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How much do I cosmetically fix up our kitchen to sell?
kitchenstumped
January 3, 2013 in Design Dilemma
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.
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designideas4me
nice views.. where do you live? what happened with the wear after you redid the counter? I cant tell.
0 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 3:18PM
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kitasei
And yet there may be someone out there like me who thinks your red kitchen is striking and fun. Wouldn't you excite any buyer by having agents present the kitchen as is with an offer of a credit to upgrade the appliances and/or cabinets as THE BUYER likes? And if they want to move into a house already finished, you could have them all installed between contract and closing They would get a brand new kitchen with warranties and the fun of choosing colors and hardware.
4 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 3:18PM
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elklaker
I think that you leave it as is. I see no point in putting money in a remodel that would most likely not pay off. Address mechanical issues over aesthetic. I personally think that the kitchen is cool. When the time comes to sell, make sure the house is spotless, decluttered and priced right.
Good luck.
18 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 3:20PM
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judianna20
Leave it; clean it so that it is spotless; remove everything that you consider decor; clear off the counters. The only thing that might turn me off is if your counter top burners are yukky. I would replace that.
2 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 3:25PM
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patriciarhall
a stadger would remove all of the refrigerator pics, alll of the counter top stuff including the pile behind the sink, edit to a bare minimum the items showing in the open cabinet, remove the platters from over the cabinet, remove the clock, hide the waste can, and add a big clear bowl of faux apples as a counter decor and bamboo shades on the windows. Try these steps yourself and ask a realtor to look at it again. Best of luck in your next move!
6 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 3:31PM
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2dogssashatess
Hello. You have lovely large windows and a great view:) I am pretty conservative in my tastes but i think yoú're red kitchen looks fun. if I was a buyer I would love the windows and views so much the cupboards wouldn't matter. I think the advice you have been given to declutter should be listened to.
I would not remodel the kitchen as you do not know the future buyer's tastes. My parents remodelled a ktichen prior to sale and the new owners ripped it out straight away as it was not their taste!
2 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 3:42PM
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wmpj
I will say it is a gamble. Whatever money you put into the kitchen you may not get back but it could be the difference of whether or not you sell your house. The red cabinets are distracting and really take away from the beautiful windows and view you have. You could buy inexpensive stock cabinets from Lowe's or Home Depot in espresso or white which will work with your floor. Then, use the hardware you have now on the new cabinets and install a modern looking laminate countertop. Something you may want to do is go to Realtor.com and search for houses in your area that are similar to yours to see what you're competing against. That may give you an idea of what you'll need to do to get your house ready to sell.
1 Like   January 3, 2013 at 4:12PM
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PRO
House of Holland - TX
Some of the best advice I've ever gotten from a real estate pro was to have them take me to see 3-5 homes in my area that I would be competing with in my price range/ ammenities. This gave me a realistic goal of what needed to be done and what didn't. If yours is truly a "starter" there will be some young couple out there who will come in and fall in love with your kitchen the way it is. Any first time buyer will be concerned with what would come back on an inspection report, not the cosmetics. Just make sure it all looks clean and "new" and be done with it. Good luck!
10 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 4:28PM
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PRO
Interiors International, Inc.
With the description you gave of your home the kitchen is the least of your problems. I love the red kitchen. I can't be the only one. I had a client spend a small fortune to have me do one for them. It is one of the kitchens that people compliment all the time. You should fix the counter top if it is cracked or flaking or something equally as bad. It would be nice to have new appliances. I doubt though it will raise the price much. Who knows in 2 years black might be hot and everyone will be sick of stainless. Hold tight until your ready to sell and test the market. I have to admit I would rather by a house with an old kitchen I didn't like.I wouldn't feel bad about tearing it out. If it had a new kitchen that is OK but not really what I would have chosen. I would feel like I had to just live with it or I would be wasting money.
8 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 5:15PM
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tennisanyone
I would play up the red like it was intentional with red plants around the outside of the window and red placemats. and a chadalier over the table. I might paint it a dark gray to compliment your floor too. Right now all you see it red because the walls are white. I would replace the countertop if it is in poor shape. Someone will come in and love your kitchen or maybe even hate it but I would not put alot of money into fixing it up. I would play up the positives like the windows with drapes or blinds and staging it for a sale. I would also put a little red in the adjourning rooms too.
3 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 5:42PM
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Susan Chandlee
Clean off the counter tops. Place some greenery on top if the cabinet, Can't see colors in backsplash, pick out one of those colrs and add punches of the color, a clock, a few dishes in the open cabinet
0 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 5:58PM
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PRO
m.a.p. interiors inc. / Sylvia Beez
There's nothing wrong with red cabinets in modern design. The cabinets look fine to me. What bothers me is the floor. It doesn't go with the rest. I would go with a black slate tile and replace the fridge with a stainless steel one. Buyers want stainless steel appliances and replacing them will give you the most return on your investment!
2 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 6:08PM
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feeny
You've done a great job updating it from the original style. I wouldn't touch the cute red cabinets. I think it looks quite fun and attractive, and some buyers will like it. If your paint job on the counter doesn't last then put in new counters (Gray, black, and white are all good, and they don't absolutely have to be granite). SS appliances would also be good, especially if you are updating the appliances anyway.
1 Like   January 3, 2013 at 6:14PM
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Grace Reed
I'm a kitchen designer and a former Realtor so I have lots of thoughts about this!
1. If you look past the red, ultra contemporary look, you have a very functional kitchen with good quality frameless cabinets. You've done a great job of making the red, contemporary look work better for you. Whatever you do...don't tear them out!
2. Listen to the "potential buyers" for your house - your friends. They've said they'd turn around and walk back out and they're reaction is dead on. Buyers won't be able to see beyond "contemporary", "cold", and "red". You want to "rule in" 90% of the buyers not rule them out. So, the door and drawer fronts need to go.
3. Replace them with a professionally finished Shaker door style in a soft white so the contemporary white interiors (vs. light maple) won't be as noticeable. Replacement doors can be purchased at Home Depot and other places. The investment you make can make the difference between not selling at all vs. making more than you would have otherwise.
You're very smart to be anticipating the re-sale value of your house in advance. I'm doing the same thing. The realtor in me won't let the designer in me put in the kitchen I really want! A contemporary one! I know it's not really right for this house and bad for re-sale. Good luck!
0 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 6:21PM
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Natalie
I like the red---you could leave it as is or paint the lowers---BUT I do think the counter needs to be changed out. Perhaps you can strip off the paint... A different backsplash and light fixtures... Pics for inspiration---gray lowers/wood top, dark lowers/white top. You could leave all red, but do change the counter and backsplash to something shown in photo #2. Good Luck!

[houzz=
4 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 6:23PM
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Grace Reed
I just read some more comments and I'm struck by how positive they are. Even from the person who said they are pretty conservative. I wonder if it's because we spend hours on this site?! I suspect the general public wouldn't be as complimentary!
0 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 6:28PM
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PRO
Chroma Design
You will wait a depressingly long time to find that one special buyer who just so happens to love red kitchens in a starter home that needs other work. Seriously.
Remodel, period. And enjoy your efforts for the remaining time you're there.
I swear, stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops are the only words realtors know. They should print it on their business cards. But that's not the only way.
Maximize your return on investment. Keep it simple and inexpensive. White cabinets, white appliances, high quality laminate countertops. Your back splash is very nice, good job.
2 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 6:32PM
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njcook53
I think going to some open houses in your area / price range is a great idea! It's just what I plan on doing when I sell a house later this year. If the cabinets are in great shape I would consider the Rustoleum cabinet refinishing system. I used it on my bathroom vanity and was very pleased. It has some depth to the color when you use the glaze (step #3). Can you remove the paint from the corian counters? They looked lovely in the first photo. Good luck.
1 Like   January 3, 2013 at 6:45PM
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feeny
Well, all I can say is that I'd buy a house with a red kitchen before I'd buy a house with the ubiquitous builder's grade oak kitchen with arched top cabinets from the same era. And it feels like every fourth poster on Houzz has just bought a house with that kitchen and is getting ready to paint it.
17 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 6:54PM
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trudyb501
Kitchens and baths sell homes you will have to give up big bucks because of the kitchen. Upgrade applicances the cost will sell the faster for more. Everything off the counters. Take the realtors' advise. Do what they say. This is their career. Look at other open houses in the area for ideas and check out builder homes too.
0 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 6:59PM
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2dogssashatess
Working on kitchens is very expensive. Personally I would just de clutter and make sure I had priced the home realistically.I agree with interiors international that if one doesnt like a kitchen in a house and it is old, one feels better about ripping it out and replacing it. I have gone into kitchens which were newish and more blandish and didnt like them and felt guilty at the thought of ripping them out as I was paying for that reno I didn't like. I reckon if your friends said they didnt like the red kitchen and it would put them off buying the house they need their needs examined. People on this website are very interiors conscious and we seem to find it acceptable:)

Real estate agents always want a quick and easy sale for themselves. They don;t care how much money you spend or whether you get your money back.
7 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 7:00PM
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PRO
Linda
I would leave the kitchen cabinets as they are. I would spend the money on painting the walls, putting some type of Roman shade or blinds, and possibly updating the stove. You can update the kitchen without buying new if you find a high end used appliance. Recently my local ReStore had a slide in 30" stainless steel Thermador range for $400...talk about a cheap wow factor and probably a great stove to cook on while you're waiting to sell. Repaint or touch up the countertops as necessary. Add in a couple of really eye-catching accessories -a vintage bright yellow or turquoise pottery piece or two on top of the cabinets maybe.

I don't think you would get the money back out from a kitchen upgrade, especially not if you count the value of the time you will spend selecting the new kitchen, cleaning out the old kitchen, moving everything into the new kitchen, the time and cost of eating out when you have no usable kitchen, etc. You might get the dollar cost of the materials back, but not the true cost of your life's energy. You bought that house despite the kitchen and someone else will also. Plus higher sales price equals more commission, higher fees, and fewer potential buyers. I would rather have a high quality out of style element than some quickie update someone did on the cheap.

what is starter house price where you are located?
4 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 7:00PM
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Micki Samson
We have moved 10 times in 25 years and I have found that either you sell your house soon after listing, or it seems to take forever. I would leave the kitchen as is and only make major renovations if it doesn't sell right away when you list it. You DEFINITELY need to make sure there is no clutter (not that you have much anyway) on the counters when you show it, not even the toaster ovens, etc and that it is spotlessly clean to show off the kitchen itself.

I'm not a big fan of that style kitchen but it wouldn't turn me off if it was in tip top condition!
2 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 7:14PM
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Jayme H.
In my experience most "starter" houses need work, and in fact I think buyers expect it. We did. Investing in a new kitchen is costly. I would explore repainting options before replacing.
1 Like   January 3, 2013 at 7:44PM
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crowinghen
I would NOT spend money on the kitchen except I do like the bamboo shade idea and perhaps painting the lowers a grey--

I agree with this:
I would rather have a high quality out of style element than some quickie update someone did on the cheap.


Personally I like the kitchen- it's so NOT boring!
Good luck with your sale!
5 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 7:46PM
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Grace Reed
I don't want to offend anyone but I'm concerned about the input being given. Please, please get advice from the most experienced, knowledgable and professional realtor(s) in your area and follow it. There is a lot of strategy and psychology that goes into selling a house. This is a fabulous forum for suggestions and opinions on how to carry out that advice. But, when you're selling a home, you need the opposite of personal opinion from a specialized group of people. (As wonderful as we all are!). And, we wouldn't use this for medical, legal or investment advice would we? So have fun here as we are, but ultimately, protect your investment by listening to the pros about what will make your home sale-able. Take care and thanks for posting your dilemma!
0 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 8:23PM
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Grace Reed
And I gotta' say. I'd like to see how many of us would a) want to live with a red kitchen, b) be lining up to buy it and c) be putting in a red kitchen several years before we intend to sell it! From a re-sale perspective, I can't think of anything worse than a red kitchen except an orange one! And that's coming from someone who loves this kitchen and orange ones, too!
0 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 8:52PM
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onthefence
I'm 100% in the leave it red camp.

Would I go searching tomorrow for a house with a red kitchen? Probably not. If I found this kitchen, would I embrace it? You betcha.

Yes, there are changes to be made. Most likely, when the house is eventually sold, the buyer will at the very least replace appliances. When the time comes to sell, if you haven't already had to replace them, make an allowance in your selling price.

I completely agree with Feeny - I'd love this kitchen any day in favor of builders grade anything or worse, builders grade anything painted white!

FWIW, the only change you've made where I preferred the original is the countertop. I preferred the lighter shade. It's hard to tell the condition of the original though so this may have been a 'no choice' modification.
0 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 9:25PM
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apple_pie_order
The homeowner says it will still be a few years before they put the starter home on the market. I'd say do nothing until then. Then get advice for local real estate agents and go look at competing houses. I happen to love the red because it has a great wow factor. I think the original Corian looked better than the painted over result, but that is water under the bridge, and the current homeowner likes it. In a few years, something else will be in style and who knows what it will be?

What starter house buyers do not have (usually) is extra cash for buying new appliances. There is no way to predict now if you can recoup your money on expensive redos of the laminate finish. You certainly are very unlikely (statistically) to get your money back on new cabinets. I've seen a lot of low-budget-grade remodels made just before selling get thrown out completely by the new owners.

It is definitely worth getting a quote for new doors and drawer fronts in some anodyne wood finish or painted wood finish. And it is also worth getting a quote for a complete suite of starter house level appliances (GE or Kenmore or Frigidaire, not Thermador).
1 Like   January 3, 2013 at 9:47PM
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designideas4me
I bet your even more confused now and wish you never asked...lol

I know the feeling.
2 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 9:52PM
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PRO
Linda
I can think of millions of things worse than a red kitchen like
A tiny kitchen with a single 24x24 inch countertop (my son's prior apt)
A kitchen without a window
A ramshackle kitchen with different height counters and mismatched cabinets
A kitchen where the refrigerator is in a different room or on the back porch
A kitchen with an eighth inch gap between the pieces of a mitered countertop corner
A kitchen with a shallow, tinny sink and plastic "chrome" faucet
A kitchen with greasy, grimy cabinets

Yep, those are all kitchens I've seen recently in starter homes in my area...bring on red!

True, we aren't professional home sellers, but Houzz users are home buyers. I sold two houses in 2012, one with a very nice kitchen and one with a rather odd kitchen with uppers starting at 60", a 6 foot sliding glass door in a room 7 1/2 feet wide and a powder blue sink. And the buyers with the blue sink were thrilled...it was clean, had an excellent faucet and no way could they have afforded a new Kohler cast iron sink in white. In fact, they were thrilled with the opportunity to buy that starter house despite the less than perfect kitchen because it was their kitchen with a door to their back yard for their kids to enjoy. Starter house buyers buy houses they can afford, quirks and all
3 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 9:57PM
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greengirl
I may have missed it but how about refacing? I think a starter home just means that it is less expensive and usually smaller. So indeed get a few pro opinions. But also weigh investment vs return if you plan on selling. As you can see from responses, its a tough call. Check out the local comps. Go to open houses. Get a feel for the market. Also find out what actually sold and see if you can get the info. GL
0 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 10:02PM
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jagood
You asked for opinions regarding the red kitchen - I think it all depends on a lot of factors that will be intersecting when you get ready to sell. Other problems in your home may result in a low-ball offer no matter what you do in the kitchen. I think it would be worth your money to hire a home inspector and identify all of the problems that need to be addressed before you make a decision about your kitchen. Map out the factors that intersect in making a home buying decision - condition, location, and price. There may be something you need to address that is far more important than the color of your kitchen cabinets. After you get this info, talk to the best real estate professionals in your area and get their advice regarding return on investment for various fixes, including kitchen redo, and they should be able to show you the proof behind their opinions.
4 Likes   January 3, 2013 at 10:11PM
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kitasei
Another question to ask those realtors: what difference does an electric vs gas stovetop make in your market? Buyers have imagine when it comes to changing the color of cabinets and counters, and they think "oh, we can just paint those ourselves!" (little do they know!) But few would realize that they could easily convert electric to gas with a propane tank. Without suggesting that you make the change, just educate yourself about the option, including energy savings, and make sure the agent you select knows about it. Likewise for a wood floor. Of all the aspects of the first renovation I did, I was most surprised by how inexpensive it was to have a beautiful wide-board wood floor laid. It cost less than the window treatments, less than the hardware on the doors, less than some pieces of furniture. And to think how I almost walked away from a house with a floor I didn't like..
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 1:59AM
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Jayme H.
Maybe this idea is stupid, but that thought isn't enough to stop me...How about removing the uppers...putting in open shelving/then repaint and/or resurface bottom cabinets? Prob. would be much less expensive. I don't know if I would upgrade appliances before a sale, in what u describe as a "starter house".
2 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 8:05AM
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Natalie
As I said, paint the lowers, strip the paint off the counters, add a backsplash-(glass, white subway, SS) any material which will reflect and bounce light, and update the lighting. Have an allowance for appliances for the new owner, because chances are they'll want to change everything anyway. Good Luck!
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 8:16AM
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Sigrid
If you are going to re-do the kitchen for a sale, you need to have a budget and have a very good idea of what will add to the value of your house. Not just "get rid of the red" but the quality and cost of the replacement and how much it will add to the value of your house. Do the research, know the numbers and then decide if it's worth it.

While your friends say they'd walk out if looking at that kitchen, they aren't in the market for a house.

When I was looking to buy in Britain 15 years ago, there was a mania for trading up by renovating and reselling. Kitchens were a standard room that was redone. While some of the renovations were nice, a lot weren't. I paid attention to kitchen cabinet quality, since I figured new, cheap cabinets would look lousy in 5-10 years.
3 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 8:40AM
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PRO
Susan Jablon Mosaics
Hi kitchenstumped!
First of all, I think your kitchen is awesome! It's so fun and unique! Unfortunately, I completely understand what the realtors you've spoken to are saying. Most people would not want to deal with this kitchen, as fabulous as it is. Just from what I've noticed about what is popular today, you would be best served painting your cabinets white. I wouldn't bother refacing or replacing them, white is very popular and clean, modern lines are better than overly traditional wooden cabinets. Keep the hardware and the backsplash, and if you can afford it, it may be a good idea to upgrade the appliances to stainless. A lot of people look at appliances that are not stainless and automatically see 'outdated' even if they're brand new. As for the counter tops, granite is very popular, and a dark color like what you've already got going on would be a good idea, dark counters contrasting with white cabinets is another popular look currently. I've also noticed that the trend is to shy away from a natural stone counter with too much movement. Quartz is becoming more and more popular as a counter top as well, and I'm not sure, but I believe that granite and quartz are pretty comparable as far as price is concerned. Below are images of Cambria's granite Durham, and Silestone quartz in Dinux. Just some ideas and input for you, good luck!
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 8:50AM
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Jayme H.
I have bought and sold several homes. The kitchens were a consideration. The market in the area will help determine if it's cost effective to make changes before a sale. In the market we live in, there is a shortage in middle class housing for families. In turn, houses still sell regardless if they need work or not. Common sense and gathering professional opinions from people who have nothing to gain from your sale would be a good idea. I am all for making cosmetic changes economically, that's where my suggestions are coming from...best of luck!!
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 8:53AM
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kitasei
I I were changing one thing, it would be the backsplash. Without it, the overall look is retro/modern. The tiles you have seem to be an anomalous splash of country.
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 9:02AM
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ward1234
Play up the red. Look for vintage accents. TAKE EVERYTHING of yours out of the kitchen. It looks like you have a more traditional style and it doesn't totally mix. no offense. Just go with the style that is present. some young couple will buy it and LOVE IT. Or tear it out and replace with cheap fixings. OR do all the repairs that you would spend your money on. I like anothers comment. Take the money you would spend to upgrade and add it in as a bonus package as part of the sale. If the house isn't selling and your going to upgrade then just throw in the money to the buyers.
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 9:07AM
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PRO
Design Mode
Your kitchen is bright, has an open concept with great views, and many buyers will love that. I give your kitchen a 10! For buyers who hate red, modern, or nature, there will be another home. Thanks to the internet, people can view real estate houses online, and only serious buyers will request a showing.
When you sell in a few years, small updates can make a difference. Lighting, a cool new faucet, and minor trendy decor additions will show your home's best assets. It is important to neutralize, clear clutter, repair & maintain when you are ready to sell.
The cupboards are livable for present use, and easy to customize for the future. You neutralized the floor and backsplash. Don't worry!
2 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 9:11AM
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retro_modern
I like the red cabinets and I think the handles you put on them look great. If you're going to refinish I would redo the countertops where you painted it, change the white paint color on the walls, the red/black/white scheme makes it look more dated. I would also update the appliances to stainless steel, which would be the #1 change I would do. Buyers can change other things to their taste, but most people like stainless steel appliances so why not go ahead and do that. If it's a starter home it goes to say they will do some remodels and repairs anyway, why not just let them change it to their taste or go with an option to give them an appliance credit or upgrade credit.
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 9:16AM
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Sue Ann Stevens
I think the original backsplash had the red in it and the re-do seems to be gray or gray-green? Whatever the 2nd pic--that looks perfect with your cabinets as does the new hardware.

Been said before but leave it as is. One brilliant person suggested offering a credit to the buyer for upgrading. YES!!!

The only change I would make into the flooring. It doesn't seem to be the same as in the lively dining area. A nice darker gray tone set on the 45 degree angle would look nice.

If you take everything off the walls, off the countertop and be absolutely SPARE with eye-popping items in the corner cabinet, the kitchen will look great and "on purpose" which would appeal to buyers.
Wait for appliances--like was mentioned, black may come back in and stainless on the way out in a couple of years.
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 9:59AM
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jagood
You know, there are countless posts on Houzz where people begin by saying - "We just bought this house and I hate the _______. What can I do to make it better?" This seems to support the idea that people do buy homes that don't completely satisfy them. So perhaps we should be seriously asking these people what factors convinced them to buy a home that they want to immediately change. Price?
2 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 11:50AM
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kitchenstumped
Wow, I came back after 24 hours and found more than 40 responses. So positive, useful, and helpful--you guys are great! You've given me a lot to think about; I'm going to print it all out to read and show my husband. To put it mildly, no one answer, is there? But probably the least sexy advice—wait; bring in an inspector and get a sense of where the real issues are, besides the kitchen; then trust what a future local realtor advises—is what we should do next. There's only so much more money we want to keep putting into the place, so maybe the buyer will get a deal and go to town with their own kitchen reno.

Two extra bits of info: "starter" homes in my area are selling for around $400,000 (we bought 15 years ago for $260K and have put another $100K into it over the years). And I had a cabinet refacer stop by today and he gave me a quote of $5400 for Shaker-style white or cherry facing. Along with a new counter and new stainless appliances, I figure it would cost around $15,000. And that doesn't include painting, lighting, wall treatments, and new floor for some future fussy buyer! So I'll have to do a cost/benefit analysis considering that some of the other flaws of the house are irremediable (did I mention the sloping driveway & backyard and that there's only 2 legal BRs—the 3rd one is on the lower level and no CofO o-: )

Well, I know at least one thing: declutter when the time comes. Maybe I'll also see if I can remove the black on the counters (doubtful). Thanks again to all past and future posters for your wonderful input!
4 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 12:31PM
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jagood
Maybe this will be of some help...
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Marilyn Wilkie
The young buyer of today has different tastes from those of just ten years ago. They like retro, they like color and they want to have fun stuff. Keep it red and spend the money on something that would really make a difference. If those cabinets were cheaply made it might make a difference, but it is easy to see that they aren't. As someone said, I would choose your kitchen over those builder's grade oak cabinets any day.
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 2:00PM
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The Frugal Parisian
Under the circumstances I say go with it. Add a fun modern wallpaper (whitebackground with bold red pattern) and hope someone with absolutely fall in love with it
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 2:10PM
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Linda
I really wonder about a market where starter homes have new cabinets, stainless appliances and granite countertops. Around here, a lucky starter house buyer would find a kitchen with matching cabinets with drawers that open correctly, neutral countertops that aren't chipped or nicked, something more than sheet vinyl flooring and appliances all of the same color, even if that color is biscuit or black.

I think of a starter house as something a young couple with two blue color jobs can afford without resorting to bringing in a relative to help with the bills. So, my idea of a starter house kitchen is one with an attractive paint job on the walls, clean and uncluttered counters, reasonable number of cabinets in a functional layout with safe appliances. Anything more than that is just icing on the cake.
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 4:12PM
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kitasei
Thanks for the perspective, Linda. Would anyone else like to retire the term "starter" home? I find it deeply offensive. It suggests there is universal starting line. Hardly!. And it suggests that we all follow an upward trajectory in our shelter. Hardly! Many of us downsize and downgrade as life and aging throw curve balls. It makes sense to describe housing markets in terms of size, lifestyle, neighborhoods, price points. It does not make sense to describe them in terms of the aspirations of their occupants. If you can't imagine someone feeling as if they'd gone to heaven if they were so lucky to RETIRE to a $400,000 home with a gorgeous red kitchen - then you're really missing the market.
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 6:57PM
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apple_pie_order
Making the third bedroom legal is likely to affect the selling price far more than refacing the kitchen cabinets. I suggest you get a very experienced contractor and an inspector in to see what needs to be done to get that Certificate of Occupancy. There may be fire code, entrance/egress, or fire wall issues to be addressed. Go down to city hall and get copies of all the permits on file. It'll be interesting reading.
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 7:26PM
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bonnieth
I just did a modern kitchen redo and love your red cabinets, the large window and the barstools. Replace the appliances with stainless steel and remove all of the items from the countertop except for a stainless steel bowl of green apples and a couple of green plants in the window.
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 8:10PM
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janishill
Why not take a poll and see how many like the red kitchen cabinets over 70's-80's oak cabinets? Betcha the red will win!
3 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 8:10PM
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calikym
I like it and wouldn't change anything except de-clutter. There are many possibilities, and when I look at this kitchen, I can imagine them. :)
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 8:14PM
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Linda
kitasei, I did not mean to offend anyone with my comments and I am sorry that my response did not adequately convey the point I alluded to and you addressed more directly than I. Smallest house and/or cheapest price does not necessarily define a starter house in my mind although there is obviously a correlation there. Certainly downsizing is a different animal than downgrading and choosing to live in a particular property is a different matter than it being all one could hope to afford.

Since we all come from vastly different marketplaces, I asked about the price of starter homes (and accidently missed the reply) to get a feel for the reasonable expectations of buyers in that particular marketplace. I can't expect to directly translate my experience with starter house kitchens to that poster's situation. I live in a locality where starter homes are all about functionality, size, price and condition teamed with a few undesirable features which might be truly tiny bedrooms (8 x 9), single bath, no garage, no basement, almost no lot, busy street etc. Those houses are ones I describe as starters, houses which meet the most basic needs of the buyer but don't set anyone's heart aflutter.

My marketplace is trying to provide the nicest affordable housing I can for people on modest incomes. And, yes, I believe that my buyers are defined by their aspirations, not their lifestyles as for many of them home ownership is a dream and a life goal, not an expectation. Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 8:25PM
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Kathryn Peltier Design
Wow, lots of comments here, but I guess I'll just add to the fray! Your house looks like it has a definite modern style, so I think that the slab front cabinets, along with the pulls you selected, are completely appropriate. Unless I am missing something, there is nothing about what I am seeing that says "Shaker" or anything traditional. I, too, like the red but I also have to admit that I'm not sure I would really want to live with it. I know that realtors always want everything neutral - which drives me nuts - but if you decide to do something with the cabinets, you CAN paint them. I'm not sure about white - would the whole room wash out without any color? What about keeping some of the red but reducing it judiciously - possibly relaminate the back of the peninsula in a matching white or st. st. and add st. st. frame frosted glass doors to the two big wall cabinets in the middle. Perhaps there are some others which could be redone, but I can't tell from what you've posted. Another option might be a dark espresso stained wood, I don't think it's the red itself - it's the amount of it.

I have to say that I liked the old, lighter countertops better - I think the white and red feels more modern than the red and black (kind of retro). You will have to see what new counters would cost. If your counters didn't have a rounded edge, I would say that you could use a granite tile. I would go with a white, whether man made or maybe even a marble. I wouldn't spend a lot of money, whatever you do. If you do put new countertops in, however, I would consider switching the sink and the dishwasher. It seems odd to me that the sink looks into a shelf and the DW has the view! If you want to spend some money, put in a good undermount sink and great faucet.

Again, I wouldn't do it now, but I do think that appliances in st. st. - or whatever the latest and greatest is in a few years - might really help. This is kind of a personal bias, though. I'm just not a big fan of black appliances. If brand new homebuyers on HGTV are to be believed, they ALL want st. st. appliances more than they want a particular cabinet style or color.

In the final analysis, I tend to go with those who say to wait until you are closer to the actual sale to decide what and how much to do. Unless the market does a miraculous turnaround, I definitely wouldn't put a whole new kitchen in, no matter what any realtor says. In order to make the best decision on how much to spend and where, you are going to need a much more immediate pulse on the market in your neighborhood, too.
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 9:34PM
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onthefence
FWIW, there's another thread active on Houzz this evening by someone who just bought their home and hates the granite and backsplash. Per her post, the granite and splash were put in new to sell the home.

IMO this is yet more proof that trying to appease "The Buyer" doesn't work simply because "The Buyer" isn't a collective group-think.
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 9:47PM
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onthefence
Re: removing the black on the counters - you may want to find one of the Corian installers in your area and get a quote for restoration. Or, perhaps try sanding it yourself in an inconspicuous place. Google corian restoration and you'll see some tips. Unless the material is actually cracked or melted, it may be possible to sand it back to the original color. Corian does have faults - but it's remarkably forgiving in a lot of ways.
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 9:59PM
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designideas4me
70's and 80's oak? My house is 2004 so why did I get stuck with oak cabinets? Oh maybe its that 30 year cycle like in fashion where everything seems to come back into style.
0 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 10:28PM
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yvonnecmartin
I like the red cabinets and second the suggestion to find out what it would take to make the third bedroom legal. It would probably cost less than a kitchen remodel.
2 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 10:45PM
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ccwatters
Just thought I would add one more suggestion I don't think has been mentioned yet.
A kitchen reno is not a convenient thing to live through, and you cannot even be sure what style cabinets will appeal to potential buyers even if you do go ahead and replae the red.....a lot can change in kitchen trends by 3 years from now.
The current red kitchen, however, could be that deal-brreaker when buyers narrow things down between multiple houses.
One way to keep your house in the running while not having to do a thing to your kitchen is to simply price your home at a firm price with the addition of a $10-15,000 "allowance" (detailing the refacing, countertop, appliances, etc. you mentioned). The allowance, however, would be contingent on if they offer actual "asking price". The real estate agent can explain that the allowance is for refacing (as opposed to replacement) since the layout is functional, and that you like the kitchen the way it is but realize red is not for all buyers.
This way, you don't have to live through a remodel someone may not like---or worse---tear out anyhow.
The key in this being successful would be to make sure you priced your home fairly (don't automatically inflate asking price by $15k to make up for the allowance). Afterall, most buyers come in offering $10-$15k less than asking price in the first place. This could eliminate the whole back-and-forth negotiations, sell your house quickly, and save you the hassle / dust / inconvenience of renovating.
You could also add allowances for your other issues too (septic, etc), contingent on that asking price.
3 Likes   January 4, 2013 at 10:52PM
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designideas4me
well let me tell you if you expect to own anything resembling a house..............on a piece of actual land..in San Diego Or San Francisco you better damn well hope your blue collar starter home job pays 100,000 a year cuz you aint buying anything remotely termed as a house unless you have 20-30 percent down and excellent credit and make enough to pay the mortgage on a $350,000 shack . If a blue collar job will get me then than damn I wish I had that job. I had to move out of San Diego where I wanted to stay because there are no starter homes less than that even for a tiny or old place in the worse part of the city. Its all relative. I dont know where you live Linda or what houses start at where you are but the market is very different throughout the country.
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 10:59PM
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Jenny Wedin
My understanding is you will get the best bang for your buck with kitchen & bathroom renovations. Keep everything neutral, and that makes it easy for a prospective buyer to envision his or her personal decor preferences in that space.
I think it's beautiful as is, but not everyone will like a "red" kitchen. If you plan on selling, neutral colors will expand the range of buyers and that doesn't mean you have to drain your pockets. Reface the cabinets, with woodgrain, white, or cream and replace countertops with a nice quality Corian that resembles a granite or marble look. When I think of neutral colors, I think of tans, grays, whites, creams, and pale primary colors.
Make it easy for the purchaser to imagine his or her belongings to match the kitchen, seamlessly. Most homebuyers don't mind minor changes, but the size of your market drops, understandably, with major renovations.
With a kitchen remodel, you will see that it is money well spent, and if done right, your home's value will increase.
Let me just say, once more, I LOVE it! It's got the soda -shop chic look!
1 Like   January 5, 2013 at 12:40AM
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Jenny Wedin
I agree that you should consult a realtor, and any realtor will tell you a RED kitchen is fine-- if you plan on keeping the house. You will DECREASE the number of potential buyers SUBSTANTIALLY if you leave kitchen the way it is.
Many people are commenting on how much they like the look, but ask one of them if they plan on buying your house when you sell. Too many people will see the red cabinets and say "NO" and move on to something neutral, with the ability to make it their own for a small amount of money spent on accents. While many of us personally like the way the kitchen looks on our computer screen, we all know eventually the novelty will wear off, and the red cabinets will have to go.
When selling a house, appeal to the MAJORITY, not the MINORITY, and everyone involved will be happy.
By the way--- there is no rule that states the higher the price, the better the look. Laminate countertops are substantially less expensive than granite, quartz, or marble and there are some very nice options available at all of the popular big- box home improvement stores.
2 Likes   January 5, 2013 at 1:23AM
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Kathryn Peltier Design
One more thought here: we once looked at a very, very cool mid-century house. We loved everything about it except the new kitchen, of which our realtor was exclaiming the virtues when we walked into it. Ugh, Ugh, UGH. It was AWFUL and we walked away from the house because we knew they weren't going to bring the price down to make it worth our while to RE-do the kitchen. I would have much rathered that they maybe spruce up the original, let the price reflect that, and let us make the decisions.

What year was your house built? If it has any historical significance. there will be a buyer, and most likely a buyer who wants to "restore". If it is more generic, then your pool of buyers will probably increase, but will also increase the number of potential buyers with little vision. I'm not trying to sound snarky here, but that's who the realtors are suggesting you appeal to. So it's all a balancing act.

Again, I think it would really behoove you to wait until you get closer to your selling point to make big changes. How about this: as I outlined previously, change SOME of the cabinet finishes to dark wood, white, or st. st. with a longer term plan in mind to perhaps get rid of the red completely by refacing if the market demands that you do so. That way, you can work in small increments - both from a financial and design standpoint - to maximize your profit. In the meantime, you will have the benefit of living in a kitchen you like more. Do something about the countertops (this would be the time to add a new sink and faucet), add the finishes I've suggested, perhaps some new pendant lights. Appliances can be changed the day before you list it, if it comes to that!

Back to another topic: why is your basement bedroom not legal? Egress issues, or simply closet space? Whatever it is, having this 3rd bedroom will net you more than pouring money into a kitchen remodel that the next buyer may not like!
0 Likes   January 5, 2013 at 6:43AM
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Ramona
I think the corian looked much better before you tried to improve it. Personally, I love my milk glass solid surface and think granite is insane. Solid surface is now more expensive than granite where I live because granite is now so popular you can get deals on it. It wasn't when I built. Leave the granite in the ground people where it can be used by future generations for something more permanent than a kitchen which will live 20-30 years. I would not redo the kitchen. If these are high quality cabinets, it is not ecologically sound to trash them for an inferior product. Build the kitchen credit into your sale price. People will walk out, but unless you are desperate to sell really fast, I wouldn't do it. It is true that houses sell immediately or not for a long, long time, but with your offer to redo the kitchen, I don't see a real downside for an intelligent buyer. Wouldn't you like to sell to someone with smarts rather than someone who has no vision?

Corian can be sanded. I'd return the counters to the original, but that will be a mess for sure.
1 Like   January 5, 2013 at 7:21AM
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Marilyn Wilkie
When we redid our kitchen in 2010 I wanted a colorful backsplash of glass tiles. We did that. I did NOT put in granite counters because I do not like most granite counters that I see...many look like someone up-chucked! We chose to save the money we would have spent on those expensive counters and went with black laminate. The next homeowner here can put in the granite counters. I guess what I am saying is don't invest a lot of money into making over your kitchen because you will never see a return on it and someone else may just want to change it. BTW, I liked your original white Corian as well.
1 Like   January 5, 2013 at 8:10AM
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Kathryn Peltier Design
I just picked up a Spring 2013 copy of Well Styled Homes - Kitchens (I think that this is a rather new publications http://www.wellstyledkitchens.com/design-coach/) On page 12 is a RED kitchen with the same pulls as yours!. Some of the upper cabinets have ribbed glass and are lit, and there is another cabinet shown which is st, st, with the same glass. The appliances are st. st. also. Your kitchen is almost up-to-date!
1 Like   January 5, 2013 at 2:43PM
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MAlps
This is an adorable kitchen with loads of personality! Dont touch it
0 Likes   January 5, 2013 at 3:46PM
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thislittlehouse
Wow there are a lot of comments!!!

You have to trust your instincts here. Some people may well love the red kitchen. You need to think about the professional advice you have received, as well as your own assessment - we've only seen a couple of pictures, you have actually lived in the space.

From the photos, it seems that you have gorgeous windows and green views so I would be working overtime to emphasize this - a clean white kitchen will not scream for attention like the red does.

If your gut feeling is that the red is too overpowering then I would paint the cabinetry a clean white colour that would work with the grey floors, and if the budget extends, also replace the countertops (or could you restore the old corian?)

I repainted a 1950's kitchen with laminate paint, and painted the splashbacks with tile paint. Even though the kitchen was still old, it looked fresh and clean with a lick of paint. It was a cheap, fast solution that meant the kitchen would be workable for the majority of people. I blogged about it here if you want to see the change: http://www.thislittlehouse.com.au/hells-kitchen-my-kitchen-rules-the-progress/

Good luck!

:) Elise
1 Like   January 5, 2013 at 3:47PM
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2dogssashatess
beware the tile paint! I tried it in a recent budget kitchen makeover and although it looked good initially
it soon began to peel off. If you are going to DYI tile paint I would do it just before the house goes on the market and try not to use the kitchen till the house sells as I don;t think these tile paints can stand washing/dirt etc
1 Like   January 5, 2013 at 3:54PM
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Designing Richmond
First... great location in the pines! Love the outside-in feel! Here is a different thought... It is common knowledge that most purchasers these days have a hard time imagining the end project. RED will present an issue. To advert this, You could have a kitchen designer make color computer renderings of two or three design options for the kitchen, that are of course striking. Mark up the home enough to give the new owner a "New Kitchen" allowance as a perk...
2 Likes   January 5, 2013 at 4:47PM
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acura_girl66
I love the red cabinets. Lovvvve
0 Likes   January 7, 2013 at 3:20PM
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LM Designers
Leave it as is. Give a budget for a kitchen remodel and let the new owners decide what to do. No reason to spend money that you may not get back and I would much rather pick out what I wanted then have a new kitchen that wasn't my taste.
0 Likes   January 7, 2013 at 4:18PM
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apennameandthata
I only read the first few posts. I agree with what Patricia Hall said about decluttering the kitchen. I like the kitchen. I think that you did a great job with the remodel. I would definitely fix the septic before changing the kitchen. It might be a starter house, but it doesn't look like one to me, from what I saw. I like your lightbulb light fitting, too. Stanless steele appliances would look good (you knew that already becaue you chose the splashback and bin) but I'm not sure what would be worth it either.

You have good friends - frank advice is not easy to get. Unless, you had just told her a home truth and she spat back at you, "Oh yeah? Well, well... well if I was a buyer and I saw your kitchen I would take one look and walk OUT"
0 Likes   January 7, 2013 at 4:49PM
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