5 Kitchen Upgrades That Are Actually Worth the Money, According to Pros

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Renovating your kitchen is a great way to add value to your home, especially a full-on remodel. There are so many decisions to make, especially if you have a limited budget. Whether you’re planning on selling your home in the near future or you just want to have a kitchen you can enjoy with your family, it’s a matter of figuring out what renovations make the most sense for you. If you’re looking to maximize your budget, here are five kitchen upgrades that are actually worth the money. 

An Integrated Trash Drawer

Every kitchen needs a place to throw out trash. But having a trash can just sitting out can ruin the aesthetic of your kitchen, especially a recently renovated kitchen. Interior designer Audrey Scheck tells me an integrated trash drawer is worth the money. “If you are customizing the cabinetry in your kitchen, integrating a trash/recycling drawer is certainly an area to not skip on. Having a dedicated drawer near the sink makes the functionality of a kitchen seamless, and it saves on the square footage necessary for a bulky, freestanding trash receptacle.”

Real Stone Countertops

Quartz and other types of composite countertops have grown leaps and bounds in recent years because they have the look of natural stone at a far better price. But nothing beats the real thing, according to interior designer Sarah Stacey. “I always suggest real marble over quartz.”

High-End Appliances

Sometimes kitchen renovation projects can be so stressful that we often forget what the kitchen is really for—cooking. So, it’s important to have room in your budget for high-quality appliances that make cooking easier or faster. For example, a high-quality range will have additional features to improve cooking, such as induction cooktops, burners designed to heat evenly, or built-in smart technology.

High-end appliances also tend to have better aesthetics, such as those by Lacornue, which is a brand that Stacey is a fan of. These types of appliances not only improve the cooking experience, but they can also boost the value of your home. 

And while it’s truly a matter of preference and style, panel-ready appliances are another smart option, according to both designers. “Panel-ready appliances allow for a custom panel to be installed on top of a refrigerator or dishwasher to seamlessly integrate them into kitchen cabinetry. Eliminating the visual description of mismatched appliances makes the space feel more cohesive,” says Scheck. 

Recessed Range Hoods

Some upgrades aren’t about what you see, but rather what you don’t see. Scheck tells me recessed vent hoods are worth the extra cost and construction. “Similarly to panel-ready appliances, recessed vent hoods allow for the exhaust liner to be hidden inside an intentional design element,” says the designer. “A recessed liner would be installed above a cooktop, then it can be framed around with wood to create any shape you desire. Once the framing is done, the options are endless on how to conceal it, such as plaster and wood painted similarly to the cabinets.”

Anything Really Important to You

Most of us don’t renovate our kitchens very often. So if you’re going to invest in it and you aren’t planning on selling you’re home anytime soon—get what you want and you won’t regret it. If you’ve always liked hunter-green cabinets—do it. Gold hardware instead of builder-grade stainless steel—why not? A built-in espresso maker? If you enjoy an espresso shot every day—go for it. 

Article Written By: Amanda Lauren; Published in Real Simple 2/13/24

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