There is a common misconception held by many home sellers that they probably won’t recoup the money it costs for a kitchen remodel, yet over 20 years of listing and selling homes in our area has shown me this certainly need not be the case.

Now if you hire a specialist kitchen contractor to completely remodel your kitchen, it is likely to cost a lot more than you would get back when you sell, but this is simply the wrong approach to take if you want to maximize your return on investment.

When I advise my sellers how to get the best return on investment, my aim is to create a great impression when the home is on the market. The way to achieve that in a kitchen is to have good looking cabinets, sharp appliances, lighting and flooring. And with careful spending, you should more than recoup the money you spend.

  • Kitchen Cabinets: In most cases, you really don’t want to reconfigure the kitchen. That is usually very costly. If your cabinets look tired, having them professionally painted is often the best approach. Then add new hardware for a nice finishing touch. If the cabinets are past that, having them refaced, with new doors and drawer boxes is still a good cost-effective approach.
  • Countertops:  You don’t have to have granite, but you do want them to be appealing. White tiles can be cleaned and grouted. Colored tiles can even be epoxy coated white with great effect. Formica counters should be replaced though, and fortunately, it’s easier and less costly than most people think, even using granite or quartz from a good source.
  • Appliances: Old and/or non-matching appliances are definitely a turn-off, particularly if they are not 100% functional. You don’t need top of the line stainless steel, and the cost of replacing them can be less than you think if you are prepared to buy returns, close-outs, or even last year’s models. It is worth noting though, that high end kitchen appliances, especially ranges, often add more value to a home than they cost because of the “Wow” factor.
  • Lighting: Fluorescent lights are so 1970s. Just taking down those tubes and having some inset halogen or LED lights installed will transform any kitchen. Again, it’s a matter of hiring a reliable affordable contractor but it should always give you a good return.
  • Flooring: Your floors do need to give a good impression. Tile floors typically need cleaning and re-grouting, and wood floors may just need to be cleaned and polished. If your floors can’t easily be made to look pristine, I recommend considering wood-effect vinyl plank flooring. It is very affordable, easy too install and it looks great. I have even seen it installed in very high end homes with good effect.

I hope all this will give you some food for thought, whether you are thinking of selling or you would just like a nicer kitchen without breaking the bank. If you need referrals to sources or contractors for anything I have mentioned, just send me an email to and I’ll do whatever I can to help.