If you’re looking for an excuse to remodel your kitchen, we’ve got you covered. According to experts, updated kitchens are one of the top five elements that make a home sell for more than its asking price. And that makes sense. Most of us spend a large portion of our time in this room that is often referred to as the “heart of the home.”
Before you start googling contractors, we feel compelled to warn you: Updated kitchens are an expensive investment. According to the 2023 US Hose and Home Study Conducted by the Renovation Center, which included more than 46,000 people, the average expenditure on a kitchen renovation is $20,000—the highest of all rooms in the house. But there is some good news here. “On average, kitchen remodels recoup up to 60 percent of the money spent on renovations, which is a nice boost to the sale price,” he says. Open door Moderator: Jennifer Patchen.
However, you want to make sure you maximize your renovation investment by spending on the things your buyers want, not on expensive extras that might actually turn them off. Again, we are here for you. We asked experts from real estate agents to architects to share the kitchen upgrades that will increase your home’s value—and to let them know any idea they might have about what to skip.
Countertops are a big deal—a Houzz study reports that 90% of homeowners prioritize countertops during the renovation process. And real estate agents agree that this is a smart move, because it’s both beautiful and practical. “Upgraded countertops will give your kitchen a modern, upscale look,” says Patchen. “Granite or quartz countertops are a more sensible alternative to marble and require less maintenance.” You can also try more affordable fake stones to satisfy buyers as well.
If your cabinets are in bad shape, it might be time to replace them. But if they’re still holding up well, you can breathe new life into them with a new color or finish. “Repainting cabinets is often a low-cost way to change the look of your kitchen,” says Compass Real Estate Agent. Jennifer Turano. “This can either be done as a money-saving DIY project or with the help of a professional painter, who might use a spray technique to give the cabinets a completely new, factory look. Choose a clean, neutral color to brighten up the room. Or play with color to follow current design trends.”
If you don’t want to spoil your kitchen, focus on easy-to-fix details. An affordable DIY project that can dramatically improve the look of your kitchen swap your devices. says Jennifer Ferruto, founder Blythe Interiors. “We love shape pulls rather than knobs. Rivets create height and drama, be sure to choose a finish that contrasts with your cabinet color. Upgrading your hardware will make all the difference!”
Mark Perak, director at Architectural Engineering and an adjunct assistant professor of architecture at Columbia University, Suggests ADD under cabinet lighting, also. “These are small details, but they make a huge difference. They can totally brighten up a kitchen,” he says.
This is where you need to play Goldilocks and get your hardware right. On the other hand, buyers want a home with high-end, usable appliances. On the other hand, if you get a little personal with your appliances—say, you opt for specialty items like a pizza oven or highly stylized ones like a Smeg refrigerator—that could turn off certain buyers. Whatever you do, don’t splurge on expensive items, unless you stand to benefit from using them yourself. “While it’s important to keep the hardware up to date, it’s not necessary to buy the best options. Not overspending on luxury brands will guarantee you a return on your investment,” says Patchen. At the very least, you should make sure your hardware matches. “Keep in mind the hardware coordination—consistency in aesthetics is a plus,” Turano says.
“Converting the flooring in the kitchen to hardwood or luxury vinyl plank (LVP) will help the space look sleek, functional, and modern,” says Patchen. “LVP is becoming increasingly popular because it is waterproof, does not scratch from pet nails, and requires less maintenance than hardwood.” But beware—if replacing your flooring is a lot of work, you may not get a good return on that investment. “New flooring can make a huge difference in your kitchen, but sometimes you have to remove all of the base cabinets to properly install the flooring,” warns Biak.
Here is the need. Remodeling your kitchen can be a very expensive endeavor, given all the behind-the-scenes details (such as plumbing and electrical) that have to sync up with different elements. But if you have a completely unusable kitchen, it might be worth remodeling the space. Ask yourself two basic questions: Is there an important element missing in your kitchen, such as a pantry? Is there space for people to eat in the kitchen, or congregate while entertaining? Is there enough countertop space for cooking? Can you open the dishwasher while doing other things? Turano advises.
Stephanie Waldeck is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, design, and travel. I have worked on staff at Architectural Digest, ARTnews, and Oyster.com, a TripAdvisor company, has contributed Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, Design Milk, and Hunker, among others. When you’re not dreaming of mid-century chairs, you can find them re-watching the x-files, Most likely in an airport lounge or on a plane.