These days everyone is concerned about resale value when they think about home renovations. Kitchens are the hub of everyday life and they go out of style faster than other parts of the house, so they are one of the most common places to put your remodeling dollars. Even in today’s uncertain economy, a good kitchen renovation can add significant value to your home. However, I warn my clients is that it’s more important to have a smart kitchen remodeling project than one that is luxurious or has the latest cutting edge features.
So what exactly constitutes “smart” kitchen design? Below are some of the factors I have found that make for a “smart” and high-value remodeling project.
Don’t Over-Improve: It’s important to take your neighborhood into account when planning a renovation. If the homes in your area are modestly priced, you probably aren’t going to recoup the costs of a high-end kitchen renovation when you sell your home. In other words, don’t spend $50,000 on a house that is worth $200,000. Instead, think small. In Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, researchers found that the average minor kitchen remodeling project returned 72 percent of its value while major remodels recoup slightly less. Remember that you can accomplish a lot on a modest budget. For example, kitchen cabinet re-facing is inexpensive, but can change the whole appearance of your kitchen.
Pricier Isn’t Necessarily Better: Sometimes when you pay more for cabinets and appliances, you get more features and higher quality. And sometimes you don’t. Are you paying for bells and whistles you’re not going to use or for appearance rather than enhanced function? Think about the features you really want and then do some research. Consumer Reports, run by the non-profit Consumers Union, rates kitchen appliances, counters, floors, and cabinets, based on its own tests and the reports of 18,000 members. Their magazine and website discuss a range of ideas and products for homeowners. One of their best-known features is when they put appliances through rigorous tests to see which perform the best, and will tell you which units are most energy efficient. You can conduct your own research by reading reviews through Angie’s List, Amazon.com, or other websites that sell appliances and request consumer feedback.
Photo credit: This clever corner cabinet by the Glenvale Group is an example of a smart kitchen high-end feature you may ant to invest in because of its functionality, http://www.houzz.com/photos/88208/Shaker-Grey-traditional-kitchen-other-metros.
Smart Planning: The more planning you do ahead of time, the less likely you are to change your mind (incurring extra costs) during construction or to make costly mistakes. Make sure all of your plans are in place before you start remodeling. Smart planning also counts in the design stage. Remodeling isn’t just about enhancing the appearance of your kitchen but also about improving its functionality. You want to consider traffic flow through the room and think through how you use the room. Do you do a lot of entertaining? Do the kids do their homework in the kitchen? Are you planning on having a baby soon? All of these things can have an effect on the kitchen’s design. Also consider the ergonomics of how you use the kitchen. You can have a high-end dishwasher, but if it’s not near the sink, it will be a pain in the neck. Good ergonomics also mean a compact work triangle between the fridge, stove, and sink. A bigger kitchen isn’t necessarily better if it puts these elements too far away from each other. You should only have to move two or three steps from each part of the triangle to another.
Don’t Skimp on Essentials: Although smart planning means saving money, you don’t want to cheat yourself by skimping on the things that really count. Do your research so that you get high-quality, durable, functional cabinets and long-lasting, easy-care countertops. Be sure that your lighting is adequate for your needs and that your appliances are a good value and save energy costs. However, the most important place to ensure good value for your money is in the labor. Whatever remodeler you hire, check them out with the BBB and call references. Poor workmanship will cost you more in the long run than it saves. And, you will be living with the contractors in your house for a while; you want to ensure they are people you feel comfortable with and trust.