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When your Kitchen Needs Updating

You may not be overly excited about spending money to update the kitchen in your rental home, but the fact of the matter is that modernizing the kitchen is one of the best investments you can make. According to Remodeling Magazine, this year’s national statistics show that a kitchen remodel of around $20,000 will recoup 83.1 percent of the cost upon resale, which is higher than most other renovations. For an investment property, resale price is not the whole story. Updating the kitchen on your property can bring in renters who are willing to pay more each and every month.

On the other hand, you do not want to over-renovate, since your renters may not expect luxury amenities and high-end finishing. A major kitchen remodel can cost $60,000 or more, and according to Remodeling Magazine you would only recoup around $39,000, around 65 percent, when you sell. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint, replacing fixtures and other small changes can work wonders to update your kitchen. If you are planning to sell within the next few years, it may be worth it to put a little more money into updates, but if not, some simple solutions may be all you need. You can plan DIY projects or enlist the help of your property manager.


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An updated kitchen can give your rental home the “wow” factor that can land a good tenant. Since cabinetry is such an important item in the kitchen, let’s start with options that will give your cabinets a new look instead of removing the old cabinets and installing new ones. Wood cabinets are often worth saving if they are sturdy and in good shape.

  • A Fresh Coat of Paint: Wood cabinets can be painted professionally for around $35 – $85 per foot. If your cabinets are metal, you can still have them repainted by bringing them to an auto body shop.
  • Change the Cabinet Doors: Check to see if you can just replace the panels on the cabinet doors. Use a router to remove the panels and install a decorative replacement panel. If you have a good eye for home décor, this is where you can make a real difference. Filler panels come in clear, etched and tinted glass and metal and cost around $100 – $250. Another easy and inexpensive – actually free – DIY option is to simply remove the doors to create stylish open shelving.
  • Resurface the Exteriors: You can make it look as though you installed new cabinets by resurfacing (refacing) the old ones. While you can do the job yourself, unless you are an experienced DIYer this job may be best left to the professionals. Remove the doors, hardware and drawer fronts, and cover the exterior sides and framework with a stick-on wood veneer. Then match the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
  • High-Style Additions:Switch cabinet hardware by replacing door pulls and knobs, and think about replacing the hinges. When you purchase new hardware, take along a sample to make sure the new ones match up with the existing holes. Another idea is to install decorative crown molding and fitting a soffit over the cabinets for a more finished look. Many tenants appreciate cabinet interior upgrades like tilt-trays, slideout shelving, drawer dividers and smooth drawer glides.

Backsplashes and Countertops


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Changing the backsplash and countertops is a quick way to update your kitchen to a more current look. Make sure to look through home décor magazines and pick out a look that will go with the rest of the kitchen.

  • Backsplashes: Decorative backsplashes with the latest designs are easy to install and often available in home improvement stores. Choose glass, ceramic and stone tiles or laminates on a mesh backing, or use decorative metal ceiling squares.
  • Resurfacing: You can resurface your counters easily by stripping old laminate from the plywood deck and installing new laminate or ceramic tiles. Solid surface and stone counters can be polished to rejuvenate them and make them look good as new.
  • Replacement: Consider replacing a section of the counter with butcher block, or you can replace the whole countertop. Choose pricy granite, or achieve the look of granite or stone with engineered surfaces like quartz or solid surfaces. For a contemporary look with an edgy, commercial vibe, add stainless steel.


Some of the techniques used to update cabinetry can be applied to kitchen appliances. Just make sure that the existing appliance is in good shape and warrants spending money for beautification.

  • Resurface the Exteriors:If your refrigerator or dishwasher has a frame that holds a stainless or wood face panel, you can replace the panel for as little as $100. For appliances without a frame, panel kits that come with frames can be custom ordered.
  • Refresh with Paint: Have a professional refinish your appliance for around $100 for a dishwasher panel or oven door, and around $300 for a refrigerator.
  • Replacements: Switch burner plates, glass cooktops and stove knobs by ordering matching items from the manufacturer.


Refinishing or changing the flooring is a good way to update the look of your kitchen. You can refinish wood or stone floors, or install one of the following:

  • Low-Cost Laminates:Get the look ofhardwood, tile or stone with low-cost laminates.
  • Mid-range Tiles: Low maintenance tile flooring is a good choice if you don’t mind spending a little more to get a quality floor.

High End Hardwood: True hardwood flooring is trending now, but hardwood can be costly. If the look of hardwood with laminates or even tiles is not an option, choose hardwood for a luxury rental.

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