9 Easy, Low-Cost Kitchen Updates to Make Before Selling Your Home

kitchen counter

Post from MilitaryByOwner

Touring through the umpteenth home on our Realtor’s list during our recent home shopping experience, I walked into the kitchen of one home and just as quickly walked back out.

“Nope,” I informed my husband. I knew there was no way we wanted to take on the drab olive-hued cabinets, the cracked countertops, or the mismatched tiles on the floor. While the house was otherwise beautifully staged and located in a desirable neighborhood, we neither had the time nor extra funds for a “fixer upper” or renovation by a contractor. We quickly crossed that home off the list of potentials.

Your kitchen can literally make or break your home sale. It’s a fact that kitchens are a primary deciding factor in a homebuyer’s decision. There aren’t many areas in the home that will look dated as quickly as the kitchen will, so if you’re planning to put your home on the market soon, it makes sense to plan a few updates.

According to Home Advisor, the average kitchen remodel comes in at around $20,000. The cost alone will prohibit most military families from undertaking a complete renovation, since they won’t typically see the return on investment, especially considering the often short timeframe between the home purchase and resale. Still, freshening up your kitchen can only help your sale, so let’s take a look at some low cost kitchen upgrades you might be able to accomplish on your own.

1) Start with a Clean Sweep

While strictly speaking this isn’t an “upgrade,” start with an immaculately clean kitchen. Then, clear countertops of clutter and knick knacks and remove items from the tops of cabinets and the refrigerator. This will make your space appear larger and help potential buyers focus on seeing their own things in the space...and not on your teapot or alphabetized spice collection.

2) Transform with Paint

Fresh paint is a relatively inexpensive way of changing the entire look of a room. Opt for light, neutral colors and consider an accent wall in a complementary color. Citrus shades are popular and work well in kitchens.

3) Freshen up Cabinets

While replacing all the cabinetry may not be in your budget, you can still create a new look.

  • Open up shelving by removing upper cabinet doors and staging pretty dishes or glassware or replace several doors with glass fronts, which can give the appearance of a custom upgrade.
  • Replace doorknobs and drawer pulls with classic finishes such as brushed nickel or stainless steel for a brand new look. Hardware stores carry a variety. Ceramic and vintage glass pulls are popular right now, but it’s best not to go too kitschy for maximum appeal.
  • Painting cabinets gives an instant update. Create a focal point by painting the island a contrasting color. While the fresh, clean look of white kitchens continues in popularity, soft shades of gray are also on the rise in kitchen decor.

4) Replace the Backsplash

No longer just to protect walls from spatters and spills, the kitchen backsplash can blend into the background or make a bold statement. If yours is outdated, it’s fairly simple to replace with a little DIY know-how. Check with your local home maintenance store for classes or instructions. From classic tile to mosaics or even wood, easy peel-and-stick options abound.

5) Clean or Replace Flooring

Refinish wood floors or replace broken ceramic tiles. For scratched, torn, or faded linoleum, it might be time for a complete redo. Check your local Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore for rolls of lino, kitchen hardware, cabinets, and other home accessories and building materials at surprisingly low prices.

6) Change Out Your Countertops

This is a bigger job, but can breathe new life into your kitchen. Trim costs for other updates to replace countertops that have seen better days. Butcher block, cement, and quartz are popular with homebuyers right now.

7) Say Bye-Bye to Old Fixtures

Lime-stained fixtures just won’t do when showing your home. If yours are beyond cleaning help to remove stains, replacing the faucet and sprayer are a relatively easy job to tackle yourself. While installing a new kitchen sink might be a bigger task, sites such as thefamilyhandyman.com provide instructions as well as pitfalls to avoid for the DIY’ers.

8) Update the Lights

Replace a dated light fixture with a unique pendant light to add interest. For outdated brass fixtures, a can of spray paint can do the trick! Be sure to follow safety standards for electrical work or hire someone to do it for you if you’re not experienced.

9) Stage Like a Pro

Again, it’s good to remember that potential homebuyers will want to envision themselves in your kitchen. Use these tips to make the area homey and inviting.

  • For eat-in kitchens, use a smaller table and chair set to make the space appear larger. Place a throw rug under the table to define the separate space.
  • A few well-placed plants bring life and warmth.
  • Add gourmet touches to your now cleared counters such as a bowl of polished fruit, a full bottle of herbed olive oil, or a small wine rack.
  • Polish fixtures, replace light bulbs, and dust every corner.
  • Remove magnets from the refrigerator to help depersonalize.
  • Window treatments should be light or neutral colored.
  • Stow cleaning products under the sink.

Looking at your whole house, especially the kitchen, through the eyes of a homebuyer will only help with your home sale. As for us? While I wasn’t looking for perfection, the granite countertops, tile backsplash, and vintage-look fixtures only helped seal the deal on the home we did end up purchasing!

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