Let’s talk about your kitchen. It’s where you eat, entertain, and catch up with family members after a long day. It’s the glue that holds your home life together. It’s even your sanctuary where you drink red wine straight out of the box after a miserable day. Perhaps you’ve dreamed of renovating the place, but balked at the cost. We get it—even a minor upgrade can cost upward of $20,000.
So, does it make sense to drain your savings or otherwise beg/borrow/steal your way to a brand-new kitchen? It’s time to take a step back and look at this all-important room with clear eyes. Pretend you’re a guest, a stranger, or even a prospective home buyer. How does your kitchen look now? Would you want to cook, eat, or hang out there?
It’s tough being objective, so we’re here to help you figure it out. Here’s a list of some glaring signs that your kitchen may be crying out for a remodel.
Sign No. 1: Your kitchen is from the MC Hammer era
“Every now and then, we see kitchens that look like they haven’t been touched since the Stone Age, but typically they’re from the 1990s,” says Emily Mort, a graphic designer for McDonough Construction and S&D Real Estate Services in Lakeland, FL. “If your kitchen features Formica or laminate countertops and floral pattern wallpaper, you might need to think about upgrading.”
Think about this: The average American spends an average of 5.9 hours each week prepping meals. Staring at the home decor equivalent of parachute pants all that time can eat away at your soul. Can’t touch this? Oh, yes you can—and should.
Sign No. 2: You can’t make toast and coffee at the same time
Many older kitchens aren’t up to the National Electrical Code standards, points out Jay Buchanan, general manager of D&J Signature Electric in Omaha, NE. One sure sign that yours fits in this category? A lack of ground fault circuit interrupter breakers.
“Because there are many sources of water around a kitchen, GFCI breakers shut off an electric power circuit when they detect that a current is flowing somewhere abnormally, such as through water or a person,” Buchanan says. “This helps prevent electrocution, as well as damage to the circuit breakers in your home.” So if you suspect your own kitchen could be out to get you, it could be time to have it thoroughly checked, and changed for the better.
Sign No. 3: You dread cooking—and others fear it
“The real success of your home’s design is whether or not you connect to it emotionally and feel it provides a healing and restorative experience,” notes Heather Higgins, founder of Higgins Design Studio in New York City. If your kitchen’s lack of counter space, random floor plan, or Chartreuse tiles make you dread mealtime, it might also affect what meals you prepare in the space, Higgins says. Save yourself while you can!
Sign No. 4: Your storage and counter space don’t suit your needs
“One common motivation for renovating a kitchen is if your lifestyle and personal needs have changed from the time it was originally designed,” says Higgins.
For instance, if sous vide cooking (where food is vacuum-sealed in a bag, then placed in a water bath) has become your new obsession, you’re going to need lots of counter space to set up the equipment. Or did reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” transform you into a clutter-free convert? Then you may not need all that cupboard space crowding your walls. Get the idea?
Sign No. 5: New appliances you buy don’t fit
Your refrigerator stopped working, and you need another. Easy, right? Except, Higgins points out, when your beloved appliance is no longer made in those particular dimensions. It’s a problem she often sees with her clients: Instead of buying a new refrigerator/stove/oven, the homeowner needs to overhaul the entire kitchen to accommodate that one new appliance.
Sign No. 6: Prices have dropped on appliances that once cost a fortune
“Today it’s possible to have stainless-steel appliances and premium finishings for less money,” says Michael Shaw, leader of operations at Centennial360, a custom home builder and renovation contractor in Saskatoon, Canada. “Many of our clients realize that investing $10,000 to $20,000 into their kitchen will pay off big in terms of quality of life improvement and enjoyment.”
And that’s not just for families who frequently eat meals together at home. Research shows that millennials are especially serious about spending extra time in the kitchen to test out food hacks and experiment with appliances.
Sign No. 7: You’re moving on
Putting your house on the market? Scrubbing your kitchen until it shines may not be enough.
“Dated kitchens—just like bathrooms—are a major barrier for resale,” says Shaw. “Buyers want modern amenities and styling, and most aren’t interested in renovating postpurchase.”
The same holds true if you’re looking to rent out your home. “Renovating your kitchen can make the home more appealing and allow it to command a greater rental price,” he adds.
The good news is not all redesigns need to be pricey; some cheap kitchen renovations under $500 can still really make a difference. So honestly, you have no excuse to join a new era. And throw out those parachute pants, already.
This article was originally published at Realtor.com.