HGTV shows have become heavily geared toward huge home renovations. It seems like most before and afters, at least where a kitchen is concerned, involve gutting the space and starting from scratch. They occasionally do things like save an old swatch of the wallpaper that was on the walls to frame as a memento of what the kitchen looked like before it’s amazing makeover. Or they’ll salvage an old door and convert it into a barn door for the pantry. But for the most part everything is taken out of the space, and a brand new, beautiful kitchen is created…..in what seems like a matter of days….because, TV. These big kitchen renovation projects are absolutely fun to watch. I mean, who doesn’t love a super transformative before and after?! I have to admit, I totally eat them up!
But am I the only one that often finds the ideas presented in these shows totally aspirational but not really applicable?
Kitchen Dilemma #1 – Figuring Out a Budget
As a part of my design dilemma series I’ve fielded a number of kitchen renovation dilemmas from readers this year. Most of which have started with something like…….“This isn’t our forever home, but I want to do some updates to our kitchen. I’m just not sure what to do or where to start because I don’t want to invest too much money in a home I know we won’t be staying in long term. “
I can so relate to that query! We are now living in our sixth house in 17 years of marriage. And that doesn’t even make mention of the apartment we lived in for a year in Richmond, VA or the house we stayed in while we were waiting for our Pittsburgh home to sell, but I digress. The point is I know all too well the thinking and the pondering that goes into home improvement projects and their respective return on investment.
How much should you invest if you know you’re not staying for the long haul?
So, here’s the thing. I don’t have a magic answer for the “how much” part of the question. I do, however, have a recommendation for figuring that part out. Talk to a some experienced realtors in your area. After doing some market research you’ll be better equipped to come up with a reasonable budget for kitchen improvements.
At the end of the day though, and this is just my own personal opinion, if you didn’t buy your house just to flip it, then I think when it comes to updating you should listen more to your own voice than anyone else’s. Regardless if you’re planning on staying in your home for five or twenty-five years I don’t think you should put off living today. If there is something you hate about your kitchen or something that bugs you……well, ladies we spend a lot of time in our kitchens, and I believe they should be spaces that rise up to greet us! And believe me when I say, making it that way doesn’t have to start with a sledgehammer and buckets full of money, unless of course that’s what you really want. 😉
5 Simple, Achievable Kitchen Updates
These 5 simple changes can bring some major visual bang for the buck! They made a huge impact in the kitchen of our last house, our fifth house, in Lexington, KY.
Here’s a look at the before from the seller’s listing of the house.
By making changes in the following 5 key areas we were able to give this kitchen more of a custom look.
(as seen in BH&G’s Refresh magazine)
Granted we started with a pretty good base with the previous owners having had the cabinets painted white and bringing in granite countertops. But still, the simple changes we made did have a huge impact, and went a long way in making the kitchen feel fresh and new.
1. New Light Fixtures
This one thing can make an immediate update and modernize a kitchen with relatively little expense.
Converting a recessed light to a pendant is an easy, inexpensive way to add some style. This simple change in our current home totally transformed our open kitchen and dining space.
Before – Taken on Move in Day.
Current – as seen on our fall home tour.
Lighting is everything! And, in my humble opinion, should be at the top of the budget priority list. *Little tip – Light fixtures don’t necessarily have to convey to the buyer when you sell. You can negotiate to take them with you when you move, so the money you invest in them doesn’t have to go with the house! The chandelier over my dining table (pictured above) is one I brought with me from our last house.
2. Installing a Backsplash
A backsplash can make all the difference in a kitchen! And even a novice DIY’er can tile a kitchen backsplash. But tile isn’t the only option. Shiplap and beadboard also present great backsplash options.
3. Replacing the Faucet
A faucet is like jewelry for a kitchen and replacing one is a pretty simple little DIY. It doesn’t seem like something so small would make much of a meaningful impact, but it truly does!
4. New Cabinet Hardware
Hardware changes are easy and inexpensive to make. They’re an easy way to give old cabinets a fresh take and infuse your space with your personal style.
5. Bringing in a Range Hood
This is probably the most expensive change of the 5 I’ve listed, but it’s one change with major visual bang for the buck. And when compared to gutting a kitchen this is not a huge expense to make. Whether you go with an appliance style or a cabinet style hood, a range hood creates a nice focal point in a kitchen and tends to make the space appear much larger.
Often to make this happen all that is needed is to remove the cabinet and/or microwave currently over the stovetop. Look how much of a difference this change made in our last house.
After – We removed the microwave (see where we moved it here) and cabinet above. Brought in a low profile slide-in range and stainless steel hood. This made for a larger space between the cooktop and hood allowing the backsplash tile to shine and opening up the space so much.
I just recently made a similar change in our current home pulling the cabinet and small appliance hood out to replace it with a black cabinet style hood that ties in with the black island. Here’s a look at the before.
While this project is not yet completely finished as I’m still waiting on some finishing moulding to be installed, I’m already loving the difference this new cabinet style hood has made in here! I can’t wait to show you the finished project! The addition of this hood has really upped the custom look game of our kitchen.
All in all I think there are lots of ways to update a kitchen without completely gutting it and starting from scratch. I wish there were more renovation shows dedicated to simple, achievable and affordable home improvements!
What I’ve learned is this –
- If you can use the existing layout and cabinetry in your kitchen – do it! This one thing will save you a ton of money. New cabinetry is expensive! Paint is a wonderful thing, and we have used it to refresh old kitchen cabinets in two of our homes.
- If you don’t like your cabinet doors and drawer fronts you can have those replaced without having to buy all new cabinets. Refacing is less expensive than replacing.
- Take your time. Small changes, a little at a time, make the financial aspect of updating more manageable. It doesn’t all have to happen at the same time.
- DIY as much as you possibly can. Believe me if I can do things like replace a faucet – you absolutely can too!