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Lessons From Listing Photos: Cost-Effective Kitchen Revamp Pulls in $300K Profit By


It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pics highlight the home’s best assets.

They say the kitchen is the heart of a home—so it stands to reason that a kitchen renovation is an excellent way to pump new life into your entire house. And great new photos of your kitchen will attract buyers and increase the value of your property.

Need some proof? The renovated kitchen in this Massachusetts home helped the sellers snag a price nearly $300,000 more than what they paid for it just four years ago. Here’s what our experts say they did exactly right.

Before: Kitchen

The old kitchen looked dark and dreary.
The old kitchen looked dark and

After: Kitchen

The renovated kitchen is bright and welcoming.
The renovated kitchen is bright and

While the before and after photos of this kitchen might look drastically different, the sellers actually made minimal changes to save time and money.

“Leaving the existing footprint of the kitchen and not moving the appliances or plumbing made the transformation cost savings huge,” says property stylist Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP.

“Cabinetry is typically the most expensive line item in a kitchen renovation, but luckily this home already had classic white kitchen cabinetry and high-end appliances,” adds interior designer Anelle Gandelman of A-List Interiors in New York City.

Before: Cabinetry and appliances

The original cabinets and appliances were already top-notch.
The original cabinets and appliances were already

After: Cabinetry and appliances

Keeping the island base but changing the countertop had a huge impact on the kitchen.
Keeping the island base but changing the countertop had a huge impact on the

One small change that makes a huge impact on this kitchen is the island. These savvy homeowners made the cost-effective change of keeping the original base of the island and swapping out the countertop.

“The island was updated by switching the black countertop to a white marble,” says Gandelman. “That lightens up the space and complements the original backsplash.”

She also notes the sleek pendant lights over the island complement the other silver finishes in the kitchen (e.g., the faucet and appliances) and enhance the tall ceilings.

Before: Breakfast area

The tiny breakfast table didn't leave much room for guests.
The tiny breakfast table didn’t leave much room for

After: Breakfast nook

The new breakfast nook has room for everyone.
The new breakfast nook has room for

And just like that, the eating area in this kitchen nearly doubled in size with the addition of a breakfast nook. Removing walls isn’t for the faint of heart, but our experts say this major project was more than worth the work.

“Adding a breakfast nook was a great idea in this renovation. An eat-in kitchen is always good for resale, but in this case, the breakfast nook expands the kitchen space even further,” Gandelman says.

Gray-Plaisted agrees: “Removing the wall to open the kitchen created better flow and use of the area.” She also notes that the coffered element above the table mirrors the dining room ceiling and pulls the two areas together.

Before: Dining area with wall

The original dining area was dark and cramped.
The original dining area was dark and

After: Sitting area without wall

The new seating area makes everyone feel welcome.
The new seating area makes everyone feel

Speaking of opening up the space, what was once a dining room separated from the kitchen by a wall is now a bright and comfy sitting area.

“This setup is the perfect spot for large family gatherings and entertaining,” says Gandelman. “The original kitchen felt cut off and small, but the space was transformed into a more functional and inviting great room.”

Gray-Plaisted also notes the appealing white, Shaker-style cabinets under the window seat.

“Using similar cabinetry as the kitchen tied the new living space into the kitchen, producing a great usable space,” she says.

But did the homeowners do away with a dining area altogether? Of course not! They just moved it closer to the kitchen in an area that has plenty of space for a full table and chairs.

As for the cost of the renovations, Gandelman says it’s nothing compared with the return.

“Depending on labor costs and location, this type of kitchen update would likely cost between $40,000 and $50,000,” she says. That’s small potatoes compared with the $300,000 profit.