Of all the rooms in the typical home, the one that is most subject to both attention and change is the kitchen. Trends in kitchen layouts change constantly. That’s partially because of changing tastes, but also because of improvements in technology. And we can also throw in the influence of the many home remodeling shows that are on TV.
Why Kitchens are SO Important
In the typical home, the kitchen is virtually the central room of the house. It is not only the source of food in the home but also the central room for preparation. Since everyone in the household needs to eat, and food will often need to be prepared to meet that need, the kitchen becomes a natural gathering point.
There’s also something to be said for the “breaking bread” concept. As human beings, we naturally bond with one another over food. And since food is typically prepared in the kitchen, as well as often eaten at the kitchen table, it is typically the most common room in the home for gathering and eating.
Most home buyers are aware of this, at least on a psychological and emotional level. For this reason, the kitchen is often a prime selling point – sometimes even the prime selling point – in a certain home.
In addition to the gathering function of the kitchen, buyers are keenly aware that it is the most costly room in a home to renovate. And since that renovation can run into tens of thousands of dollars, buyers will be anxious to purchase a home in which repairs or complete renovation will be unnecessary.
Still, another factor is equipment. In a typical home, the kitchen is by far the most well-equipped room in the house. Most other rooms will be judged by their size and window count, as well as superficial factors such as color and carpeting. But a kitchen will be considered based largely on the number, quality, and condition of the appliances that it contains. This is in part a matter of convenience, but also another cost consideration.
All of that makes keeping your kitchen updated mission-critical. More than any other room in your home, your house will be judged by your kitchen.
Making Small Kitchens Look Bigger
You can make many different types of improvements and upgrades to your kitchen, but one thing you can’t generally can’t change is the size. That being the case, the best strategy, if you have a small kitchen, is to make it look bigger.
The DIY Network offers several suggestions along this line.
Swap for sleeker appliances. You can remove large, clunky looking appliances and replace them with high-efficiency appliances that are specifically tailored to small kitchens. That will free up a little bit more space in your kitchen, in addition to the fact that smaller appliances can make the room look bigger. It’s also possible that by adding more efficient appliances, you will also improve the functionality of the kitchen.
Consolidate kitchen functions. This is a process of getting more utility out of the same space. You can accomplish this by storing small appliances in either cabinets or your cupboard. But you can also have certain appliances, such as your microwave oven, built into your cabinets. Those efforts will free up counter space, and give the kitchen a bigger feel.
Improve your kitchen lighting. DIY Network refers to this as “Maintain a Mix of Natural and Ambient Lighting.” That could involve adding a skylight to allow more direct sunlight for more of the day. They also recommend adding greenhouse windows to create an open feel to the kitchen. Enhanced lighting will add the same effect during the evening hours.
Declutter. One thing you cannot afford to do if you have a small kitchen is to have clutter, with countertop appliances and various kitchen supplies. Decluttering your kitchen, and keeping it clean, will both free up more space, and make the kitchen appear larger. This can have the biggest bang for the buck than any other improvement since it is virtually cost free.
Go with lighter colors. This is another low-cost way to make a small kitchen look bigger. Lighter colors give the impression of more space than dark colors. Simply by painting your kitchen a lighter color, or removing dark wallpaper or other surfaces, can give it the feel of a larger room. If you have the money to spend, it will also help to reduce the number of cabinets or to reface them if they are dark.
Making Large Kitchens More Functional
Sometimes large kitchens are just that – large – and nothing more. That can give them an empty look rather than the warm, homey feel that you prefer. If you’d like to make your large kitchen more functional, HGTV recommends the following fixes:
Add vertical wall storage. You can use hooks, rods, and even magnets to create greater organization. This is also about customizing your kitchen to make everything in it more accessible.
Add a kitchen island. This is a standard feature with virtually all of the remodeling shows on TV, as well as a common component in upscale homes. A center island not only adds functionality to the kitchen, but it also acts as a natural gathering place for both family and guests. If the island incorporates your stovetop, it can allow you to interact with your guests while you are cooking. Also, the island itself creates a substantial amount of extra storage space.
“Mise En Place.” That’s a French term that means “everything in place,” so you might guess that it has something to do with organizing your kitchen. It’s a matter of putting everything in its proper and most convenient place. For example, you might put the most commonly used items in the most accessible storage areas, while putting less used items in less convenient spaces.
Reface your cabinets and appliances with continuity in mind. The idea here is to integrate your appliance covers to match your cabinets. It gives the kitchen a cohesive and complete look. For example, a dishwasher is perhaps the most functional appliance in your kitchen. It doesn’t necessarily look pretty, but it does an important job. By facing it to match your cabinets, it will blend into the rest of the kitchen, and no longer look like a dishwasher.
The Cost of Improving Your Kitchen
There’s an extremely wide range of costs associated with improving your kitchen. You can spend anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $100,000, depending upon the extent of the renovations and the features that you want to add to the room. HomeAdvisor.com reports that an average mid-range kitchen remodeling will cost $21,637 in 2017.
Individual costs of significant improvements include:
- Upgrade appliances, $300 – $900 (though we know it can be more)
- Install new cabinets, $1,200 – $8,500
- New countertops, $900 – $7,100
- New flooring, $700 – $3,900
- New sink, $500 – $2,700
Obviously, you don’t have to spend $20,000 or more to get the type of kitchen that you want. Some of the improvements that you can make cost very little, or even nothing at all. For example, painting your kitchen a lighter color can be done for under $100. Decluttering the kitchen can be done with no out-of-pocket costs at all.
You only need to upgrade your kitchen to the point where it works for you. Whether you spend a few hundred dollars on the project or tens of thousands of dollars, it’s completely up to you.
Bonus: Improved Kitchens Raise Your Property Value
Since the kitchen is such an important room for home buyers, it also holds great potential to increase the value of your home.
HW.net reports that a major kitchen renovation costing $59,999 will result in an increase in the value or your home on the order of $38,938. That means that you can expect to recover 64.9% of the cost of the renovations upon the sale of your home.
That obviously doesn’t mean that you can recover the entire cost of kitchen renovations when you sell your home. But the fact that you can recover most of the costs can make the expense less of a burden.
So if you have an idea to upgrade your kitchen, there are compelling reasons why it makes sense, even beyond your own personal preferences.