Improving the hardest-working room in the house can also help you sell your home down the road.
Who doesn’t want to add value to their home? While people often scramble to upgrade before selling, it makes sense to make changes when you have the luxury of enjoying them — and perhaps the best place to invest is the kitchen.
It’s a room that has to meet your needs. In fact, within three months of purchasing a home, 47 percent of buyers undertook a home improvement project in the kitchen, according to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2013 report.
As for your return on investment, it depends on what part of the country you’re in, says Dave Lincon, a kitchen and bath expert for Sears Home Services. “You might get 70% to 80% return in Middle America,” he says. “If you’re in California, D.C. or Boston, and with really expensive properties, you can get 100-plus percent back.”
No surprise that with the current zeitgeist centered on family and home entertaining, NAR reports that buyers want eat-in kitchens, walk-in pantries, windows and new appliances.
Whether it’s a standalone table or an island, people want a gathering spot for eating. For the latter, countertops are essential to a great first impression. “Most buyers are expecting to walk in and see granite,” Lincon says. Like other products, granite’s popularity has brought down its preciousness — and its price. “Now there is tons of ‘commodity granite’ like Ubatuba or Absolute Black that you can get at a fairly reasonable price. It will give you the ‘wow’ factor and make the kitchen pop.”
No need to build a pantry. Make better use of what you already have. “Look for cool accessories like spice racks, slide-out shelves and pull-out bins,” Lincon says.
If you’re going to upgrade cabinets, consider investing in soft-close drawers. Not only will they keep your housewares from flying around if a drawer gets slammed, but “closing drawers softly, especially those holding a lot of weight, will put less stress, wear and tear on the cabinet box, and your drawers will last longer,” Lincon says.
Even simpler: Change the hardware. “Fresh, fashionable knobs and handles with no built-up cooking oils will really brighten the kitchen,” he adds.
Lighten the Mood
New fixtures and task lighting are a good idea — “especially if you don’t have an island that gets some natural light around it,” Lincon says. If your counter is against the wall and there’s light above your head, you’re casting a shadow on your work area. Install under-cabinet task lights “so you can see what you’re working on,” he says. “In the evening, it makes great ambient light.”
Create light with paint as well. All those years of cooking have probably left walls dingy and discolored. A neutral shade will make things fresh and clean.
Of course, windows will bring in more natural light, but new ones may mean delving into more extensive (and expensive) interior and/or exterior remodeling.
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To really impress buyers, Lincon suggests purchasing one high-end appliance and others that aren’t as costly. “Put money into a nice-looking stove or refrigerator, but not a super-high-end dishwasher. That’s a way to play with budget but give an upscale appearance.”
The bottom line: If you’re pondering changes, think like a homebuyer — but spend like a homeowner. Learn how Sears Home Services can make your dream kitchen design ideas a reality