14 Mar The Right Kitchen Remodel Makes Good Cents


If you are thinking about selling your home in the next few years, few home projects can bring more value than a new or updated kitchen. Buyers today demand that the kitchen be both inviting and functional. The perfect features for the space and a defined style can make the difference between your home selling quickly for top dollar, or simply sitting on the market for months with no potential buyers.

When you do a smart kitchen remodel, you can expect to see 60-85% of your investment come back to you with an increased value added to your home. You may wonder: why should you invest in a kitchen remodel if it’s not going to recoup at least all of your money? The fact is, a home with an outdated and worn out kitchen will likely sit on the market for a very long time. Secondly, when an offer is made, the potential buyer will look at the outdated kitchen as something he or she has to update. They tend to believe that it will be more costly than it really is, thus negotiating your asking price much further down—to the point that it would be more cost-effective for you to do the remodel yourself. Finally, while a kitchen remodel should be done in order to add value to your home for a good resale, it also adds enjoyment for the time you still live in the home and use its amenities each and every day.


Before you embark on your plans for a new kitchen, keep in mind that your remodel has to be aligned with your home and its value. For example, while a $50,000 remodel might yield a great return and make sense in a $500,000 home, it won’t necessarily work in a home that is valued at $175,000. Also keep in mind your neighborhood: you don’t want your new remodel to price your home out of your neighborhood. Finally, you want to stay true to the rest of your home in terms of style, architecture, and character. In other words, while you may love the contemporary look of some kitchens you’ve seen in magazines, it will be a distraction—not an attraction—in a Victorian home.


For a complete remodel, you can use the rule of thumb and set your budget at 10-15% of the home’s current value in order to recoup the most from your investment. However, you can also spend less. You may only need to replace a few items or update some features in your kitchen to bring it up to date. Remember that you are remodeling in order to sell your home quickly and for top dollar.


There are three types of kitchen updates to consider:


  1. Kitchen Upgrade: Remodels under this category may include the addition of a new backsplash or hardware, new lights, plumbing fixtures, or a fresh paint color for the walls. Perhaps you need to replace appliances or install new countertops.  Think about adding some cabinetry features like pullout trays. With these kinds of upgrades, you’re not replacing cabinetry, and the walls, floor, and ceiling of the kitchen stay intact with everything in the same place. (When you keep electrical and plumbing lines where they currently are, you will always, alwayssave money.) Many times this is all that is needed to make your kitchen really look great and function well. This can be achieved from $2000-$10,000.


  1. Kitchen Makeover: This would allow for all the above plus some new cabinets, new flooring, or maybe even the addition of a window over the sink or a skylight to increase natural light. But like the earlier category, all major features stay in the same place and you are not altering the layout of the room by moving or removing walls. This can run from $10,000-$50,000


  1. Kitchen Renovation: This is where it gets into some serious money. You are now moving walls or eliminating them. Your kitchen layout may completely change and you may be adding square footage to your area. But many times, given a very small or awkward layout, this most expensive option is the best way to achieve a workable—and thus sellable—kitchen. Costs can run from $50,000 up to well over $100,000.


The key to a successful kitchen renovation is to identify what you need to do to create a functional kitchen with the amenities that today’s buyers want. This will always reap top dollar at selling time and provide you with the most enjoyable kitchen in the meantime. Rarely does it ever make sense to spend excess money on an item just because it is stylish or trendy. Always invest in practicality and good function first!

So at this point, you have identified some of the items that need to be changed in your current kitchen and have established a budget based on what you can afford and the current value of your home and neighborhood.  But how do you know which features you need to add in order to create a kitchen that will make potential buyers smile?

Here are a few tips and helpful suggestions as you plan your kitchen remodel:


CABINETRY: If you are going to replace your cabinetry, keep it simple. A fancy door style or finish will not gain you any more money when you sell. Buyers want a clean and simple transitional-style door that can work with many different settings. Instead of fancy doors and carvings, spend your money on functionality. What buyers do expect are cabinets with soft close drawers and full extension drawer glides. They want roll-out trays and built-in trash or recycling bins. As for color, you can never go wrong with white or a light-colored stain.  Grays are very popular now, but use them sparingly, such as on an island or an accent cabinet.

APPLIANCES: Here stainless steel finishes still reign supreme. You may want to consider appliances that will take matching cabinetry panels, but keep your budget in mind. You don’t want to skimp on features but you don’t need top of the line for resale, either. Buyers will expect a super quiet dishwasher, self-cleaning ovens, and a bottom mount freezer for the refrigerator, but items such as digital thermometer probes and low flame simmering eyes are best left to the gourmet cook.

COUNTERTOPS: Natural quartz tops are all the rage today, and for good reason: they are virtually scratch proof, easy to clean and maintain, and they come in a variety of colors and styles. Of course, granite still remains popular, especially with the traditional kitchen. Stay away from strong colors and bold patterns. Whites and other neutrals will be easier to sell when the time comes.

FLOORING: Hardwood floors still remain a top choice in kitchens. Try to go for one that ties in with the rest of your home’s wood floors if possible. Want tile? Many people do. If you choose tile, go with a porcelain tile for easy upkeep and lower cost. Also choose a larger size such as an 18x18” or 24x24” for less grout, and to give your kitchen a larger appearance. Just as with cabinetry and countertops, stay with a lighter and more neutral tone with a small pattern.

PLUMBING AND LIGHTING: Today’s buyers want stainless sinks with tall faucets that have pullout or pull down sprayers. A great disposal with at least ¾ HP is a must. Secondary or prep sinks are not always necessary unless you have an extremely large kitchen and island. For lighting, think layers. The old single fluorescent light in the center of the ceiling is not going to pass with today’s buyers.  Undercounter lighting is a must. And adding a few can lights, strategically placed to replace your existing old light, can make a world of difference. As for general lighting, a beautiful but simple fixture that ties in with the finishes of your other items is always a safe bet.

BACKSPLASH AND HARDWARE: Hardware is like the jewelry of your kitchen. It can make a huge difference and is one of the least expensive items on your list. Look for interesting styles and clean, classic lines. If you are keeping your existing cabinetry, make sure the pulls you are buying are the same size as your existing ones so that they work with the holes already drilled. Think about adding two different styles in your kitchen: one for the perimeter and another for the island or glass doors. Hardware may be the one area where you can choose something not so safe and more in tune with your style and personality, because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to change at a later date.

Backsplash tile choices are extensive, and for most people, permanent. So you need to choose carefully. This is a time when you can look to the rest of your home for inspiration and try to keep the material, color, and pattern to something that ties in with the rest of your home. It is not wise to select an orange glass backsplash for a traditional, cottage-style home. Keep it simple and neutral but add some personality by selecting an interesting pattern or texture, rather than relying on color alone.


With some careful consideration and planning, as well as budgeting for maximum return, you can create a new, updated kitchen to enjoy that will bring you the big bucks when the time comes to sell your home.


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