The Insider

The Insider: Let’s talk about kitchens. Yes, I am opinionated.

By September 2, 2022 No Comments

There are few rooms that affect the price of a home more than a kitchen. Today we’re going to look at how to renovate a kitchen to enjoy it and also get the most resale value.

I remember years ago, I was at an architect friend of mine’s and was admiring his kitchen which was (as befitting his training) minimal and beautiful. I asked about the cabinets and was totally stunned to learn they were Ikea. But… he had custom-made pulls on the cabinetry that looked amazing and the “Ikeaness” was totally dispelled. Over the years I have been in many multi-million homes that had Ikea cabinetry. Here are some pictures of Ikea cabinets that have custom fronts to give you an idea of what you can do:

Credit: Superfront

Credit: Superfront

Here’s the thing about Ikea kitchens: the industrial designers did a great job and the shapes have withstood the test of time. The hinges and slides are excellent. But the fronts and the pulls make them look cheap. So the very best kitchen hack of all time (favored by architects) is installing an Ikea kitchen, then swap out the pulls (at minimum) and the fronts if you want to go the next step. The result is a super high-end looking kitchen at a 30-40% savings on the cabinets, which can be ridiculously expensive if you are having it all done in custom millwork.

Here are some more tips to maximize your taste/price ratio:

Avoid glass backsplashes:

NEVER, EVER do an accent stripe in tile. It screams “Home Depot Contractor Special”

NO to that rustic stone tile look. This is not Santa Fe.

If you have the money, slab stone is best:

But if you need to save money on the backsplash, classic subway tile is a great option (and timeless). Colored grout is a nice touch.

Credit: Jenna Burger Design

When it comes to appliances there are


  • Amana
  • Magic Chef

Middle range 

  • GE Profile
  • Whirlpool

Upper middle range

  • Bosch
  • Bertazzoni

High end

  • Wolf
  • Miele
  • Viking
  • Sub Zero

Ultra Premium

  • La Cornue
  • Lacaranche
  • Aga

Unless you are selling your apartment to a billionaire (though possible in this town), skip the ultra premium appliance brands, which can cost into the six figures (believe it). If you are going to be selling your place for north of two million dollars, then invest in the high end package. You’ll get it back in the sales price.  In all cases don’t bother with the low-end.

The same goes for fixtures, except in this case if you can get the ultra premium fixtures on sale, do it. A little Ebay and sale stalking will go a long way.


  • Kohler (Kohler’s high end range is “middle range” but most is low-end)
  • Moen

Middle range 

  • Elkay
  • Hansgrohe

Upper middle range

  • Blanco

High end

  • Dortbracht
  • Lefroy Brooks

Ultra Premium

  • Boffi
  • Bulthaup
  • Waterworks

As a last point make sure your fixtures match your aesthetic. If you have a minimalist modern place, choose Dornbracht, Boffi, or Bulthaup. If your style is more traditional or transitional, then Lefroy Brooks or Waterworks are the way to go.


Above: Waterworks fixtures in a transitional style kitchen.


Above: Boffi fixtures in a modern, minimalist kitchen.

Hope that bit of real estate fluff was helpful to those of you doing renovations.  If you want to hear some expert opinions on your kitchen renovation, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!



Mark Chin

Author Mark Chin

C.O.O. of The Rubin Team, Mark has his BA from Columbia in Economics and Philosophy. He got his MBA from NYU Stern School of Business in Finance and Statistics. He has been a stockbroker, derivatives trader, dotcom entrepreneur, M&A executive, a successful real estate agent and CEO of a major NYC brokerage house. He now runs the Rubin Team with it's eponymous head as Chief Operating Officer.

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