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Tips to Increase Your ROI on Your Kitchen Design Project


The design elements you choose in a home remodeling project can really make a difference in your return on investment on your home’s resale.

But it also goes deeper than just that when planning your next home upgrade. You have to also consider how much is reasonable to spend on a home upgrade in your specific neighborhood.

Let’s say you live in Chicago where the median sales price in 2016 is $240,000. Experts suggest spending between 5 and 10 percent of the assessed home value for an improvement. So, if your home will potentially sell for $240,000 than you would spend between $12,000 and $24,000 on a home remodeling project.

But what area of the home should I remodel in to get the best ROI?

The short answer is the kitchen. Certainly there are many factors that determine an ROI: the state of the market, the time of year, the age of the house, etc. But let’s focus on the parts you can control – how you design your kitchen to attract to more buyers.

There are four design components that nearly every kitchen has:

  1. appliances,
  2. wall color,
  3. counters, and
  4. cabinets.

1. Kitchen Appliances

Appliances are all about function, so long as they are wrapped in stainless steel. If you’re dishwasher is leaving crud on your plates and glasses, or your microwave is older, you’ll obviously want to replace these with better, stainless steel options.

People prefer stainless steel almost purely on its aesthetic value. It looks cleaner, sharper, and more modern than the many variations of white that have dominated 90’s and 2000’s-era appliances. Speaking of white, would you be surprised to learn it’s a very popular choice for wall color.

2. Wall Color

White, ivory, yellow, and gray are in vogue in 2016 as wall and accent colors. Notice a theme in these four? They are all lighter colors, and they help reflect natural light while making your room look bigger. You can combine several shades of these colors to create interest and contrast in the space.

White makes a superb backdrop for highlighting your art or wall pieces. White goes with anything. The same can’t be said of dark or “strong” colors like burgundy, brown, deep blue, or green. Dark colors are not bad, per say, but should be used sparingly because they generally make the generally convey a specific mood.

They also take numerous coats of paint to cover. Overall you want to play it safe with colors when considering resale. Keep a light pallet in mind if and when you decide to paint your walls or give a facelift to your cabinets.

3. Counters

Whether you call it a facelift, a resurfacing, or a refacing, it means the same thing: replacing the doors, drawers, and wood running vertically on the sides of the doors (see for more information about kitchen renos).

These are the parts that “face” you. Many people ignore their cabinets because they think updating them means gutting and replacing everything. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In actuality, a resurface replaces about 75 percent of what people see while keeping the frame or “carcass” in place.

Think of it like changing your clothes. You are the same person, but your outfit is new—and cheaper. Installing new door and drawer fronts, new veneers, and new hardware will cost half of what a full gutting will run.

4. Cabinets

When thinking of the aesthetics of your cabinets, try doors and drawers that have a flat panel design. These are sleek, modern, and will pair nicely with the light, simple colors in the space. You may also try glass doors to add depth to the room and highlight what you are storing. These do come with a bigger price tag than the flat panels, but can add much needed sophistication to your space. Looking for a cheaper alternative to resurfacing? Changing the hardware or “cabinet jewelry” might be all you need.

Looking for a cheaper option than replacing your doors? Try some cabinet jewelry; this is the elegant hardware such as knobs and handles that are affixed to your doors and drawers. Just like with appliances, stainless steel is popular. You can’t go wrong with pewter either. Both options should only run you $100 to $200 to update the whole space.

Feeling confident about the look of your walls and cabinets? Let’s examine those countertops. Solid surfaces and pseudo stone counters like Venetian gold or Baltic went out of style in the ‘90s.

Granite is popular now and seems here to stay. Chicago loves granite just as much as any other major market, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the perfect combination of durability and beauty. You can cut food directly on it, rest pots off the stove, and even beat it with a knife, if you feel like it. What’s more, Granite comes in a variety of colors, which makes it ideal for the focal point of your kitchen.

Keep in mind, whatever changes you make to your space—big or small—will affect your ROI. We’ve identified tried and true techniques to consider or use as guidance, but the decision is ultimately yours. While most listings will stay on the market for 3 to 4 months, you can certainly shorten this time, if not increase your ROI, with a few choice upgrades your kitchen!

About the Author: Steve Constable works in the home remodeling industry and graduated in 1999 from Indiana University Bloomington where he studied Fine Arts and English. He enjoys the art and science of home remodeling. In his spare time he also likes to play guitar music and is a fan of the blues. To learn more about Steve’s company on the web visit:

Here’s a sample of Steve’s work (for a celebrity):







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