Remodeling projects, upgrades, and renovations are great ways to add value to your home. Considering that the heart of the home is the kitchen, what better place to start? Changes to your kitchen both big and small can make a significant impact on prospective buyers, allowing you to command a higher price when you’re ready to sell. However, not every kitchen upgrade is worthwhile. We asked real estate experts to weigh in on which kitchen improvements will increase your home’s value and which you should skip.

Investment-Worthy Kitchen Upgrades  

If you’re thinking of remodeling your home, the kitchen is a smart place to put your money. “Kitchens and bathrooms are very valuable in terms of desirability from potential home buyers,” says Devin McNichol, a Los Angeles-based luxury realtor and real estate investor. “They are a great focal point when deciding where to spend your money in prepping your home for sale,” says his business partner, luxury realtor and real estate investor, Aaron Bernbach. 

Keep in mind that location also plays a significant factor in which home improvements and upgrades will impact the resale value of your home. Seek the expertise of realtors in your area before investing in a remodel to ensure your efforts and expenses are worthwhile. “For example, I have seen homeowners overspend on appliances, finishes, and so on because their neighborhood doesn’t support the home value increases they expect from putting in those luxury items,” says McNichol.

Replace Old Floors 

Kitchens are typically the most traffic-heavy room in the house, so kitchen floors see a lot of wear and tear. “Replace old and outdated flooring with neutral whites, off-whites, or light grey tile, or a more affordable natural-looking wood luxury vinyl plank,” says Bernbach. Vinyl plank floors are durable, easy to clean, and waterproof, making them incredibly attractive to prospective homebuyers. “This change can bring a kitchen—and the whole house—to life and make it feel brighter,” says McNichol. 

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint 

It’s not always the most expensive upgrades that make the biggest impact. “Believe it or not, something as simple as a fresh coat of paint brightens and refreshes the kitchen and can make it pop,” says McNichol. Keep in mind, however, that the color you choose plays a key role in your home’s appeal to buyers. Bold, bright colors are fun, but they’re also very personal choices. Neutral tones are typically more universal. “We like whites and light gray,” says Bernbach. “Lighter colors help reflect light, making a space feel bigger and more airy.”

Upgrade to High-Quality Countertops 

Not all countertops are created equal. If yours are outdated, choosing high-quality countertops that require minimal maintenance is a huge selling point to future buyers. “For years, most of the builders we work with have gone with some variation of a white speckled quartz or higher-end stones,” says Bernbach. “One thing to consider is how easy is it to maintain the look of the stone? Does it get water spots if you don’t clean and dry it regularly?” Simply replacing the countertops may improve the overall look and feel of your kitchen enough that you won’t need to make additional upgrades to increase the value of your home.

Refresh Your Cabinets 

Cabinets are one of the first things you notice in a kitchen, and they can make all the difference to prospective home buyers. “If your kitchen is old and you have the budget and time to replace the cabinets, we are in favor,” says McNichol. “We’ve also seen homeowners sand and paint their wood cabinets successfully and add new hardware for a more affordable option.” Just like your walls, adding a fresh coat of paint to your kitchen cabinets can make them feel brand new.

Open Up the Kitchen 

Open floor plans have been popular for years, and while some designers are ready to let go of the concept, realtors say that opening the space between your kitchen and the dining or family room will attract buyers. “If you have the budget, time, and floor plan, taking down the wall between the kitchen and dining or family room can pay huge returns in your home’s modern desirability and the price you’ll get for it,” says Bernbach. “Of course, make sure to check with a local general contractor about load-bearing walls and city permits.” Assuming there are no structural, electrical, or plumbing concerns, removing a wall is not as expensive as you might think. 

Kitchen Upgrades Where You Won’t See a Return 

While some kitchen renovations will get you a great return on your investment, others might leave you in the red. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to upgrade every aspect of your kitchen to improve your home’s resale value.

Don’t Worry About Large Appliances 

Large appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens, are not necessarily items that homebuyers expect to be included in their purchase, so don’t spend your money replacing them. “Unless you’re selling a brand new or luxury home, the appliances won’t get you back the money you spend,” says McNichol. “In fact, we have sold brand new luxury homes in the $5 million range that did not include a washer and dryer.” Oftentimes, home buyers plan to bring their own appliances with them to their new home, so why would they want to pay for new appliances they don’t need?

Forget Expensive Fixtures and Faucets 

Small details like kitchen faucets and fixtures like drawer pulls can come with hefty price tags, and depending on how many you need for your kitchen, the costs for high-quality hardware can add up quickly. The truth is, they’re not worth the splurge. “New fixtures and door handles can absolutely help brighten your kitchen and are a great option, especially when sanding and painting older cabinets,” says Bernbach. “But you can use simple, affordable options as opposed to the more expensive ones, which won’t get you the returns you want.”

Courtesy of Martha Stewart

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