Considering Kitchen Renovations? Read This First.

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By Katherine Gotthardt

From adding splashes of vibrant color to making more space, kitchen renovations are happening. And why not? The kitchen is one of the most popular rooms in the house. Whether you’re prepping, eating or  meeting, this is one room you won’t want to overlook when it comes time to rethink design and upgrades. But there’s a difference between what you do when you plan to stay in your home for a while longer and what you do when you’re thinking of selling.

Staying Put

If moving isn’t in the cards, Peggy Burke, Associate Broker at Virginia Realty Partners, Long and Foster Real Estate, says, “Get what you like.” Consider these trends to make your kitchen bigger and more functional. Remove a wall. Add an island with bar seating. Invest in a second sink or oven. Install drawer organizers, pull out waste bins, toe kick drawers, cabinets with pivoting shelves, lazy Susans and all those details that bring extra convenience. Larger freezers, herb storage, talking refrigerators — all are on the upgrade menu. Opt for icemakers, wine refrigerators and walk-in pantries. Add a pop of color to the bottom of the island or try out the latest stone look behind the stove. Check out a variety of wooden cabinetry and accents. Whatever you do, think about your decisions.

You can start by considering countertops. According to Burke, on-trend countertops vary from laminate to granite to quartz to Corian or Silestone to soapstone to concrete. Again, choose what you like if you are not moving. But, she cautions, “Countertops require maintenance, and if you are not ready to maintain them, pick a laminate you like. Laminate is easiest to take care of.” Quartz, Corian and Silestone come next in line
in terms of maintenance ease. “Granite and soapstone require a lot of maintenance. Quartz is a little more expensive but, probably worth it.”

Flooring has many options now too, says Burke. From heated ceramic to hardwood to luxury vinyl tile, there are so many possibilities, and the choice is yours.

Then there is lighting. “If you have shorter ceilings, be sure to put in the recessed lighting that is not hot. The new LED bulbs are supposed to not be hot, but be sure to talk to an electrician before selecting.”

For appliances, Burke says, “You can pick cooktops, stoves, convection, microwave, side-by-side freezer on the top, on the side or on the bottom or full freezer beside full fridge. With your stove or range there is something now called induction. You have to use stainless or cast-iron cookware, but, supposedly it cooks just like gas and you can stick a paper towel between your cookware and the burner. It’s amazing technology.”

Planning to Make a Move

While you can get creative in a home you plan to stay in for several years or more, if you plan to move, think a little deeper about your choices. Appliances are key. “As I reminisce about the best kitchens I have ever seen, I have a really hard time making a decision about what is the best, what is trendy and what withstands time. My personal favorite is a white kitchen and white appliances. When showing houses, if a white kitchen is there, it quickly becomes a wow house. But, if there are beautiful maple or hickory cabinets with these appliances, they are not far behind.”

Much depends on the decor of the house and how many windows the kitchen has, says Burke. “The most important thing about a kitchen is making it look clean, bright and big. White does that. Add a few cabinets with glass doors, and you are into the timeless zone.”

No matter what colors you choose, be sure to get appliances that are counter depth, Burke says. “I showed a house last year that I am sure they had to pick the fridge over the counter, and then it stuck out so far you could not squeeze into the laundry room. They make counter depth appliances and you should use them. They are often a little wider, but they don’t stick out into the room.”

Burke says she could go on and on about kitchen upgrades, but if you are looking to sell, she highly recommends using a designer who works with one of the big stores, freelances or works for a company that specializes in kitchen renovations.

Trends are constantly changing, she says. Enjoy your renovation project, and if you have questions, consult your realtor.

Director of Content Marketing for Prince William Living, Katherine Gotthardt ( is an award-winning writer, poet and author, as well as president of Write by the Rails, the Prince William chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Learn about her work at


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