Kitchen renovations are costly, messy, stressful...and the best darn place you can put your money when it comes to ROI. To shed light on which updates will give you the greatest bang for your buck, we called on the expertise of HGTV’s Scott McGillivray (on behalf of online real estate brokerage, Here, five improvements, both big and small, that promise a fabulous return on your investment.

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1. Updating Cabinet Fronts

Average Cost: ~$4,000-$6,000
Expected ROI: ~80 to 100%

Cabinets are far and away the most expensive kitchen component. They are also, typically, the first thing that people notice. “Updating cabinets with paint is a great option if the color is simply dated, but refacing existing cabinets is where you will get the best return”, says McGillivray. With this option, you maintain the layout and original structure, while achieving a contemporary look. A standard kitchen cabinet refacing will run to $4,000 to $6,000, as opposed to installing new cabinets, which typically runs in the $25,000 range. Translation: The ROI is essentially the same, but upfront savings are substantial.

2. Consistent Appliances

Average Cost: ~$5,000-$6,000
Expected ROI: ~60-80%

The mix and match look repels most buyers, so McGillivray recommends upgrading your dishwasher, oven and refrigerator so they all feel like part of the same family. Stainless steel remains the most popular material (but you could also go with matte black or gleaming white). Opt for a smudge-free finish and perhaps a single fancy amenity—like an icemaker or butter dispenser.

3. A Kitchen Island

Average Cost: ~$600-$5,000+ (depending on materials, size, etc.)
Expected ROI: ~60-80% (depending on investment)

In his 11 seasons of shooting Income Property and spending time in the real estate market, McGillivray says that without fail, the kitchens that are the best received (and the easiest to sell down the road) all have a knockout island. “Islands are so coveted because they are the perfect marriage of function and entertainment value”, explains McGillivray, “they also offer a tremendous amount of workspace.” Even in a smaller kitchen, a mini eat in breakfast bar with storage underneath will be well worth the splurge.

4. Durable Countertops

Average Cost: ~$35-$100/ft (for quartz)
Expected ROI: ~60-80%

“When it comes to countertop material, you're going to want to invest in one that not only looks great but wears well and has a lasting finish” says McGillivray. After all, you don't want to spend a small fortune on counters only to replace them again in five years. “Quartz is the future of countertops” he notes, “It's high performing, affordable and ages beautifully”.

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5. Updated Hardware

Average Cost: ~$1,000 or less
Expected ROI: ~85-100%

Replacing old knobs and pulls with sleek new options is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to make a kitchen look fresh. From a functional standpoint, making these updates and even replacing old hinges with smooth, interior-hanging options (rather than bulky visible ones) will have a big impact on prospective buyers, says McGillivray.

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