There are many good reasons to upgrade a kitchen. If you’re still living in the house, a nicer kitchen can make you feel more comfortable and help you take more pride in your living space. If you’re renting a property, an upgraded kitchen will help you find a tenant faster – and could even help you charge more rent. And if you’re selling a house, a shiny new kitchen can help you fetch a higher sale price, greatly increasing your return on investment.
But with so many options for kitchen upgrades, how do you know where to begin?
Setting Your Goals
First, you need to spend some time setting your goals.
What are you hoping to achieve? What’s most important to you?
- Aesthetics. Aesthetics may seem superficial, but they can have a major impact. A beautiful kitchen can boost your mood when you’re living in the house and make a powerful first impression on anyone seeing it for the first time. It will also help you find better tenants and sell the home faster (and for a higher price).
- Functionality. Let’s also consider functionality. Some types of countertops and cabinets are much more versatile and easier to use than others. Plus, if you choose the right selection of appliances and smart devices, you can cook cleaner and more efficiently.
- Tenant appeal. Are you thinking of renting the home? If so, you’ll want upgrades that look appealing to tenants, but nothing so over-the-top that it results in a lower return on investment (ROI).
- Sale price. Speaking of ROI, you’ll need to consider the eventual sale price (and sale speed) of your home. It’s generally not worth upgrading the kitchen if you’re about to list the home on the market, but if you’re going to live in it for a few years, your remodel can bring you personal value and still boost the price of your home.
- Budget constraints. Kitchen remodels can be very expensive, depending on the upgrades you choose and how much you’re replacing. You may need to set a strict budget to control what you’re willing to spend.
The Most Important Ways to Upgrade a Kitchen
With these goals in mind, these are some of the most important ways you can upgrade your kitchen:
- Countertops. Countertops are one of the first things you notice about a kitchen and one of the items you’ll use the most. A beautiful countertop can instantly bring brightness and life to a kitchen – and serve to make it more functional. A new countertop will usually set you back at least a few thousand dollars, but you may be able to upgrade your existing counters with a veneer.
- Faucets/sinks. You’ll also need to turn your attention to the faucets and sinks in your kitchen. If you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive upgrade, you can likely replace the sink yourself – and new materials should only cost you a few hundred dollars. Once installed, you’ll have a much more attractive and functional piece to bring life to the kitchen overall.
- Cabinets. Cabinets are another landmark of your kitchen. If your cabinets are small, old, or poorly placed, all your other kitchen upgrades may seem inconsequential by comparison. Unfortunately, cabinets are one of the most expensive upgrades in your kitchen, especially if you’re tearing down and building back up from scratch. However, you can often get tremendous value by simply modifying the cabinets you already have; for example, you can save thousands of dollars by refacing your cabinets rather than replacing them entirely. And if you’re looking for something even cheaper, you can paint them.
- Appliances. Your stove, oven, refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher often stay with the house when you sell or look for a tenant. And if they’re new and in good condition, they’ll make a much more favorable impression. Each appliance will set you back a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, but it may be worth it if your current appliance isn’t modern.
- Flooring. Next, you’ll need to think about flooring. Low-quality, worn, or damaged flooring can instantly make a bad impression on anyone wandering into your kitchen for the first time. And in many cases, it’s not hard to replace. Upgrading your floor to a nice hardwood can instantly add both aesthetic and functional value to your space.
- Lighting. Lighting may seem like a small upgrade, but it can make a big difference. The right lighting fixtures, in the right position, can instantly highlight the best qualities of your kitchen and make it seem more inviting to you and your guests.
Most of your other choices will be secondary. Consider working with a professional contractor to get a sense for your options and choose the right combination of appliances and upgrades for your kitchen.