5 Kitchen Upgrades You’ll Regret Not Splurging on, According to Interior Designers

published Jun 8, 2024
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Credit: Sandra Regalado

Whether you’re embarking on a full-scale renovation or more of a piecemeal update, design decisions often feel more high stakes when they’re made for the kitchen. The room is said to have the greatest impact on resale value, and it’s also where families gather upwards of two or three times a day. Shouldn’t it be beautiful, durable, and functional? There are plenty of kitchen investments you can make that experts advise against — and on the other hand, there are plenty that designers wholeheartedly recommend. I talked to design experts for the five kitchen upgrades you’ll regret not splurging on, and here’s what they had to say.

1. Countertops

“High-quality countertops, such as quartz or granite, instantly elevate the kitchen’s aesthetic and durability,” says Sarah Brady, founder and principal designer at Salt Design Co. A material like butcher block may be more affordable and attractive at first, but you’ll have to contend with stains, scratches, and drying out if you’re not keeping up with its high-maintenance requirements.

If you’re thinking about resale value, it’s worth looking at what kind of countertops homes currently on the market have. For example, some demographics prefer something more low-maintenance like quartz, while others will deal with more maintenance for the natural beauty of marble.

Credit: Petra Ford

2. Appliances

Modern appliances are often one of the last upgrades people make in kitchen renovations, but once you’ve experienced their superior functionality, you’ll never go back. Touch-screen refrigerator doors, smart cooking technology, and custom dishwasher cleaning cycles are all game-changers that can save you both time and brain space. Plus, as Brady points out, newer appliances offer energy efficiency that appeals to eco-conscious buyers — and can cost you less money in the long run.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

3. Smart Faucets

Shivani Vyas, owner of Studio Vyas, considers fixtures to be the jewelry of the home, and the one she’s most passionate about in kitchens is the faucet. Specifically, she’s all about a smart faucet. “Adding a smart faucet is a small, affordable luxury that automates the simple task of accessing water in your kitchen, whether filling a dog bowl, measuring one cup of water for a recipe, or running water at a desired temperature,” Vyas explains. “Although it’s a tinier upgrade, it still packs a punch in aesthetics and functionality.”

4. Custom Cabinetry

The first thing you typically notice when you enter a kitchen is the cabinets. They take up more space than anything else, and their functionality can make or break the space. Because of this, Brady always advocates for custom cabinetry with soft-close drawers and cabinets, as well as pull-out shelves and organizers. The value of the premium, user-friendly experience that results is undeniable.

If you want to go one step further, consider consulting with a professional organizer on the layout. They know better than anyone how to maximize space based on your specific needs.

5. Walk-In Pantry

According to Brady, a great walk-in pantry is a highly coveted feature, and it makes sense: When you’re feeling hungry, the first place you go is the pantry, and whatever you’re craving better be easy to find. If you have kids, the sentiment is even more true — you don’t want them rustling around and making a mess of it. Custom shelving and storage solutions maximize space and organization, which in turn can make a pantry even more aesthetically pleasing.

What’s a kitchen feature you don’t regret splurging on? Let us know in the comments below!