The Luxe Upgrade That Will Actually Help Your House Sell Faster

published Aug 3, 2020
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outdoor kitchen
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Buyers who’ve realized that “staycation” mode is the new normal are looking for properties that make al fresco entertaining fun and easy. A recent report on outdoor living decor trends by retailer Living Spaces revealed that as people adapt to social distancing lifestyles, they’ll be gathering with friends and families outside more often. As a result, the company says sales of outdoor kitchens have increased by 106 percent in the past six months.

Transforming your backyard into a resort-like setting that includes an outdoor kitchen will set your listing apart from others in your neighborhood—and increase your home’s resale value. Here’s how you can elevate your outdoor space with luxurious features, or ones that just look that way, to create the aspirational lifestyle buyers are seeking these days.

Think beyond a rolling barbecue

“With stay-at-home looking more and more like a long-term norm and preference, folks are finding ways to bring a restaurant and bar experience to their home,” says Anna Maria Mannarino, an interior designer in Holmdel, N.J.

Outdoor spaces can help make buyers fall in love with your home, and to make this vision a reality, convenient cooking, comfortable seating, and ambiance are musts, adds Katherine Nelson, a broker and realtor with Allen Tate Realtors in Greensboro, N.C.

“More people are investing in their living space—both indoors and out —and the outdoor kitchen trend is catching on,” she says. 

For example, pizza ovens are hugely popular right now, says Mannarino.

“From simple set-ups to elaborate masonry creations, this adjunct to outdoor kitchens will really kick it up a notch or three,” says Mannarino. 

Cheers to setting up a bar area

What’s an outdoor celebration without a frosty cocktail in hand? Incorporating a place to prep and serve drinks instantly ups the party vibe, notes Mannarino. 

“Built-in wine coolers, a water source, and ice makers are ideal, as well as an area with a bar-height counter and bar stools,” she says.

Consider bringing out some unused appliances that work in your outdoor kitchen space, such as a small bar fridge and a blender, to really sell the space to buyers, suggests Nelson. 

“Standalone pieces can work perfectly in an outdoor space, so you don’t need to invest in a major renovation,” she says.

Credit: alexandre zveiger/

Budget-friendly upgrades can pack a punch, too

Not keen on spending big when you’re moving out? Repurpose things you already have to create the outdoor kitchen experience without the price tag. A small kitchen island on casters can become a rolling bar cart, and sheer curtains plus a sisal rug can delineate different zones.

“Use these items to create specific vignettes such as an elegant self-serve bar area, an outdoor living room or conversation area and a lounge corner,” suggests Mannarino. 

If you’re getting ready to sell soon, investing in expensive appliances or features probably isn’t the right choice, agrees Nelson, but staging your outdoor kitchen is just as important as doing so inside. 

“Bring out unused furniture like ottomans, chairs, or end tables to stage for photographs or tours. Just make sure they can withstand the elements if you plan on leaving them outdoors,” she says.

Make it an outdoor kitchen ‘to go’

Creating an outdoor kitchen without actual construction—so you can take it with you to your next house—can be achieved with the clever use of freestanding items, says Mannarino.

“At the grill, add a rolling stainless-steel cart to one side as a prep station and a table or butcher block cart on the other as a staging area for finished foods,” she suggests. “Create a bar with a table, bar cart or a free-standing outdoor bar, and add one or two high-top cocktail tables nearby.”

Complement your outdoor kitchen with plush seating and accents

Comfortable seating has never been easier or more affordable, says Nelson. 

“From table and chairs to couches and ottomans, homeowners can get creative with color and style, whether you’re looking for a beachy island feel or something with southwestern charm,” she notes.

Additional decor elements such as a fireplace or firepit and large potted plants complete the hotel vibe buyers will be drawn to.

Small touches make a huge difference

“Statement lighting can completely change the mood and take the space from average to magical in the evenings,” says Nelson. 

Add atmosphere and drama to your outdoor kitchen by incorporating a sound system, suggests Mannarino. 

Heating and cooling systems help buyers see themselves enjoying your outdoor space year-round. 

“Recreate a getaway experience, like being at a hotel, so stock your outdoor kitchen with everything you need to dine and relax,” says Nelson. “It’s important that your outdoor kitchen feels like an extension of your home and not a random addition.”