The Crown Jewel
White and bright kitchens give the most bang for your buck when renovating.
With the price of oil staying low and Alberta’s economy so intrinsically in step with this commodity, fewer homeowners are undertaking large renovations. Last year, according to an October 2015 monthly housing report by Scotiabank, Alberta did not experience growth in renovations compared to the rest of Canada. Increasingly, Albertans have to be strategic in choosing what kind of renovations they spend their hard-earned money on.
For most people, those strategies are focusing on kitchens – one of the rooms that will stand out to potential buyers when their features are included in a real estate listing.
According to Kristina Hoyle, interior designer at Revive Contracting, kitchens are still king. For the last few years, Hoyle and her husband Ryan, Revive’s contractor, have bought and flipped houses in anywhere from three to five months. While flooring is a practical renovation, says Hoyle, the kitchen is still the crown jewel of most homes.
“Kitchen renos can vary from five to seven weeks, depending on the type of construction, product selection – something could be back ordered or have a longer shipping time – and overall size,” explains Hoyle. “We have only opened walls if we are going for a more open-concept layout. We don’t normally switch the layout too much as that adds more cost and doesn’t necessarily bring a large return.”
Revive’s kitchens have proven to be a good return on investment, though, as well as eye-catching. Case in point: the Hoyles bought a Capilano home in February 2015, renovated it for three months and sold it in just five hours in May.
“We tend to put more money into our kitchens, and [as a trade-off] might have more cost-effective carpet in the basement. There are things you can cut back on so you can spend on the kitchen and make it that show-stopping space.”
Hoyle’s key to kitchen renovation success? “Keep things white and bright, very neutral. Make it as neutral as possible, so people can envision their life there.”
In one of Revive’s recent flips in Capilano, the kitchen features high-gloss white upper cabinets and light walnut lowers. The appliances and fixtures are all stainless steel. The backsplash and shelving are white. The entire kitchen literally gleams.
As a real estate agent, Wendi Freudenreich of Realty Executives Masters, agrees with Hoyle and notes that neutral kitchens are a real estate agent’s best friend. “White is the new black. … White never goes out of style,” she says.
“We’re merging away from the dark colours and into the light again,” she adds.
Of course, finding a contractor to complete your dream kitchen – complete with voluminous white, neutral everything – can be tricky, but Hoyle has a few tips.
“My biggest pointer for anyone doing a renovation is to ask for referrals, go by word-of-mouth, or even check out their work online and their website,” she says.
“I want to see their work and quality of craftsmanship. Always read the fine print before committing to a contractor and go with your gut.”
Another Point of View
Jenna Pryor of Plum Home + Design gives her four biggest renovation pro-tips:
1. Focus on the structure or the envelope of the home, and tackle big-ticket items like roofs, windows and doors first.
2. Look at your renovation to-do list like a real estate agent would. Look at a spec list. Think about how items will look in your future property listing.
3. Remember: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Keep your palette neutral. Not everyone loves a canary yellow backsplash.
4. Budget to finish the renovation right: Don’t DIY your finishing touches if it’s going to take you forever. Allow enough dollars for your contractors to finish things to avoid botched jobs or lengthy projects.