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Realtor tips for kitchen ROI

Intentional kitchen upgrades not only provide years of enjoyment for you, they offer value at resale, too.


If you’re thinking about how to refresh your kitchen, from small or high impact changes to a complete overhaul, considering the return on investment – or ROI – makes a solid start.

In a hot real estate market where home inventory is persistently scarce, home prices remain high and lender interest rates are up thoughtful kitchen upgrades can make a big difference.

If you’ve been in a house for 25 or more years and you are thinking about a move in the next few years think about updating appliances first, said Todd R. Hurley a Realtor at eXp Realty The Tom Smeland Team in Doylestown.

“Make sure the range and refrigerator are updated – especially the range – because that is something you can enjoy while still in the house, and it will help with resale,” he explained.

While Hurley said dishwashers may not be as vital, adding or updated cabinets should be near the top of the list.

A fresh coat of paint

Few home décor choices offer as dramatic – and immediate – a change as a fresh coat of properly applied paint.

Paint is among the least expensive options to brighten up the kitchen ahead of listing a home for sale.

“We’ve had really great success with that transformation, and we do see the return on investment” on kitchen cabinets, said Jaimie Meehan, a Realtor at Melissa Healy Group at Keller Williams Real Estate in Doylestown.

“When [cabinets are] more updated – lighter and brighter – fresh paint packs a punch when buyers walk into that space,” Meehan said.

Replace or add kitchen cabinets

The next level of kitchen improvements could include kitchen cabinetry.

If the cabinets are in good condition, a fresh coat of paint may be all that is needed. Refacing is another option, if the housings are stable and made from high quality materials. Think about adding additional cabinets or free standing storage pieces, if space allows.

Another refresh could be simply replacing cabinet handles, pulls or knobs. Updating kitchen cabinet “jewelry” can instantly refresh existing cabinets.

“And having – or adding – a pantry is huge. A pantry is the number one thing people ‘ooh and aah’ about,” Hurley said.

Make a splash

Adding or replacing a kitchen backsplash is another immediate refresh. A new backsplash can compliment or highlight other interesting elements along the perimeter like open shelves or high end appliances.

Whether its subway tile or a gorgeous marble slab using new backsplash material is a sure recipe to perk up kitchen work spaces.

Counter space

Hurley loves counter space – and with good reason. For home cooks and bakers there’s almost never enough counter space to make those tasks easier. And lots of high quality counter spaces is a magnet to home buyers.

“Counter space in a kitchen is the primary objective for most people. We’ve seen a huge trend to focus on the island and to make that the large [uninterrupted] counter space area,” said Leigh Nunno, a Realtor and associate broker at Melissa Healy Group at Keller Williams Real Estate in Doylestown.

If the kitchen does not have a lot of perimeter counter space, an island offers alternative work and prep surface area.

For those without the space for an island, a peninsula with low profile stools may do the trick, Nunno said.


From task and ambient to overhead, under counter and toe kick lighting might be the easiest – and most cost effective way to give your kitchen a nearly instant face lift.

Keep light fixture bulb “temperatures” in the same color tone family for a cohesive look.

Mixing warm and cool bulbs can be visually distracting and make spending time in such a space jarring.

Bulb colors range from warm to cool, with higher Kelvin or K numbers landing on the blue/white cool side of the spectrum.

At the warmer end of the Kelvin color temperature scale is 2000K or “candlelight” tones. Mid tones or neutrals sit from 3100 to 4500K. Numbers ranging from 4600K and higher indicate daylight and very bright blue/white tones mostly found in commercial and industrial settings, according to TCP

“Lighting is one of the easiest things you can do to change the personality of a room easily,” Meehan said.


An older home may have different flooring materials – such as a ceramic tile in the kitchen, carpet in a family room, hardwood or luxury vinyl plank or tile in the dining room.

Think about cohesion in first floor flooring materials, especially when reconsidering what’s underfoot in the kitchen.

Meehan said new construction practices dating from even 15 years ago may have only offered hardwood as a builder upgrade.

“You might have wood in a foyer and carpets in other areas,” she said.

In newer construction projects – especially those with open floor plans where the kitchen and family room are connected – Meehan said uniform flooring has become the norm.

“Flooring really does extend that design element” especially on the first floor, she said.

Nunno said open concept floor plans with different flooring choices can become disconnected.

“When you have those large looks with different floors it’s a lot to see,” she said, “and most home buyers don’t like a patchwork approach. Too many different styles can become distracting, and that can make the home feel very choppy.”

Meehan said many home buyers understand they may need to personalize paint and flooring after a home purchase.

Having freshly painted surfaces and updated flooring makes a home more attractive to buyers, she said.

“If it’s already in place [the prospective home buyer] may be willing to pay a little more. They may be willing to compete for a home like that,” Meehan said.