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LESLIE: Linda in New York needs some help with a question about whether to take on a remodeling project or not in this economy. What can we do for you, Linda?
LINDA: I live in a New York City suburb and in this recession era, when [housing is values] (ph) and prices are faltering, is it wise to invest approximately $50,000 into a new kitchen?
TOM: OK. Well, look, I don’t think you have to spend 50K on a new kitchen in this market. I think there’s probably less expensive things that you can do; unless your kitchen is really, really dated. How old is your house?
LINDA: From 1947.
TOM: Oh, is it the original 1947 kitchen?
LINDA: No, no, no. We have new appliances; the stainless steel, granite countertop and granite floors and very inexpensive laminate cabinets. The problem with it is it’s a very tiny kitchen and we thought to expand into a room adjoining the kitchen that is a little sitting room.
TOM: I see. Alright, so this is more than just a remove and replace of cabinets. You’re really talking about a major remodel here; a totally new layout.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) A new layout.
LINDA: (overlapping voices) Yes.
TOM: Well, look. We don’t want to tell you to spend a whole lot of money on the house right now but I will say that if you’re going to choose one thing to do, a kitchen or a bathroom always gives you the best return on investment. But I would say tone it down. Don’t go luxury everything. You know, be realistic based on the market today and choose products that are going to still give you a good-looking kitchen without spending a whole lot of money. So I would tone down the granite countertops, the Corian tops. Now, the real expensive appliances, maybe reuse what you have. If you really …
LESLIE: But I still think that those solid-surfacing or even natural stone countertops are a huge selling point when people are in the market; you know especially if you’ve got something that’s neutral in coloration that will work with all types of paint colors and choices that a new homeowner might make coming in the future. And remember, your previous owners in the house that you’re in, they made a bad decision in putting a super-expensive countertop on a very inexpensive cabinet. You want to make sure that you sort of match up because you don’t want the cabinet to not last as long as your countertop is going to.
LINDA: (chuckling) Yeah.
TOM: Yeah, but I just don’t think it’s a good time to do a luxury upgrade. I would be very budget-conscious if I was going to do this. I would either not do it or I’d be very budget-conscious and if I was going to not do it, you may want to think about other ways to make a small kitchen look big. You may want to think about some …
LESLIE: Lighter colors.
TOM: Yep, mm-hmm.
LESLIE: Different window treatments.
TOM: Replacing the doors with ones that have clear glass; lighting; you know, improving – well, you said the floor and the countertops are great so, you know, changing the hardware on the cabinets; adding dimmers; that sort of thing.
LINDA: Oh, thank you very much. I really appreciate your help.
TOM: Alright, Linda. Hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.