Where Does a Nice Kitchen Rank on Your Priority List for a Home?

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Just how much is a good kitchen worth? Well, I guess you could say it depends on the homeowner and his or her culinary tendencies. Some people practically live in their kitchens, whipping up home cooked meals on a nightly basis, while other people use their ovens and cupboards to store seldom-used dishes or off-season clothing. Where you fall on the kitchen-appreciation spectrum will dictate how much you’re willing to spend on the kitchen of your dreams.

President of Realtor.com Errol Samuelson said that the kitchen is a major focal point for home buyers.

“People, in general, have shown more interest in having big and beautiful kitchens, and the kitchen is acting as an informal gathering place,” Samuelson said in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. “We have gone from the ’70s where it was about Hamburger Helper … and now we’ve got the Food Network where people are more interested in exploring cooking.”

But big doesn’t always equal valuable. For some home buyers, a practical, efficiently designed kitchen may be more appealing for a variety of reasons. Maybe they’re not a whiz in the kitchen, maybe they have a smaller family, maybe they just enjoy dining out. Financial limits are another factor. Not everyone can afford a “big, beautiful kitchen” as Samuelson put it. Instead of a sprawling room with center island and double oven, some people may only be able to afford a home with a simple galley style and the basic appliances.

Kitchen with orange cabinets.It should be noted however, that just because a kitchen is small doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be improved to increase its value. There are a lot of great project ideas for making a small kitchen look bigger and operate smoother. It could be as simple as painting the cabinets a lighter color to rearranging counter top appliances and adding shelves to maximize space.

While most remodeling experts will tell you that you’ll almost never get a full return on your investment when you remodel your home, a kitchen remodel is one of the projects that will give you the highest return – up to 83% of the cost, according to Real Simple. Even simple upgrades like switching outdated fixtures for something more modern, can go a long way. Adding a tile back splash, upgrading counter tops or replacing old appliances like the dishwasher and fridge are some other worthwhile tasks. According to recent data from Houzz’s 2013 Renovation in America Survey, kitchens and bathrooms are the most popular remodeling projects.

But before you go splurging on a kitchen makeover, make sure you understand who you’re doing the remodel for. Are you planning on selling your home and feel like you need to upgrade the kitchen in order to attract buyers? Consult with your real estate agent before you go sinking a lot of money into what could likely be a costly and time-consuming project. Are you making changes for your own enjoyment? If so, you’ll have a lot more freedom to do what you want instead of doing what you think other people will want – but be careful. When you do a remodel project for your own interests, it can be more tempting to go over budget.

The bottom line is this: Get to know what your kitchen’s strengths and weaknesses are and decide whether or not it’s worth it to make the upgrades.

You never know; you may really hate your old-fashioned cupboards, but a potential buyer may see them as a whimsical touch of vintage charm. Get feedback from your agent if you’re trying to sell. If you’re not – then just make sure you’re investing in a project that will add personal as well as financial value, in case you decide to put the home on the market later.

Steph Meyer is a contributor to the ForTheBestRate.com Blog and keeps us up to date on interesting happenings within the world of home financing and real estate. She’s got a quick wit and keen eye on making smart financial decisions. My Google Profile+

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