No room carries more influence with a buyer than the kitchen – it’s where the family gathers and many memories are made.

The kitchen can represent up to 20% of the entire value of a property, and if it’s not up to scratch, many buyers will walk away regardless of how good the rest of the home might be.

Homeowners seeking to maximise the value of their property at sale will often pour more dollars into improving the kitchen than any other area. Countless research studies have shown that along with bathrooms, a kitchen renovation offers the best return on investment.

As local agents, we see properties that have spectacular kitchens. For some, money is no object, and they create a gourmet experience that delivers a top-dollar result.

But others are more conservative and resist the rip-and-replace path. Instead, they use specialist companies to replace cabinet doors, drawers, handles and benchtops. If their appliances are past their best, they replace them with modern, mid-range models – a wonderfully economical approach with a wow factor.

What you want to avoid is spending a lot of money but leaving buyers unimpressed. Such renovations fail to deliver the important payback to you as a homeowner.

So below is a quick list of the common mistakes to avoid when you upgrade your kitchen.

  1. Blown budget – Set a spending limit. The cost of renovating a kitchen can go into six figures if that’s what you want. Be disciplined and work out what you can afford and what will offer a return on your investment — talking this through with a real estate agent can be a big help (and we’d be happy to oblige).
  2. Going DIY – Unless you’re a kitchen designer, then put your new kitchen into the hands of experts. They know the tricks to maximise space and storage. They’ll also be familiar with cabinet designs and lighting solutions, which improve all the time.
  3. Follower of fashion – Don’t choose popular, fad colours that will date the kitchen in a few years. Keep your ambitions stylish and traditional, especially if you plan to sell in the short to medium term. Many buyers might not share your taste, and your hard work and money will have been for nothing.
  4. Under-sized benchtops – Even though you may wish to create more floor space, it’s a mistake to sacrifice the benchtop. You need to plan the use of every square metre of a kitchen, and priority needs to go on where you prepare your meals.
  5. Storage shortage – It’s fashionable to take the gadgets off the benchtops these days to deliver an uncluttered appearance. Every kitchen needs lots of storage, not just for equipment but food, too. Buyers will walk through your kitchen, opening and closing doors to see if the storage meets their expectations. They love corner-storage spaces.
  6. Smoke gets in your eyes – Never forget the importance of ventilating your kitchen. An extractor fan must push the smoke and smells outdoors, so the rest of the home doesn’t take on the smell of old cooking.
  7. Poor lighting – Illuminate the sink and areas where you will prepare food and eat. During inspections, we’ll turn on the lights, as this makes the home feel bigger. Badly-positioned lighting in a kitchen can be exposed. If your budget will stretch, ask a lighting consultant to help you.
  8. No plug, no play – A common mistake is to have insufficient electrical sockets, especially around the benchtop, where you will use a blender, juicer, electric frying pan and so on. You’ll probably also have a nook in your kitchen that becomes a charging station.
  9. Waste of space – Be smart about where you place your garbage. External bins on the floor are unsightly and unpopular. Your new kitchen should integrate a container into a cupboard, preferably under the sink.
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