Smart Investments in Kitchen Cabinetry — a Realtor’s Advice

By Tiffany Carboni

The kitchen is the most expensive room in the house to build. The national average cost of a kitchen remodel is $50,000, though the real cost can vary widely, depending on where you live, the scope of the project and the materials you choose. New cabinetry can take up much of that expense. Make the most of this big purchase by treating your new cabinets as an investment. 

Realtor Victoria Gangi offers insider tips on how to get the best return on your cabinet investment, even if you’re not moving in the foreseeable future.


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Create an optimal layout. Long before a kitchen starts to take actual shape, there needs to be a well-crafted plan for how the kitchen will be laid out to offer maximum benefits to the homeowners and their guests. 

“Layout is the number-one feature home buyers are looking at in a kitchen,” says Gangi. “You will lose your audience if cabinets aren’t designed in a functional way with good flow.”


A kitchen or cabinet designer can help you get started. Don’t make any rushed decisions in the planning process. 

One way to help visualize a designer’s plan is to tape out the dimensions of the new cabinet configurations on the floor and walls. Granted, you’re going to need a really good imagination for this to work, but it will give you an opportunity to literally walk through the measurements to see if things feel well spaced.


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Invest in quality cabinetry. Once you’ve got a plan for where everything’s going to go, decide on a style and quality that will age well and withstand trends and changing tastes.

Quality cabinets are one of the smartest investments in a kitchen remodel, says Karl Keul, owner of Cameo Kitchens. “The lesser grades of cabinets tend not to age gracefully and often need more upkeep,” he notes.

The quality to choose will depend on your long-term plans. “Midrange cabinets are generally a good bet,” Gangi says. “If you intend to sell your home, these cabinets will look attractive to buyers, and you’ll likely see a return on your investment.”

She adds, “Even if you plan on staying in your home for the foreseeable future, this is still a safe option, because they’ll last. Choose top-of-the-line cabinets only if you have the money to create the kitchen of your dreams without any worries of recouping the money.”


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Integrate the door style. Choose a door style and color that integrate well with the rest of your home, especially rooms that look directly into the kitchen. If the rest of your house is traditional, you’d be better off steering toward a more traditional or transitional door style than going completely modern, and vice versa. 


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“Don’t choose a style that’s too ornate or too modern,” Gangi advises. “Modern is good; people like clean lines and clean finishes. But ultramodern or any style that’s too out of the norm isn’t what buyers tend to want.”


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In general the best kitchen designs are those that work in harmony with the rest of the home’s architecture rather than try to fight it. A harmonious house is easier for potential buyers to understand and, in turn, to want to outbid each other for. 

A savvy designer can help navigate you toward the best cabinet options that will work for your home and budget.

 

 

 

 


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Choose light colors. Lighter-colored cabinetry will appeal to more buyers. “Dark kitchens are out,” notes Gangi. “People prefer light and bright.”


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To integrate the appliances or not? Integrated appliances significantly increase the cost of a kitchen, not only because of the added cabinetry door fronts, but also because the appliances needed to facilitate this option are more expensive.

While this feature may look attractive to some home buyers, especially in a price range where integrated appliances are an expectation rather than an exception, your may not see the return on this high-priced detail in a midrange-price house.


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According to Gangi, your cabinet investment can be safe even if you don’t integrate the appliances. “Stainless steel appliances are still very popular and well accepted by buyers,” she says.


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Choose cabinet details that matter. What’s inside the cabinet is just as important as what’s on its outside. “Buyers are on the lookout for rollout and quiet-close drawers,” notes Gangi. “This is where that choice of midrange versus low-range cabinet quality becomes important. Spending the extra money it takes to get good-quality slide rails and quiet-close features will come back to you.”

 

 

 

 


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Opt for clean-lined hardware. “Buyers prefer drawer pulls and handles to be just as clean lined as the cabinetry,” says Gangi.


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If you like ornate hardware, go for it. However, should you sell your home, expect to replace those fancy pulls with a more streamlined set that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. The good news is that your fancy hardware can move with you.

How to Choose the Right Neighborhood for You and Your Family

Photo via Freshome Design & Architecture

 

Where we choose to settle down and plant our roots is just as important as the home in which we cultivate our lives. A happy home is often so because of where the home is physically located. As homebuyers it is therefore equally important to note that not only are you buying a home, but in essence you are buying a part of your neighborhood. 

 

Photo via Freshome Design & Architecture

Where your home is located is equally as important as your home itself

Whether you are a first time homebuyer or are relocating to another part of the country, it is essential not only to look at the homes for sale but to take a close look at your potential future town and neighborhood. We tend to have these romanticized, pre-conceived notions of just how our perfect home will be and it is therefore imperative to pay attention to everything that surrounds your dream home. 

 

Photo via Freshome Design & Architecture

Buy with your head as well as your heart

I recently spoke with Betty Shepard, a Realtor with Prudential Fox and Roach in Mount Laurel, New Jersey who told me that “buyers tend to be too emotional when they are shopping for their home. It’s important to look at the purchase of a new home from an investment standpoint.” She states the importance of researching various neighborhoods of interest. “Find out what the housing market is like in your particular area or areas of interest,” Shepard suggests. Take note to see whether a particular area is on a financial incline or decline. With that information gathered a home buyer will be able to assess whether their purchase will turn out to be a good financial investment.

 

Photo via Freshome Design & Architecture

Take advantage of the internet

Put aside some time to do some research online. Your realtor’s website could be a valuable source of information about your town and all that it has to offer, as well as information on the schools and their performance and ranking in the state. Also be sure to visit your town’s website if there is one. 

 

Photo via Freshome Design & Architecture

Visit your new neighborhood or town

Take the time to spend some time in the towns of particular interest. Get to know the feel and the lay of the land. This may be harder to do if you are in the midst of a work-related relocation, but if you can, do try to at least walk around the downtown area and drive through the neighborhoods. If you have children with busy weekend schedules, this may be particularly hard to do, but it can also be crucial to finding the areas that offer the best for you and your family. If you can, try out a local restaurant, do some window shopping and talk to the locals to get a sense of what they think makes their town so special. 

 

Photo via Freshome Design & Architecture

Drive through during different times of the day

Shepard thinks it is particularly important to drive through neighborhoods of interest at various times of the day. The neighborhood is lovely during the quiet afternoon, but is it still quiet and serene during rush hour or at night? “I was researching potential neighborhoods for a client of mine and I decided to drive back to this one particular neighborhood at night and I was surprised at how many trucks were parked on the streets. I knew at that point that my clients and I would have to re-direct our focus,” she told me.

 

Photo via Freshome Design & Architecture

Make a list

Make a list of what’s important to you. Just as you make a list of what you would like to have in your home, make a list as to what you would like to have in your neighborhood – be sure to note what’s crucial and what you can sacrifice. Do you have a family or do you plan on starting one? Is the school system important to you? If you are a parent you may want to arrange for your child or children to visit the school and to meet with the principal.

Just as neighborhoods differ in personality, no two schools are exactly alike. Will you or your spouse be commuting to work? Do you need to live within a certain proximity to a highway or near a train station? Do you commute to a major city? If you do, is there a limit to your travel time? For those of you who will be commuting whether by car or train, to work, Shepard advises a trial run. Take the time to test out the commute. Will it be doable or will it simply take too long?

 

Photo via Freshome Design & Architecture

Consider your lifestyle

Another important thing to take into factor is lifestyle. Are you and your family active? Is it important that you are in a neighborhood that is good for walking, running or bike riding? Do you need to be near areas of cultural interest such as museums, universities, restaurants and shopping? How important is it to you that you are near a grocery store, bank and gas station. These might seem like small issues, but to a busy mother of a large family, proximity can be everything. 

 

Photo via Freshome Design & Architecture

Look all around the outside of your home

Pay attention to your surroundings. “I tell my clients to pay as much attention to the outside of their home as they do to the inside,” says Shepard. “Be sure to ask yourself questions like what is the outside like? What are the neighbor’s properties like? Are the neighbors too close for comfort, or would you like your neighbors to be closer? Pay attention to everything – all the small details.” Often when you are buying a home you are buying into a neighborhood.

If you can, take the time to talk to neighbors. Do they have children? Do you have children? Are these people you can see yourselves getting along with or even becoming friends with? Hopefully, after all the long hours of research and leg-work you will not only find your dream home, but the perfect neighborhood to best suit your interests and your lifestyle. 

 

(You’re reading How to Choose the Right Neighborhood for You and Your Family originally posted on freshome.com)