The 5 Kitchen Upgrades That Add the Most Value to Your Home

by | Mar 17, 2023 | Signature Kitchen & Bath Blog | 0 comments

Mia Taylor for Better Homes & Gardens on kitchen upgrades that add value. The professionals at SRB Signature Kitchen & Bath are well-versed in the business and can help you with your springtime remodel.

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A stunning kitchen is both a focal point of a home and a great selling feature when it comes time to put your property on the market. But before you rush off to the nearest showroom to start perusing all the enticing options for a makeover, remember: Not all kitchen upgrades are created equal.

1. Add a Kitchen Island

Real estate investor and home flipper Donald Olhausen, owner of WeBuyHousesInSanDiego, says adding a kitchen island is one of the best ways to increase the value of your kitchen when embarking on renovations.

“Kitchen islands are highly sought out by potential buyers, tend to add more counter and storage space, and can really make a kitchen feel bigger than it is,” explains Olhausen. “It’s also an incredibly safe investment because it’s a trend that’s not likely to go out of style.”

Although there are many benefits to adding a kitchen island, be prepared to spend a bit of money, as this type of upgrade requires a fairly substantial investment. The final cost varies based on whether the island will include plumbing and electrical, but you can expect to spend between $4,000 and $5,000 on materials for an island and anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000 for labor.

If a kitchen renovation is in your future, or you’re preparing to sell your home, here are some of the upgrades that reliably add value and provide a return on your investment.

“You can certainly find prefabricated kitchen islands at big box stores, but I do not recommend this as they do not add any value, are difficult to match to the house, and will probably look out of place,” says Olhausen.

2. Update, Paint, or Replace Cabinets

Another one of Olhausen’s favorite ways to increase the value of a kitchen is to update the cabinets. “Whether painting cabinets, updating hardware, or completely changing them out, this is a sure way to completely change the look of a kitchen,” explains Olhausen. “Today’s buyers tend to focus on storage and favor cabinets with good aesthetic appeal.”

The cost of this upgrade varies depending on the size and scope of your project and the quality of the cabinets selected. If you focus on just replacing hardware, expect to spend at least $100 to $200, depending on where the materials are purchased, says Olhausen. “These are expensive at big-box stores but cheap on Amazon.”

When selecting new hardware, don’t worry about finding an identical match to the existing finishes in your kitchen. “Look around your space and note what metal finishes you currently have on plumbing fixtures, lighting, or appliances and then select a hardware that works well with those finishes,” says John McClain, of Los Angeles-based John McClain Design. “It doesn’t have to be the exact finish as your other design elements; it just has to partner well with them.”

Repainting cabinets is the next step up in modernizing your kitchen cabinets and will cost quite a bit more than simply renewing the hardware. You can expect to spend anywhere from $2,500 to at least $4,000 depending on the total surface area of the cabinets. If this price is daunting, keep in mind that you usually get the best return on investment on this effort, especially when combined with new hardware, says Olhausen.

Replacing cabinets entirely will be the most expensive option. Final costs depend on such things as general contractor fees and the cabinets selected. For an average size kitchen, expect to spend about $4,000 to $5,000 in materials and $5,000 to $6,000 in labor, says Olhausen.

“This upgrade usually averages out to $9,000 or more to replace cabinets with a mid-grade material. Custom jobs will always demand a higher price as there are usually less materials on hand and more work involved,” he explains.

3. Upgrade Appliances

Old, outdated, and poorly functioning appliances are one of the top reasons homeowners renovate a kitchen or move to a new home entirely. Most of us spend way too much time in our kitchens to want to deal with unreliable appliances, says Liz Walton, design leader and CEO of the full-service luxury interior design firm Liz Walton Home.

“By investing in quality, high-performance appliances now, you will reap the benefits for years to come with perfectly cooked and baked foods, and when it comes time to sell your home, those professional-grade appliances will be a major selling point to any buyer,” explains Walton.

Stainless-steel appliances, which have been wildly popular for years now, remain the go-to option for countless homeowners. Beatrice de Jong, broker and consumer trends expert for Opendoor, says they continue to be the best bet when it comes to adding value to a kitchen.

“Stainless-steel appliances inspire potential buyers to imagine life in that very kitchen—and want to put down an offer right away,” says de Jong.

But don’t go overboard when selecting new appliances. There’s a range of price points for new stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers, and while it’s important to have updated features in your kitchen, it’s not necessary to buy the top-of-the-line options. “Not overspending on the most luxe brands will ensure you see a return on your investment,” says de Jong.

4. Replace Countertops

Twenty years ago, granite was all the rage, but today, few people want dark, speckled countertops. Give your kitchen a brighter look with new white or light, neutral quartzite countertops or porcelain countertops, which have been trending for the past year or more.

“These will give your kitchen an instant facelift and attract buyers,” says Walton. “Bonus: you will have less maintenance and more money in your pocket when you are ready to sell.”

Using real marble, which can be very pricey, will rarely translate into a return on your investment when upgrading countertops. “But there are many options to get the look for less,” says de Jong, who like Walton suggests quartzite materials as a less costly alternative.

No matter which updated material you select, countertops are an important investment and one that makes a significant difference in the appearance of your kitchen and its resale value. “Get rid of outdated tile and grout countertops that are hard to clean,” adds de Jong. “Upgraded countertops will give your kitchen an elevated and modern look.”

5. Add a Multipurpose Work Area

Increasing the functionality of your kitchen by adding a desk area or a multipurpose zone is an increasingly popular way to add value to kitchens amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people are still spending the majority of their time at home.

“With people now working from home and multitasking like never before, it’s become evident many of us don’t have enough spaces in our home that support this new live-work lifestyle,” says Jessica Rae Sommer, senior creative director for Maverick Design, an interior design firm that’s part of Wedgewood Homes. “At Maverick Design, we see immense short-term and long-term value in adding functional spaces to the kitchen to improve quality of life and overall functionality.”

Kitchen counters offer a great space to work, but an in-kitchen desk works best for when you don’t want to make the mistake of setting your laptop down in a puddle of water or other kitchen debris. This type of added space can function as a work-from-home desk or as a spot for kids to do homework while parents prepare dinner. It can also be useful as a place for a quick Zoom call during the day.

“The kitchen desk doesn’t have to lose beauty for functionality either,” adds Sommer. “Try pairing a simple butcher-block slab with statement art and accessories for a stunning multifunctional space that adds value to buyers.”