Staging a Home for Sale –Part X

The Kitchen

There are a variety of socio-economic reasons to account for the fact that the kitchen has gone from a secluded place at the back of the house to the focal point of American homes over the last few decades.

As we have gotten to be more food conscious and appreciative of cooking and entertaining, kitchen design and appliances have gotten more and more elaborate and desirable. Suffice it to say, the kitchen is the status room in the American house and the one investment that will bring homeowners the greatest return.

So what are buyers looking for in a kitchen? Simplicity, neutral color schemes, and natural materials are as important as utility. By utility, I mean great layouts and  functionality,  such as hidden storage drawers that pull out for easy access, built-in storage racks and center islands as well as mini, moveable islands. Buyers also desire an eat -in kitchen, whether it’s at a table, a booth, or stools placed around the center island.

Hidden hi-end appliances, Wi-Fi connections, stereo systems, enormous sinks, beautiful countertops and  hardware, efficient and attractive lighting are also popular. Above all, buyers are looking for space.

What should you do if you have an outdated kitchen?

The first thing, of course, is to clean everything and get all signs of life off the countertops, refrigerator door, and tops of shelves. Don’t hesitate to leave a few new, attractive appliances on show.

Now comes the part that you or your handyman can do to transform the kitchen.

  • Paint the cabinets white, off white, pale grey or pale grey green
  • Add modern glass tiles for back splash
  • Exchange the old fashioned pulls for sleeker Euro-pulls
  • Add attractive hardware at the sink.
  • Possibly add crown molding

You can purchase all these materials at Home Depot inexpensively. Additionally you can:

  • Add some beautiful artwork or oversize black and white photos
  • Add green plants
  • If you can afford it, and don’t have them already, add stainless appliances.

How you can  create the illusion of space if you don’t possess it.

Exchange cabinetry for open shelves or add a few carefully placed glass fronted cabinet doors to lighten the look of the kitchen. If opening a wall to the family room, or dining room, is an option, try that as well.

Never forget to thin out the pantry, under sink areas and cabinets, keeping only your most attractive pots and dishes on show. You want to create the illusion of spaciousness and cleanliness.

However the thing to remember is, you are making cosmetic changes to help the visual appeal of your home as it goes on the market. Don’t overdo it, don’t overspend, and remember buyers might prefer their own taste over yours and be willing to change things around.

If you can’t afford to do anything but clean and paint, your Realtor will adjust the price of your home accordingly, relative to the comparable properties currently on sale.

Last but not least, there are people who eschew trends and go for what they love. Your kitchen may fit their particular taste.

When I sold my first condo in 2003, it was to an older couple who preferred my eighties ‘pink’ oak, Portuguese tiles and Provencal ceramic pulls to the sleek super modern kitchens in the same tier  I was competing against.

My current kitchen was one of the biggest selling points when I bought my current vintage condo. Decorated in 2003, it has sleek blue, aqua and camel cabinets, incredible storage features and top of the line stainless appliances, which knock on wood, are still going strong today. It’s not everybody’s idea of a gorgeous kitchen, but one look at it and all my friends commented: ‘It’s you!’ I love color and it makes me happy each time I walk through or spend time in it. It is well laid out with multiple work spaces, but I’ve cooked sit-down dinners for thirty in a tiny galley kitchen without issues. Truly, its the aesthetics of a place and the way it makes us feel that has the most impact on our choices.

Buyers, remember dont make a decision based on re-sale value alone. Buy and live with the things you love, because trends and tastes will change by the time you are ready to move.

Next time we will look at the features buyers are searching for and those which may or may not add value to your home.