5 things that could be devaluing your kitchen, according to design experts

The pitfalls to steer clear of, according to experts

Rustic farmhouse kitchen
(Image credit: Tom Howley)

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the room that most buyers place the highest priority on. And if you’re thinking of selling your home, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have to undertake costly renovations just to increase the chance of a sale. Paying attention to areas of concern and knowing what will devalue your house is essential. 

Even if you’re in your forever home, it’s important to keep on top of things in the kitchen. As a room that gets used multiple times in a day, there’s little more annoying or depressing than trying to prepare meals in a space that isn’t set up to work as it should. Avoiding these common pitfalls will help to make your kitchen a happier place to be, as well as adding important value to your home.

5 things that could be devaluing your kitchen

Whether you’re choosing an entirely new kitchen layout or just looking for kitchen decor tweaks to spruce things up, it’s important to make sure that your kitchen contains elements that add value and want to avoid any switches that will devalue the space (even if they seem like a quick fix at the time). We sought advice from our interior design experts on how to make sure your kitchen is working as hard as it can for your home.

Small modern farmhouse kitchen painted in pink hues and a traditional AGA range cooker in the centre of the kitchen

(Image credit: deVOL)

1. Poor quality worktops and cheap cabinets

Nothing devalues a kitchen as much as poor-quality kitchen countertops and cabinets. With so many kitchen styles to choose from, it can be tempting to choose something purely for its looks. But it’s not good having style over substance – you need hardwearing worktops and cabinets that aren’t cheap and flimsy. 

A poor quality worktop can be a red flag for potential buyers, as Mor Krisher, Head of Product Development at Caesarstoneexplains, ‘We know that kitchens are often what sells homes and adds value to buyers. Including high quality surfaces helps to present homes at their best and make them memorable to any potential buyers.’

Cameron Shepherd, co-founder and designer of Studio Mesa also warns against cheap cabinets, ‘Cabinets are expensive, and budget options might seem like a great place to save some money. But particleboard and cheap finishes don't stand the test of time, and homebuyers know it. Kitchen cabinets are the hardest, most invasive part of a kitchen to replace, too, so it's worth spending a little more money on a better product at the upfront.’

‘Low-quality countertops and cabinets materials can make the kitchen look dated and impact its resale value. Invest in durable and aesthetically pleasing materials to elevate the overall appeal’, agrees Pippa Jameson. For those on a budget, she suggests that, ‘Many companies offer kitchen refreshes with doors, handles and countertops to save on buying a whole new kitchen.’

An image of designer Pippa Jameson
Pippa Jameson

Pippa Jameson is an Interior Stylist and Creative Director with 25 years of industry experience. Former editor of leading UK magazine titles, she's the Founder of Pippa Jameson Interiors Ltd, specialising in styling, creative direction, and shoot production. Author of 'The Sensory Home®,' which addresses a more mindful approach to decorating.

2. Poor layout and inadequate storage

Everyone who spends enough time in the kitchen knows: layout is paramount to a nice cooking experience,’ says Cameron Shepherd. ‘From the tried-and-true Kitchen Work Triangle to the placement of your light switches to the interior of your cabinets, intentional design is necessary for a functional, desirable kitchen.’

But how to go about maximizing your layout and kitchen storage? ‘I recently remodeled my kitchen which had a very light galley style layout,’ explains Amy Youngblood, founder of Amy Youngblood Interiors. ‘We opened up the space by taking down a wall and added a large kitchen island for food prep and gathering as well as all new cabinetry in key areas.’

For those with open plan kitchens, kitchen designer Tom Howley says, ‘The best way to pull an open plan space together is to see it as a whole, with multiple zones within the space; then break it down into dedicated areas, allocating functions to each zone. This could be an area for cooking, a social dining area, a snug/ lounge area and even a compact office space. Zoning your open-plan kitchen is key to a flexible space that works for your lifestyle.’

A great layout means nothing without adequate storage though. ‘Insufficient storage space creates clutter, making the kitchen appear smaller and less functional,’ says Pippa Jameson. ‘Maximize Storage with well-designed cabinets, pantry solutions, and organizational tools such as hooks and shelving.’

Modern farmhouse kitchen with shaker cabinets painted pale blue

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)
An image of interior designer Amy Youngblood
Amy Youngblood

Amy Youngblood began her career in interior design over 20 years ago. She has worked for several interior design firms, both residential and commercial. With a strong background as an accomplished artist, Amy fused her creative abilities along with her business and design experience to launch Amy Youngblood Interiors in 2009. Both Amy’s artwork and design commissions have been featured over the years in the local and national media. Amy’s appreciation of all styles has made her known for her clean lined, yet comfortable, sophisticated look.

3. Dated materials

‘As the saying goes, the kitchen is the heart of the home,’ explains Cameron Shepard. ‘As such, it's nice for the kitchen to feel, well, nice now, not like it was nice 20 years ago. An out-of-date kitchen screams "renovation" to many prospective home buyers, and that means spending big bucks.’

What are the areas to look out for? Amy Youngblood suggests that, ‘Items like fussy door styles, hardware and upper cabinets that make the appearance of your ceilings look lower can all devalue your kitchen.’

If you’re on a budget though, just making some small changes can make a huge difference to the look of your kitchen. ‘It sounds trivial, but old-fashioned handles and taps can date your kitchen,’ explains Artem Kropovinsky. ‘That is why modern alternatives can be defined as “game changers”.’ You can pick up some really chic and affordable kitchen hardware from Wayfair, that will make a ton of difference.

Artem Kropovinsky headshot
Artem Kropovinsky

Founder of NYC-based interior design firm, Arsight, Artem Kropovinsky has a decade of extensive global design experience, connecting a cohesive, collaborative team of passionate professionals, who work on interior projects in the U.S. and worldwide. 

4. Ill-fitting or old appliances

‘Retro appliances can look amazing, especially when they are original to the home,’ says Cameron Shepherd. ‘But an appliance, like any piece of machinery, won't last forever. A kitchen full of old appliances is a kitchen that is going to cost a homeowner money – and probably pretty soon.’

Interior designer Rodney Lawrence agrees, ‘Using low-quality appliances and discounting the use of under cabinet appliances like refrigerators and microwave can really devalue your kitchen.’ Lisa Frantz, owner of Lisa Frantz Interiors also advocates for built-in appliances, ‘Use counter depth and built-in refrigeration wherever possible. Paneled dishwashers will keep the kitchen looking streamlined, and appliances will be concealed as they age!’

Pippa Jameson suggests the solution is to upgrade your appliances, ‘Upgrading to modern, energy-efficient models enhances functionality and adds value. Think about smart technology, sufficient ventilation, and appealing touches like an integrated coffee machine.’

A kitchen with pink bottom cabinets and wooden top cabinets with glass fronts

(Image credit: Future)

5. Bad lighting

‘No matter how impressive your kitchen’s design is, it will be uncomfortable to use if the lighting sucks,’ says Artem Kropovinsky. ‘Make sure to invest in quality kitchen lighting that can bring out your kitchen’s best aspects.’

It’s a sentiment echoed by Amy Youngblood, ‘A dimly lit kitchen is hard to work in and simply dreary. Lack of under-cabinet lighting and recessed lighting darken your kitchen. Also, a lack of attractive decorative lighting (if it’s needed) can date your kitchen.’

The solution to bad lighting? Lisa Frantz recommends, ‘Task lighting (under-counter) and properly placed recessed lights at the countertop perimeter. These will prevent shadows and provide a bright work surface. A decorative light on a dimmer can also provide style and ambiance.’ 

Whatever approach you decide on for your kitchen, it’s important to remember that you have to live in it. It’s no good having a kitchen that adds value but isn’t practical for you from day to day. But by following our designers’ tips you should be able to achieve the perfect balance in what is arguably the most important room in your home.

Jo Plumridge

Jo Plumridge is a freelance writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience writing for a variety of magazines, websites and books. She writes, perhaps unsurprisingly, about photography, but also on all things interior design and sleep-related, alongside reviews of home and tech products. Jo loves exploring the latest design trends, although she’s yet to find a carpet that doesn’t show up the cat hair from the cats she and her husband foster.