Show your kitchen some love to increase the value of your home

LIFESTYLE | December 2019

It’s no surprise that if you’re selling your home, the kitchen can be a big selling point - or a big red flag! If you want to sell your home for top dollar, a kitchen refit might be in order.

Before you spend a fortune on a complete renovation, there are some things you might want to think about. Not every change you make will increase the value of your home, but certain small improvements can reap big rewards. Here are our ideas for kitchen upgrades that could give your home an edge in the real estate market.

A thorough clean and a coat of paint

The biggest bang for your renovation buck comes from a thorough clean; good old-fashioned elbow grease. Clean grout with a toothbrush and abrasive cleaner. Get into every cupboard nook and cranny with a scrubber. Wash the walls and ceiling to remove grime, fly spots and food splatter. This level of cleaning also helps to ensure the kitchen smells fresh and clean too.

Then, choose a light, bright, neutral colour and pop on a fresh coat of paint. This quick fix can make an incredible difference for very little cost. If you can, a monochromatic kitchen is chic, clean and popular.

Declutter your cupboards

If you’re having an open home or getting real estate photos taken, Marie Kondo your kitchen. Get rid of anything unnecessary and remove all clutter. Got cans of tomatoes you don’t need? The foodbank would love them. Proud owner of 16 spatulas? Find a cousin or niece who’s going flatting. Remove what you don’t need and colour-coordinate whatever’s left. The result will be uncluttered and unified. Remember, people open cupboards at open homes, so lose the open bags and half-finished snacks. Put everything in labelled containers.

Update your hardware

Another cheap and easy kitchen upgrade is to replace handles. While you should still keep the overall style of the kitchen consistent, a set of new kitchen and drawer handles immediately makes everything look better.

Replace cabinet doors

This is moderately expensive, but it’s cheaper than a full refit. If you have old wooden cabinet doors, have them removed, sanded and repainted to look great. Lacquered cupboard and drawer fronts can also be easily resprayed for a brand new look – you can even change the colour. If your cupboards are covered in cracked and peeling laminate, it takes more work to bring them up to standard - consider buying new cabinet doors for an instant spruce-up.

Install new flooring

Tired, tatty lino or a beaten-up wooden floor makes your kitchen look dirty, even if it isn’t. Cost up a modern, hardwearing option to quickly modernise your kitchen space. There are plenty of choices: cork tiles, lino that looks like wood, manufactured timber tongue-and-groove floors, and ceramic or terracotta tiles.

If you have an older home, peeling back that scarred lino might reveal a solid hardwood floor underneath. This only needs cleaning, sanding and a polyurethane finish to look amazing.

Bring the sunshine in

Everyone loves kitchens that are light and airy, so consider updating your window treatments. Curtains are not a good look for a modern kitchen, but venetian blinds, shutters and rollershades can be ideal. Of these options, rollershades are usually the cheapest.

Dim and gloomy kitchens are hard to cook in and even harder to sell. If you can’t see what you’re chopping, it’s time to shine some light on the situation. Make sure work areas get the benefit of energy-efficient LED spotlights. Install trendy hanging lights over islands and breakfast bars – you’ll instantly create the perfect place to read the paper on a Saturday morning.

The full doer-upper

If you want to invest more in your kitchen, take a step back and think about the magic triangle between cooktop, fridge and sink. If it’s not so magical, or way too big, a kitchen refit is the chance to put things right. Other problems can be solved at the same time. Does your fridge live in the laundry? Can you only open the dishwasher when all the drawers are totally shut? Is there nowhere for a rubbish bin? You’ve lived here for a while, so you’re probably used to all the idiosyncrasies of your kitchen; potential buyers won’t be as forgiving.

Generally, plumbing and electricity changes are the most expensive factors in a kitchen refit. Try to keep dishwashers, sinks and ovens in the same place if you can, to minimise costs and effort.

Buy bargains

When you have a kitchen reno on the go, there are many ways to buy cheap items that will still look great. On Trade Me you’ll sometimes find listings for small numbers of tiles that are leftover from another project. Also, there are often demo sinks, cabinets and counters that represent exceptional value for a new kitchen fit-out. Do be aware that sometimes these are harder to fit than custom-made pieces. Talk to a builder first, to make sure it will work in your space.


It’s debatable whether DIY actually saves you money. But if you’re relatively skilled with painting, carpentry and laying tiles, then doing it yourself is a great way to keep costs under control. But if a particular task needs sign off, such as electrical or plumbing work, you’ll need to call in the pros.

Don't forget to check with your insurance provider before starting any DIY work to make sure you're covered throughout. In some cases, you'll need a Contract Works policy to protect throughout your reno.

Make the space perfect for your buyer

While you might love the set of royal family plates on the wall, your potential buyer may not. Strip your kitchen of all personal touches and keep it clean, neutral and simple. Viewers should be able to picture their possessions in your kitchen. In other words, think neutral.

See if you can stage your kitchen in a way that lets people imagine themselves sitting at the dining table with their kids or throwing dinner parties for their friends. The more your home presentation is about them, the more successful your sale is likely to be.

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