Five Steps to a Kitchen Facelift

With these simple reorganization and decor ideas, you can catch the attention of homebuyers without breaking the bank.

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If you've got more sense than money, there are plenty of ways to make your kitchen more appealing to buyers on a low (or even no) budget. Here are five tips from decorating and real estate professionals:

1. Kill the Clutter in Storage Areas.

"We real estate brokers really hate when you open a kitchen cupboard and Tupperware rains out on the potential buyer," says Mark Nash of Evanston, Ill., author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home. "Clear all that clutter out, even if you have to store some stuff in boxes. Same with the pantry — you should be able to see the back wall of any storage area. If the cupboards and pantry are both filled to the brim it will seem like you don't have enough storage space and that sets off alarm bells (for potential buyers)."

Counter space is another area that viewers zero in on immediately, says Nash. "If you've got a toaster, juicer, coffee pot and microwave all up there, move them out. If your kitchen is cluttered, the buyer gets the idea that you don't have ample counter space."

2. Help Traffic Flow.

"If you've got lots of furniture in the kitchen, get some out of there so people can move through the area easily and they'll get a sense of ease and comfort," says Sue Pelley, national spokesperson for Interiors by Decorating Den, based in Easton, Md. "Take out a few chairs or that rolling cart you use for storage, that kind of thing, or your kitchen will seem smaller and crowded."

3. Color the counters.

If you can't afford a trendy new granite or stainless steel counter, consider painting your tired laminate in an updated shade like a terra cotta color, says Stephen Ingerson, color specialist for Hirschfield's, Inc., a full-service decorating center based in Minneapolis. The main cost is a couple of coats of paint and some sand paper; most do-it-yourselfers can complete the job in a day.

4. Cover up Floor Flaws.

"Make sure to clean all floors and carpets," says Pelley. "If there's grime showing, people will definitely recall their own troubles keeping floors clean and think less of your kitchen." If the floor is worn in spots, consider an area rug. "It doesn't have to be expensive but it should enhance your decor, not just hide the flaw."

5. Do Wash Windows.

Emphasize your kitchen's natural light with freshly washed windows and extend the effort to the window coverings, too, by dry cleaning fabric treatments and washing wood blinds. "Since potential buyers will be closely inspecting the windows and using their light to evaluate the rest of the kitchen, hire a cleaning service to take care of this step if you have to," says Pelley.

Resources

Interiors by Decorating Den, www.decoratingden.com

Hirshfield's, www.hirshfields.com

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