Maximum Value Kitchen Projects: Appliances

Appliances are the workhorses of the kitchen. From the refrigerator to the range, make sure they’re updated and functional with these tips.

Upgrading your kitchen appliances doesn’t mean you have to buy the $9,000 commercial-quality Viking range or the most expensive Sub-Zero refrigerator with French doors. It means giving potential homebuyers the functionality, quality and aesthetic they want without breaking the bank.

The kitchen’s primary function is for preparing and cooking meals, so the room is only as good as its appliances. That’s why appraisal expert Leslie Sellers ranks upgrading appliances as the number-one home improvement project for the kitchen.

Upgrading your appliances will boost your kitchen's appeal and add to your home's value.

CURRENT TRENDS

  • Appliances that are stylish or blend in. Stainless steel is the standard. If you still have white appliances from the 1970s, it will be difficult to get top dollar for your home.

    For those looking for the next big thing, the industry is moving toward appliances that are integrated within cabinetry. Refrigerators and dishwashers are designed with cabinet fronts or panels to create a seamless look for the kitchen. You can even find refrigerators that look just like cabinets. Soon those clunky ventilation hoods will be concealed with paneling as well.

  • Energy efficiency adds value. Appliances typically use a lot of gas and electricity, which translates into high utility bills, so think “eco-friendly” and look for the Energy Star logo.
  • Functional features are ideal, such as flat-top cooking, water filters and dispensers, temperature controls and self-cleaning. Some homeowners are also incorporating electronic entertainment in the kitchen with wall-mount televisions, sound systems and Wi-Fi.

BIGGEST MISTAKE

When it comes to appliances, the biggest mistake is going over the top. “You end up spending too much and don’t recoup the costs when you sell,” says Sellers, who is the president of the Appraisal Institute. “You don’t need to go above and beyond, unless you’re in the high-end market.”

EXPERT TIPS

  • On a Budget: If buying new appliances is out of the question, you can get an updated look by using stainless steel peel-and-stick sheets to cover your appliances.
  • Mid-Range: If you need to replace your appliances, stick with current styles in stainless steel, white or black. If you're looking for color, fire-engine red, cobalt blue, burnt orange and eggplant are popular for stoves and fridges.
  • High-End: Depending on your neighborhood and how much you cook and entertain, it may be worth investing in commercial-quality appliances with functional features. You may also want to add popular built-ins like warming drawers, trash compactors, barbecue grills built into the cooktop and under-cabinet refrigeration for wine.

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