As I discussed in my last post, bathrooms and kitchens are typically “game changers” in terms of adding value to a home, and the main reason for that is because they contain items that are larger investments and can vary a great deal in cost and style. For example, we know that appliances, faucets, sinks, and counter tops can range from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars depending on brand, material used, and customized features.
Similar to my previous post about bathroom updates, in this installment I am going to share some ideas for updating your kitchen without a full remodel. These are great ideas for rental homes, flips that don’t need to be “gutted” and homes that just need a little TLC. I have seen some incredible kitchen make-overs, and homeowners often say the work was difficult but completely worthwhile. Typically, we see kitchen updates as the most valuable in terms of the return on investment because it really is the core of a home and people tend to spend a great deal of time in this particular room.
Below are a few ideas to consider incorporating into your kitchen.
Add a back splash between your counter top and cabinets. A back splash adds warmth, sophistication, and makes the kitchen look “complete” in terms of design. We often see back splashes installed in more expensive homes, but small kitchens deserve this upgrade too. There are endless options for materials, but a neutral tile that coordinates with cabinets, counter tops, and flooring is the best choice. Think about whether your kitchen style calls for a natural stone tile, glass subway tile, or a more elaborate design pattern.
Make over your kitchen cabinets. Most of the time, builders customize cabinets only if they are building for a specific client or building an expensive spec home. They usually have a standard design that does not really change because it has to appeal to a wide range of potential buyers. The only drawback to this type of cabinet choice is that it can begin to look outdated and too uniform, especially with all of the choices and design options buyers see in many markets. Unless you have timeless cherry cabinets, you might consider a change. Staining the cabinets a new shade will likely require a professional, but you can tackle painting the cabinets on your own if you feel comfortable doing so. White is always a classic, and for the past couple years cream/ivory has been very popular too. If you read any design magazines or blogs, you have probably seen the resurgence of color being used for kitchen cabinets as well. If you have neutral flooring and walls, gray or cottage green are both lovely, and we’ve even seen cabinets painted bright yellow to make a bold (and possibly a little risky) statement. In most cases, I’d recommend staying away from anything too dark, unless you use it for an island or a half-and-half look, but this kitchen with cabinets painted black is very attractive. Research what “look” you like and what fits with the rest of the home’s style—keeping a cohesive look is the most important part of your decision. Also, carefully research the type of cabinet paint you will use because its effectiveness depends on what type of wood/particle board used to construct your cabinets.
Another option for your kitchen cabinets is the hardware you choose. The cabinet pulls often coordinate with the finish on the kitchen faucet, but they’re so interchangeable you can have a little fun with them. If your current cabinets do not have pulls on them, I highly recommend taking the time to add them, especially in a flip property. For as little as $2 each, they deliver big impact and give a more upscale, finished look.
Brighten your wall color. The kitchen is a gathering place for family events and entertaining. It should be a room that looks fresh and inviting. Like other rooms in a home, the kitchen will come alive with new paint. This will be specific to your home and personal taste, but it should coordinate with your cabinets, counter tops, and flooring, and if your goal is to sell, your best bet is a neutral color like gray, cream, or a warm beige.
Install a stylish faucet. I discussed faucets in my bathroom update article, and the idea is similar in the kitchen—function and style are both necessary. Choose something that will be classic but current, and go with a nickel or bronze finish. I do not necessarily recommend a chrome kitchen faucet because with all the cooking and dish cleaning that happens in the sink, it will be tough to keep clean and wipe water spots off. Of course, we are discussing the choice of faucets here but the faucet is directly associated with your choice of kitchen sink. For a very detailed discussion of the available options for kitchen sinks, see this excellent article by Jesse Miller (https://www.jenreviews.com/kitchen-sink/).
New counter tops. This update is certainly an investment, but if you are updating to sell, this is one that will pay off. Granite is still the first choice for counter tops right now. It is a durable, natural stone that comes in many different colors and styles. It is one of the most-requested “wish list” items for home buyers. Another natural stone that makes a beautiful counter top is marble. It can be prone to staining though, so if you like that look you might consider a laminate made to look like marble or durable quartz that looks just like marble but tends to wear better. There are many other options as well, as outlined in this article I like from HGTV.com.
Another worthy investment is kitchen appliances. Stainless steel is, by far, the most popular finish right now. However, I have recently seen black appliances installed in more homes, and they also look sharp. There are many styles, features, and brands to consider when making this kind of investment, so do your research and get something that works for your project. You will want to purchase appliances from a reputable company, but don’t overpay just to get one of the luxury brands if you don’t need them, especially when a profit is on the line. Those appliances are more fitting for a high-dollar luxury home or the personal residence of a seasoned home chef.
Whether you’ve recently purchased an investment fixer-upper or just want to make some changes to your existing kitchen, I hope you find some useful information here. The kitchen is such a significant space in a home both for function and show, and it is important to keep it living up to its potential.