Ask the Expert

Kitchen trends

Q: Knowing that 'kitchens sell houses,' what are some of the most cost-effective renovations we can do to create a beautiful and functional kitchen that will sell our home? Are there any trends we should steer clear from that might hinder a sale?

A well-designed kitchen is an invaluable asset to selling your home. Here are five ways to spruce up without breaking the bank:

• The most cost-effective tip of them all: Give your cabinetry, counters, appliances and flooring a meticulous cleaning. If you have tile, be sure to scrub the grout lines! Show potential buyers you take pride in your home!
• For inexpensive updating, consider replacing door and drawer hardware on your cabinets. Hardware is inexpensive, widely available in many styles, and gives older cabinetry an updated look.
• New faucets look and feel fresh, so shop around for a new faucet for your kitchen. If replacing both the faucet and the cabinet hardware, aim to coordinate finishes for a cohesive look.
• Replacing an outdated backsplash can provide a focal point in your kitchen and is a moderately easy DIY project. Consider freshening up the walls with a couple coats of paint to coordinate with the new backsplash.
• Good lighting is essential to any well-designed space. With so many cost-effective and energy-saving light fixtures on the market, consider replacing your outdated fixtures. Fluorescent tube lights date your home – ditch them!

Sometimes a kitchen requires a bit more love than a cosmetic facelift. If your budget allows for a high-impact renovation, consider installing new cabinetry, countertops or flooring.

I am personally not a fan of DIY refinished cabinetry, and refinishing cabinets is a huge trend the last couple of years. New paint or stain dramatically improves the look of older cabinetry, but the average homeowner will be hard-pressed to achieve a durable, even finish without patience, application experience and proper tools. Consider hiring an experienced professional to ensure the highest quality paint or stain application. If you decide to refinish your own cabinets, do lots of research, extensively prep the cabinets and invest in quality materials for your project. I recently walked into a home where both the cabinets and laminate countertops were painted. It was a true DIY nightmare – peeling paint on every surface! The condition of the kitchen called into question whether the homeowners cut corners with other repairs. Don’t let that be you!

Amanda Sargeant, ASID, LEED AP, of Kitchens by Design, is a certified Interior Designer with more than 10 years of experience in both commercial and residential design. Visit