Hingham, MA: 9 Ways to Make Your Kitchen a Memorable Real Estate Asset
Prospective home buyers actively looking to buy a home in Hingham, Cohasset, Norwell and other South Shore towns, have a way of remembering houses that has nothing at all to do with addresses. Digits are meaningless. This is because there is not likely to be a deep, emotional connection to a string of numbers or even a street name. Our memory is designed for meaningful information, and meaning comes from emotion.
The notion of “home” evokes countless and particular emotional associations. When real estate agents bring buyers through your home, the buyers, and even the Realtors, will remember your home because of one feature that excited them, pleased them or even offended them. Because each individual reaction is based on an emotional experience, theses memories are meaningful and stored as such.
“You should have seen the pool area! It was absolutely gorgeous!”
“Remember the house with the amazing kitchen we saw a couple of weeks ago?”
“I’ll never forget the cat smell.”
There is always one thing that potential buyers use to define your house, and that stands out the moment it is encountered. This doesn’t mean that excluding the rest of your home is part of the approach. When planning to list your house for sale, it is very important to bring all of your rooms up to a minimum level of appeal before considering further improvements. You want to set the stage for your home to achieve the highest possible level of performance within your budget and time.
Your Realtor will brainstorm with you about this aspect of home staging. Bringing your home space to this minimum appeal level is usually straightforward with suggestions for painting, fixing cosmetic damage, updating your lighting and cleaning. Buyers will not remember your gourmet kitchen against the backdrop of shabby space. Instead, the other rooms will override any beauty, dazzle or elegance.
Once you have the entire house space in good enough order, look for the lowest performing room with the highest visibility. This will likely be the master bedroom, the kitchen, a bathroom, sunroom or outdoor area. It will be the room that presents itself with the most potential for improvements, and the area of your house where you will get the most for your money.
If this room happens to be your kitchen, don’t panic even though renovating a kitchen is one of the more expensive home projects you can commit to. To prepare for the sale of your house, the goal is to increase the appeal to a significant enough degree so buyers will walk away with a picture and description in their heads. Below are some quick and relatively inexpensive updates to your kitchen to make it shine.
Keep in mind that most flat surface areas with the largest space attract attention. Changes to your cabinets, walls, ceilings, counters and floors can make a surprising difference. As always, stay close to neutral colors in any home staging or decor updates. Keeping home improvements within this range will appeal to the largest buyer audience.
1. Kitchen Cabinets
This is probably the largest cosmetic area in any kitchen, and the most time consuming DIY project. Buyers almost always slide open drawers and pop cabinets open. They are looking for functionality, storage, appeal and style. Maybe your cabinets are good enough, well organized, and that their colors and styles are acceptable. If this is the case, skip down to the next section. But if you notice scuffs inside the cabinets, loose, outdated hardware, or cabinet and drawer facings that bring you down, there are some things you can do without replacing all of your cabinets with brand new ones.
There are a number of terms used to describe various cabinet facelifts. Cabinet refacing involves recovering all of the exposed framing and replacing door and drawer fronts to match your newly covered frames. New hinges, knobs, pulls, and molding complete the transformation. This takes the most patience and learning if you take it on as a DIY project. Cabinet resurfacing is another term used for cabinet refacing.
If you and your real estate agent agree that these are worthwhile options, consider looking into replacing some of your cabinet doors with glass fronts, or something more modern. You could even create open shelving where cabinets exist now.
Kitchen cabinet refinishing means that you keep all components of your existing cabinetry and change the color or the finish which is often completed via hand sanding or chemically stripping the existing finish from the wood, then applying new paint or stain.
Painting cabinets is easier than you think, and takes care of multiple imperfections from years of use. If the thought mystifies you, check to see when your local Home Depot has a cabinet painting or refinishing class. Otherwise, choose your workspace!
You want a large enough work space for a work table and the supports needed for all of the cabinet doors to rest on while they dry. As you remove the doors and drawer facings label them so that you won’t forget what goes where. Many a good refinishing job has been ruined by nicks and dings in the re-installation process. Be sure to put all of the cabinet hardware in a large container along with the screws.
Check all of the working surfaces for obvious holes and use window glazing for the smallest holes, and wood putty for the others. Once this dries completely, start with a light sanding, and then aim to sand down any existing finish so that it is smooth. If you are staining, all finish should be removed completely so there are no variations in color. And, when you are done painting one one side, let them dry a day longer than recommended. One more step to preserve your hard work is to use wax paper on the contact points of the cabinet and drawer fronts when you flip it over to paint the other side.
Cabinet hardware is one of the cheapest and easiest things to replace and it can make a surprising difference. Changing out your tired, dark, brass handles and knobs to bright, colorful ceramics or contemporary, brushed steel looks great and changes your tactile experience.
The inside of cabinets and drawers is noticed by home buyers, even if it doesn’t register for you. Since a cabinet is nothing more than a box with doors and drawers, the inside is easy to clean if it is empty. If your cabinets have a light interior, they can be shined up to look as good as new with a determined cleaning. It is not unusual to have visible particle board inside your cabinets and this can be easily painted and will reduce the attention drawn to the contrast between sawdust-colored wood and light interiors.
Consider the cabinet’s edge treatments and molding, and if it needs changing, this is easily accomplished. If you do not have any molding or edging, adding it gives your kitchen a tidy and finished look. Be sure to paint or stain any added molding and trim prior to installation.
2. Kitchen Floors
The kitchen floor is yet another flat surface like your cabinetry, but is not the focal point unless you have a sprawling and expansive kitchen. Certainly, if you have old linoleum with dizzying patterns, replacing it is important. Most buyers view old linoleum as a negative, and busy flooring in general is not appealing. High quality, new linoleum is manufactured with multiple designs and can be a cheap replacement option. Things like bamboo and hardwoods are appealing as well, but the overall favorite among home buyers today is a tile floor in the kitchen.
3. Kitchen Countertops
Once a very expensive kitchen necessity, the prices of kitchen counters has decreased, and innovation in new materials has driven this. If your counter is tired, warped, or discolored, consider an overhaul.
4. Kitchen Ceiling
Your kitchen ceiling is likely to get stained with time. This can, believe it or not, put a damper on all of your kitchen efforts. This is because your ceiling is where the artificial light comes from, and the ceiling surface actually reflects the light down. If it is dark or dingy, the light will be changed. Grab a roller, throw down some tarps and plastic coverings to give your kitchen ceiling a new look. The decision you have to make is what type of paint to use. Flat paints are non-reflective and conceal imperfections in walls, ceilings and other surfaces. This is why the large buckets of ceiling paint are usually filled with flat paint. High-gloss paints magnify imperfections are avoided for large, flat surface paint jobs. Eggshell, or satin and low luster paints, impart more warmth and depth to a room than do flat paints… They also resist stains better han a flat paint.
5. Kitchen Walls
Kitchen walls are often forgotten as a possible improvement point. So much is going on around appliances, cabinets and counters that the walls cease to matter. However, a wall is of course another flat surface that should be considered. Many people fill kitchen walls with papers, reminders, calendars and lists, and it becomes like a vertical desktop. As a homeowner, you will become desensitized to how this looks, but home buyers won’t. Spruce up the wall space by removing all the stuff and stashing it in a desk drawer. Then assess the walls to see if a paint job might revive your kitchen look. If your kitchen space is on the small side, or feels cornered, consider adding a mirror or two, or three, to open things up.
6. Sink Backsplash
What is going on under your cabinets and behind your sink? The backsplash is a small but powerful update option, and the wall space under your cabinets lives in a shadow, so is another forgotten flat space. Keep your backsplash options uniform and simple, no matter what material your use, and be sure that the sealant behind the facets is clean and linear. The types of backsplash choices are endless and new materials arise constantly, so limit your choices to those that will fit in with the rest of your kitchen look. It is a nice finishing touch for the money.
7. Kitchen Theme
Aside from a change to your cabinets and hardware, what else can you see in your kitchen space that is thematic? If you have plants, baskets, ceramics or stacks of things on top of your cabinets, give it an objective look. Adding small lights above cabinets can make the room feel bigger and brighter. Look at any window sills and mainstays you might have on the kitchen table like placemats, plants, pen holders and utensil holders. All of the accoutrements on flat surfaces go into creating the theme of your kitchen.
8. Kitchen Island
The portable kitchen island can be added if your space will accept it. The key is not to rearrange other things to accommodate a portable island. Aside from the utility of providing storage and workspace, islands can be very attractive, if they fit into your layout. You can decide whether or not you will leave this item in the sale of your house, but either way, make it clear to prospective home buyers.
9. Kitchen Lighting
Most kitchen lighting is neutral, but an assessment for dark areas can change the feel of the kitchen space. It is not a huge job to install additional lights from the ceiling when recessed lights are installed. The electrical wiring is there. A hanging fixture to accent the overall kitchen theme on a dimmer can make a noticeable difference, as can the type of bulbs used. Change out your yellow light bulbs for some full spectrum or LED lights. Installing a dimmer for all of your lights can also boost your options. Take out the black metal rims around the recessed lights and see the difference.
DIY workshops are occasionally held at the Home Depot in Rockland, closest to Hingham and many other south shore towns.