Help me update for resale

HomeblessingsMarch 13, 2013

We will be updating our kitchen to put on the market soon and I would love opinions on how to best do it for around $10K.

Here's what it looks like now:

The kitchen is enclosed and is not open. It includes the kitchen and eat in area in one room. It is between a dining room on one side and a family room on the other. The other doors are the pantry and basement. Out of the windows is a sun room, which cuts out on the amount of light coming into the kitchen.

The tile floor is grey green, but greener than what it looks like in the pictures. We have already purchased new ss appliances for $2000. The dishwasher is fairly new and we will purchase a ss insert for it right before we put it on the market to keep it from getting dinged up.

We can not afford to replace the cabinets but are planning on painting them white, add new hardware, and maybe adding moldings at the top. The island we will paint dark grey or black. We are thinking of putting beadboard on the ends and maybe moldings on the bottom so that it looks more like a piece of furniture.

We have steel grey granite on hold at the fabricator. We will need to put a deposit on it in a couple of days if we decide it is what we want. Below is a link to what it looks like. We can get it for $38 a square foot. For old counter removal, stone, fabrication, installation, and sink it will be a little under $2000.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Your plans sound good to me. Painting the cabinets white will make a huge difference And the granite looks very nice to me and I think it would appeal to most people.

Have you talked with a realtor about whether it makes sense to invest the money and time on the project? I would do that before starting.

Assuming you decide to go forward, have you thought about updating the lighting fixtures? And what are you thinking for a backsplash?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 12:25AM
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We originally were going to put grey steel around the perimeter and white taupe granite on the island. The white taupe was a beautiful stone and was a remnant so it wasn't going to cost and more $. We still have it on hold as well.

We like this look in the pictures we see on line. I thought the whiter stone in the center would keep the kitchen from looking too dark. Then my husband read somewhere not to do this in smaller kitchens because it makes the whole space look pieced together. Like you had to put the whole thing together with remnants.

Here are examples of what the stones looked like. What do you think? Should we so both or keep it all steel grey?

Steel grey:

White taupe (this example looks a little pinkish but the stone we picked isn't):

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 12:33AM
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Yes, I need to update to sell quickly. I don't want to get into whether I should or shouldn't spend the $ here. I posted all the details about why in the buying/selling board (see link below). It is a long post #14 down from the top if you want to read it, or comment on it.

Originally I was planning on doing a simple subway tile in light grey and painting the cabinets in white with a gray tone. Then I read about how hard it is to remove old tile and how it can damage the wall and costs could really add up.

I'm thinking of keeping the old tile. It is in good condition and the grout is not stained. Here are a couple of up close pictures:


Do you think the squares look too dated?

The only problem with keeping the tile is that I was going to have the granite not go up the wall. If it goes up to where the tile is, won't that give it a pre-fabricated look and make it look cheaper?

I also thought of keeping the granite flat and adding a small strip of glass tile under what we have now, maybe something like these:

I have no idea what that would look like to mix the two. Under the window would just be the small tile. Any thoughts?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 1:19AM
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Do it all in steel gray. I think the kitchen will look bigger to have a bigger expanse of the same granite. Steel gray with white cabinets will look great.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 6:54AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Plain white paint, same granite (or laminate, laminate would be fine actually) and no glass tile. Use a grout stain on the existing backsplash to take the grout to a very light gray to coordinate with the granite better and be done with it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:11AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

All your changes sound great to me! We just recently updated the home of my late mother-in-law, and we did exactly as you are doing. We went with white cabinets and granite counter tops with a 6" backsplash. The only difference was that we installed under cabinet lighting and can lights above.

That house sold for $10K higher, before we ever got to the realtor walk-through!

Kitchens sell houses for sure, and neutral is great! Everyone can picture themselves in a neutral spot because their lime and red appliances will fit right in!

Good luck to you!


    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 9:29AM
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I vote use the short granite backsplash rather than different tile. I think it will look better and cause fewer difficulties (possible different thicknesses in tiles, different grout color).

I also vote different granite on the island. You are making an effort to have the island appear as a separate piece of furniture. Using the same top would negate that, IMO.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:19AM
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I think your ideas are good, but if you are able to keep the tile when the existing counters are removed, I'd just run the granite up to the tile and be done. It will be a cleaner look, fewer potential issues and I think most folks will like it better. Square tiles are starting to reappear as folks either don't like subways or are going for a different vintage vibe. If you try to darken the grout, go carefully. Too dark will look worse than keeping it white.

I wouldn't have a problem with a different granite on the island and think it does add to the furniture feel, but I would not use it if it has any pink. If you start getting pink and green in with they grey, you could run into trouble with your colors or start turning people away because it's too much. I don't think I would spend more for it if you aren't going to enjoy it, so playing it safe is probably using the steel grey. If you go with steel grey, make sure the island paint has enough contrast that the hole thing doesn't look like a black blob in the middle of the room. Depending on how much of the lighter part is in your slab and the section that winds up on the island, you might want to go black or to a lighter grey. You might even consider a green that picks up on the floor color.

Lighting does help update a kitchen, but do that if you have money left over. A couple hundred dollars at Home Depot, Lowe's or a resale shop (Habitat Restore?) can go a long way.

Keep it simple. Good luck with the sale.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Ha! I hadn't thought of the island looking like a big black blob. Love it when someone points out something I hadn't thought of that makes so much sense. I will definitely make sure that I go with a paint color that will be a contrast to the stone that we end up using.

I am going back to the stone yard to make sure there's no pink or green in the white taupe stone. Hopefully that will help me decide what to do. I would love two different stones, but right now I'm leaning towards keeping it all steel grey. It won't be my kitchen for long, and I want to appeal to the most people. The cost is the same either way, because the white taupe is a remnant.

Does having the 4 inch granite backspash make homes look dated and cheap? I'm not seeing it on any photos of new kitchens. Would it be better if I just went ahead and did all new tile?

We will update the lighting. I will post my ideas later when I have more time and I also have some questions about flooring.

Thanks everyone for your responses so far. They have been so helpful!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 2:01PM
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I would do the following:

- paint all cabinets white including the wood trim (prime first)
- put the grey granite on all countertops. It's nice, and keeping it all the same will keep it "neutral" breaking up the colors in a small kitchen could be hard.
- put in the granite BS up to the existing tile. The existing tile is in good condition and neutral, I would not add different tile the short granite BS will look good.
- new sink and a pull down faucet

Good luck with your sale!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 5:50PM
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Small detail, but I would replace the outlet covers and possibly the receptacles if they are dirty and you can't clean them-- they look like it in the photo.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:22PM
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I actually am seeing some 4x4 tile backsplashes again.

Don't over think it. Buyers will avoid a home with dated cabinets -- some over the counters, but in a fresh, updated kitchen, anyone who would not buy a home over anything neutral on the splash is looking for a reason to do something else and will find it somewhere. More buyers will be likely to find a mosaic busy, a color objectionable, etc. Just make sure the demo is done carefully to preserve the tile that is there.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:35PM
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While I like the steel grey granite, have you thought about using Ikea butcher block for your peripheral counters and granite for the island? Even if you're not interested in doing this, please visit the blog at and see their sections-- "Ikea Butcher Block Counter Top Review" and "Final Kitchen Details and Reveal." Their kitchen has a layout very similar to yours where they also painted the cabinets white and added SS appliances. Please note the eye catching dish/plant arrangements on top of the cabinets, the white chandelier, and the dark woven woods. I think all of those changes would look spectacular in your kitchen as well.
One final thought, my son's neighbors have added inexpensive stick on tap lights under their kitchen wall cabinets to light up the counters. If you do this, I would attach with velcro so the new owners can easily change them out.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 1:44AM
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I would do the granite and cabinets all in the same color tone. The kitchen is not large enough to use different materials. The grey (which I really like) might contrast a bit with the warm tones in your existing wood trim. Pick accessories that also tie the color of the floor and the wood trim, plus consider the wall color. Crown would finish the look. And, depending on your cabinet color, you may need to adjust your wall color.

I would also update the ceiling fan and and overhead light to coordinate better with the existing metals and updated, more modern, elements. A hanging pendant over the sink may also be better than the track light.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 2:21AM
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outnumbered,but the perimeter cabs left with the white and wood framing would be nice.Clean them,add really decorative knobs/handles. It has some warmth. Anyway-is the white a foil or laminate with wood framing-I don't know how painting that improves them. the island would be better to spend the time and money on-get down to the carcass and see about retrofitting some pull out racks/shelves behind new doors in alder beadboard or the like.[put the same beadboard on the wall below chair rail molding] If the island actually could be removed without hurting the floor,a new setup with drawers/end panels/etc along with a lighting upgrade with canister lights and something else over the table would be the direction I'd go. there are all kind of granite with browns/copper tones/cream...with the wood in the kitchen between cabs and trim I don't know why you have to try to obliterate the look and go all white/black.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 7:51AM
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I wouldn't do different counters if you want to do different cabinets. In your space, I think I would actually go all cabinets in one color and all counters in the same granite unless you find a combo that you think really works. Just adding the beadboard and different trim to the island will make it stand out. I'm (hopefully) including pics of our island before and after we had a go at it. We also removed the doors we had and replaced with drawers. The whole thing cost us about 700.00, but a new island would have been close to 3K.

Once you are done, I'd paint the walls as well. It's amazing what a simple can of paint can do to transform a room.

If I were you, I'd go pick everything out before making a specific choice on granite. Get samples of the granite you like and go visit a paint store armed with pics of your kitchen including ones that really show your flooring and backsplash- not HD or Lowe's - a real paint store. Have someone help you pick out two color schemes - one warm and one cool. Go home, paint up some samples boards for the cabinets, test out some colors on the walls. If you want to, paint up sample boards with multi colors to see if you really think it adds anything to the space. Once you see what everything looks like together in your kitchen, in your loghting, then make your choice on your specific granite and paint and go for it!

Best of luck! And please be sure to return to post some before and after pics.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 7:59AM
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Hello -

I think painting the cabinetry all white (including the island), beadboard, and new hardware will make a big difference in the space. Sticking with one granite (or even butcher block) on all surfaces is the way to go. IMO, in a smaller space, too many different finishes may make the room choppy, and your goal is to freshen and enlarge visually. I think you're making a wonderful choice to spend the money for resale - dated kitchens are a real deterrent to sales, especially in this economy.

Have you thought about changing out light fixtures? There are some very reasonable "vintage" looking fixtures at Lowe's or Home Depot that could really update your space, without spending "Restoration Hardware" money!

Finally, be careful with your granite. You have a strong floor color so make sure to get samples (for paint as well) and look at them in the space. The counters will be an investment and you don't want to make a mistake. New sink and faucet, I agree, will also make a big difference. Leave the backsplash - it's neutral and not offensive at all.

The best thing to do when you're all finished? Clear off your counters (although it looks like you're very neat!) and declutter - so important, free, and it makes every space feel better!

Good luck - you're making great choices!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:43AM
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My quick $.02:

Get a stainless panel for the dishwasher, here's one I found:
(or there might be one available from the mfr.)

Maybe a wow factor sink:

Perhaps some cool under cabinet lights, with remote control:

I agree with the same granite on all surfaces, keep the tile, paint the cabs, new ceiling lights, faucet, cab hardware.

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but will there be enough contrast between the floor and the steel granite colors?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 11:57AM
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Have you priced out Barker or other RTA cabs? Replace the perimeter only and you should be able to do that for $8000 or less. That's 6 uppers (including fridge cab), one sink base, and 2 base drawer stacks. One pantry or broom closet to replace the upper and base cab to the left of the fridge. Bring cabs to ceiling.

Let the buyer spend the money on the island if they want one. What you save on island countertop can go toward cabinets. It will also make the room look bigger and brighter for resale.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:04PM
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So many good comments. Thanks so much. I went back to the stone yard yesterday. The white taupe stone did have some pink and red specks in it- looked like garnets. There weren't many like some stones have. I didn't even notice them the first time.

We are pretty set now on getting the steel grey, and doing everything including the island with it. I brought home a sample and it looks fine with the original back splash, which actually has a grey tone to it and isn't too creamy or too white.

I talked to the installer and he said that they will try not to damage the tile when they take out the old counters. He will know more when he comes to measure about how hard or easy that will be. If they do get damaged a little at the bottom he said he could cut the granite backsplash a little higher to cover any chips. Does this sound right?

We were originally told by the salesman that they could do it all without seams, but the installer thought our L shape one with the sink cutout would be too big to safely do it without seams. He said there would be a 50-70% chance of the stone breaking during transport or installation. I guess I need to do some more research on seams. The only ones I've looked at on here where those that were done poorly and so I wanted to avoid them. We can still ask for no seams but will need to pay extra because of the risk-not sure how much.

julieboulangerie- We will replace all outlet covers, light switches, and receptacles. We've been doing that throughout the whole house as we paint each room. Makes a big difference for not a lot of $.

Texasgal47 -Thanks for the suggested website. Their kitchen turned out lovely. The butcher block is beautiful and would be my preference if I were staying here. We went back and forth about it over the last few months, but in the end didn't want to put the $ into it for resale, when most buyers in this area want granite.

sandra_zone6- I loved the way your island turned out. I will show it to my husband and use it for inspiration.

outnumbered- All of our bottom cabinets have pull out drawers, including the ones in the island. The cabinets are all oak, but builder grade. The center part of the doors were painted by the previous owner. We have lived here for 13 yrs. and I have never liked the look. To me it makes the cabinets look even smaller to have them chopped up with two colors. We had planned on painting the trim around the room as well. We have been told that all the oak trim makes the room look dated.

Lighting-our home is a colonial. These choices would match other lighting choices in our home. I would love island pendants (next kitchen) but think they will not go in our space. Right now I'm planning on just replacing the existing lights and not adding extra. I will add tapp lights under the cabinets. Since I won't have light over the island I need to keep the tract lighting because that is what shines on that space as well as the sink area.
Here are my ideas, but I am open to suggestions.
Over table something like this:

something like this for track lighting over sink

Something like these for flush light in kitchen-Mounted fairly flush:

Sorry for the long post. I will address the flooring in another one.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 1:51PM
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I think you're on the right're lighting choices were exactly what I was thinking of! Try to keep the finishes/glasses on the fixtures the same, it will be much more cohesive...I don't know if you have air conditioning throughout the house or are in a warm climate, but I'm not a fan of ceiling fans... that's just a matter of opinion; others love them. I much prefer the lantern.

Good luck...can't wait to see before and afters!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 7:52PM
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Hi homeblessings, my house-selling buddy!

This is long story, but kind of funny. Yesterday I spent most of the day calling all the fabricators to find out who could get me granite the fastest and cheapest. I was going to go with uba tuba even though I don't like it because I didn't think it would clash with the backsplash. I finally called Home Depot and found that they would be the least expensive if I bought during the sale ending yesterday. I've used the fabricator they use before, so I know they do a nice job. I ran out to the Home Depot to order, and while I was waiting for someone to help me I looked at all the granites again. I have samples of just about all the price A granites at my house except one - steell grey. I like steel grey (I put it in my basement kitchenette), so I have no idea why I never considered it. By the time someone could help me, I decided to switch to steel grey, and the salesman was so happy because he loves it. He said a couple had just been in Monday to order it for a house they were selling, so it must be the official resale granite!

I like your white square tile. One time when I replaced a countertop with a laminate backsplash the tiles adjoining the backsplash came off and we ended up tearing it all off. Come to think of it, that was 4" white square tile too! Some came easily and some took the drywall with them. It wasn't that bad to repair the wall to tile back over it. Ask how much the granite backsplash will cost because it may be more cost effective to retile the whole wall.

Your kitchen will look great with white cabinets and steel grey granite. I like the last lantern you posted a lot!

If you do replace the backsplash tile I think a marble (either real or a marble-look ceramic) tile would look great with it. A white tile with gray grout also would look good.

Good luck with your plans! When are you hoping to be on the market?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:07PM
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I like the direction you are looking for lighting. If you have clear glass and enough light in the center of the kitchen, could you do a pendant over the sink? Maybe a smaller version of what you put in the center of the kitchen? Those open and clear multi-bulb fixtures might give you more effective light than the dome ceiling mount -- which lose a lot of light. I think losing the track lighting would be good if you can.

I do think you might save a few dollars and get a better impact from a chandelier over the table. I have ceiling fans in all our bedrooms and living spaces, but would not ever have one over a dining table. That would be the first thing I'd rip out and replace and I know a lot of folks don't want them over a table, whether for dust or cooling off food. The other thing about about having a fan over your table is that it suggests your house is too warm. That's not the message you want to give prospective buyers. Something like this would be modest in cost, work with your other choices and give good light. It's $112 at Homeclick. Not anything I'm attached to, just the first example I found.

As for the granite, you are safer with a seam and you are chosing a darker granite which should be easier to have a good seam. Do talk to them about the location of the seam, let them know that you want it to be very minimal and look at seams they have done if possible. It will be okay.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:21PM
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