Our Dream

We stumbled on this great property that was just what we were looking for. Our dream home – lots of character but lots of work. You can imagine that there was plenty there that needed to be upgraded, improved, and things that we wanted to make our own.

The dream is to move the kitchen to the west side of the house which features 8 foot high windows. The reality is a fully functional, existing kitchen, and a slow economy. With some internet research we were able to discover some “tricks of the trade” when deciding what to spend on a Kitchen Upgrade.

Cost Over Value

The kitchen holds about 10-­15% of your home’s value so spending more than that on a renovation can put you in danger of overdoing it and being unable to recoup your investment. For us, that put the cap on our renovation at $25,000. That is a very tight budget for our dream kitchen.


Could we do a “splash” now, on our existing kitchen, and still reap the rewards of higher resale? The answer is yes.

It turns out some kitchen upgrade options are very DIY and can boost the value of your home.

The experts at HGTV tell us that smart, small investments can recoup between 60­ – 120% of the investment but that number does drop the larger the investment according to

So what are the easiest and best value projects for a kitchen upgrade? Lighting, paint and fixtures.



There are several cost benefits to changing your lighting. One is to invest in “green” lighting fixtures. Just switching to Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFL’s) can make a difference in the amount of energy you are using.


They come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Try different colors in your kitchen.

Daylight bulbs bring a bright blue hue to your kitchen. Yellow tones will be duller but warmer on your color palette. Personally, I like the daylight color, but that may not be everyone’s favorite so be sure to see what you like.


LED lights are also energy efficient and easy to install. Nothing makes a kitchen more enjoyable than good lighting and multiple sources. These small changes could cost you $30­ – $200 depending on if you are changing bulbs or all new light fixtures.



Another easy, cost efficient boost to your kitchen is paint.

Cupboards are a huge expense to purchase but your old ones can see new light with a fresh coat of paint. You can either strip down to the wood and restain or sand and paint.

If you are looking for resale value it is best to choose neutral colors. White, cream, light beige are all colors that will spruce up the space and be appealing to a new buyer.

Another cheap DIY project is to paint your appliances. Yes, you can buy appliance paint. It comes in white, black, almond, and even stainless steel. This is a time consuming project, but it’s easy to do for even novices. Just budget extra time if it’s your first appliance painting project.

If you are like me you love color. With your appliances and cupboards in neutral colors you can pick your favourite color for the background walls. Pick a color that is complementary with the rest of your house and don’t be afraid to choose a bold color as long as it does not cover more space than your cupboards visually.

Paint and supplies might put you back about $200 but it is a dramatic touch for your kitchen and well worth the investment.



Walls done, cupboards refreshed, great lighting, and now one last touch – Fixtures. Nothing dulls down a kitchen more than rusty, spotted faucets.

If you have nice fixtures that are functional but need a spruce up you could refinish or re-plate the ones you have. This is not an easy DIY project so I suggest new.

These can get pricy, ranging from $80 – ­$300, but this one addition will make your kitchen look years newer.

Time To Start

Some elbow grease and about $500 and our dated kitchen will look brand new. We are expecting a two week turnaround.

A Kitchen Upgrade like this can bring a guaranteed return on investment. We are not selling anytime soon but the return for us will be pride and enjoyment of this new kitchen without the cost of a large renovation. With a small investment of time and effort you will see a great return.


Doug writes about Travel, Home Life, and Food. His primary home online is at The Kitchen Professor where he obsessing about food, kitchen gadgets,and fancy cutlery. Follow him on Twitter @diydoug.


Photo Credit Flickr Creative Commons: Jeremy L., Sonny, Barron, & Design Build.

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