The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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Want To Sell Your House? Clean The Kitchen!

My new Twitter buddy, Julia, from hooked on houses, has a post today on images that a realtor takes for a home listing. This struck a chord with me, having just bought and sold a house (not in that order!) And, having gone nuts over staging, tweaking images...and cleaning.

In my months of house hunting recently, I cannot tell you how much an unkempt kitchen was a total turnoff. It didn't even have to be a dirty kitchen (that's a definite turnoff.) But, even a slightly messy kitchen was...distracting, yes, that's the word. Distracting in a negative way is a negative thing (oh, how profound.)

Every realtor will tell you that a house, these days, needs an edge to be noticed. The house has to stand out among its competition. The chances of standing out greatly diminish if a home is in disarray, especially if the competition in the same price range shines...literally. The kitchen and bathrooms are viewed as utilitarian spaces, where cleanliness is important. That's sort of an undercurrent in one's mind, I think, when one visualizes oneself cooking and living in the kitchen. Therefore, it should be a clean slate, devoid of clutter and mess. 

In addition to the tips I previously mentioned on getting your kitchen ready for resale, in which I mentioned cleaning, I'd like to go a bit further... 



  • floor
  • window glass
  • window trim-oftentimes it's just a wipe with a rag. If the trim needs to be painted, paint it!
  • baseboard molding - clean or paint it
  • cabinets - clean your cabinets and all their cracks and crevices on the outside
  • cabinets - clean your cabinets on the inside as well
  • joints - such as at the floor and the cabinet toekick molding, the baseboard molding and the floor, anyplace where grime accumulates
  • walls - does your kitchen need a fresh coat of paint?
  • dust all surfaces, shelving, decorative items, and so on
  • clean the garbage pails - take them outside and hose them down/clean them
  • clean out toaster/toaster oven
  • clean/wipe down all countertop appliances. Move them from their places and clean all around them.



  • sink(s)
  • refrigerator
  • dishwasher
  • microwave - there are numerous solutions, but it's a must-do
  • backsplash
  • cooktop and especially grill
  • vent hood

Basically...clean everything. Wipe down everything. Dust everything. Leave time before showings and open houses to do it again and again and again, as the showings present themselves. 

I promise you your house will have much more of an edge than it did before. I know how important this is...I just sold my home in a very tough market. Tough, because my home's price bracket was completely stagnant - lower priced homes were selling to first time home buyers and much higher homes were selling, although a bit less so. But, the middle/upper priced homes were, and are still, simply not moving in my area. Fortunately, ours did! And, every time we had a showing or an open house, we all pitched in and strived for near perfect cleanliness (and not because we enjoyed doing it.)

I think that helped immensely, and I remember how I reacted as I looked at potential homes for our family. Here is a link to eco-friendly cleaning supplies


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Reader Comments (9)

I'm glad those awful MLS photos I posted about could inspire a post like this because it's much needed! When we were house hunting, I was always stunned by the piles of dirty clothes left in the foyer, or the hair in the bathroom sink. I'll never forget walking into a kitchen that had so many dirty dishes piled on the counters that the place reeked. Then we went into the bedroom and there were people hiding under the covers! Seriously. We got out of there as quickly as we could. :-)

Great post!

Ok, I MUST clean my kitchen today. Not just because of spring, but because we're experiencing our annual "Ants" event. They come. We spray. They go. But for the moment, I'm grossed out. No way I'm cooking tonight!

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Great article Susan! Kitchens can be deal breaker when selling a home. A little work can go a long way in creating an inviting atomsphere.Clean landscaped counter surfaces is always a must do.

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJess @ Decor Diva Talk

Bravo! I am a Realtor and am so glad to see this post!! I just posted one of my listings on my blog ... check outthe kitchen..it is DIVINE!!! I hope lots of "sellers" are checking this out and will take heed!

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIvy Lane

Jess, thanks! Well, I, too, believe that when one walks into a kitchen, one is already visualizing what it will be like to "live" in the kitchen. Other people's mess and dirt can only be a MAJOR turnoff. It IS noticed.

Ivy, glad you agree and advise your clients the same.

March 31, 2009 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

yes - we almost didn't go to see our condo because the kitchen picture was so bad. the kitchen needed updating, but the picture made it look even worse!

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAbigail

Great post! If your refrigerator is full of photos, children's artwork, invitations, etc. I would suggest removing them when showing your home. I would also minimalize what items are left on the counters.

Susan, you're right. All that and much more in my previous general post on shaping up the kitchen: http://sserrackd.squarespace.com/journal/2008/8/3/20-tips-to-prepare-the-kitchen-for-resale.html

April 1, 2009 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD


We just installed a new floor in our kitchen-Faus Floor laminate (biggest mistake we've ever made, but this is another story). To our infinite surprise ,Faus recommended not to install the floor underneath kitchen cabinets. If you do install the floor this way, the warranty becomes null and void.
Since our plan was to replace our old kitchen eventually, we wanted to cover all kitchen with new floor. So we had to put all our old cabinets on little plastic things, bought at HD. And now we have a permanent space between the toe kick and the floor.

May 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterzoya

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