8 Ways to Get the Best Value From Kitchen Renovations and Upgrades

If you’re like most homeowners, there’s probably at least one thing about your kitchen you’d like to change, update, renovate, remodel, repair or replace. Perhaps it’s one thing, or perhaps it’s so many things that a complete kitchen remodel is justified. If you’re thinking of remodeling your kitchen, we invite you to consider these 8 tips for how to get the best value from your kitchen renovations and upgrades.

This is a blueprint for minimizing your spending while maximizing your return on investment. This list encompasses ideas we’ve learned from interior designers, home remodeling experts, real estate stagers, real estate agents, home furnishings retailers and a variety of other sources. Whether you’re renovating with the hope of selling your home for a better price, or you want to invest a small amount with the goal of making the kitchen more comfortable for your family, these ideas can help you prioritize where to get the best value on the money you spend.

1. Clean Every Inch of the Kitchen Before You Replace Anything, Repair Anything or Do Anything Else

Even if you keep your kitchen pretty tidy, it can be beneficial to do a thorough and complete cleaning before you evaluate which elements of your kitchen to change and which to keep.

This sort of deep cleaning has a purpose beyond the obvious value of starting your remodeling project with an ultra-clean space. Cleaning also offers you a way to meditate on exactly the kitchen space you have to work with, and it can help to remind you of what you want to accomplish when you make your kitchen upgrades.

Getting down on hands and knees to clean the floors will re-acquaint you with any damaged areas in the flooring that need attention. Cleaning light fixtures and windows could brighten the space and perhaps even alter its look. Scrubbing every inch of the refrigerator might reveal that its surface is actually a different shade of color than you thought it was.

It’s beneficial to ensure that you’re viewing your kitchen at its best before you begin prioritizing what you want to change about it.

2. Identify and Emphasize the Kitchen’s Focal Point

The best kitchen designs typically have focal points, meaning that there is one specific feature or area that draws your attention when you first enter the space. Next time you look through a magazine that features outstanding kitchen designs, pay attention to see if you can confirm this. You’ll probably find that most of the photographs you look at have eye-catching focal points.

You can learn from pro kitchen photographs and emulate some of their ideas without spending any money at all. Rearranging furniture and accessories is free. In some cases, you can transform your kitchen simply by moving things around in order to draw attention to the room’s most attractive features.

If your kitchen doesn’t have a clear focal point, you can get creative and design one for it.

3. Maximize the Available Light in the Space

Windows are an asset in any kitchen. If your kitchen has windows, it’s worthwhile to evaluate whether your current window treatments are enhancing the space or detracting from it. Many homeowners find that their kitchens can be drastically improved on simply by upgrading their window treatments to allow additional light to enter the space.

Whether or not your kitchen has windows, you may also benefit from adding daylight bulbs or additional lighting to your kitchen. If it’s time to purchase new light fixtures or redo any of the lighting in your kitchen, it’s worthwhile to consider installing LED lighting. LEDs can offer outstanding value for the money you spend, and many homeowners have been satisfied with their upgrades to LED lighting.

See also: lighting trends for 2015.

4. Repaint the Kitchen Using Updated Paint Colors

Assuming you make attractive color choices, new paint usually offers you the best opportunity for maximizing a small monetary investment.

5. Add Flowers, Greenery and Life to Accessorize the Space

It’s worthwhile to study pro kitchen photographs in magazines or design books. Have you ever noticed that there are flowers or plants placed in many of the rooms you see photographed in these publications? This is not a coincidence. Flowers and plants can add lively pops of color to any kitchen, and they make interesting accents for adding appeal to any living space. They’re also one of the most affordable decorating investments you could make. Bonus points if you go for herbs, which are an even better investment considering you’ll periodically be able to harvest some of their deliciousness to add to your meals.

6. Go for Big Wins on Small Kitchen Renovation Projects

In the recent past, many homeowners have been able to recoup a significant percentage of the money they’ve invested in small and well-planned kitchen renovations at the time they have sold their homes. Nobody can guarantee you will have the same results, but you can maximize the odds of your success in achieving a high level of return on investment. The trick is in recognizing where to spend, and how to not overspend, because larger-scale kitchen renovations have not realized the same level of returns.

The key here is to understand the home’s current value in relationship to what a current realistic resale value would be if you were to spend the money on various kitchen upgrades. These values may be best understood by determining the value of other homes in the neighborhood. In particular, it’s helpful to know both the recent selling prices and the selling points of comparable homes in your neighborhood. You don’t want to spend any more money on renovations than what is justified for your local area. Ideally, at the time of resale, you want your home to be as nice as the other homes in the neighborhood but not so much nicer that the home becomes overpriced for the area.

The following suggestions are appropriate for many homes in many areas:

  • Evaluate whether you can repaint kitchen cabinets rather than ripping them out and replacing them.
  • If the kitchen cabinets are dismally outdated, and even a new paint job won’t help to overcome the dated look, it still might not be necessary to do complete replacements. Instead, it may be possible for you to keep the existing cabinet structure intact but replace the cabinet doors with a fresher design.
  • In some cases, updated kitchen hardware might make a big difference in the look and style of the kitchen.
  • New kitchen fixtures can add visual appeal and technological benefits to your kitchen. Smart choices will increase efficiency, and in many cases they can even save you money on future utility bills. See also: Green design trends for 2016 and beyond.

If you are upgrading your home in hopes of generating a more lucrative or faster future home sale, it could be helpful for you to contact a competent real estate agent who has sold many homes in your area. A knowledgeable real estate agent should be able to advise you of features that current local home buyers are interested in; your agent may also be able to offer helpful insights about the value of your home in relationship to other current property values in your area.

7. Aim for a Kitchen Style With Mass Market Appeal

If you’re renovating your kitchen with the intention to increase its resale value, you’ll want to avoid making the space too quirky or overly personalized. Your goal is to make the kitchen appealing to the largest possible number of potential home buyers. To accomplish this, you’ll want to make sure your kitchen is either decorated in a classic, traditional style, or you’ll want to incorporate the latest kitchen design trends into your renovations.

8. Repair Elements That Don’t Justify Overhauling Completely

Perhaps you’re living in an older home in a not-so-high-end neighborhood. If your home is in an area where the local real estate values don’t justify high-end kitchen renovations, you might get the best value by repairing damage to your existing kitchen rather than completely overhauling it. Here are a few examples of cost effective kitchen repairs you might want to consider:

  • Perhaps your kitchen windows are old and drafty. It would cost many thousands of dollars to replace them, but you could get the same benefit by repairing any obvious damage to your existing windows and then re-sealing the area around them.
  • Perhaps there are cracked, chipped or broken tiles in your kitchen tile floors or countertops. Rather than replacing the flooring or counters, you can simply remove the damaged tiles, replace them and re-grout the affected areas.
  • If your kitchen has hardwood flooring that’s looking worn and shabby, you may be able to refinish it rather than replacing it completely. You could also look into replacing any damaged boards rather than ripping the whole floor out and putting in a new one.

If you implement some or all of these 8 ideas, you’ll be well on your way to upgrading your kitchen without overspending. We hope these insights will help you to maximize your return on investment when you plan your kitchen renovations. Happy remodeling!

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