10 Kitchen Upgrades That Are Worth the Money, According to the Pros

Kitchen remodels are expensive undertakings, with average prices ranging from about $14,000 to $41,000. The high cost and long project life make planning and wise choice of materials crucial.

To better understand what upgrades are actually worth your money, we interviewed a range of professionals, including interior designers, home builders, realtors, and architects. According to the pros, these are the ten best upgrades to include in your kitchen remodel.

Lower Drawers Instead of Cabinets

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Lower cabinets, especially deep ones, are hard to keep organized and present accessibility issues. Clearing out stuff in the front of the cabinet to access what you need toward the back is a major pain. An excellent solution is to install lower drawers instead of cabinets. You can customize these drawers to different widths and depths to suit your kitchen must-haves.

“One of the efficient upgrades is replacing the lower cabinets with the drawers,” says Architect and Interior Designer Priyanshi Jain of Pixels and Spaces. “Drawers provide easy access to contents, reducing the need to bend down and reach into the back of cabinets. This change is especially valuable in deep storage spaces.”

Durable, Long-Lasting Countertops

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Countertop trends come and go, but durable, long-lasting varieties are worth the splurge. Quartz is one of the most popular options for its marble-like look paired with extreme durability. Depending on the variety and your location, Quartz costs about $50- $200 per square foot.

Other trending but durable countertop options include butcher block, soapstone, quartzite, and sintered stone.

Pull Out Recycling and Trash Bins

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A trash can in the middle of the kitchen floor kills the aesthetics. Opting for pull-out recycling and trash makes it easy to toss out garbage and recycle without sacrificing precious floor space.

According to Pam Hutter, an architect and designer at Hutter Architects, practical upgrades are worth the money, and this is one of them. “For instance, pull-out trash and recycling drawers are a game-changer in maintaining a sleek, uncluttered kitchen environment while promoting recycling habits. These are always worth the investment for the ergonomic benefits and the neat look they grant your kitchen,” she advises.


As long as it doesn’t take up too much floor space, added storage is always a value-add, especially when it comes to pantries in the kitchen. If you don’t have enough room for a walk-in pantry closet, adding a couple of tall cabinets to act as a pantry is just as good.

For deep pantries, consider pull-out drawers and shelving that make it easy to access food and keep the kitchen tidy.

Touch Faucets

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When food remnants are on your hands, turning on the faucet spreads germs and can create a mess. A touch faucet remedies this problem by letting you turn on the water with a tap.

“Upgrade to touch and hands-free faucets, to add a modern touch and improve hygiene. This is especially helpful while cooking, it mainly prevents the germs from spreading and simplifies the cleaning process,” says Jain.

Under the Cabinet Lighting

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Under the cabinet lighting provides a soft ambiance and is practical for spending time in the kitchen without blaring the overhead lights. These lights can be hardwired to an electric switch or can be push button battery operated versions.

Realtor Hannah Jones says inexpensive under-cabinet lights are one of her favorite kitchen upgrades. “For $5, you can give a luxe feel to your kitchen and make it a designer space! Ever feel hungry in the middle of the night and don’t want to wake up the missus while you’re gorging on ice cream? Don’t turn on the kitchen lights – just use the under-cabinet lighting.”

Hidden Appliance Garages

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Appliance garages are a newer kitchen design trend, but they might be worth the splurge. “Appliance garages are a great way to sustain a sleek look in the kitchen by hiding small appliances such as toasters, coffee makers, and blenders. They help reduce the clutter on the countertop and make the space look more organized and aesthetically pleasing,” says Jain.

If you hate countertop clutter, investing in these garages is an easy way to keep your appliances tidy but still within reach.

Multifunctional Kitchen Islands

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If you want the kitchen to be the hub of the home, make sure there’s space for family to gather. One of the best ways to do this is by adding an island.

“Beyond providing extra countertop space, islands we’ve installed often feature additional storage, built-in sinks, and seating areas, making them a central hub for both prep work and social interactions,” says Ryan Norman, founder of Norman Builders. “The versatility of a well-planned kitchen island can transform the flow and function of the entire space, making it one of the most appreciated upgrades in modern homes.”

Neutral Cabinets

Color trends for kitchen cabinets come and go. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a resurgence of blue and green cabinetry, but a new trend will eventually replace these colors. If you want your design to stand the test of time and appeal to future buyers, stick with a neutral cabinet.

Wood tones, white, and neutral shades of paint are great options. Unless you’re living in a contemporary or mid-century home, skip the overly glossy or bright-colored designs.

Quality Cabinet Hardware

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When you don’t have extra money in the budget for cabinetry, upgrading hardware can go a long way. Choose a high-quality option that suits the style of your home. Update cabinet pulls and knobs and door knobs.