But chances are youâ€™re only going to remodel your current kitchen once. AfterÂ all, the annual Cost vs.Â Value Report from Remodeling magazine pegs the average price of aÂ major kitchen remodel at about $54,000. With that much on the line, you want toÂ make all the right moves. If you do, you could recoup nearly 70% of yourÂ investment if you sell.
So weâ€™re here to future-proof you from angst byÂ naming the seven definitive kitchen features that will retainÂ their beauty, marketability, and value â€” all while giving you lasting enjoyment.
#1: White is the Dominant Color
Bottom line:Â White is the most marketable color. Youâ€™ll always find it atop the NationalÂ Kitchen and Bath Associationâ€™s annual survey of most popular kitchen colors. ItÂ simply doesnâ€™t go out of style.
- Throughout history, itâ€™s been associated with happiness, purity (think SnowÂ White), and new beginnings.
- Itâ€™s a bright color that reflects light and makes even smallÂ kitchens feel larger.
- Itâ€™s a neatnikâ€™s dream â€” dirt has no place to hide.
Even better, itâ€™s uber-tolerant of both your budget and taste: A standardÂ color for any manufacturer, youâ€™ll find white cabinets, tile, counters, faucets,Â sinks, and appliances at any price point.
Credit: Ken Clark, Realtor
- White:Â The Savvy and Chic Kitchen Color Choice
- BeforeÂ and After Pictures of White Kitchens
And with a white backdrop, you can be as conservative or expressive as youÂ want. After all, itâ€™s about your enjoyment, not just dollars and cents. ForÂ example:
- Add your personal touch with colored glass knobs and pulls.
Credit: Allessia of Little Lessy
- Show off antique Fiesta ware on open shelves or in upper cabinets with glassÂ fronts.
- Paint walls the color du jour â€” even off-white!
Credit: Lisa Damrosch
Heck, with a white palette, you can change your mind about paint color on aÂ whim. Those all-white basics will make any hue you choose look fresh andÂ contemporary.
Related: UsingÂ Color to Personalize Your Kitchen and Home
#2: Hardwood forÂ Flooring
Credit: RJK Construction, Inc.
Itâ€™s been our foot fetish for years. Thatâ€™s especially true ever sinceÂ hardwood flooring was mass-produced during the Industrial Revolution, makingÂ beautiful flooring readily available at a reasonable cost.
Today, moreÂ than half of home buyers who purchased a home without hardwood floors say theyÂ would have paid an extra $2,080 for them, according to the 2013 Home FeaturesÂ Survey from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSÂ®. And among buyers of any age,Â upwards of 80% say hardwood floors are â€œsomewhatâ€ or â€œveryÂ important.â€
â€œItâ€™s the one feature men and women agree on,â€ says DebeÂ Robinson, NKBA treasurer and owner of Kitchen Expressions Inc. in Sheffield,Â Ala., whoâ€™s also worked in the flooring industry.
Why? The love of woodÂ is in our genes. Our nesting instincts know that hardwood has warmth,Â personality, and makes our homes cozy and inviting. Thatâ€™s why this cleverÂ chameleon pairs well with any kitchen style â€” from casual cottage and sleekÂ contemporary to the most chi-chi Park Avenue traditional.
More reasonsÂ why wood flooring is the goof-proof option:
- Perfect for open floor plans. It flows beautifully from theÂ kitchen into adjoining rooms.
- Itâ€™s tough. Hardwoods such as oak, ash, and maple willÂ shrug off your kitchenâ€™s high-traffic punishment for years. Solid hardwoodÂ flooring can be refinished 10 to 12 times during itâ€™s typical 100-yearÂ lifespan.
- Itâ€™s eco-friendly. Hardwood is considered a green buildingÂ material when itâ€™s certifiedÂ by the Forest Stewardship Council and comes from sustainably managedÂ forests.
Related: TheÂ Best Choices for Kitchen Flooring
#3: Shaker Style for Cabinets
Credit: Stacey Collins Design
Thank heaven for the Shakers. While they were busy reducing life to itsÂ essentials, they made cabinets with clean, simple lines that willÂ forever be in style.
Shaker cabinets are an enduring legacy of AmericanÂ style and, like wood flooring, have the knack for looking good in any setting.Â Their simple frame-and-panel design helps reduce the amount of busyness in aÂ kitchen, making it a soothing, friendly place to be.
â€œIn a kitchen with aÂ timeless look, you want the cabinets to be part of the backdrop,â€ says AlanÂ Zielinski, a former president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. â€œYouÂ donâ€™t want to be overpowered. Youâ€™re looking for plain, simple, cleanÂ lines.â€
Those plain, simple, clean lines are a perfect fit forÂ transitional style â€” a beautiful combo of traditional and contemporary styles.Â In fact, the National Kitchen and Bath Association says that after creeping upÂ on traditional for years, transitional is now the most popular kitchenÂ style.
As our families grow more diverse, transitional style will only get moreÂ popular. It lets us personalize and blend cultural influences â€” Latin, Asian,Â Mideastern â€” into our homes; itâ€™s the perfect balance of old and new, just likeÂ Shaker-style cabinets.
Related: HowÂ to Choose Kitchen Cabinets for the Best Value
#4: CarraraÂ Marble for Countertops
Credit: Jennifer Thompson
Carrara marble is a timeless classic thatâ€™s been used in homes for thousandsÂ of years. (Michelangeloâ€™s â€œDavidâ€ was carved from Carrara.) Itâ€™ll look as goodÂ in the next millennium as it does now.
- Carraraâ€™s lacy graining and subtle white colors look terrific in a whiteÂ kitchen (or any kitchen, for that matter).
- It has a whiteness you wonâ€™t find in other natural stones.
- Itâ€™s readily available, making it less expensive than other high-endÂ choices, such as quartz.
- Itâ€™ll last for generations.
If you Google it, youâ€™ll find a lot of debate about it (and marble inÂ general) because it stains easily. But if you want something truly timeless,Â Carrara is the answer. And with todayâ€™s sealants, the problem of staining isÂ almost moot if you reseal once or twice a year.
Related: HowÂ to Get the Look of Marble Without the Cost
Still not sold? Or donâ€™tÂ have the budget? LaminateÂ countertops are relatively inexpensive and can be upgraded to stone when youÂ do have the budget.
#5: Subway Tile for theÂ Backsplash
Credit: A Lo and Behold Life
Subway tile goes back to the early 1900s, when it was used to line New Yorkâ€™sÂ first subway tunnels. Classic subway tiles are white, 3-by-6-inch rectangles â€” aÂ look that became popular in American kitchens and baths, and has stuck aroundÂ ever since. Now itâ€™s an iconic part of the American design vernacular, destinedÂ never to go out of style.
In the kitchen, ceramic tile excels as aÂ backsplash, where it guards against moisture, is a snap to clean, lasts forever,Â and always looks classy.
Sure, a backsplash can be an opportunity for aÂ blast of color and pattern, but neutrals will always be current and blend withÂ any look. Plus, a subway tile backsplash and a marble countertop make a dashingÂ couple that will stand the test of time.
To make it even more enduring,Â keep it achromatic and camouflage dirt with gray or beige grout.
Related: ClassicÂ Backsplashes for Any Budget
#6: ErgonomicÂ Design
Adaptability and universalÂ design features mean easy living at any age. A recent survey on kitchensÂ from the American Institute of Architects points to the growing popularity ofÂ smart ergonomic design, a sign that kitchen adaptability will stay in vogue.
Smart ergonomics simply mean convenience â€” for young or old, partyÂ people or homebodies â€” a key factor when remodelingÂ a kitchen that will function well, retain its value, and always feelÂ right.
No matter you or your buyerâ€™s current or future needs, everyoneÂ wins with these approaches:
- Create different countertop heights. Standard height is 36Â inches, but you can raise or lower sections of cabinets by altering the heightÂ of the base. Add color-match shim strips to the bases of countertops that donâ€™tÂ include sinks or appliances. You (or a new owner) can easily remove them or addÂ to them to adjust the height.
- Swap a standard range for a wall oven and a cooktop. RangesÂ have fixed heights. Thereâ€™s no getting around the fact you have to bend toÂ access the oven. But a wallÂ oven conveniently installs about waist-high.
- Add pull-out shelves to base cabinets. Lower cabinets withÂ doors mean having to twist like a pretzel to see whatâ€™s inside. Pull-out shelvesÂ put everything at your fingertips.
Credit: Autumn Clemons of MyDesignDump.blogspot.com
- Keep wide clearances. Kitchens attract people, and withÂ open floor plans, youâ€™re apt to have folks hunting for snacks, helping you cook,Â or just hanging out while you prep meals. Keep traffic flowing with a minimum ofÂ 42 inches between counters and islands.
Related: FindÂ Out How Stylish Ergonomic Design Can Be
#7: Smart Storage
Todayâ€™s families store about 47% ofÂ their kitchen stuff outside the kitchen â€” in laundryÂ rooms, basements, even sheds â€” according to data released at the 2013Â Kitchen and Bath Industry Show.
We blame it on the fact that kitchensÂ have evolved from a tucked-away place at the back of the house into aÂ multiple-chef, multi-tasking space thatâ€™s the hub of family life. Plus, our loveÂ of open kitchens and stocking up at warehouse stores means less wall space andÂ more stuff, kitchen design expert Robinson says.
The solution: smartÂ storage. Cabinet manufacturers have you covered with nearly unlimited storageÂ options â€” shelves and compartments that unfold, turn, extend, andÂ slide.
But itâ€™s not just about having storage, itâ€™s about designing itÂ smartly. Follow these guidelines to make your storageÂ timeless:
Create a primary storage zone. This is an areaÂ 30 to 60 inches high and within two feet on either side of your body. Store yourÂ most-used items here â€” your favorite work knives, measuring cups, salt andÂ pepper for cooking, your trusty pots and pans. With one easy motion, you canÂ grab what you use all the time.
Plan for the unknown. AÂ truly timeless kitchen anticipates and adapts to future needs, such as:
- A space that can easily convert to an office, wineÂ storage, or a closet.
- Lower cabinet spaces that can accommodate a wine cooler, under-counterÂ refrigerator, a secondÂ dishwasher, or new must-have kitchen appliances on the horizon. (RememberÂ when microwaves didnâ€™t exist?)
- An open space that fits a freestanding desk or favorite antique that canÂ personalize the kitchen â€” no matter who owns the home.
See Storage OptionsÂ that Pack More Space in Your Kitchen
Related: SmartÂ Kitchen Remodeling Strategies to Get You Started
We feel stronglyÂ about these kitchen features, but we love your strong opinions, too. So tell usÂ what you think!Â