What to do with this kitchen for resale?

aktillery9September 12, 2012

I am helping stage a house. I wanted to see what you guys thought of this kitchen. I think the best thing would be to remove the wallpaper and paint a richer khaki color and add hardware to the cabinets.

What do you guys think? As of now it is very pink and light. There is no warmth or contrast and it is dated which scares the buyers away.

Thanks in advance!


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From another angle.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:02PM
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What is the budget? How does this kitchen look vs the comps?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:05PM
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With all the light coming in, do you think the owners would consider painting the cabinets black. This would provide a more modern look and great contrast with the countertops.

I'd trial the white appliances being new appliances would be a huge cost and the contrast the white offers might be appealing enough.

Though valances are quite in style, you might want to look at finding some fun modern fabric that could give off a fun look to the kitchen.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:16PM
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The budget is still uncertain. I would say 500-600 and the comps blow this one away.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:18PM
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I totally agree aloha! Drapes for sure!

Black might be a good idea.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:19PM
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I believe if restaining a darker color is an option, that be a huge factor in selling this home. Another option, just as difficult, would be to remove the wallpaper and paint a richer color. The hardwood color looks OK as long as the rest of the kitchen looks better.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:23PM
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Removing the wallpaper and painting another color would be the top of my list. I would not paint cabinets black as that is a major turn off for most buyers. Knobs and pulls are optional: many people like them (me) and other prefer none (my SIL). Their presence or absence wouldn't really influence a sale one way or the other.

What does the listing agent say about resale? In some areas it would be worth spending the money for a serious upgrade, and in other areas it wouldn't make much difference. The idea is to get the best possible price and a good agent will have an informed opinion on how to do that.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:31PM
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The agent feels the things I mentioned were something that would be a must. I do think just removing wallpaper and painting a richer color along with staging the rest of the house would be a huge boost on bringing in the offers. I was thinking the knobs etc would help add some definition and character to the kitchen. Definitely would use ORB.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:37PM
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the kitchen scares people? that's strange-it looks like a neutral space that someone could do whatever they wish-but the money you have won't do anything really-Shift over to that den/family room. Go to furniture rental-get a big plushy couch with toss pillows.Area rug/club chair/end table with reading lamp.It's too much hotel lobby right now. Any money left-some bar stools for island. Leave the maple cabs-they are neutral. A stainless fridge and dishwasher-even a few yrs old off Craigs List would be better than the old ones-but the money will be the obstacle for that.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 10:04PM
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With that low of a budget, it's gonna have to be DIY removing the wallpaper. No pro I know would do it for that. Knobs and pulls, and a DIY coat of paint for the walls is about all that budget will buy.

The best thing they can do for that kitchen is price the house appropriately to reflect that it's not up to snuff when compared to the competition. That means 50-75K less, as that's the average price of a kitchen redo.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 10:05PM
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You could paint over the wallpaper...we did that in our house and it worked very well. It held up for 10 years too until we remodeled the kitchen. It might be less effort and more cost effective than trying to remove the wallpaper.

Can you change the light fixture over the dining table and/or the fan?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 11:14PM
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Something I would take a look at -- remove the crown from the upper cabinets and install vertical boards on the open ends (will need some kind of rail to finish the seam) and then either a shelf in the middle and the crown back around the top or a stacked header/crown treatment to create the illusion of cabinets that go to the ceiling. What looks like natural maple shouldn't be hard to match, but if you did paint white (you already have white trim) it would be even easier. You could also raise the cabinets and install an open shelf below. Either way, it would bring a lift to those short cabinets and be an instant update. It isn't a lot of work but could eat up most or all of your budget if you have to pay for carpentry, finishing and drywall work. If you or the sellers can DIY even part of it, I think it would be a dramatic improvement.

Definitely remove the wallpaper (yep -- DIY) and put some real color on the walls. Not khaki or beige but green, red or a navy blue. Only brown I would consider is a cocoa brown, but not if you have to use the chairs in the living room.

Remove the valances. I'd rather see the breakfast room bay bare than with the tiny gathered valance, but I'd put a simple inexpensive panel on the LR windows if possible. IF not, bare would be bettr than the valance that is there.

Definitely a couple of rugs and some accessories with color in the kitchen. It doesn't look like it is ever used. Borrow a cookie jar, a colorful crock, a stand with an open cookbook, even a couple of dish towels would be a welcomed relief. And something needs to go on that raised counter behind the sink. You don't need to put bar stools there, but create the suggestion that you could sit there or at least use that surface to set up service to the breakfast room, patio or the family room -- coffee, lemonade, a water pitcher or urn. With the budget you may have, I'd look to beg and borrow from other rooms, the cabinets or things you have that can be loaned out.

If the sellers are not able to do any DIY, this will be tough. I don't know what labor you can add, but I suspect this might be more of a portfolio and network building job than a lucrative one. At least the floor plan is open and bright, the place is clean and everything appears to be in good condition.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 11:32PM
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I would remove wallpaper, add crown, get a few cabinets cut for glass and gel stain the cabinets in general finishes java. Add chrome hardware. It will look great with the white counters and backsplash. The gel stain will be easier than painting and will go on smoothly. I have done both and gel stain is much better. While you are at it gel stain the table and chairs in the nook.

Another option would be to use the gel stain as a glaze. I did this on some pinkish Broyhill "Fontana" furniture and it turned out great. For that application I used minwax gel stain. The gel stain completely cut the pinkish look of the furniture. I applied it, waited a few minutes and wiped it off, leaving stain in the crevices.

I agree about the valances, perhaps some drapes in a solid color to match the walls.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 12:21AM
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Paint the wallpaper, add those can light sconses over the island, take down the valances, hardware, paint the gold chain on breakfast room light.

But honestly, are they telling clients before they walk in the door that it is terrible?? Because it looks wonderful to me!!light, open, clean, has that pretty bay over the sink, plenty of counter space, I could go on.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:50AM
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How are the buyers scared away? Looking at photos on the internet before they see it in person? Do you have actual comments/feedback from some buyers?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:57AM
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I think it's a very nice space, however, the wallpaper definitely needs to be removed.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 9:29AM
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I can see the cabinets being gel stained, like gmp3 mentioned. it will take the kitchen instantly into this century. Then I'd add hardware that would stand out, something like brushed nickel. The only problem then is the white appliances against the dark cabinets, and your budget.

I would certainly lose the valances and the fake flowers. Can you convince the homeowners to keep something real in a vase on the kitchen table? And of course the usual staging on the counters....I always had out mini macaroons in a covered glass pedestal stand.

Don't add any rugs, it makes the space look larger with all that hardwood. And if you've already got the hardwood, flaunt it baby.

The space is really bright and large. I can see how doing a little painting will accent the good.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Circus Peanut

That floor color calls out for rich warm complements - how about darker terra-cotta walls with dark stained cabs?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 10:59AM
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If they aren't DIY handy enough to do any of these suggestions, then just drop the price and don't worry about it. You can't make a big enough dent in the look of that space without paying for some pretty expensive labor.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:03AM
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I would remove the wallpaper. I would leave cabinetry color alone if it cannot be professionally done. Nothing is worse than a buyer reading about nice xxx kitchen, etc etc to discover when viewing that it is an unprofessional/poorly done DIY job. The light colored cabs will appeal to the masses (depending on area/location), black not so much.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:45PM
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I would not do anything with the kitchen itself, except paint. $500 is not going to dramatically change anything. The cabinets look like they may be cheap, and therefore, something not worth putting time into just to have someone rip them out as they move in.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:05PM
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I would stick with what the Realtor suggests, wallpaper removal painting the walls, door hardware and a bit of staging.

I know people are very up on gel staining and painting, but most of the times I have seen this done as a staging quick fix it looks pretty lousy and I would rather have cabinets with an intact but perhaps dated finish. (And lighter finishes are coming back).

I think most people here are probably a bit better at DIY and painting and staining than the average person, so I am not being critical of the process as a whole, but most homeowners don't seem to do it that well, especially if it is to help them get Out of the house.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:16PM
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Thanks for all of your great suggestions!

Thanks for the mock-up circuspeanut. I appreciate that.

I am planning on getting the wallpaper removed and painting for starters. I will also change out the window valences and add curtains. The chairs will go and a sofa and chair along with a nice rug and ottoman will take its place.

I will keep you all posted!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 2:48AM
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Looks fine to me. If anything, replace the backsplash tiles with something more elegant. Ignore realtors' advice, most is worthless or outright wrong in my extensive experience.

Most buyers look right past your furniture to the house surrounding it anyway, unless your furniture conveys.

Wallpaper looks fine btw.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 3:33AM
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There were 2 things that really stuck out to me, and strangely enough, the wall paper wasn't oe of them.

Everything just looks so plain so I would do 2 main things:

1- Rugs - in kitchen and the family room

2- Bring something colorful onto the countertops (vase of flowers, colorful utinsel jar, etc)

It's really not that bad and just needs a little bit of color to perk it up. Why spend the time and money to paint and remove the wallpaper when the new owners will want to do that anyways....

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 12:07PM
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One thing I DON'T recommend, is don't "texture" over the wallpaper. This was done in the house I currently live in. It covered the kitchen and 2 bathrooms. It wasn't a deal breaker when we bought it because we had originally bought it as an investment property. We weren't planning to live in it. We ended up moving in when my husband got a new job which was closer to this house.

Anyhoo, the realtor had advised the PO to have a company come in with joint compound and "hand trowel" it on and paint/glaze over that. Many of the houses built at the time (2007/08) were done in the Old World Euro look. The "hand trowel" look was a big selling point. Except that this house is a 1990's colonial.

The finish seemed ok when we moved in, but as we lived in the house, we saw bits of compound come off revealing the wallpaper underneath. I guess the moisture from the compound penetrated the wallpaper at the seams causing bubbling so that compound lifted and became brittle. Any bump caused it to crumble off.

Removing two layers was a huge nightmare and mess.

So, if you're going to remove the wallpaper, just do it. We had knock down texture done to match the existing wall finish. It wasn't as expensive as I had anticipated. If I had known what would be involved, I would have taped up the plastic myself and just had the guys blow the texture.

I still have wallpaper in 2 bathrooms that were left untextured. I asked some contractors about painting the wallpaper, they said you have to start with an oil based primer first. If you use a water based primer, it will end up bubbling too.

I couldn't tell from the pictures, but the wallpaper didn't look heinous. It seems pretty neutral, but if it's pink, it will definitely turn people off.

If this were my kitchen to stage I would:

(Photbucket is not working for me. I'll post links)

Paint or re-stain the cabinets with a Rust Oleum Cabinet Transformations kit in a slightly darker color or white. Even if the counters are white laminate, the next owner may go ahead upgrade counters if the rest is "done."


Install door hardware. Check out Fintorp hardware from IKEA. In either brushed nickel or black it's very classy & affordable.


Replace the fixture over the nook. Check out HFH Re-store. Maybe a shiny brass chandelier with good bones, it's usually cheap and it can be sprayed with an Aged Brass or ORB spray paint. Or if there's a way to remove the glass shade and rig up a simple drum shade over the existing fixture.


Remove all the valances. In the family room, hang long panels. White is easiest. Again, IKEA for inexpensive rods and panels.

Replace the fixtures over the island. Use a recessed light pendant retrofit kit from Lowes or Home Depot.


Attach beadboard to the outside of the island. HD & Lowes sell some the with the panels and the chair rail and baseboard duo. The chair rail/BB has a channel the panels fit into making it look very finished. Paint.



    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 12:49PM
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I think buyers at least in this area get overwhelmed when they see a house with projects. Many are overwhelmed at the thought of removing wallpaper. I was thinking by doing that it would help them in making a decision to buy. It is one less thing to do and getting rid of the pink tones with paint should definitely help. It will be DIY. The owners son will take down the wallpaper and then be me along with the son and a friend who will paint. It is the realtor's mother in law and I work with the realtor as she is a very close friend. Sort of interesting dynamic.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 12:59PM
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I think your Realtor's suggestions are good ones. Oh, and please, please don't paint over wallpaper. It will look half-baked or half-SOMETHING and it is a pain to remove for whoever takes that on.

I would do a new post though and ask for hardware ideas for those cabinets, and some closer up pictures of them. I do think that will help add some definition along with a paint color.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 3:41PM
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The problem is that most Buyers don't have money left to tackle expensive redo projects after they close...and expense is in eye of beholder...for some people it might be 1k on their credit cards...

If the house will sell AND appraise to include cost of seller making modifications then go ahead...you can use stronger colors with staging props like area rugs or rented/borrowed furniture if that alone will make up for,problems requiring more expense---like removing wallpaper ( which will require some form of texturing before repainting) or repainting cabinets...

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 4:41PM
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Yes to removing the wallpaper and a big NO NEVER paint over wallpaper. It never looks right, and once you paint over it good luck trying to remove it.

I agree that once you paint and bring in some colorful accessories it will look much better. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 4:51PM
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If I were a prospective buyer I'd be a lot more turned off by black (black?) cabinets than this pale, watery look. This place needs a freshening up, just so that folks don't feel the air sucked out of the room. I would remove the wallpaper and paint either a creamy white or soft neutral green, maybe add some pulls. But anyone with half an imagination could figure out you could add pulls yourself after you buy the house. I wouldn't spend too much on trying to guess what someone would like and could easily do for the same amount of money.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 5:02PM
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Taking off original wallpaper is terribly frustrating because walls were likely not prepped right initially...
What about just covering all wallpaper areas with beadboard and painting that? The cost to have wallpaper removed and walls prepped properly, texturized somewhat, and painted with two coats could be more than just covering with bead board and painted...

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 5:05PM
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What is everyone's problem with the wallpaper? It would be one thing if it were garish colors and patterns, but the wallpaper here is muted and unobtrusive. I can't imagine a potential homebuyer being so turned off by it that they wouldn't buy the house, or that it would lower the value.

If anything, the whole kitchen just looks a bit basic and generic. The plain 4" white ceramic tiles, which look like what builders put around a bathtub, bother me most, but it's easy to change if I or anyone else didn't like it. The appliances also look low-end but upgrading the cabinets or appliances to "wow!" level would be expensive, and prospective buyers still might not like your choice of colors or materials. I'd mostly leave it as is.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 8:56PM
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Paint, new window treatments, some accessories, rent some furniture if necessary, but I would not paint the cabs, change the countertop or add new hardware. If I was buying that house I'd rather it start light so I could stain it the color I want, add hardware that I want instead of having to retrofit knobs for handles, etc. Hate seening new granite on old cabs because i know I'm paying for something I hate. I'd rather buy basic vanilla and add my tastes. I'd also keep the paint light because it's an expensive time consuming b*tch to paint over dark colors. Rather play up the lightness of the space anyway
Don't know why it's scarey.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 9:35PM
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