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Build a better kitchen without busting budget


Everyone knows the danger of putting all of one’s eggs in one basket, but that hasn’t discouraged home buyers from wanting more out of the room where eggs are kept.

The kitchen is as popular as ever. As Michael Menn, principal of design/build firm Michael Menn Ltd. (Northbrook, Ill.) told Professional Builder, buyers are willing to sacrifice square footage in dining rooms, living rooms, and other areas of the home to have a bigger kitchen. Space is only half the story, though. A great kitchen requires thoughtful design, sensible orientation and an instant sense of flow, as if everything is in the best possible place it can be.

A great kitchen doesn’t have to sink your budget (pun intended.) Here are some kitchen ideas sure to impress prospective buyers without forcing you to skimp in other areas of the home:

  • Make kitchen layouts island-centric whenever possible. The bigger the island, the better, but even a 4-by-4-foot island can work well.
  • Use two-tone or contrasting colors and/or materials on countertops, cabinets, and appliances. For example, paint the upper cabinets white and use a dark stain on the lower cabinets, or paint the island one color and the perimeter another.
  • Add a second sink to the island for food preparation. The prep sink can also be filled with ice to keep beverages chilled during a party.
  • Forget about the double-bowl sink. Buyers perceive deep, single-bowl models as more expensive. For an extra flourish, install an apron-front or farmhouse sink.
  • Use granite or a solid surface, such as quartz, for countertops for both good looks and durability.
  • Include 42-inch cabinets as standard, and upgrade the door hardware. Drop the soffit and run cabinetry all the way to the ceiling.
  • Use frameless cabinets. They work with any design style, have a cleaner look, and do a better job of utilizing space because they lack a center rail.
  • Instead of a more expensive counter-depth refrigerator, put in a standard-depth model and build out the cabinets around it. You can also borrow space from an adjacent room to create an alcove for the refrigerator, or recess it into the wall between studs.