Selling A Home: To Update or Not to Update the Kitchen Blog Feature
Teri LaBuwi

By: Teri LaBuwi on September 27th, 2018

Print/Save as PDF

Selling A Home: To Update or Not to Update the Kitchen

Think of your house as an oyster.  Whether your oyster was built in 1942, 1972, or 2012, the kitchen in any home is the most important room, or the pearl inside the oyster.  If you were out looking among the oysters for pearls, you'd discard those shells that had nothing to offer on the inside.  
kitchen blog1
The same is true with kitchens and home buyers.  Homes with newer or updated kitchens always sell faster than homes that have not been updated in recent years.  Your agent might give you great advertising and exposure, and you'll have dozens of showings once your house is on the market, but if you have a dated, or dark and tired kitchen, the buyers who visit will later make offers on your competition instead.  Your house could languish on the market until someone with a vision comes along, wanting to remodel to their own desire.  That buyer is going to want to negotiate with you on price, considering the cost of the work they will want to do.  In the end, you might have to settle for more than a $20,000 reduction on your asking price, when the cost of some basic kitchen updates could represent a modest investment of less than $10,000.    
kitchen blog4When planning kitchen updates, there are two words to remember:  "Cheap" and "Cheerful."  Simple put, this means don't overspend to turn something old and tired into something new and modern.  The simpler the feature, the more widespread the appeal.
Here are some things you can do to "spruce up" an older kitchen.  If you google "2018 kitchen trends" you'll find a vast array of images of luxurious kitchens to dream about.  Don't worry, you can easily create that kind of ambience in your own home on a budget.  Here are the basics.
  • Paint walls and/or back-splashes.  Pale gray or nearly-white walls in kitchens is very current.  There is a new trend called "white boxing" where people with older, vacant homes to sell are painting everything WHITE, removing old non-white cabinets and appliances completely, and giving their buyers a blank canvas to work with.  That concept hasn't caught on in our area yet, where buyers would prefer a fully-functioning kitchen, but you can keep the concept of a blank canvas in mind when choosing replacement colors.
  • kitchen blog3Old wooden cabinets can be painted white or other pale hues in order to brighten up a small, dark area and create a lighter and brighter space.  If your cabinet wood doesn't need painting, simply oil them or clean them up to give a nice sheen.  There is no need to replace cabinets unless yours are beyond repair or have missing parts.
  • Swap out older knobs and pulls with something very simple but modern.  The nickel finishes are currently more preferable to buyers than gold or brass.  You'll probably need to buy a dozen or more, so don't choose anything with a custom design.
  • Swap out older light fixtures with simple newer versions to match.  Replace older or yellowing bulbs with low energy, high-watt versions.
  • All appliances should be working.  They do not need to be new, but it always helps if they match.  If your newest appliances are a different color than the older ones, then swap out the older versions to match.  While stainless steel is still in fashion, black and white are also popular choices.  Stay away from anything too trendy.
  • Swap out old switch-plate and outlet covers.  White plastic ones are very inexpensive but look fresh and clean.  While you're at it, make sure you have at least one GFCI outlet in the kitchen, near the countertop and sink area.
  • Counter tops can be replaced if worn, scratched, or otherwise outdated.  You can sometimes buy granite or stone remnants left over from larger jobs.  Don't spent a lot of money here - the objective is to make your space look new and fresh and bright, but that luxury does not need to cost big dollars.  Choose a plain countertop color if your space is smaller.  For example, if you have white cabinets and appliances, you could install plain black Corian or even a tasteful laminate and create a great, modern look!
  • Replace dated curtains or shades with new fresh white horizontal blinds or even nothing at all!  Inviting natural light wherever appropriate can help a sale.
  • If your floor is dated, scratched or otherwise beyond repair, replace it!  Today there are a number of low-cost and synthetic product solutions, such as vinyl tile squares that look like expensive stone, or engineered wood that far outweighs the durability of natural hardwood.  If you have ceramic tile that needs a refresh, the grout can be painted with grout stain to take away years of abuse.
Last but not least there are lots of staging tricks that we can help you employ; such as adding bright flowers or fruit, colorful and modern accessories, pillows, place mats, etc. that can help turn your newly-plain kitchen into a true showstopper.
As a realtor and an accredited staging professional, I'm happy to provide additional information at any time!  Send me email at