When I am showing homes to buyers, we almost always end up spending the most time in the kitchen. Bedrooms are nice, living rooms are relaxing, garages are functional, yards are beautiful, but more and more, kitchens are the thriving nerve center of our home lives.

We go to the kitchen at least three times a day to make meals. We gather around the table to play games, converse or pay bills. We leave notes for other family members on the fridge. If we spend so much time and get so much function out of the kitchen, it makes sense that we want it to be a great space.

And, if you are selling your home, you want the kitchen to shine. But how do you do it without going broke? A true high-end kitchen remodel can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you are unlikely to get a return on that investment in this market.

Here are some tips to save money on a kitchen makeover and still get a lot of bang for your buck.

Countertops: Everyone wants sleek granite and stone, but they get quite pricey at sometimes over $100 per square foot or more. Large ceramic tiles or a laminate can be much more affordable and look very nice.

Cabinets: New cabinets, especially those beautiful cherry ones, can cost thousands of dollars, but you can simply reface and/or paint the existing cabinets for much less. Throw in some nice new hardware, and you can get a great looking set of redone cabinets for just a couple of thousand bucks at the most.

Flooring: Porcelain tile or a glazed ceramic tile will be much more affordable than the high-end marble that is becoming trendy. Make sure to get a lighter color or pattern that will hide kitchen stains easily but will still be easy to clean.

Paint: A fresh paint job will do wonders for a dull, tired kitchen. This is one area to perhaps considering spending some money on a premium item, such as low-VOC paints, which are less toxic.

Appliances: Some cost-cutters will point out appliques that give appliances the look of stainless steel, but I do not recommend that. This route will make them seem chintzy. I recommend looking at outlet stores for lower-priced quality appliances.

You can not predict what a potential buyer is going to want or need, so you shouldn’t go overboard on spending to please this imaginary buyer. If you are remodeling a kitchen, keep things simple and neutral but nice on the kitchen remodel. It should suggest the possibilities of the room, not dictate how it should look or be used.

If you are preparing a home for sale and would like some feedback, let me know. I’m always happy to help.