More Bang for Your Buck: Kitchens and baths are the focus

By Pamela A. Keene
When considering remodeling projects, your investment in either the kitchen or master bath will reap the highest return.
“With both people in the couple working, having an open kitchen is one of the top assets of a home,” says JoAnn Estes, associate broker with VirtualProperties.net in Hall County. “When people can communicate between the kitchen and the family room, it’s the ideal situation.”
For decades, kitchens have been called the heartbeat of a home. It’s where people gather for meals, to share stories of the day and to just hang out. When people entertain, the kitchen is typically where everyone stays.
Countertops and cabinets are the best place to start. “Replace laminate countertops with granite or another solid surface,” Estes says. “Granite countertops and stainless appliances are very much still popular, and for buyers, they are looking for updates, especially if your home is older.”
As for cabinets, the trend has cycled back to white or painted cabinets. “You can repaint them, reface them or completely replace them,” she says. “It’s more affordable to repaint or reface them.”
Two alternatives can change the whole appearance of a kitchen. “If you are really organized and neat, consider open cabinets or glass-front doors,” Estes says. “Just realize that you will need to keep everything in its proper place. You might consider mixing a few glass-front cabinets with others that have doors.”
Lower cabinets with pull-outs are an easy conversion option that can update a kitchen and provide more storage. Newer kitchens often have deep drawers instead of cabinets that are used for pots and pans and other larger items.
If you have room, add an island, which can provide additional work space or a place to sit. “Rolling islands can be moved out of the way and offer some versatility.”
Master bathrooms have changed in the past several decades. Soaker tubs, with or without jets, are giving way to larger walk-in showers with multiple shower heads, benches and niches. “Frameless glass showers may be a bit more costly, but if you can afford them, you’ll change the look of your master bath,” Estes says. “And these days, people are looking for bathrooms that are easier to keep clean. They’re using larger tiles because it’s less grout to maintain.”
To save water, replace toilets with low-flow models. “Comfort-height toilets with elongated bowls are more attractive and, as we age, they are more comfortable.”
Another way to add value to your home is to discover more storage space. “Bring in a professional closet organizer to talk about ways to maximize your space and the arrangement of the contents,” she says. “It may be a matter of adding more shelving, or perhaps you can expand the footprint of the closet by taking some space from an adjacent room. You can never go wrong with adding storage.
“Whether you plan to sell your house in the next year or intend to stay there longer, consider remodeling,” Estes says. “If you’re not selling, you’ll appreciate the updates and changes. If you are selling, the money you invest will most likely pay off in a higher selling price.”
JoAnn Estes can be reached at 404-216-5675 or by visiting her website at www.virtualproperties.net.

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