7 Things That are Devaluing Your Kitchen, Say Experts — 'Get Rid of Them if you Ever Plan to Sell!'

Steer clear of these pitfalls if you want your kitchen to maintain its financial return

A bright white open plan kitchen with wooden flooring and black framed windows
(Image credit: Bakes & Kropp)

The kitchen is the sort of space where nobody likes to compromise. As the heart of the home, this room takes a higher priority than virtually any other for potential buyers, so every choice you make for yours matters more than you think. Whether you're planning a full-scale renovation or just a few easy updates, you'll want to make sure you aren't falling victim to some common pitfalls if you want your kitchen to see a return on your investment.

Even if you've found your forever home, it'll inevitably be on the market one day. When the time comes, you don't want to be carrying out costly renovations just to increases the chances of a sale. That's why it's important to pay close attention to the features that will add value in the interim - or, more importantly, those that won't. We spoke to real estate agents and expert kitchen designers to find out what could be devaluing your modern kitchen right now and here are seven answers that might surprise you - get rid of them now if you ever plan to sell.

1. Bold Color Choices

A bright white kitchen with white cabinets, wooden drawers, wood flooring, and marble countertops

(Image credit: Bakes & Kropp)

Ask any real estate agent and they'll tell you the same thing - the most easily avoidable error when it comes to your home's value is choosing bold, garish colors or 'out there' designs. If you want wide appeal, it's best to opt for a neutral color scheme and a pared-back style.

That applies to kitchens, too. 'When choosing color combinations, it's advisable to approach more unconventional palettes with caution,' suggests Bob Bakes, designer and co-founder of Bakes & Kropp kitchens. 'Opt for designs are widely approachable, as potential buyers seek designs that align with their tastes and lifestyles. If you're considering more distinctive elements, tailor their design to fit within the greater scheme to make it more palatable for broad tastes.'

This doesn't mean you can't choose characterful colors or make unique design choices, but you should ensure these features are easily adaptable and make the effort to turn down the dial before putting your home on the market.

2. Impractical countertops

A kitchen countertop that isn't hard-wearing is hardly worth spending your money on. Yes, we want our surfaces to be aesthetic choices as well as practical ones, but marrying both form and function must absolutely be on the agenda. That means that some of those beautiful countertop materials could actually be devaluing your space if they don't rank highly on the durability front and yes, that includes marble.

'Marble countertops are less well-perceived than they once were as better options for durability have entered the market,' explain Bob. 'Materials like quartz and quartzite not only provide stunning aesthetics but also offer enhanced durability, making them more suitable for the demands of avid cooks and active families.'

3. Inadequate lighting

white and yellow kitchen and living room

(Image credit: Cuppett Kilpatrick)

A bright, light, and airy kitchen isn't only pleasant to look at and spend time in, but a marker of a expertly designed and well-rounded space - something which will certainly appeal to prospective buyers. Although not all of us are blessed with lofty kitchens with huge skylights of floor-to-ceiling windows, there are some simple changes you can make to add value to your space through kitchen lighting.

'As functionality is often a top priority, inadequate lighting can significantly diminish the value of a kitchen,' notes Bob. 'Strategically light key food preparation and cooking areas with focused task lighting, and incorporate warmer, ambient lighting in spaces designated for entertaining or dining.' This could be as simple as installing some wireless under-cabinet lighting strips like these ones from Walmart, or just introducing a table lamp to your countertop.

Sometimes, you might have to make more drastic changes such as add a window, or knock down a wall for an open plan space that invites more natural light. As California-based real estate agent Lindsey Harn notes: 'A kitchen without a window, that is small, tight and dark can certainly bring down the value of your home.'

4. Dated or shabby cabinetry

It goes without saying, but dated, worn, or shabby cabinets won't be doing your kitchen any favors. Sometimes this calls for a renovation, but other times it could just be a case of fitting new hinges or adding some fresh hardware. Lindsey identifies misaligned cabinetry or cabinets that don't fully close as a common pitfall. 'They make the whole home seem cheap and give the signal the whole home may have taken shortcuts,' she says.

If your budget permits, swap out old kitchen cabinets for new ones, but don't be pulled in by short-lived trends. 'Today's trendy is tomorrow's tacky,' explains Yawar Charlie, director of estates division at Aaron Kirman Group. 'Go for timeless over trendy to keep your kitchen from looking like a kitchen design time capsule.'

5. Clutter or a lack of space

Black shaker style cabinets with a white countertop

(Image credit: Matti Gresham Photography, design by Urbanology)

Clutter is so easily avoided, and while a lived-in look paints a picture of reality, it won't be adding value to your home when potential buyers come looking. Luckily, it's easy enough to declutter a kitchen in just one day, and making the effort could secure you a sale.

Cluttered countertops aside, however, there may be a more systemic issue at play. If your kitchen lacks storage, you might want to invest in some smart solutions to avoid devaluing your home. 'A countertop shouldn't double as a storage unit,' says Yawar. 'If you can't find space to chop an onion, it's time to rethink your design. Likewise, squeezing in chairs like it's a game of Tetris is not cool. Balance is key – a kitchen should be a place to move, not a hurdle course.'

6. Budget Appliances

'Appliances are another key indicator of perceived value, so investing in premium, high-end appliances can markedly elevate the kitchen's appeal,' Bob says. Sometimes we have to settle for budget-friendly options when it comes to appliances, but if you want to avoid your home looking cheap, make sure they're out of sight when staging your home or - better still - commit to an upgrade.

'Mis-matched appliances or low end appliances that don't match the rest of the quality of the home can bring down the value,' adds Lindsey. 'On the flipside, missing important features - like a trash drawer, garbage disposal or dishwasher - when those things are considered customary, can also bring down the value.' If you really want to add value to your home, smart kitchen appliances could make or break a sale.

7. Too many appliances

A modern Sydney house with extensions and pastel tones

(Image credit: Jacqui Turk)

On a similar note, however, one too many appliances can overwhelm anyone looking to buy your home. 'Imagine a kitchen where you can't find the fridge for the forest of gadgets,' says Yawar. 'Keep it sleek, and hide away what you don't use daily.' Opting for integrated appliances, as pictured above, is a simple way to keep unsightly appliances tucked away.

Use these seven points as guidance when selling your home if you want your much-loved kitchen to be a real return on your investment, and don't fall victim to passing fads that could cost your more in the long run. As Yawar summarises: 'Remember, a kitchen should be functional, stylish, and above all, a reflection of good taste!'

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.