ARTICLE Sharon Stephenson

We’ve probably all been there: you’re at an open home which tugs at your heart, and wallet, strings. But then you walk into the kitchen and your spirits drop through the floorboards: it’s tired, shabby and needed a renovation yesterday. You quickly exit stage left.

The kitchen can be a make-or-break room for potential buyers, so if you’re looking to sell in the future, you’ll need to up your renovation game. The issue, of course, is how to transform your down-at-heel kitchen without breaking the bank. We spoke to Refresh renovations expert Kim Reiche for advice on profiting from kitchen transformations in NZ, the UK and Australia.

“Ergonomics and a good use of space is quickly spotted by potential buyers,” says Kim. “Make sure the kitchen provides adequate storage at the correct height and enough work surfaces for the size of the household, as well as modern materials and appliances. The key is to provide a cohesive, multi-functional space that aligns with the needs of modern day living.”

Which sounds great, but you don’t want to break the bank, right?  Thankfully Kim has some tricks up her sleeve to help renovate your kitchen so that you walk away with some cash.

A kitchen island is one of the first things buyers see so if you don’t have one, and have the room, it’s a good idea to consider one. “The island bench is the hub of most homes, a place to socialise, to cook and for the kids to do their homework. Designed correctly, they may assist in minimising those dead-end corner cupboards and visually increase the sense of space in this highly used zone. The types of materials available are endless and the general rule is that either stone, composite stone or marbles are the minimum requirement in most homes today.”

Ditto the benchtop: “The cost of base line composite stone is only about 10% more than a formica. This in itself will change the whole look of the kitchen – stone also has a tactile sense of quality, durability and prestige, which is probably why it is becoming the norm.”

kitchen-island

When it comes to kitchen cabinets, Kim believes it’s not always a good idea to replace just the doors even if the carcasses are okay. “Materials have advanced so much and new hinging can make it difficult to do a replacement and offer a warranty, not to mention that aged joinery may not be able to sustain the weight of new meltica. Plus, soft close hinges are expected these days but they’re difficult to retro fit.” Instead, if the cabinet fronts are in reasonable condition, Kim suggests washing them and replace the handles with more modern ones.

And don’t underestimate how much of an impact things like tapware can have on a kitchen. “Replacing outdated taps with more modern versions will give your kitchen an instant lift without costing the earth.” The same goes for lighting, with pendant and recessed lights proving a more contemporary look.   

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to brighten the space, with some experts claiming that for every dollar you invest in painting, you’ll typically get a five to 10-fold return. Kim suggests opting for neutral earth colours, such as cream, mocha and natural stone. “Play with tints, going for half or quarter strength and painting the architraves, skirting boards and picture rails in a lighter colour.”

Cheap, dated appliances such as a white oven and stovetop can be an instant turn-off for prospective buyers, says Kim. “If you can, it’s well worth upgrading these big-ticket items for modern versions. You don’t have to buy top-of-the-line pieces because there are some great contemporary appliances at cost-effective prices, especially if you buy several as a package.”   

And while it may sound obvious, a good old fashioned declutter goes a long way to making your kitchen attractive to buyers. “You don’t want too much happening, so the key is clean lines, clear benchtops and organised storage display areas.”

Above all, says Kim, remember that when you’re selling a house what you’re really doing is selling a lifestyle. “People want to imagine how they will use the house and how it will work for their family and friends, especially in the kitchen. With a little planning and work, it’s possible to do so without overcapitalising."

For more for a more comprehensive guide on kitchen renovations, check out: The Smart Renovator's Guide to Kitchen Renovations 

 

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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