1. Leaving clutter on the countertops
Potential buyers want to see the full expanse of your kitchen counters.
“Show them off by keeping counters clear of unnecessary items,” says Robin DeCapua, owner and designer at Madison Modern Home in Los Angeles.
Any clutter left on the counter—like a dish drying rack, mail, and personal odds and ends—will sully the appearance of your kitchen.
Impressive items, such as a KitchenAid stand mixer and a sleek espresso machine, can stay. Smaller appliances and gadgets, such as a toaster or waffle maker, have to go.
“Having extra items out makes it seem that there’s not enough kitchen storage—a big turnoff for potential buyers,” says DeCapua.
“If there’s just no room in covered cabinets for that stuff, it’s time to sweep it all into a plastic bin and practice some tough love,” adds DeCapua.
Consider each item and ask yourself whether to keep, toss, or donate it.
If you do decide to keep items, make sure they are packed away and not left out during home showings.
2. Not paying attention to lighting
A well-lit kitchen is of the utmost importance to buyers, as they will immediately notice the dark spaces in your kitchen.
“If there is an area under a corner cabinet or a section of countertop space far from natural light, add a small lamp,” says Jen McConnell, owner and broker at McConnell Real Estate Partners in Isle of Palms, SC. “This turns a dark space into a bright, usable one.”
If you don’t have an electrical outlet nearby, you can purchase a rechargeable lightbulb in a soft white hue.
Another solution is to install under-cabinet lighting. LED strip lights are a popular choice as they can be applied easily without the help of an electrician.
3. Forgetting to depersonalize
Fun fact: Potential buyers don’t want to see your niece’s graduation photo hanging on your refrigerator. Ditto goes for your magnet collection. When staging a kitchen, it’s advised to put away all personal items.
“These items can be distracting and take away from the appeal of the house for buyers,” says Grace Baena, interior designer at Kaiyo. “It can also make it difficult for prospective buyers to envision the space as their own.”
You should also strongly consider taking down that cheeky word art sign—you know, the one that says “Live every day like it’s Taco Tuesday”—lest you want to risk making potential buyers cringe.
4. Not staging a dining area
Strategically staging a dining area within the kitchen, such as a kitchen table or breakfast bar, can make the room more memorable.
“Adding place settings to a breakfast bar creates a memory point when buyers are reviewing properties,” says Susan Bourassa, certified home stager and owner of Coast to Coast Interiors. “Buyers will remember those strategically placed dishes when they start to calculate in their minds what each property has to offer.”
Get creative with your place settings by adding fruit, cloth napkins, or a flower arrangement. Just be mindful of overcrowding the surface.
5. Adding a rug
One area you don’t want to stage is the kitchen floor. Remove any rugs or mats to make the kitchen look as large as you possibly can.
“The eye will land on every rug, making the space feel chopped up and smaller in scale,” says Bourassa.
Potential homebuyers want to see a visually spacious kitchen, and floor clutter can interfere with this.
Newer floors should also not be covered with rugs.
“Updated flooring is a selling feature,” Bourassa says. “Don’t distract from your moneymaker.”
6. Not having the kitchen deep-cleaned
The kitchen collects dirt, grime, and grease easily, so it’s important to get it professionally deep-cleaned before putting your home on the market.
“You may not be aware of how much gunk can build up on a stove hood or around a range top,” says DeCapua.
Kitchen drawers and cabinets also get dirty quickly, especially if you’re constantly cooking at home.
“A professional deep cleaning will address all these issues and leave your kitchen sparkling, fresh-smelling, and buyer-ready.”
It’s also a good idea to be aware of any lingering cooking smells.