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10 Best DIY Kitchen Ideas to Boost Home Value

Dec 02, 2023

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Whether you're planning to sell your house or your kitchen just feels like it's in need of a refresh, you're not beholden to expensive renovations to enhance the value or design of your space. Simple updates can actually pay off aesthetically and financially.

We reached out to Amanda Pendleton, Zillow's home trends expert, who shared upgrades that will actually increase the value of your home. To get design-focused ideas and tips for sprucing up a kitchen, we spoke to interior designer Laura Pankonien, founder of the interior design firm The Pankonien Group, and Overstock's style director Amber Dunford.

Below, we've rounded up a list of easy DIY kitchen ideas for a high-impact transformation.

Although this is the most expensive project on our list, it typically doesn't require any intrusive renovations. Pendleton says replacing appliances is the "top value-boosting kitchen upgrade you can make without a full renovation."

By replacing dated or damaged appliances with energy-efficient ones, Pendleton says a home can sell for 2.6% more, according to Zillow research. On top of that, high-end professional appliances could net homeowners another 1.6% sale premium.

Most refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers come in standard sizes that will easily fit existing cabinetry and countertop cutouts. Pankonien says that many of her clients are swapping standard-depth refrigerators for counter-depth models to create a seamless profile with existing cabinetry.

If you’re hoping to upgrade your fridge but don’t know where to start, consider our top pick for the most reliable refrigerator. It has convenient French-style doors and comes in black, stainless steel, and white.

The sleek design, ultra-quiet operation, and the unanimous support of its brand by our experts make the Bosch SHEM63W55N the best dishwasher you can buy.

Pankonien loves using Cafe appliances in her kitchen projects. “The white and graphite pieces with brass accents are a great look at a value price point,” she says.

Gutting your kitchen cabinets and replacing them with a custom set is one of the more expensive projects you can tackle in a home. To save money, consider replacing the cabinet fronts for an updated look.

"Replacing your cabinet fronts from an arched or heavily detailed panel to a clean shaker style door is one of the more costly reno-free upgrades, but it will absolutely change the look of your entire kitchen," says Pankonien.

"A classic shaker cabinet door appeals to the most buyers, and they could pay 2% more than expected for a kitchen with shaker cabinets," Pendleton adds.

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Lowe’s has a wide selection of shaker-style doors that can fit pretty much any cabinet or drawer you’re looking to customize. They’re simple, streamlined, and go with most kitchen decor styles.

Pankonien recommends Semihandmade cabinet fronts because they offer a wide range of styles, sizes, and finishes. The brand also makes fronts specifically for Ikea cabinet bases.

Kokeena cabinet fronts are another favorite of interior designers. They feature a wide range of styles — from modern to rustic — that can be painted or stained.

This one is super easy. "New pulls and knobs can give a kitchen a whole new feel," says Pendleton. "Matte black is associated with a 2% sale premium, while unlacquered brass hardware will give your kitchen a softer, classic look."

If you're not ready for a splurge, Dunford suggests removing the current hardware and giving it a fresh finish with a coat of spray paint.

You can’t go wrong with the classic silhouette of cylindrical cabinet hardware. This matte black pull pairs well with most colors and stains.

Unfinished brass hardware is having a huge moment due to the way it develops a beautiful patina, so installing brass pulls in your kitchen will ensure they’ll only get better with age.

A good quality matte black spray paint should hold up to daily use. Just be sure to sand your hardware before painting to ensure it will stick, and paint in thin coats, letting them dry completely in between.

Light fixtures contribute to the overall look and feel of a room, and multiple sources of light — not just overhead — play a key part in both visual aesthetics and utility.

"Think about layering your fixtures so light is diffused from different angles," says Pendtleton. "Combining a ceiling fixture with pendants, sconces, and under-cabinet lighting will give you the most functional, flattering light in the kitchen." She adds that LED fixtures and lightbulbs can boost your selling price by 1.9%.

For a kitchen with brass fixtures, Dunford says that warmer lighting pairs well.

If you’ve got high ceilings and love lots of light in your cookspace, a Sputnik-style light fixture is a modern solution.

A sconce with a swinging arm is great for a kitchen. It can be tucked away during daylight hours and swung forward to illuminate prep work at night.

Insider Reviews senior reporter Amir Ismael added these LED puck lights under his top cabinets to give a custom look to a builder-grade kitchen with limited light. They're easy to install and super affordable.

Pankonien loves incorporating open shelving into almost every kitchen space she works on. "Styled with glassware, plates, decorative pitchers, and small art, it's an easy way to create a well-designed focal point that is also super functional," she says. Plus, open shelving is a more affordable alternative to replacing cabinets.

It gets better though. "Zillow research finds this easy DIY project made popular by home improvement TV shows can boost a home's value by 1.5%," says Pendleton.

Dunford adds that kitchens where everything is hidden in cabinets are dwindling in popularity. "Instead of putting everything away, bring in earthenware, bowls, and plates, and pretty wooden spoons to display," she says, adding that layering wood cutting boards is impactful.

These floating shelves made from reclaimed pine come in three different sizes: 24, 36, and 48 inches. They are great for mounting one on top of the other or in smaller nooks that need more storage.

“We use both white oak and paint-grade shelving from Ultra Shelf in many of our projects,” says interior designer Laura Pankonien. “Their shelves are available in custom widths, depths, and thicknesses, perfect for any look and function."

This set of two white floating shelves serves as a neutral backdrop for colorful cookware, knick-knacks, and plates.

A fresh coat of paint will do wonders for any room, but for kitchens in particular, Pendleton has seen a trend in resale value. "Zillow's latest interior paint color analysis finds buyers are drawn to light and bright kitchens with off-white or tan kitchen walls scoring the highest with potential buyers," she says. A white kitchen can add as much as $700 to the sales price.

Pankonien agrees that updating kitchen walls and cabinetry with a coat of white paint gives a beautiful lift to a space. It's also a great opportunity to infuse lightness while also turning your kitchen into a clean slate.

“Chantilly Lace is always a beautiful white,” said designer Sara Malek Barney. It’s a bright white with cooler undertones.

“My go-to white is always Decorator’s White,” said Nicole Fisher of BNR Interiors. A cooler white, it can have gray or purple undertones.

Pankonien loves this shade because it’s “a consistent warm white that complements other finishes well.”

Replacing your kitchen faucet is an easy, affordable upgrade, according to Pankonien. "This is a great opportunity to bring in a brass or black finish to your kitchen, which can dramatically update the overall look of your space," she says. "Plus, there have never been more beautiful options in this category."

Make it a touchless faucet for a potential 0.7% sale premium, as Zillow reporters that buyers increasingly look for smart features to help them keep their homes germ-free.

What sets the Delta Trinsic apart from other faucets is its Touch20 technology, which allows you to activate the water flow by touching your finger or forearm anywhere on the faucet. This is a key feature for dinner prep when you might not want to grab the handle after touching raw meat.

The Wewe Single Handle High Arc Faucet is low in price but high in quality with efficient operation and a simple tulip design. It's surprisingly robust, with braided supply lines for durability, and also has three different spray settings.

The Kohler Sous Pro-Style Single Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Faucet has the power and size of a commercial faucet, with all the features of a standard model.

Pendleton says that a backsplash adds both style and functionality to a kitchen. "It keeps oil and food splatters off the walls for an easier-to-clean kitchen," she says. "Plus, it could add 0.6% to your bottom line when it comes time to sell."

Pankonien likes a clean subway backsplash for visual texture and easy coordination with any countertop. "We also love pairing a dark cabinet color with a coordinating dark subway tile for instant style," she says. For a quick, affordable backsplash fix, try removable peel-and-stick tile.

For a fresh look and a clean slate, these white peel-and-stick subway tiles go on easily and can totally transform the look of your kitchen within an afternoon.

For a dark-on-dark backsplash look, these penny peel-and-stick tiles add just enough interest while blending into the background.

I used these peel-and-stick tiles to give my kitchen a backsplash, and they were easy to apply. Because they’re three-dimensional, it looks like real raised tile with grout lines.

Instead of opting for all matching cabinetry, consider a kitchen island that looks and feels like a piece of furniture rather than just an extension of your kitchen cabinets.

"To add soul and character to your kitchen, try topping a vintage table with a new stone countertop," Pendleton says, adding that homes with kitchen islands can sell for 0.3% more than expected.

This solid wood island has the look and feel of a vintage piece and comes in four finishes: oak, gray, white, and black.

This antique white island has generous storage underneath for wine bottles, baskets, and dinnerware, and the opposite side has room for stools to turn it into a breakfast bar.

For a traditional look and feel, this solid wood island has a rustic cherry finish that would complement a farmhouse aesthetic perfectly.

If your kitchen is lacking in window treatments, they're a great place to inject some personality. They can make a space feel cozier because they're "a soft counterpoint to the 'hardness' of other kitchen finishes," says Pankonien.

Window treatments, whether shades or curtains, are also a great way to add more color and texture to a room. "We love bringing in a natural woven roman shade or a beautiful fabric to create a cozy vibe and a joy to have coffee in the morning," adds Pankonien.

Roman shades are highly practical while also adding a decorative element. They take up very little real estate since they’re flush with the window.

Similar to Roman shades, cordless woven blinds take up little space but add warmth and privacy to kitchen windows.

A cafe curtain is commonly hung halfway down a window, which provides privacy while letting light filter in from the top. These ones are 100% cotton so they can be easily machine washed.

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