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“Silver Muretto” Kaska porcelain mosaic wall tile in the Florence Series from BuildDirect.

A snazzy kitchen really boosts the appeal of your home. Try these realtor-approved kitchen remodel ideas to get the most bang for your buck.

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Most of us have a love-hate relationship with our kitchen. At the best of times, it’s that sacred place where we can mainline an entire row of Oreos without sideways glances from our colleagues. At the worst of times, it’s our secret shame where dishes pile up when life gets hairy.

No matter how you choose to enjoy your kitchen, one thing’s for certain: the secret to a home that inspires bidding wars? A snazzy kitchen (and bathroom) that appeals to buyer’s tastes—with a potful of mac ’n cheese on the side. But when you’re investing in kitchen renovations in hopes of selling in the near future, it’s often difficult to determine which upgrades will yield the highest return.

Talk to an expert

To get the low-down on what kitchen upgrades sell, I caught up with Sheryl Dawson, an award-winning Realtor and Associate Broker in Vancouver, Canada. Sheryl’s been in the biz for over 26 years, and she’s seen a lot along the way, from carpeted bathrooms to tatty first-generation shag rugs (God help us all). When it comes to kitchens? Sheryl knows what wows potential buyers—and what sends them running for the hills.

Here are a few of Sheryl’s insider secrets for upgrading your kitchen the right way.

Keep it neutral

According to Sheryl, if you’re going to renovate your kitchen, the safest thing you can do is a white kitchen with a shaker door. In her opinion, it’s what she knows will sell, since this style appeals to a wide cross-section in the market. With the help of a designer, you can add “warmer wood touches” successfully. If the buyer wants a more traditional or modern look? All they need to do is change out the hardware (knobs and handles) to suit their tastes.

To avoid cornering yourself in the market, Sheryl advises against polarizing design features, like triple crown moulding or ornate designs. If you bank on spending 25 years in your home? Go nuts. But if you plan to sell in the near future, don’t go overboard with too specific of a style.

Ready to browse?

Select a neutral wall tile mosaic in beige, gray, ivory, or white.
Choose kitchen countertops in beige, black, or gray.
Find your perfect shaker door.

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Slate series wall tile for stylish backsplashes, showing you that “neutral” doesn’t have to mean dull.

Know “the bones” of your home

When you’re choosing the theme of your kitchen, the integrity of your house is vital. It’s important to keep the architecture of your home in mind, and create a kitchen that suits the “bones” of your house. Sheryl cautions against doing anything too extreme, or having a ton of different themes that don’t make sense, from room to room.

To play it safe, Sheryl suggest keeping the look-and-feel of your kitchen in line with the dominant design themes throughout your home. Again, opt for designs that aren’t too specific or polarizing, and avoid having a ton of opposing themes across your home.

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Troya label marble tile “light pearl” for countertops and floors. With a natural stone surface like this, the decorative patterning is always unique. Matched with a neutral color range, it’s never distracting either.

Don’t leave too much to the imagination

There’s a reason why developers spend so much money creating amazing display suites that appeal to a wide range of buyers: because most people can’t envision a beautiful home under that shag rug and lime-green paint.

In Sheryl’s experience, very few people can walk into a home and understand its potential. All they think is, “We have to completely reno this place.” People hear horror stories about renos, so they get intimidated by a place that needs a lot of time and expense to upgrade. With that said, be sure to complete all the important upgrades before you hit the market.

Update wisely

If you’re creative, you can make a few upgrades that will really wow the buyer—without breaking your budget. If your kitchen flooring has seen better days, update that first. (Porcelain or ceramic flooring is a good, easy-care option that appeals to families.)

Sheryl also suggests replacing cupboard hardware, slapping on a fresh coat of paint, and changing out trim or crown molding. To land a steal of a deal, keep an eye out for clearance tiles in neutral colors. To keep costs down, try to avoid moving your plumbing (if you can help it). Depending on the style of your cabinets, you might be able to keep the boxes and do a facelift on the doors.

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Hyxion Thor Kitchen Stainless Steel Ranges with 6 burners from BuildDirect.

If your fridge is a bit of a monstrosity, upgrade to stainless steel appliances. (According to Sheryl, stainless steel is an easy sell.) If you aren’t in the market for an appliance upgrade just yet, Sheryl suggests an easy fix to add instant style and conceal that honkin’ fridge: if the style of your fridge allows for it, you can put cabinetry over your fridge door. This trick creates nice, clean lines, and is especially appealing in small kitchens.

Ready to browse?

Browse BuildDirect’s selection of ceramic and porcelain flooring.
Get your hands on stainless steel appliances.

What’s your take?

Could your kitchen use a makeover? Which of these buyer-friendly remodel ideas will you try? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Tanya Roberts

Tanya Roberts is a writer and marketer who loves to spin stories about interior design and home decor. She is principle strategist at Bluefinch.ca