Simple ways to make buyers love your home
It’s often said that the kitchen and bathroom are the rooms most likely to sell a property, so how do you improve yours on a budget? Julia Gray reports.
1. If your kitchen units have seen better days and you don't want to go to the expense and hassle of replacing them, give them an instant makeover by changing the doors and drawer fronts. This will transform the kitchen and needn't be too expensive - B&Q (www.diy.com), for example, has a big range of affordable unit doors and drawer fronts, many available in store. If the units aren't standard sizes or you want a more affordable option, simply paint the doors and drawer fronts to give them a new look, or glue thin MDF to the front to change the style and then paint them.
2. Cluttered kitchens aren't a selling point. If lack of worktop space is a problem, think about how you can make what you have go further. Use microwave brackets to get your microwave off the worktop, or fit nice wall shelves to declutter the worktop. In a small kitchen, a hinged wall-hung table will give you more work space and somewhere to eat. If your kitchen has high ceilings and you're happy to change the wall units, tall ones provide extra storage. Failing that, stack attractive baskets or boxes on top of the existing wall units to make the most of the space, but don't store anything heavy up there.
3. Somewhere to shower is essential for most buyers and if your bathroom doesn't have a shower, it may be letting you down. There's an inexpensive answer - replace the bath taps with bath-shower mixer taps, which are bath taps with a shower hose and head. As long as your bath is suitable for showering and the water pressure is good, all you need is a bath screen or shower curtain, plus a riser rail on the wall to hold the shower head, and you have a shower that should add value and make your home more sellable.
4. Grubby tile grout makes kitchens and bathrooms look grotty. White grout is easily marked by cooking splashes, shampoo, shower gel and the like, but there is a quick and easily solution - steam-clean it. Use a steam cleaner like the excellent Karcher SC 3 (£159.99, www.karcher.com/uk) and your grout should soon look like new. If the power of steam doesn't work, or work sufficiently, you can apply grout paint to re-whiten the grout. In the worst cases, consider raking out the stained grout and applying more, but this is a big job and you may chip the tiles in the process.
5. If you're selling your home, giving tired walls and woodwork a fresh coat or two of paint will make a big difference to any room, but especially the kitchen and bathroom because they're key rooms. Make sure you use a scrubbable paint so it stays looking good - special kitchen and bathroom emulsions are designed to withstand things like mould and steam and are available in all sorts of colours these days.
Product of the week
Make your kitchen look amazing with the easy-to-fit Watersmith Heritage Valencia Pull-Out Spray Mono Mixer Kitchen Tap (£99.99, www.screwfix.com).
This stunning hose tap is a statement piece, but it's also practical because you can easily release the hose when you need extra reach to clean the sink or fruit and veg. You can also switch between different sprays at the press of a button, which is a fantastic feature.
The Valencia is available in Chrome and Silk Steel, which is hard to find and looks really expensive, perfect if you have a brushed stainless-steel sink. This tap scores top marks all round and will make you the envy of your friends and family.
How to tip
Grouting tiles can be tricky because if you leave the excess grout on too long, it can be hard to remove, but if you wipe the tiles clean too soon after grouting, you can remove more than just the excess.
Wait a few minutes after you've applied the grout and then wipe off the excess diagonally to minimise dislodging the grout from between the tiles. Use an abrasive sponge (make sure it's white if you're using pale grout) so you can scrub off the excess easily, and use the back of the sponge (the non-abrasive side) to smooth over the grout lines as you go, which saves having to go over them with a grout finishing tool afterwards.
Once dry, the tiles will be smeary from grouting - unless the grout is particularly hard, the easiest way to clean this off is by buffing with a dry cloth.