Some might say that the kitchen is the most important room in the house. It's a social hub where friends and family gather together and, more importantly, it's the area in which most of us prepare the majority of our food, so it's essential that the kitchen be both beautiful and functional.

When it comes to the resale value of a home an attractive kitchen can stew up quite a bit of extra cash.

Having a beaten and tattered kitchen might be acceptable to some, but when it comes to selling your home this is just not an option. The kitchen is often one of the first things potential buyers will look at when they walk into a house that is for sale so if there is yellowed floral wallpaper peeling off of the walls and appliances that look like they've been around since prehistoric times these potential buyers might end up heading for the door.

Because the kitchen is such a central part of the home, it should be in top form when potential buyers come knocking. The most basic way to ensure that your kitchen looks its best is to clean it and replace any glaring imperfections.

Preparing a Kitchen for Potential Buyers:

- Fix dripping faucets

- Replace old hardware

- Replace any cracked tile on floor and backsplash

- Clean fridge and stove, inside and out

- Remove all clutter

- Wash and pull back curtains

When potential buyers enter your home there is nothing as annoying as a leaky faucet. This is glaring problem that may lead people to believe that your home is also harboring bigger problems like water damage and leaky pipes. Once you have ensured the annoyed drip has been silenced look at the sink and fixtures. You should scrub any rust and dirt out of the sink so it is left sparkling clean and replace any rusty or decrepit fixtures.

Replacing old hardware and cupboard doors can be a great way to easily take your kitchen from worn-out to wonderful. Since the cupboards make up so much of the kitchen it is essential that they look neat and clean, free of dents and stains. Getting rid of the dark brown, cheap, painted wooden cupboard doors that were installed in your kitchen in the 1970's and replacing them with new light pine doors will instantly brighten up the kitchen and make it look brand new.

If new cupboards constitute too much of a financial investment new hardware and a little bit of paint can still make a big difference. Think first about the appliances in your kitchen and what color of cupboards will complement them. Many people choose to paint old kitchen cupboards white to brighten the kitchen and make it appear larger. The hardware that you choose should complement the style and color of your kitchen and draw these elements together. The new knobs and handles that you purchase should be up to date and clean looking. Consider brushed chrome or nickel hardware that compliments your kitchen faucet and try to steer clear of brass hardware and strange kitsch like chili pepper and other vegetable-themed handles that most people find tacky.

Replacing any cracked tile in the kitchen is also a good idea to improve a home's resale value. Replacing cracked tiles involves digging out the grout joints around the damaged tile with a grout saw and then drilling holes in the corners of the tile to loosen it. You will then be able to break up the tile with a hammer and remove it with a chisel, smooth out the area and use adhesive and grout to fasten a new tile into place.

Just as it is a good idea to replace damaged tile, it is also smart to repair wood and linoleum flooring that is stained, worn or damaged. Wood flooring might be easily repairable with buffing and refinishing, while linoleum flooring might have to be torn up and completely replaced. Both of these projects are quite time consuming, but the can be done quite economically if you're willing to expend some elbow grease.

Cleaning the fridge and stove is a no-brainer when it comes to preparing your home to be seen by potential buyers. No one wants to walk into a kitchen that is filthy so scrape the noodles of the walls, scrub the grease off the stove and make sure that all of the festering casseroles have been removed from the refrigerator and that it's sparkling clean and smelling fresh.

Cleaning up kitchen clutter, like cleaning up kitchen grime, is also something that can be done quickly and relatively easily in anticipation of potential buyers. Take all of the toys, books, stacks of paper and any other junk out of the kitchen and store it somewhere out of sight. The more neat and tidy your kitchen appears the better chance you have of maximizing resale value.

Clean curtains can also make a world of difference. This is an extra touch that some people overlook but it can make all the difference especially if potential buyers arrive during the day when the sun is shining though kitchen windows. If the sun is filtered through filthy curtains the whole room will be flooded in a brownish glow that can be entirely nauseating. With grease and smoke in the kitchen air curtains can really become a mess so give them a deep cleaning or take them to the drycleaner and re-hang them before and potential buyers arrive.

If the problems in your kitchen are bigger than grease and clutter, it may be time to weigh remodeling options to improve resale value, especially if there are things in your kitchen that do not function properly.

Kitchen remodeling is typically the most lucrative form of home renovation when it comes to resale value so updating and improving your kitchen drastically is not necessarily a bad idea if you have the money to invest in this project.

Kitchen Remodeling Ideas:

- Add space and change kitchen design

- Replace major appliances

- Add a dishwasher

- Replace countertops

- Add custom lighting

- Build on island

- Repaint

- Replace flooring

All of these remodeling ideas are sure to make your home appear more appealing to buyers, but it is hard to forecast exactly what each different buyer will be looking for specifically. When ever you invest money in kitchen remodeling to improve resale value you always run the risk that the new owners will end up ripping up everything that you've done and replacing things to suit their own needs and tastes.

It's important to seriously evaluate the state of your kitchen before embarking on any large remodeling project to ensure that all of your time and elbow grease is paid back in dollars.

Things to Consider Before You Remodel:

- How necessary is remodeling?

- How will your house stack up to others homes in the area once you have remodeled or renovated?

- How much will the remodeling or renovation cost?

- Is there any way to cut down on cost and maintain quality?

- Are you really renovating or remodeling to increase resale value, or to increase convenience for your particular family?

- What is the current housing market like?

Consider glaring deficiencies to be remodeling necessities. If the fridge has lost its will to cool and the elements on the oven erupt in flames when they are turned on these appliances need to be replaced. New appliances not only look nice, they also attract potential buyers and improve resale value because there are usually warranties attached to these products so that if they break down the cost to the new owner is typically covered. Necessities also include adding extra room to severely spatially-challenged kitchens, replacing damaged flooring and countertops, repairing broken cupboards and drawers and fixing any faulty plumbing.

Anyone who is considering remodeling a kitchen to add resale value has to keep in mind the other houses in the neighborhood first and foremost. If you renovate adding a lot of square footage to your home to create stunning kitchen you could actually be unconsciously hurting your own house's resale value while improving the resale value of the houses that surround yours. This is because in the process of renovation you could turn your house into the most elaborate and extravagant place in the neighborhood, scaring off potential buyers that would normally be drawn to the area. In the mean time houses that are close to yours will appreciate in value because your newly remodeled palace has improved their surroundings. So before any project is started it's important to do some research on the real estate in your neighborhood to see the amenities that houses in the area offer and make sure you are not going overboard.

Cost is obviously an incredibly important factor to consider when it comes to kitchen remodeling to improve resale value. Major kitchen remodeling can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 so it's important to explore all of your renovating options and concentrate on the ones that usually pay off in terms of resale value.

Your renovation dollar will clearly go further if you are able to do some of the work yourself. Tackling tasks like repairing flooring and cupboard doors yourself instead of calling in a contractor can allow you to repair more elements of your kitchen with less money so make a list of everything that needs to be renovated, replaced and repaired and highlight the jobs that you think you should be able to handle without the help of a professional. Obviously this option isn't for everyone, but anyone who is handy with tools and has some extra time will find that this option can offer a significant payoff.

Why Are Your Remodeling?

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when remodeling is the purpose of doing so. Keep reminding yourself that the remodeling is not for personal enjoyment, but to improve resale value. When you remodel to improve resale value you have to put your individuality aside and instead concentrate on what is saleable. This is where most people go wrong. When a homeowner's pride drowns out the logic of investing there may be trouble.

Added touches are what drive the cost of kitchen renovation into the stratosphere. Often homeowners will opt for extra touches like cupboard doors with glass fronts and custom lighting, custom backsplash, stainless steel appliances and garborators without considering how these things fit into their particular home or neighborhood. An average working class home may look fantastic with the addition of stainless steel appliances and custom cabinetry, but the average working class family that is in the market for a home may not be able to afford these perks when they invest in a home. It is essential to look at what will be important to the people investing in your home rather than just considering what you think will look good and impress your guests. On the other hand, fancy appliances that don't fly in working class neighborhoods might be renovation necessities in upper class neighborhoods where housing is more expensive.

Look at the kitchens in your neighbor's houses, if they are equipped with garborators, dishwashers and elaborate kitchen islands you should seriously consider making these changes in your own home. This way if another home in the area goes up for sale at the same time as yours you're not left in the dust.

Before you begin remodeling ask yourself, "Which price category is my house in and how will the changes I make affect the resale value of my house?" A $200,000 house might only need minor repairs to exceed the quality of all other homes in the area, while a $400,000 house might need major renovations to keep up to snuff.

It's imperative to take the housing market into consideration before you remodel no matter which price range your house falls into. Homeowners should look into current market and property values before starting any project because the slower the housing market is, the less money you will recoup from your renovation, mostly because people will be paying less for houses.

Anyone who is in the market for a home with resale value should keep in mind that no matter how many bells and whistles a kitchen has, if it is too small or too inconveniently located resale value could be seriously affected.

Most people look for kitchens to be close to both the family room and the dining room in the house. The ideal kitchen also has a door leading to the backyard for easy barbequing and garden party accessibility and is relatively easy to get to from the front door of the house so that carrying groceries in from outside is quick and convenient.

Location and size will always influence resale value whether you are speaking of the entire home or one of its essential parts.

Whether you live to eat, or eat to live there is no denying the importance of a well-equipped, well-designed kitchen. Kitchen remodeling can result in the biggest payoffs when it comes to resale value so before you address any other remodeling concerns in the house, be sure to take care of the kitchen.