The Kitchen

The Heart of the House

The kitchen. Yep, it is the room that holds the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and assorted smaller appliances. But it is also the center around which the house revolves - a gathering place, communication center, and a warm and cozy room to receive nourishment. As such it must be spotless, sparkling and spacious. Potential homebuyers want to feel they can eat off the floor or the tops of appliances even though they would never do it.

While massive kitchen remodeling isn’t a good idea when you are preparing to put your home on the market, replacing old, inefficient appliances may be a good idea. Not only does this make the kitchen seem updated without a lot of work, but also "new appliance" looks good on the listing.

Make sure your garbage disposal is in good working order. If it doesn’t work properly, have it fixed or replaced. You don’t have one? Have one installed. Many a cook has said that the garbage disposal is the one appliance they must absolutely have in their kitchen!

Check your sink, pipes and faucets for leaks. Replace chipped porcelain or a rusty stainless steel sink. If faucets leak, replace them with an inexpensive set with a simple design. If your faucets are in good condition, this is a good time to replace the washers to keep them from wearing out while your house is on the market.

Keep things tidy

As long as your house is open to prospective buyers, be extra careful to keep the kitchen free of dirt and clutter. Wash and put away dishes, pots and pans after each meal.

Never, ever leave dirty dishes in the sink for others to see. Clean and store small appliances, such as food choppers, immediately after each use. Be sure to wipe down the counters and sink following each meal.

Sweep the floor daily and wipe up any spilled food as soon as it hits the tile. Give the floor a good mopping at least once a week or whenever it looks less than spotless. Keep the towel and dish cloth clean and hanging on rails. If the kitchen is put back into top shape after each use then it will eliminate frantic last minute efforts to clean leftover messes.

Lighting fixtures

Sellers need to "lighten up" when preparing their kitchens for the onslaught of potential buyers. At the very least, clean the walls until they sparkle by scrubbing them with detergent and a sponge. However, spending some extra money on a light shade of paint will make the room look fresh and clean. Paint the walls and trim. If your cabinets are dark and out of style, paint them, too. Go with neutral colors like beige or white because they make the room look bigger and brighter.

Keep rooms bright with natural sunlight and light fixtures. Keep windows clean and curtains open. Install lights over counters, food preparation areas and the stove. This is a convenient time to reset the stove clock, too.

Replace light bulbs in existing fixtures and increase wattage if necessary. Allow maximum light to shine by cleaning anything the light shines through-domes, shades, chandeliers, etc.


Adding new accents instead of making major changes will save time and money. New handles on cabinets and drawers will complete their updated look. Ditch dark window treatments and replace them with an inexpensive airy-looking valance in a pale color. If flooring is damaged and must be replaced, opt for a simple pattern no-wax floor or neutral tile. The idea is to get the most mileage out of fewer dollars.


When the basics are completed, invest in good cleaning supplies and scrub every inch of that kitchen like it’s never been scrubbed in the house’s history. Remove magnets and everything else from the refrigerator door. In fact, clean out the inside as well. Use a sponge and antibacterial cleaner to scrub dirt, grease and food particles from the surfaces. Unless you have a self-cleaning oven, use oven cleaner to make the oven spotless inside, including the door.

Use antibacterial cleaner to clean the stovetop and any other spot you can reach. Clear off all counters in order to clean and disinfect them. Replace only the items you use every day and limit them to three.


Remember to clean small appliances before returning them to the counter or cupboard. Everything else should be packed away and stored.

If your kitchen also serves as "command central" for the family, be sure to take care of this area as well. Clean the phone with antibacterial cleaner and a paper towel. Remove outdated notes from the bulletin board or remove the entire board and store it in a closet. Sort through items in the mail organizer and throw out as much as possible and file everything else. If you can do without the organizer for awhile, clean out the letters and store it with the bulletin board. If there is an alternate space to locate your command central, then do so. This will make the kitchen area look more organized and functional.

Mistakes to Avoid

Many homeowners list their home with the agent who tells them the highest price. Or they list with the agent who works for the biggest company. You need to choose the agent with the best marketing plan and track record to sell your home.

One Last Check

Just before prospective buyers arrive to look at the house, double-check the details. Have you turned on all the lights? Are the towels clean and hanging on a rail? Do you need to give the faucets a quick wipe? Does the garbage need to be taken outside? Everything is ready? Light a gingerbread smelling candle, put on some soft music and wait for the doorbell to ring.

Spend a Little, Get a Lot

Check out these tips that will spruce up your home and keep costs down.

  • Improve safety by ensuring that windows and doors can’t slam shut; fixing loose handrail on porches, decks, and stairways; and removing dangerous tools, sharp objects and hazardous materials from the garage.
  • Rent a bank safe deposit box to store cash and small valuables as long as your house is being shown.
  • Consider replacing hinges and springs on the garage door. They are relatively inexpensive and improve safety.
  • If you are three or four months away from marketing your house, consider reseeding the lawn instead of laying sod. Reseeding takes longer, but is much less expensive than sod.
  • Replacing a cracked and broken walkway with cement stepping stones purchased from a home improvement store is an inexpensive but attractive way to create a new path to the front door.