7 Affordable Kitchen Upgrades That Will Help Sell Your House, According to Real Estate Experts

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If you ask real estate experts (and we did), they will universally tell you that putting a little time and money into your kitchen is worth the investment if you’re planning to put your house on the market. Unfortunately, kitchen remodels can get very costly very quickly. Still, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to upgrade your kitchen. There are plenty of affordable ways to spruce things up. Ahead, a few ideas.

But First: Know What’s Trending

Before you make any decisions, it’s important to look at current trends and see how your kitchen compares to what else is on the market, says Jesse Dill, the principal broker at The Property Group in the Portland, Oregon, area, a famously competitive real estate market. “This will help you understand how to update your kitchen to be competitive with the competition.” Once you know the style of your area, you can make a few high-impact decisions.

1. Swap out your hardware.

Swapping out your kitchen hardwarefaucets, drawer pulls, towel racks, and possibly doorknobs — is one of the least expensive ways to take your kitchen from dated to up to date. In terms of finish, “the easy go-to pick for homeowners is brushed nickel, but matte black is also becoming popular, and chrome can also be a good choice,” says Khari Washington, owner and broker of 1st United Realty and Mortgage.

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2. Paint your cabinets.

Replacing entire cabinets is expensive, but having someone paint your cabinets is much cheaper — roughly a quarter of the price of new cabinets, according to Dill. Not sure what color to go with? “White cabinets are always the safest color and brighten up the kitchen,” he says.

3. Paint the walls (something neutral).

While some buyers may love a bold-colored kitchen, “more pronounced colors might not appeal to all buyers,” say Washington. His advice? “Stick to neutral tones. Shades of white are best, and light grays and tans are also good choices.” 

4. Consider epoxy countertops.

New counters can get expensive fast, but old, outdated counters can really make a kitchen look grunge — and not in a fun, throwback way. One trend to try? Epoxy countertops can be put on almost any surface, look like marble, and are so durable they can last for years. “You can find a DIY YouTube video or hire a professional,” says Dill. He estimates that the cost to DIY is $5 to $10 per square foot, while the cost to hire someone professionally will cost roughly $100 to $200 per square foot.

Credit: Emma Fiala

5. Replace light fixtures.

Changing light fixtures is a great idea, and they should be modern lights that fit the style of the home,” says Washington. Keep in mind that kitchens should have bright lights, because you want to be able to see what you’re cooking, but you should also keep the light tones warm so it feels inviting and not garish. 

6. Upgrade the backsplash.

Dill says he almost always recommend upgrading the backsplash — especially if you’re already updating the hardware and paint. You can make a statement with a backsplash, but be aware that too much style might turn-off potential buyers who want to put their own mark on the home. 

7. Rethink the floors.

“Most tiles take a lot of labor to install and wood floors can be expensive,” says Washington. Instead, consider vinyl plank, laminate, or even peel and stick tile. If that’s still not in the budget, give your floors a good clean. Use a steamer if the floor can take one. Or, put in a fun rug to add a pop of color without overpowering the room.