May 13, 2016
Realtors, HGTV, and home magazines often quote numbers on the return home owners receive on their home improvements. A 70% or 80% return on investment for kitchen renovations is a commonly quoted figure. But be careful. Simplistic formulas placing values on renovations are misleading.
Lets examine why these numbers are meaningless using a few examples:
A beat up kitchen that’s 30 to 50 years old was designed in a era when kitchens were usually small and overcrowded with tall cabinetry. Typically, they didn’t have enough countertop and had soffits built over the tops of the wall cabinets. Installing new cabinetry, countertops, and appliances, without updating the kitchen’s floor plan will probably not make your home much more attractive to prospective buyers. Often the new owners would plan on gutting the room you just renovated. Possibly removing walls and soffits, or moving doorways, to change the outdated floor plan you reinvested in. In this case you would most likely get very little of your investment back.
Another example is when homeowners select a style or type of wood that’s very unpopular. Oak cabinets, cabinet doors with arches, or white thermafoil doors are presently so unpopular that any kitchen remodeled in these styles will recoup almost nothing. Outdated stains and paint colors will also severely limit how much of your investment you get back when you sell. Choosing a pink color kitchen cabinet would obviously be unpopular. Choosing a Burgundy stain on a raised panel cherry cabinet might not be obviously out of fashion to people other than kitchen designers. But since that color and style is identified with the 1980’s and 1990’s it also has less resale value.
What types of renovations pay off?
Transforming a kitchen by removing a wall, adding part of another room, or making other major design changes is much more than an update – it can fundamentally change your home. Even simpler but less substantial changes like moving a doorway or raising a window to allow cabinetry and countertop below make dramatic changes in a kitchen. When Main Line Kitchen Design designers eliminate serious problems in prior kitchen layouts, it is actually common for Main Line Kitchen Design customers to get over 300% returns on their kitchen renovations.
And, any additional construction costs for the new floor plan that make a kitchen space work have little impact on what people spend on their complete kitchen. Instead, nearly all overspending occurs on cabinets, appliances, and countertop decisions that break a budget while having a smaller effect on how much a prospective buyer actually likes a particular kitchen.
Being a good kitchen designer means understanding the value of design changes and helping your customers maximizing the impact of the more expensive materials used in their renovation. Less experienced designers and non professionals tend to focus on what matters less, often placing great importance on subtle color differences, brand names, or design preferences that don’t work in a particular space.
Kitchen design is a challenging, and complex profession. And much like Julia Child felt rewarded sharing her love of cooking and fine food, it’s very rewarding creating kitchens that transform homes, maximize their value, and improve the lives of the people using them.
Hoping your kitchen renovation is the best it can be… and of course…
Paul, Ray, Tom, Ed, and Julie
Main Line Kitchen Design