Updating the kitchen may have been last on the list, but it worked brilliantly.
WHO LIVES HERE
Lisa Cooper, and her husband Ian. Their grandson, Jake, lives with them in their four-bedroom detached house near Dewsbury, Yorkshire, which was built in 1990. They have a border terrier, Buster.
You waited a long time to start work on this room.
Yes, we moved into the house 13 years ago but didn’t intend to stay very long, so we just did some basic improvements to make it comfortable. Then we became so settled here that we decided to stay and modernize the whole house.
What did you want from the new kitchen?
I wanted the room to be light and modern with pale units and flooring, a neutral color scheme and a few luxuries such as a wine cooler and a hot water tap, for instant hot drinks. I also wanted plenty of storage space and originally focused the design around our red range.
How did it evolve?
When we revamped our living room we worked with an interior designer. We knew she would do a great job, so we asked her for her help again.
Did everything run smoothly?
Yes, but I made two major last-minute changes. We had planned to leave the kitchen as a separate room but while we were waiting for the units to be delivered we decided to take away a wall to make one large living space. It created a lovely open area with more room for a dining table, sofa and desk. The second change was getting rid of our old range. Two weeks before the units were due to be installed I decided to get a new one to match the black and cream color scheme of the kitchen. It was smaller than the original but, by then, it was too late to change the units so Lucy designed two slim wooden pillars to hide the gaps on either side.
You say the kitchen is now your favorite room.
We practically live in here. It’s a really sociable space and a great place for us all to gather over the holidays. We have a huge Christmas lunch. I enjoy cooking roast dinners and the kitchen works perfectly on Christmas Day. I love the fact that it’s so light and spacious yet still feels really cozy at this time of year.
This is a special edition of Sensible Style, one geared toward the thousands of homeowners wanting–or needing–to sell their homes, condos or townhouses.
As a recent home seller and house hunter myself, as well as a professional kitchen and bath designer, I can share tips from every perspective to help you sell your place quicker, and for more money. These low-cost design tips can improve your home for prospective buyers without a major investment of materials or labor. In fact, most of the resources included in this post are available through most home improvement stores and can be completed over one weekend.
One quick note: These tips are geared toward transitional and traditional homes since these homes dominate the current real estate market.
Let’s get started on getting your home sold sooner, and for more money!
Paint: First, lasting impression
Paint is one of the first things buyers will notice about your place and one of the most affordable to change. While some realtors rave about “neutrals throughout,” bland beiges aren’t the mainstay of home design magazines, websites or the model homes that home buyers reference.
Instead today’s neutrals show up in deeper, richer tones like coffee and sage. The more your rooms resemble current, stylish homes, the quicker your place will sell.
Use color schemes shown in popular magazine spreads or at upscale retailers. Restoration Hardware has a nice, rich palette that I like to work with.
For suggestions on which paints go with which cabinets and countertops, please check out this earlier Winning Color Combinations Sensible Style post.
Lighting: Let there be improvements!
I’ve replaced hundreds of bare bones light bars in six years of bath remodels. Do yourself a favor and replace yours too. Choose a model that works with the other finishes in the room but adds some updated style. It’s cheap. It’s easy. It’s one of the simplest improvements you can make to your bathrooms, especially the master bath.
Windows: Covering yourself
To me, nothing says cheap like aluminum mini blinds. (They also get bent easily by folks checking out your views.) Buyers look at them and imagine their replacements being an expensive, custom change. To get that custom window treatments look to intrigue your prospective buyers, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. I like two-inch white faux wood blinds as a frugal alternative to custom shutters. They’ll look like an upgrade when you’re selling, but many common sizes can be found in stock at home centers.
Another cheap-looking window treatment is plastic vertical blinds, often seen covering patio doors. I suggest long, wide fabric window panels as the most affordable replacement for those door treatments. They’re widely available in discount home goods stores, as are the rods to hang them on. Go simple and solid in a natural fabric like white cotton to offset your richly-colored, newly-painted walls.
Faucets: An opportunity to turn on style
Another turn-off is plastic-handled faucets in your kitchen or bath. They will be noticed immediately and read low budget to your buyers. Countertop-mounted sink faucets are very easy and inexpensive to change out.
Tub and shower faucets are not as easy to replace, unless you can get fixtures that fit the existing valves. One way to tackle this project is to note the manufacturer name on your current faucets, take a photo of them to your nearest home center and look at their special order books. If they show your model, they’ll also show its valve and you may be able to find a new set that works with that valve. If so, that’s an easy handyman replacement. I did this easy makeover at my last house for less than $200, including parts and labor.
One final thought
Declutter. Declutter. Declutter. I was looking at an otherwise spacious townhome this week with overstuffed and overextended closets. It gave the impression that there wasn’t enough storage in the home. Whatever doesn’t fit into your closet neatly needs to be stored somewhere else. The same holds true for linen towers, kitchen cabinets and bath vanities.