I'm assuming you are talking about selecting a contractor and we have a 'roll up your sleeves' kind of mentality for the most part but I think some of the things we've done with kitchens have driven a lot of value on our rehabs and rentals.
We operate out of Des Moines IA and of course there will be differences regionally in style, contractor pricing, material availability, etc - so take this for what it is worth.
We use granite nearly exclusively for our counter-top material. If you are creative/resourceful, look for opportunities to source granite remnants cost effectively. It's actually possible to cut granite outside of a shop. The polishing is the trickier part, especially if you want a bull-nose etc type of finish. Anyways. That's one tip but we've come out to pay <$500-800 complete done for granite which we think adds a ton of perceived value as well as having a much more hardy better long term material for rentals.
One other tip is the use of existing or used cabinets that you then repaint white. A nice kitchen with white cabinets can really sharpen up things a ton and be easier on the budget.
Get some input from someone with some knack for color schemes / aesthetics if that's not your thing.
Obviously the tips above imply more of a heavy time investment for less money kind of approach.
But they lend themselves to getting a nice result for less money and a high quality tenant if you are renting.....
Again take it for what it's worth, there are a ton of ways to do things and more than one way works.
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