Five Improvements that Will Dramatically Improve the Look of Your Kitchen

Painting is obviously one of the least expensive and most dramatic ways to update your kitchen, but don’t just start and stop there. First, assess the current state of the room. Is there enough storage space? Are your cabinets nicked? Are there any burn marks on your countertops? Is your kitchen (and its contents) more than 10 years old? (If so, it’s definitely outdated-no matter how pristine the condition.)

In your kitchen, you get the biggest bang for your remodeling buck by addressing the problems mentioned above. To increase the value of your home, perform these five kitchen improvement projects:

1. Install new cabinets: Cabinets are a prime visual focal point in any kitchen They’re also by far the biggest percentage of cost in most kitchen remodels-as much as 70 percent of your whole budget.While hardwood cabinets are the most durable and of the highest quality, they are also the most expensive. Typical high-quality cabinetry in a 10-foot-by-12-foot kitchen can cost upwards of $40,000.

2. Install new countertops: Nothing improves your kitchen’s look and feel (hence its value) quite like new countertops. Today, countertops are made from a dizzying array of materials, including laminate (such as Formica), an amazing variety of domestic and imported tile, Corian (a solid surfacing brand made by DuPont that can be cut, routed, drilled, sculpted, bent, or worked like wood), and polished stone, such as quartz and granite.

3. Replace outdated appliances: Besides the knotty pine cabinets, nothing dates your kitchen quite like a harvest gold gas range with four burners on top and a two-rack oven below. Now is the time to look into updating your stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher-and perhaps adding a trash compactor if you don’t already have one.

4. Install new flooring: You don’t have to break the bank to put in a new floor that will have a huge impact on the overall appeal of your new kitchen. The choices are nearly limitless, but each type of flooring has its pros and cons. (See “A Word about Flooring” at the end of this section.)

5. Update your lighting: Today’s multitasking kitchens demand versatile lighting. Gone are the days when a single 100-watt fixture centered in the kitchen’s ceiling was sufficient. “I see people every day who are saddled with one light in the middle of the kitchen,” says Geoff Dent, president of Dent Electrical Supply in Danbury, Connecticut. “This means that everywhere around the perimeter, where most of the work is done, is done in one’s own shadow.”

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