space. Depending on the size of your kitchen, you can get a backsplash installed for between $350 – $500. If you want to save more money, take a class on installing backsplashes from home depot and then all you have to do is purchase your materials!
9) Sinks: While we love sinks when we design kitchens, we don’t advocate spending tons of money on them when it comes to selling your home. They are worth a mention however very simply because they need to match the finish on the faucet and they need to feel connected to all the other design elements in the room. If you are upgrading your countertops to a solid surface, don’t cheap out and keep the over mount sink – get the undermount. We have seen kitchens where sellers put in granite or quartz countertops and then had the same overmount sinks re-installed and it looked .. strange and out-of-place. So keep the upgrades cohesive so all the elements flow together.
10) Paint: Colour is very important when it comes to kitchens. Freshening up the paint in your kitchen is one of the best ways to set the style and tone of the room. Personal colours such as red, orange, blue and green are great for homes where you want to stay and live but when it comes time to sell your home, a neutral palette is always best. Your colour choice should invite buyers into the space and ask them to stay awhile instead of making them uncomfortable. Investing in some new paint costs between $40 – $100 and the return on investment is about 700%. So take the time to tie all the design elements together with a welcoming neutral paint colour and buyers will be thoroughly impressed.
Looking for additional assistance on how to get your kitchen show ready for buyers? Contact Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. to schedule a staging consultation. We’ll create a customized staging plan not only for your kitchen, but for every room in your home. If you want to re-design your kitchen in the home you are living in, we can also assist you with that by creating a design plan for your space which take your kitchen to the next level.