We have just finished a moderate upgrade to the kitchen. A new dishwasher, oven and fridge are happily living in that space now. The previous appliances were not entirely "used up" but it was certainly time for a refresh.

We also replaced the kitchen sink and faucet. That alone is one of my favorite parts. The old sink was unreasonably shallow and you basically took an unwanted bath every time you washed a large pan.

The kitchen is one of the more important rooms of your home. Today we're going to review some of the biggest offenders in this room and help you make your kitchen more awesome or, at the very least, more attractive to discerning buyers.

If nothing else, the kitchen is where your friends and family will spend all of their time during any social event you host. We all tidy up when company is coming over, but what if the "tidying up" isn't enough. Let's get started.

The first two items are glaringly obvious and simply need to go. Those are lights and linoleum. Growing up in the 1980s, the overhead fluorescent light in the kitchen was a staple in our neighborhoods.

I'm confident it was a cost-effective way to get light into the room and, for builders on a budget, it was quick and easy. The issue is it gives off this harsh, blaring light that most of us associate with office buildings and shopping malls.

Replacing those lights is not going to be all that expensive either. You can get some budget-friendly pendant lights or even a small chandelier to replace it. More importantly you can put either of those new light fixtures on a dimmer and gain a whole pile of control over the mood and "temperature" of the room. Nothing kills a romantic dinner faster than blaring lights and that incessant, fluorescent humming.

My one (slightly terrifying) caution is the typical "gotcha" when doing any sort of remodeling. That is when you remove/remodel/replace one item, something else typically creeps into the project. I'm guessing that if you still have these sort of lights, there's a good chance you have "popcorn" textured ceilings as well.

Since you're going to be leaving a 4-foot-by-2-foot gap in your ceiling, you're going to have to either patch that or scrape the whole thing and re-paint it. I still believe replacing your lights is worth it, even with this in mind. Just prepare for that part of the project before you go ripping the lights down.

Chances are good that if you're still rockin' the overhead fluorescents, you also have some tired linoleum under-foot. While it may sound like I'm making big assumptions here, it's good for you to know I'm also describing my former home.

Obviously, it would be awesome to rip up that flooring and throw down some beautiful hardwood. But that's not always in the cards. If your budget can't swing that right now, consider a large, colorful rug. You can literally and figuratively "sweep" that bad flooring under the carpet.

It is easy to look back in time and ask "What were they thinking?" I'll never understand the "olive green" or orange colors that were so popular in kitchens in the 1960s and 1970s. But switching up colors is also one of the easiest ways you can upgrade your kitchen without spending a fortune.

If your cabinets are painted, get to work. And most appliances have replaceable panels in front so you can swap those out for a more mild white or gray. Although the painting is a bit of an undertaking, the results will be amazing and the cost is mostly that of paint and sweat.

Since we're on the topic of unnatural looking items, it is also time to ditch the plastic plants. You are not fooling anyone into believing you crawl on top of your fridge every week to water that thing. Ditch the fake ones for some basic, real greenery. You could even go a step further and get some potted herbs to spread around the kitchen. They look better and create a more "homey" feeling to boot.

One of the easiest and least-expensive (it's free) things you can do to spruce up your kitchen is to simply clean it up. And I'm not talking about the bagel crumbs from this morning. Chances are, if you look around your countertops you will find a handful of "things" that simply don't need to be there.

"Removing clutter is one of the best ways to increase the look and feel of a kitchen," Badger Realty agent Peter Pietz said. "It cleans up the look, makes the space feel larger and gives the homeowner the ability to actually use the counter space they have."

Lastly, it's time to ditch anything plastic in the kitchen and upgrade with (the only slightly more expensive) metal items. Just picturing a stainless steel trash can versus a tired, stained, dented plastic one will solidify my point for you.

There is no shortage of plastic "things" to fill your kitchen. Just stop by your favorite big box store this afternoon. But if you want to liven up the space and give it a more "adulting" look, spring for the metal and you'll be happy you did.

The kitchen is obviously a very important room of the house. We are all in there at least four or five times a day. Whether you are looking to sell or simply want to have a bit more pride in the kitchen you have, some of these tips will surely get you headed in the right direction. Happy remodeling.

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