Any good gathering is bound to have food, maybe this is why the kitchen has become "the heart of the home". A kitchen can make or break a buyer's impression of a house. However, if you're considering a kitchen renovation, not just any updates will garner the equity you're hoping for.
With any renovation, you want to make sure not to use materials that out price your neighborhood. If houses in your neighborhood are selling in the 200's, putting marble countertops in your kitchen probably isn't a wise investment. After looking at HUNDREDS of kitchens I noticed a few design trends that will help give your kitchen a high-end look without a high-end price tag.
1. Appliances: High-end kitchens minimize the appearance of appliances with low profile, clean, built-in design. I know how convenient that ice and water dispenser is on the door of your refrigerator, but high-end kitchens don't have them. A refrigerator without the external dispensers creates a much cleaner look. Besides, those things are always breaking. Speaking of refrigerators, if you don't have thousands to splurge on a subzero, go for a counter depth which will give you the same build-in look. A slide-in range with controls on the front also adds to the built-in look.
This is by far my best appliance tip....which I know is going to offend a LOT of kitchens....please, PLEASE do not put the microwave over the stove! Nothing screams "builder grade" more than a microwave/stove combo. Try placing it out of sight and use a trim kit for a built-in look. Oh and you can skip the microwave drawer unless you're prepared to drop over $1,000 on a microwave; no thanks! Our "built-in" microwave with trim kit was about $300.
2. Lighting: Don't ignore lighting. Statement pendants over an island or breakfast bar can make a big impact for not a lot of money. Recessed and task under-cabinet lighting are great too. LED bulbs not only save energy, they emit great natural light and you don't have to change them as often. Yay for not climbing up a ladder every couple months to change bulbs!
3. Countertops: There are SO many options for countertops now. If you go for a stone, check the remnants section at your location stone yard and you can save 50% or more. Our whole 10-foot island was a remnant--woot woot! Lumber Liquidators and IKEA also have some nice butcher block countertop options. You can also save by mixing materials. Here are some butcher block countertop designs I love...
4. Backsplash: A backsplash can change the whole look of a kitchen. It's also an inexpensive detail you can add to give your kitchen a finished look. We went with a white subway tile because our house was built in 1907 and we wanted to stay true to the classic design you would have seen in a turn of the century home. If you're looking to cut costs, a backsplash is always something you can do later while still maintaining a functioning kitchen.
5. Accessories: Sinks, faucets, cabinet organization, trim, hardware, garbage bins....accessories are where you can really save or splurge. Decide what's important to you (or if you're trying to sell what appeals to buyers) and pick a few items. For me, a coffee bar and pull out trash bin were priority. As much as I love apron front (farmhouse) sinks, they are expensive and you couldn't really see it anyway with our kitchen layout. So, pick your priorities when you can't have it all.
We had to work with the existing footprint of our kitchen, which was quite narrow. I was concerned it would be too small but I'm really happy with how it turned out. A few other details I like about our kitchen: outlets on the end of the islands, button (air switch) on the countertop for garbage disposal, cabinet crown moulding makes the cabinets seem taller, black iron cabinet hardware that ties in with the lanterns, wood flooring flows throughout without chopping up the space, a large single rectangular sink, and coffee bar that doubles as pantry space. I no longer lose things in the back of a deep pantry closet!