There’s a common saying in the real estate world that it’s the kitchen that sells a home. After all, for most of us, the kitchen is the room where most of our living happens. It’s where meals are cooked and memories made. It’s where we spend the bulk of our time and lay out plans for the future.
Which is why, if you’ve recently moved into a home with a less-than-exciting kitchen, you might be in the mood for a remodel. A kitchen that’s outdated, inefficient, or just plain ugly can make you feel much less eager to pull out the pots and pans, and even drag down your total home-buying experience overall.
Ideally, you’ll have ten thousand dollars or so earmarked for the upgrade. If not, don’t fear—there are plenty of ways you can make the most of your kitchen for just a few dollars and some good, old-fashioned elbow grease.
> Pick a Theme that Works: If your kitchen is hopelessly dated from the 60s, or if it’s set in an inconvenient and dark spot at the back of the house, you can’t do much to change it without a total renovation. Instead of fighting the features you have, work with them. Go full retro and paint that 60's kitchen a bright, diner-style blue. Transform your dark kitchen into a cozy and rustic retreat with mood lighting and lots of places for lounging. You’d be surprised how much a theme can change the way you look at the space.
> Paint the Cabinets: This is the most common piece of kitchen remodel advice for a reason. It works, especially if you upgrade to white cabinets. Nothing will brighten a space faster than shiny new cupboards (even if the shape or design is out-of-date), especially if you invest in high-quality paint that will fight against fingerprints and stains.
> Remove Doors: If you aren’t willing to invest all the time required to paint every single cabinet in the kitchen, remove a few doors instead. The trade-off is that you’ll need to stack your best plates and glasses in those shelving areas, but the open look is great if you want either a modern look or rustic charm.
> Update Fixtures: Gutting the walls and cabinets is a huge (and expensive) undertaking, so focus on smaller changes instead. Drawer pulls, cabinet handles, faucets, light switches, and light fixtures can all be updated for a relatively low price.
> Open a Wall: Tearing down a wall to create an open concept kitchen requires permits, an understanding of engineering, and some quality DIY skills (not to mention a wall that’s not load-bearing). If you can’t take down a whole wall, consider putting in a window-like space instead. You can work with the beams and electrical work already in place and still create an opening that gives you access to the rest of the house.
Another great idea is to make a list of all the things you want to do for your kitchen…and then prioritize them. Handling a full kitchen remodel is not only expensive, it can be overwhelming. By taking a step-by-step approach (new flooring first, new appliances second, a new counter-top third), you can chip away at your renovations until the entire kitchen is shiny and new.