Even a simple kitchen redo can add value — if you know where to put your money


Countertops, backsplashes and new faucets can perk up any kitchen. (Photo courtesy Snappy Kitchens)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Executive Editor


Installing modern new drawer pulls is an inexpensive, simple way to ready a house for the market.

When you wanna spruce up your house — for yourself, or even more importantly sometimes, to get it ready to put on the market — a kitchen makeover is usually a good investment … that is, if you know what to invest in. And if you don’t? That’s why

Mary Kathryn Reese is here.

Reese is co-founder with her partner, Jennifer Sherrill, of Snappy Kitchens, which specializes in turning your scullery space into a showplace.

‘“After the economic downturn, we saw middle-income families cooking in more and eating out less,” Reese says. “One of the byproducts is, even once the economy started to recover, we have seen people” continue to use their kitchens more. The kitchen, as one of the most popular rooms we spend our waking hours in, can turn a house into a home … and help it sell faster.

“Where you can really negotiate [as a buyer] is where a kitchen is really outdated,” she says. “In our experience, a seller’s agent usually tells the seller what to do from a minimum standpoint to minimize your days on the market, but if not — or if you’re a prospective buyer and the seller didn’t make the investment — look at these things.” (For the record: The No. 1 complaint Reese and Sherrill encounter from clients?

Lack of storage and countertop, so anything that adds to those is a plus in their book.)

Cabinetry hardware. “We see a lot cabinets that don’t have hardware like knobs and pulls,” she says, or which just have old or ugly versions. “It is super affordable to update a look with new knobs, and there is a standard on how far apart the screws are, so you can replace hardware you don’t like.”

Countertops and backsplashes. The most common thing we recommend is a new countertop,” Reese counsels. “Many have Formica — we suggest granite or quartz. And we almost always do a backsplash and get rid of that 6×6 tile with the green accent!”

Sink and faucet. Another quick fix for an outdated kitchen? An under-mount sink … and don’t forget to replace the faucet. “Those things usually go together as a solution,” Reese says.

Refinishes. A coat of paint can cover a multitude of sins. “We see oak or ash cabinets stained brown and never touched up from when the house was built, and brown is just not an energizing aesthetic,” Reese says. Painting those cabinets and exposed areas white will make it feel updated and open up the room.

Some things aren’t worth your time or budgets, Reese says, or shouldn’t be priorities at least.

Cooktops. Believe it or not, people almost never replace ovens when selling … and buyers almost always do replace them once they move in. Since they likely won’t close the deal either way, don’t put in the money.

Ceiling lights. Incremental items should probably be low priorities. Thinking of adding can-lights? “It’s easier to replace the fluorescent bulbs in the light box and you can call it a day.”

Popcorn ceiling. If it’s in bad shape, you might need to fix it, but if not, Reese would prioritize removing wallpaper before worrying about what’s overhead. “People look forward more than they look up.”

Under-cabinet lighting. “When people aren’t interested in under-cabinet lighting, I might have that conversation with them three times before I accept their decision,” Reese says. “I don’t see as well as I did 20 years ago, and when I’m prepping something, I want my knives pretty sharp. It really improves your ability to see while you’re doing tasks, and enhances the beauty of the kitchen. And we find a lot of people use them as nightlights.”

For more hints or to book an appointment, visit SnappyKitchens.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 3, 2014.