Selling real estate may be about location, location, location, but once a prospective homebuyer decides on a location it’s up to you to ensure your home stands out from the competition. A good place to start is your kitchen, aka ‘the heart of the home.’ This is where meals are made, family meetings are held and party guests congregate. It’s an important room that can make potential buyers decide whether or not to make an offer (and for how much) on your property. This means showing it off at its best is a must.
To help get your kitchen prepared for your next open house, we turned to professional home stager Red Barrinuevo to hear his top tips. Red is the president and principal home stager of Redesign4more, a home staging company that services the Toronto region and beyond.
1. If you can smell it, you can’t sell it
Between trapped food particles in drains and garbage bins under the sink, the kitchen can be a major source of unpleasant odors in the home. “Studies have shown that the kitchen is the dirtiest room of the house and with it comes unpleasant odors,” says Barrinuevo. “This is a serious concern that MUST be addressed when selling.”
2. Declutter your countertops
The kitchen is a center of activity and the focal point of every home so it’s easy for clutter to accumulate over time. “A great rule of thumb for staging a kitchen is to leave no more than two appliances on your counter,” suggests Barrinuevo. “After you’ve decluttered the countertops, soften the space and add visual interest by displaying fresh fruits, new dish towels, plants or fresh flowers.”
3. The stainless steel appliance is king
“If you have the budget, upgrading your major appliances is definitely worth the investment,” says Barrinuevo. “Stainless steel appliances are often on the top of many homebuyers’ list, but if you can’t replace your current appliances, be sure to have them repaired and spotlessly cleaned with special attention to the fridge and stove as buyers often inspect these.”
4. Let the light shine through
To ensure that your kitchen is shown in the best light during an open house, have a look at your fixtures and let as much natural light in as possible. “Make sure that fixtures are clean, all bulbs are working and remove any dated or dirty blinds,” says Barrinuevo. “If you’re still using the original builder’s fixtures or stuck with a dated one, now is the best time to replace it. A lot of stores offer inexpensive and more contemporary light fixtures that can give your kitchen a new glow.” He also suggests adding a small lamp to brighten up dark corners.
5. Conduct a thorough clean up
With so much wear and tear, the kitchen is a space where a little extra elbow grease can go a long way. “Start scrubbing those kitchen tiles, make sure the grout in between tiles is free of dirt, mold or stains,” says Barrinuevo. “Check all the cupboard doors, clean the inside cupboards and get rid of all the things that don’t need to be there.”
Once you’ve completed a thorough clean up, keep an eye out for maintenance items like loose hinges, small cracks, peeled paint or dirty vents. “Replace dated knobs and handles – easy and inexpensive but can make your kitchen doors and drawers look new again,” adds Barrinuevo. “And if your kitchen floor is badly damaged and cannot be saved through cleaning, it may be time to consider installing new flooring.”
6. Don’t forget the kitchen sink!
Sellers sometimes overlook the kitchen sink but it’s a spot that often needs more than just a rinse. “Your ‘sinkware’ such as faucets, soap dispensers and basin are vital in the overall look and feel of your kitchen,” notes Barrinuevo. “Replacing your old faucets with a more modern set is the best way to give the kitchen an updated appearance. Remember, buyers love to try out the taps during an open house!”