6 Easy Kitchen Upgrades That Add Major Value

This post is going to be a little different than our usual real estate photography related pieces.

Hey there agents, homeowners, and home sellers!

This post is going to be a little different than our usual real estate photography related pieces.  Today we’re going to be taking a look at things from the homeowner’s perspective and checking out some simple, cost-effective ways to add value to your home.

What we’ve found in our years in the business is that renovating is not always about spending $50,000 to create the most amazing bathroom you have ever seen, but about doing the renovations that cost the least and yield the most.  Things like tile glazing and cabinet-repainting are exactly that—fun DIY projects that yield great results. 

Many times, home sellers might just want to get out of where they’re living and not spend a ton of money renovating, remodeling, and redecorating before they sell their home.  After all, you want to save that money and put it into your new home!  The following list contains some recommendations for the homeowner who wants to invest in the appearance of their home, but not break the bank at the same time.

1. Paint the cabinets 

The first item on our list brings us into the kitchen which is definitely one of our favourite parts of the home.  Whether or not you are a Gordon Ramsay in the making, the kitchen is an essential part of a house and an incredibly important social focal point.  Even if you like to eat-out most nights of the week having a comfortable kitchen will not only be nice to look at, but will WOW your guests and certainly add dollars to the price tag.  

Picture this: a large and spacious kitchen with a sprawling island in the middle (great bones), but imagine there are ugly wood cabinets, outdated white tile, grout lines, and grimy appliances.  What a disappointment, right?! Well we have seen hundreds of homes like this (not an exaggeration).  Now here's what you shouldn't do.  You might be thinking with one magical swing of the hammer you can demolish those ugly cabinets and replace them with a contemporary set— but that's where most people go wrong. In an endeavor where there are so many incidental (and accidental) costs, spending money to demolish and install new cabinets is not such a great idea. Instead, we recommend repainting your cabinets.  Not only can it be a fun bonding activity between you and your partner (or agent), but being able to repaint and refinish your cabinets gives you a vast amount of freedom to choose the type of surface, color, texture, and style of your new cabinets. Generally speaking you should sand down the surface in order to dictate the type of texture that you want then apply paint. Our bonus tips for this section include using a high-quality cover stain if you are not up to sanding your cabinets, using a good primer before you paint, and finishing things off with top coat material to protect that paint.  

A renovation like this will cost you anywhere from $100-$500 while adding anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 to the value of your home.

This is the most profitable upgrade that you can add to your home so please take advantage of this if you can!

2. Tile Glazing

Okay. Our second tip brings us to the bathroom (or really anywhere you may find outdated tile).  Unlike cabinets, tiles and paint do not mix very well (read: disaster).  Instead, in order to update a grouping of tiles or even a whole bathtub, we recommend using a tile glazing kit.  Oftentimes, we find ourselves with bathrooms that have great bones, but they are covered in an 80s light pink tile or white speckled tile (you get the idea). To fix this, you need to re-glaze your tiles.  Kits like this can be found on amazon for as little as $50!  

This upgrade will cost you $100-$300 and add anywhere from $1000-$3000 to your home value.

Pro-tip: Do not use the paint roller that comes with the kit!  It will come on unevenly and with air bubbles.  Get yourself a no-air sprayer to evenly apply the glaze.

You also want to remove any old, discolored, or mildew-laden grout that is left over from years of use.

Another helpful tip we recommend is actually making these improvements and investments in your home before you plan to sell as this will allow you to enjoy the benefits while you’re in the home.

3. Dated Ceilings 

As you may have been able to tell, many of these upgrades are not just upgrades, but upDATES—in other words, we are pressing the fast-forward button on certain parts of the home so buyers can enjoy a more modern home.  

Well, when I tell you to think of an outdated home, what descriptions come to mind? Maybe you think of an outdated bathroom sink with a big cloudy jewel faucet handle or a wood paneled basement straight out of the 80s.  But something I think everyone thinks of is the popcorn ceiling.

There is nothing that screams outdated quite like a popcorn ceiling.  In the 90s, contractors seemingly fooled the entire world when they convinced us that the ugly popcorn ceiling actually provided sound canceling between rooms instead of just being a cheap way to finish ceilings.

This all brings us to the third way to add value to your home without spending an exorbitant amount of money: scraping your ceilings.   Nothing brings your home into the 21st century quite like a smooth, uniform ceiling.  Scraping your ceilings is quite simple, but there are essential health and safety precautions that we recommend anyone take before undertaking like this.  Be sure to read up about this process if you are considering doing it yourself.  Regardless, you can still hire a contractor and reap the benefits of this step.  Scraping your ceilings alone can bring in an additional $4000-$8000 when you sell your home.

4. Add Inexpensive Molding and Baseboards 

One of our favorite upgrades you can make is changing out those older, 1.5-2 inch baseboards, for more contemporary 4-5 inch craftsman-style baseboard.  These baseboards are not just for your floors, either, you can immediately elevate a property’s style by adding these inexpensive moldings to windows and doorframes.  Materials will run you about $400 in this case, but you can expect to see a return of about $3,000-$5,000 on your investment.

Regardless of the price range of a house, the standards are still the same.  In other words, you can add design elements from luxury homes to a less expensive home and still capture the high-class feel.  Adding molding around the baseboards and especially to windows can give that high-end architecture feel to your home, regardless of the price.  

When it comes to installation, be sure to find an authoritative source on the matter.  Otherwise, there’s not much more we can tell you other than to remove first, prep always, and not fear negative space!

5. FORMICA Laminate Sheets

This is easily our favorite upgrade on the list, mostly because of how dang easy it is to install and how much it truly transforms your kitchen.  As you can already tell, we are back in the kitchen with more suggestions.  Your kitchen is one of those few places where your buyers will pay extra close attention to examine the attention to detail and craftsmanship of the space.  Unlike bedrooms or main living spaces, kitchens have numerous iconic parts including countertops, backsplashes, islands, cabinets, faucets, handles and more.  As a homeowner who is looking to add more value to their home, the kitchen is a space of unlimited possibilities.  Specifically, the right countertops can communicate high class and tie together the design of a kitchen.  (Unfortunately, the opposite is also true—making it doubly important that you follow this step if you can).

This step is mostly applicable if you have an old butcher block style countertop or old formica countertop. These countertops are outdated and if you have lived in your current abode for any meaningful amount of time, they probably have accumulated a decent amount of drainage, wear, and tear.  But fear not, in order to fix these up, you DO NOT need to demo your counter-space or do anything of the sort.  In fact, all you need to do is wrap it.

I know.  It sounds crazy right? Wrapping your countertops? That can’t be a long-term solution. Wrapping is for Christmas gifts.  It’s meant to torn off and forgotten about.

Well, hold your horses. Wrapping has actually become a bit of a craze these days (and not just the music genre).  Take the car detailing industry for example.  Instead of paying thousands of dollars on expensive (and permanent) paint jobs, owners of sporty and luxurious cars often opt to literally wrap their cars in adhesive film that offers infinitely more designs and control over what their “new” car will look like.

But back to homes. We recommend going to amazon and purchasing a similar sort of self-adhesive laminate sheet or foil that is then applied to your existing countertop.  This offers many benefits similar to the car-wrapping—like numerous designs—and brings it to the real-estate space.  You can choose from all your favorite designs like marble and granite.  Overall, we love this DIY upgrade and you should too.

You can find all of these under the Formica brand at Home Depot or on Amazon.  They are extremely inexpensive as well—generally no more than $30 for a modest amount of sheets….which segues into our next point: don’t be afraid to buy way more than you need to get a few practice runs in before you do the final install. They’re simply too cheap for you to risk it.  And when it comes to installation, if you think you’ve made a mistake (i.e. off-center, air-bubbles) do not just keep going—definitely go back and try to correct the mistake or worst case, rip it out and start again. 

In total, materials should cost you no more than $150 and can yield you anywhere from $2,000-$3,000.

6. Replace hardware

Our last suggestion applies to probably one of the most overlooked parts of the home, which is a shame, because they are essential in keeping the continuity of a stylistic theme and communicating value in general.  And that is your home’s hardware, locks, hinges, and handles. 

In terms of continuity, the type of metal and finish determine the “vibe” they put out and should match the vibe of the rest of the home.  For example, a rustic converted barn with exposed ceiling beams calls for bronze handles and hinges with a dark finish.  On the other hand, a contemporary house requires more striking hardware which might be jet black handles, for example. 

These upgrades cost around $500 but will add about $3,000-$4,000 to the home’s value.

We hope all the homeowners out there got something beneficial from this article.  To the agents out there as well, please use these ideas as creative springboards for your own ideas and things to suggest to your own clients!

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