We're considering selling our 1980s ranch house. Our Realtor has advised us to entirely remodel the kitchen before putting the house on the market. While it probably wouldn't be hard to modernize the kitchen, it would certainly be expensive, and we're not sure that we'd recoup the costs by making the sale price reflect that investment. What do you think? And if we do follow the agent's suggestion, what do you recommend in regard to cabinetry, materials and overall style?
Many homeowners face a crucial decision in planning a makeover of a particular room or an entire interior. To what degree should resale considerations affect the choices that a renovation project entails?
Of course, the decisions will be a matter of taste - but whose taste matters the most? Those making a substantial investment in a new look? Or those, whoever they are, who determine fashions in interior design? In other words, should homeowners follow their own preferences alone, or should they go with something hip and/or generic with the aim of appealing to a broad market when it's time to sell?
There's no right answer. And it's even possible that the questions have not been properly framed. No matter what choices get made, the odds are that the people who buy your home will want to put their own stamp on it.
It's a decision only you can make, although I do think a kitchen makeover should reflect both your own taste and current popular styles.
A professional designer - not necessarily one employed by a kitchen-equipment company - can acquaint you in detail with today's trends in colors and materials.
The photo shows one design direction that's as popular now as it was a few years ago when it was introduced. This composition in black and white is a joint production of designer Jay Jenkins of Jenkins Baer Associates in Baltimore, kitchen designer Cindy Myers and the Keener Kitchen Manufacturing Co. of Red Lion, Pa.
The use of two such basic colors on the cabinetry and countertops gives this kitchen a punchy, of-the-moment look. But the style itself isn't contemporary. Both the cabinets and the center island, with its prominent corner columns, allude to Shaker design.
The choice of material for the countertops - plastic laminate, marble or, as seen here, granite - will be determined in part by the size of a renovation budget.
The same goes for the flooring. Its color, along with that of the walls, could be a neutral that simply complements the black-and-white scheme or it could be something bright that enlivens the setting and perhaps reflects your own taste.
Rita St. Clair is a Baltimore-based interior designer. Readers with general interior design questions can e-mail her at the above address.