Given how much of our time at home revolves around the kitchen — cooking dinner for our families or how whenever we throw a party, our guests seem to gather here — it makes sense that one of the best investments in remodeling is the kitchen. And when our kitchens might be looking a little worn, there are myriad ways and options to give them a new look and offer the most bang for the buck.
Frank Marini, designer at Diversified Kitchens of Huntington in Shelton, says kitchen updates help sell a house and need not always be expensive. “There are so many levels of cabinetry. You can do something very nice for a very reasonable price, and make your money back and more,” he explains, when asked about kitchen updates that increase a home’s value.
Putting in high-end cabinetry before staging a house for sale, a homeowner might not get his or her money back, but it likely will result in the sale of the house, while an older kitchen in need of updates can often prevent the house from being sold.
Deciding how much to spend on a kitchen upgrade usually comes down to how long the owners are planning to live there. More than five years? Or are they looking to sell within a year or two?
“We are finding we get people who say, ‘I want to stay in my house for two years. Give me a good quality cabinet at a reasonable cost,’” Marini observes.
Light cabinetry and traditional kitchens remain popular trends in this area. “If you are getting a vintage Colonial, you want to put something in that’s appropriate for that house,” Marini says. Quartz is a material highly prized for countertops because of its elegant look and maintenance-free surfacing, unlike marble.
“People like the look of marble but they don’t want the problems associated with it,” Marini reports, noting that granite and quartz are the company’s biggest markets but it also sees customers choosing Corian and laminates.
Kathy Currie is director of design and partner at Curry & Kingston LLC in Cos Cob. She notes that kitchen updates that add value include removing 90s-era stained or painted cabinets that have ornate moldings and hardware and replacing them with clean, transitional cabinetry with straight lines. Another change that adds value is replacing dated speckled granite countertops with maintenance-free quartz countertops in lighter colors that mimic marble.
“White and gray tones for cabinetry and countertops are the most popular, with some bleached wood stained or gray painted islands,” she says. “Custom-designed coffee/breakfast bars with refrigerator drawers can also be used as a serving/bar area for entertaining.”
Other trends, Currie notes, include replacing dated light fixtures with polished nickel or chrome modern pendant lanterns, and installing streamlined stainless steel appliances and hoods.
Besides cabinetry, a simple and quick way to give a kitchen a new look is a new countertop and backsplash, explains Michael Picarazzi of Simply Kitchens in Milford. Neither is time-intensive and they can create a small area that makes a big design statement.
“People are going with quartz products, since they are maintenance-free,” he says, noting that people still like tile backsplashes, especially the “subway tile” look, which does not mean just white tile, as subway tile is available in many colors and sizes.
Laly Ramos, showroom manager at Kitchen and Bath Gallery Design in Ridgefield, says cabinets are the No. 1 way to refresh a kitchen and increase its value. “If the cabinets look outdated, they probably need a refacing and refreshing. With that, you also want to put in some new hardware, and you have a brand-new kitchen look,” she explains. “The counters are also important, but depending on budget, just painting the cabinets results in a big difference.”
Cabinet improvements can range from replacing the wood to refacing and repainting, she notes, depending on the condition of the wood and the client’s budget.
Newenglandkitchen.com, the website for New England Kitchen Design Center in Monroe, suggests making an idea book of styles and products you like. “Use kitchen, bath, and home improvement magazines, as well as online searches and sites like Houzz or Pinterest, to find inspiration on things such as kitchen and bath cabinets or countertops, to get a better idea of what you like (and don’t like),” the website suggests.