Help! Tight Budget! Need to Update My Kitchen!

goldiesuzyNovember 7, 2012

Hi Everyone, I would really appreciate your input and ideas as to how I can update my condo kitchen on a very tight budget. As you can see from the photo, I have honey-colored oak cabinets (in great shape), old-fashioned shiny chrome knobs, an outdated "light-box" and white tile counter-tops and backsplash. The good news is that the floors are a nice, darker shade of hardwood.

We will be putting the condo on the market and could use some good, budget friendly tips to make this kitchen more hip and trendy!

Thank you in advance!

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I would talk with a couple of real estate agents before doing any work. They should be able to guide you on what's worth doing in your market.

I'd be inclined to say new countertop, hood and cooktop. Granite is probably the least expensive upgrade on the countertop. (Laminate, even new, won't help sell the place, IMO). I can't see the light fixture in your photo, but replacing that might also make a big difference.

Since the cabinets are in good condition, I would likely leave them alone.

Just my thoughts.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 11:28PM
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Thanks! I really appreciate the input!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 12:53AM
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I take it you've never watched 'Design to Sell?"
You have a pretty typical show kitchen.

Paint, or strip and stain the cabinets (they look good!)
and definately get rid of the light box. Dayyyy-ted.

Based upon that one photo.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:08AM
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If it was me I would:
1) Change the hardware
2) Put in a new SS cooktop and hood fan to match the Oven.

If it was in my budget I would try to replace the counter with a light colored solid surface to coordinate with the backsplash.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:13AM
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The cabinets are in good shape and will appeal as they are now to many/most buyers, more so than if they have a DIY paint finish on them. Clean well and use a specifically made for cabinets type of cleaner/polish on them to make them sparkle.

It's usually pretty simple to change out the fluorescent box for IKEA-type small bulb track lighting, definitely do that (super cheap to do and big visual payoff).

Granite countertops in a neutral-please-everybody color, and a stainless vent hood, and if your budget allows, I second the suggestion to put in an inexpensive stainless cooktop. Otherwise I'd still do the hood since visually it sits closer to the ovens than the cooktop.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:46AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I wouldn't change the hardware at all. It will look great with either darker gel stained cabinets or white painted one. That's not a lot of money DIY, if you're up for doing a good job on that. It's a lot of labor, so if you're not up for that, just clean everything well and do new counters and leave well enough alone. For the central light, if you have the skills to DIY change that out, then do so. If you have to pay an electrician and drywall repair guy to come in and do it, then it's probably not worth it for a condo sale. Condos have taken the worst of the hit in the real estate market and most people are either underwater on them, or barely breaking even. If that's you, then do what you can within your power to make everything squeaky clean and neutral, and be prepared to wait out finding a buyer. Or gird yourself up to taking a loss. Either way, don't put in a lot of expense to sell this.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:12AM
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I agree with hollysprings--I wouldn't "update" anything. I would rather buy that apt as is, live in it awhile and then put in a new kitchen myself. These owners that throw in a slab of granite and dark stained chinese cabinets and expect the new buyer to be impressed are misinformed. I would rather buy an apartment with a laminate counter and outdated style than a granite that was slapped in for resale (buried in the apt. purchase price).The buyer will appreciate updated electric panel box, and enough outlets.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:35AM
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(pls excuse me if I sounded harsh as I did not mean to)Also the cabinets look in great shape, the storage near ovens is nice and large and the double ovens is a bonus for an apt. kitchen.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:12AM
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If it's considered an entry level condo - that is a starter home - I wouldn't change anything major. Just paint the walls a neutral color, clean and edit the items on the counter. Remove the multiple towels and dated canisters. If you have a Home Goods or Crate and Barrel nearby check out new stylish towels. Keep the counters totally clutter free. Clean out the cabs and de-clutter. Allow the next buyer to do the upgrades and updates to their taste. The previous posters are right that some upgrades will actually turn buyers off. In my area of middle suburbia, it is granite on old cabinets that have seen better days, especially if the layout isn't great.

If your cooktop is older, around 8 - 10 years or going out - this may be an item to consider updating along with matching hood since you already have the SS oven. The newer appliances are a great selling point on an older home. I've bought a couple of houses where the old 1980's stoves were downright scary. Check out clearance, closeouts, craigslist or sears outlet for a good deals.

As the others posted, new lighting can help brighten up the space. You don't have a picture of the sink, but if the faucet is old and dated, that could also be a great upgrade for not a lot of money. My personal favorite, the one I currently own is this Moen Brantford:

I don't know what your lighting and flooring is like, but a neutral color I love is called Autumn Haze. The color is by Glidden.

I've staged and sold 3 houses since 2003. The following pictures are the kitchens from the two most recent. Both of these have oak cabinets. The most recent (1st) had 20 year old laminate counters. The wall paint was Behr Sand Pearl. The 2nd one actually had tile counters. It was newer with the original builder paint, except for the blue/green color. I had 2 toddlers and a baby and didn't have time to repaint and neutralize.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:13AM
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Can you share more pictures of more of the space? From the picture you've shared, it really looks quite nice.

The cabinets and hardware are lovely. I would definitely keep the cabinets as is. You could replace the hardware, but simple chrome knobs are not outdated in my opinion.

I would consider replacing the white cooktop and range hood with stainless steel to match the double ovens. Or provide an appliance allowance in the sale price.

I'm not a big fan of tile countertops, but yours look pretty good. It would be helpful to know from a real estate agent what your ROI would be to replace the countertops with granite or quartz before deciding to do so. But, if the countertops are within budget, I would consider replacing them. I think the white looks quite nice with your cabinets and would consider a white quartz.

I agree with the others that replacing the outdated light box with up to date lighting should be reasonably affordable and would go a long way to bringing the kitchen up to date.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:22AM
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Oh wow! Thanks, thanks to all of you for your helpful comments. It is a big relief to me that you generally think the cabinets are OK! I think I will update the hood and cooktop and change out the light box for now. I would love to do the counters, but like a couple of you said, condo selling ain't so easy -- will probably take a hit. Again, many thanks!
p.s. Here's another pic of my kitchen...

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 12:52PM
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The photo I just posted shows a white refrigerator. Since taking the picture, we replaced it with a stainless one that doesn't stick out as much. :)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:02PM
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We will be putting the condo on the market and could use some good, budget friendly tips to make this kitchen more hip and trendy!

The most budget-friendly thing you can do is make sure everything works, nothing leaks, clean it until it sparkles (even under the sink), and forget about updating it.

List it at a realistic price for the market, maybe even a bit low, and let someone else come here and post a question on how to update the marvellous condo they just bought.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 2:49PM
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