A kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to renovate so make sure yours is pulling its weight when it comes time to attract property buyers and sell up with these expert tips from award-winning and experienced real estate agent Mark Foy.
While the number of bedrooms and bathrooms may figure prominently in property advertising, a kitchen is often considered the ‘heart’ of a house and is therefore just as important. I wouldn’t say a good kitchen sells a property but it’s certainly the case that a bad kitchen can be a deal breaker, or at the very least affect the offer price as prospective buyers tally up what it’ll cost to fix up a disaster zone. So what are the best investments for a kitchen renovation?
Image source: Houzz
1. Neutralise the space – I know I say this a lot but I also can’t say it enough: make the space neutral. If you were renovating for yourself you could do anything you wanted: create a mosaic splashback, install a wood fire pizza oven or have apple-green pantry doors, but if you’re renovating to sell you need to make the space appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. A neutral kitchen – think a palette of white, grey and stainless steel—will allow buyers to project their own vision onto the space. It may seem boring to you, but this reno is not for you, it’s for the next person. That being said, these days there are a lot of trendy fixtures and fittings appearing in kitchens such as coloured marble benchtops and brass tone drawer handles. If they suit your property, you might consider these to update your kitchen’s look, but don’t spend a fortune on a trend.
Image source: FreshHome
2. Replace appliances—but only if you need to – If your property is from the 1950s and the fixed kitchen appliances are ‘original’, I suggest updating them. Beware of size differences because things like oven dimensions have changed over the decades. Older spaces will take an oven 600mm wide, but you may have to consider a more involved renovation to accommodate the newer 700mm and 900mm ovens. If you’ve installed appliances within the last five years, don’t worry about replacing them if they are in good working order, but make sure they are clean and polished before inspection time. Don’t go over the top and spend big money on luxury brands either, they will not add value to a kitchen. A reputable brand will do. Instead, spend your money on a good fit so there are no gaps between benchtops and the new appliances.
3. Lighten up – Dark kitchens are hard to sell. It doesn’t matter whether the buyer is hopeless in the kitchen, it makes sense to have light in a space where you’re handling knives and heat. One owner I know installed a skylight in a kitchen that was dark during the day but if you don’t need that kind of drastic remedy, or if it’s not possible, look at different lighting options such as general lighting for the space and task lighting for preparation areas, the stovetop and elsewhere, including your walk-in pantry. I’d also advise getting rid of a fluorescent tube and replacing it with down lights. Also consider the different effects of warm and cool lighting.
Image source: The Lighting Resource
4. Open your heart – There are plenty of older properties out there that have the kitchen in an out-of-the-way section of the house. Kitchens have become the heart of many homes in more recent times so if you have an isolated kitchen, it’s worth the time and budget to open it up —especially if it lets in a little more light. You might consider knocking down a wall to create a kitchen/dining hub or even just the top half of a wall to create a window so the cook doesn’t feel locked away. Prop a breakfast bar on the other side so you can retain your benchtop space but make food prep more social.
5. Don’t forget the little things – We forget that using a kitchen means the space can get a little grubby. If your grout looks unsightly, your tiles worn, your drawer handles tarnished or your splashback grimy these are easily replaced and can make a big difference to the overall look of the kitchen. As with any reno, it’s important the update is in keeping with the look and feel of the home. When the buyer sees a clean, neutral kitchen that’s consistent with the rest of the property, that’s when you know your reno is an asset rather than a sales liability.
Mark Foy is one of our resident experts and a director of Belle Property Surry Hills in Sydney.