How much do I cosmetically fix up our kitchen to sell?
We’ve lived with an (inherited) 1988 kitchen with high-quality red laminate cabinets, pale gray Corian counters, and black appliances for 15 years. I didn’t like the red/gray but made the best of it (photo 1). Two years ago, in a small budget makeover, I put bar handles on the cabinets, redid the backsplash with stainless steel tiles, and painted the counters to have a black granite look (it was great for testing out dark counters, not so great for wear and tear). (photo 2)
We’re still a few years away from putting the house on the market, but in the past year I’ve had 3 different realtors look at the kitchen. They all loved the big windows and light in the kitchen (photo 3) and were united in telling me to replace the 3 appliances with stainless steel. But then they each had different advice for the cabinets and counters: 1) rip out and replace the red cabinets with custom wood cabinets + replace the counters with granite (no “best colors” were given to me); 2) reface the laminate cabinets in a neutral wood or white facing + redo the counters in a inexpensive laminate; 3) do nothing; the next people will just rip it out. (Note that we have a “starter” house and don’t expect people with big budgets to buy it.)
So I would like to hear others’ opinions about how much to fix up for a low-cost sale (there’s too many other issues with our house, like oil heat and septic, to get a good price). Friends have told me they would “walk out of” a house with these red cabinets, so it seems like something I have to address. What’s stymied me so far is having to redo a kitchen for mythical other people, not for my taste. In 2013, what is the best “neutral” choice of cabinet colors and counters I should do? (The medium gray ceramic floor is not changing.) Maybe if I get a preponderance of advice in one direction I can choose a course of action. (If your advice is that I should hire a designer, that’s fine, too.) Thanks.