Today is my 40th birthday! What is better than a list of 40 things to do when in my favorite room of the house?! Besides eat cake and drink Diet coke…This is it! The kitchen is the heart of the home, particularly for families and is a key part in the buying decision. Buyers want bright and modern with good storage and counter space.
If your kitchen looks great already read the steps below to make it look amazing with a bit of work and very little investment.
If you have a dated and cluttered kitchen, do not despair – there are lots of actions that you can take that will improve it greatly and, if you do decide to invest in a re-paint or new flooring or counter tops, be heartened by the fact that you will get a higher return on your investment when you remodel your kitchen than any other room in your house. You will sell your house quicker too.
OK, here are the 40 things in honor of my 40th birthday!!
- Completely clean off the front of the fridge – your magnets, photos, invites, menus and pictures are way too personal to be out on show for buyers.
- Go through your kitchen cabinets and keep only the items that you will need while the house is on the market. Pack away everything else – the big serving platters, the piles of bake ware, your ever expanding Tupperware drawer , the bread maker you were given as a present. Aim to cull 30-50% of the items. Packing up a kitchen takes time so you will already be getting ahead by doing this. Neatly arrange what remains.
- Start ‘running down’ your freezer, fridge and pantry. You don’t want to be taking all those tins & frozen stews with you so start eating them now. This will have the added benefit of decluttering your freezer and pantry ready to be staged (and yes you will need to stage your pantry!)
- Take down any shelves or spice racks you have put up as these suggest that you don’t have enough room in your cabinets (this may be true but you don’t want to make it look obvious). It also keeps the visual clutter to a minimum
- Get your waste and recycling under control – move all those empty bottles and piles of newspapers out of the house.
- Empty your trash daily while it is on the market.
- Although most kitchens are ‘mission control’ pack away anything that doesn’t belong in a kitchen such as bills, files, tools, kids toys and dog baskets while it is on the market.
- A few cookbooks or accessories are fine in a kitchen but pack away any big collections that are getting in the way of your streamlined kitchen
- Lose the dried flower arrangements – they say old and dusty!
- Remove fussy window treatments such as curtains and nets and pull back blinds to let in the light. No window treatment is better than a fussy window treatment
- Clean everything so it’s spotless – even the best kept kitchens are dirty when you look really closely. Don’t forget the walls, windows and inside and on the tops of cupboards. This will also help remove your kitchen smells
- Clean everything means all the appliances too – oven, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, microwave. Clean gives the impression of well maintained and all buyers want to buy a well maintained property. Also, you may want to use your appliances as a bargaining tool later so make sure they look like they’re worth something.
- Remove all signs of cleaning from around the sink. Buyers don’t want to be reminded that there will be work to do.
- Remove any signs of normal household problems. Buyers want to think about the life they will lead in your house, not that they will be chasing out the bugs from the kitchen.
- Turn on the lights for viewings and increase wattage if needed to make the kitchen look brighter. This is especially important if you expect evening viewings.
- Re-paint the walls if the color is dated, hasn’t been painted in a while or there is wallpaper or a border or stencil. A Fresh coat of paint always works wonders. Keep it neutral.
- Kitchens take a lot of wear and tear so see what needs mending and get it fixed. Buyers do not want to take on your ‘to do’ list and they will always over estimate the cost.
- Check out your competition and think about the price point of your home. What counter top material will buyers expect? (laminate or granite?) What appliances are they looking for?
- Re-paint your cabinets to bring them up to date or get someone to do it for you.
- Re-place, resurface or re-paint your counter tops or the backsplash. Style and size of countertops in a kitchen are a key selling factor.
- If you want granite counters then price them and see if it’s worth the investment.
- Re-placing dated handles can make a big difference in a kitchen for next to no money. Match to the style of your kitchen.
- Re-placing faucets is also a good idea.
- If your floor is dated, the wrong color or damaged consider laying a new one. Think about your competition and the price point of your house before making the change. Don’t go for expensive tiles if a tile effect vinyl will do the job. Keep return on investment front of mind
- Match your appliances. Stainless steel is the most coveted and try to get them to match.
- Appliances can date a kitchen, especially the oven. Think about whether to buy new now and take with you to your new home (or use as a bargaining tool in negotiations) buy new now and include in the house sale or rent while your home it on the market.
- Many kitchens have fridges that are too big. Is this you? replacing it with one that fits will make the kitchen feel more spacious.
- Appliances that are too small for their place in the kitchen look very unbalanced. Discuss this with your Realtor (me!)
- Look at your lighting. Does your central light match the style of the kitchen and is it still on trend? If not invest in a new one. Buying under cupboard lighting also brightens the space and gives a quality feel for not much investment. Make sure you turn them on during viewings.
- Don’t cook anything that leaves a strong smell while you are on the market – fish, curry, anything fried.
- Think about your most likely buyers. Will they be looking for an eat in kitchen? Can you fit a table into your kitchen, or can you borrow some stools to put up at the counter?
- Take pictures of your kitchen before you do anything. Imagine it appearing on the internet. What needs to change?
- Style your pantry so it looks like a grocery shop. The message you want to give is “if I lived here I could be this organized” Sadly this won’t be the case but we can all dream! Keep the floor of the pantry clear to give an impression of space.
- If you have glass cabinets, place your pieces to each side so that they aren’t cut in half by the doors when closed. Keep the look streamlined and the colors in keeping with the kitchen. Remember, show off your best, and generally bigger bits not all your bits.
- Choose an accent color for the kitchen: you can then accessorize your artwork, cook books, tea towels, to match
- Only put 3 items out on the counter to maximize the space. Examples are a kettle (make sure it’s shiny!), a bowl of fruit and an open cookbook on a stand. Counter space is the number 1 seller in kitchens – make sure you don’t hide yours.
- If you have open shelving then arrange the objects neatly e.g. a couple of cookbooks, a small bowl or vase or an edited collection of kitchen related items such as decorative tins.
- A couple of tea towels that tie in with the decor are always a nice touch. Bring them out just for viewings to keep them looking good.
- If you have a table in the kitchen, then resist the urge to set it (no one lives like this and it shouts ‘staged!’). However a nice bunch of flowers or bowl of fruit always look good.
- Think about the size of your table. You may need a smaller one, or you may just need to store a couple of chairs out of the way. You don’t need to show all your chairs for people to understand that they will be able to get a table in the kitchen.
If you need help staging your kitchen, call me! Thanks for helping me celebrate my 40th with a list of 40 important tips when selling a kitchen! Now go eat cake in your kitchen in my honor!